Why would I buy it?
- Convenience of a two-pedal setup
- Five-star NCAP safety rating
- New connected tech combined with a long list of features
Why would I avoid it?
- Newer competition offering more options
- AMT is slightly jerky
- Expensive top-spec variants
With the unrelenting sub-four metre SUV segment getting fiercer with each passing day, Mahindra has updated the XUV300 lineup with an automatic for the petrol engine while availing their connected car tech to the sub-four metre SUV. The former was a much-needed addition and although it’s late in its arrival, the two-pedal configuration for the turbo-petrol gets the job done; while adding value to the XUV300. Meanwhile, the connected car tech was a vital addition for this Mahindra to stay in the fray when the newer competition is spewing up.
Engine and Performance
When it was first introduced, the XUV300 had an option of both petrol and diesel engines paired to a manual gearbox as standard. Shortly after, the diesel was paired with an AMT automatic gearbox which impressed us with its seamless shifts and fewer intrusions. Now, Mahindra is offering its AutoShift AMT with the 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine completing the line-up. Output figures remain unchanged with 109bhp available at 5,000rpm and a twisting force of 200Nm is accessible from 2,000rpm. Mahindra claims to have calibrated the AMT set up by evaluating inputs from various systems like throttle position, vehicle speed, and load conditions. On idle, the three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine is silent and free from vibrations.
This AMT has one of the most unique gear shifters we have seen for an automatic. The shift stick needs to be pushed once on the left for A (automatic) or twice for M (manual), and there is no D (for Drive) here. Pull it towards the right for Neutral (there’s no P either), and pull it towards the driver for Reverse. Lastly, push the stick forward for upshift and pull backwards for downshifting to take over the manual gearshifts. It has an inherent creep function to get off the line when in A, once the foot is off the brake lever with no need of touching the accelerator pedal. We found it to be useful in bumper-to-bumper traffic. But you’ll need to get on the gas for anything more than the choc-a-block. Moreover, on an incline (like a flyover with slow-moving traffic), when crawling, the motor tends to stutter.
On the move, there’s enough grunt at slow speeds. And once the tachometer crosses 2,000rpm, there’s a noticeable surge in power. That said, the AMT tends to hold on to the gear up to 2,500rpm so you don’t feel bogged down when there’s an upshift. On the flip side, you can feel the gearbox working its way up the cog owing to the AMT jerks. The same is the case with the downshifts as well. Also, at times, when hurried, the gearshifts felt slightly dawdling. But that won’t be a major sticking point in day-to-day driving.
Mahindra claims that the motor has a flat torque between 3,000 and 5,000rpm. This comes in handy when wanting to drive past slow-moving traffic at city speeds or maintaining triple-digit speeds on the highway. Although all of the power is at disposable close to 4,000rpm, the motor revs freely to the redline, and it does get noisy while at it. Lastly, at sedate speeds, the engine sits comfortably under 2,000rpm and responds nicely when the need arises for accelerating swiftly. Take over the manual mode, and the AMT response is good and fairly in control, only downshifting on its own when absolutely necessary. Lastly, when it comes to fuel economy, the manual version has a claimed ARAI figure of 17kmpl. We expect the AMT version to have an almost similar or slightly lesser claim. But we’ll surely test out real-world figures in our thorough road test, along with its in-depth performance.
Ride and Handling
Apart from the automatic transmission, there are no tweaks done mechanically to this XUV300, so it continues to offer an unfazed ride. At slow speeds, it offers a plush ride that manages to absorb the bad surfaces, irregularities and ill-made speed breakers with ease. There’s a good composure when going over sharp-edged potholes while the ride remains unruffled even if you missed seeing one. Out on the highway, the ride remains flat taking in the undulations and occasional bumps and creases with good poise.
As for the steering, it goes almost three turns lock-to-lock. But its character can be controlled/altered by a button on the centre console offering three settings – Normal, Comfort, and Sport. There’s not much difference noticeable between Normal and Comfort where it remains light but direct at any speed. But switch to Sport and there’s an immediate weight added, which is likeable for some spirited driving. Otherwise, either of the other two modes should be enough for everyday driving. Lastly, the brakes on our test car had a solid performance with good bite feel and stopping power at any speeds, courtesy of disc brakes on all four corners.
Interior Space and Quality
On the inside, there are no changes made to the XUV300 since its debut. You get in it easily welcomed by a dual-tone cabin that looks like that of a typical modern-day Mahindra. There’s good quality of materials used all around that appear to age well. Moreover, silver and piano-black finished inserts help its case in being a modern car. But the monochromatic AC control or the old-school instrument cluster has started to look dated now.
There are no complaints when it comes to space in the front-row helped further by comfortable seats. Even visibility all around is excellent, combined with well-thought ergonomics and a practical cabin. Despite being based on a bigger car with the longest wheelbase, the rear legroom of the XUV300 is not as good as some of its competition. There’s an acceptable amount of knee- and headroom. And we wished it came with better under-thigh support. Lastly, the boot space of 257litre isn’t anything to write home about either.
Features and Safety
The Mahindra XUV300 one of the few cars on sale in India with a five-star NCAP safety rating. This top-spec model we have here has a long list of features. In terms of safety the XUV300 is equipped with seven airbags, hill-hold function, four disc-brakes, front parking sensors, TPMS, and child-seat anchoring. Other features include push-button start, leather seats, sunroof, cruise control, navigation, heated mirrors, dual-zone climate control with its own set of memory function, LED DRLs, and projector headlamps to name a few. The seven-inch touchscreen is well-placed and has a simple interface to work around with. It is good to touch and operate too and comes with all the smartphone connectivity options available.
What’s new here is the BlueSense Connected car technology that’s debuting in the XUV300 line-up in this top-spec model. Similar to the competition, BlueSense comes with 40 connected car features including location-based services and control for various other car features. Experiencing the BlueSense first hand on our smartphone, we found it to be quick, informative, and pretty accurate as well. Its app is also easy to navigate with simple interface and control buttons. Although it’s not free of glitches and the notification on your phone for each little activity of your car (anything from starting to idling, seatbelt usage, and speeds) could be too much.
The Mahindra XUV300 is the understated underdog of the lucrative sub-four metre SUV segment. With the addition of AMT automatic paired to the petrol motor, the carmaker has extended its versatility in the cut-throat segment. This move, however, comes as ‘too little, too late’ as newcomers in the segment like the Hyundai Venue, Kia Sonet, and the new Nissan Magnite are offering options like DCT, CVT, or iMT. Also, there aren’t any major changes made to the XUV300 – neither inside nor out – which after two years seems like the need of the hour, especially when compared to the rivals like the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza and the Tata Nexon. Hopefully, an update should be on the horizon once the bigger siblings (XUV500 and Scorpio) enter into their newer generation. Otherwise, the XUV300 still is handsome looking, comfortable on the inside, easy to drive with good handling and ride quality, and also one of the safest sub-four metre SUV you can put your money on.
Pictures by Kapil Angane