It’s been quite an action packed one year for Mahindra and Mahindra. In the last twelve months the home grown major has launched a variety of SUVs in different segments. There have been big ones like the new XUV 500, small ones like the KUV 100 and between those two extremities something like the TUV 300. But they didn’t stop there. The latest addition to the ever growing Mahindra in the impressive portfolio is the Nuvosport (and no it doesn’t end with a double “O”). At first glance the Nuvosport may look like just a refreshed Quanto, but take a closer look and this is a car that is built on a new platform and offers much more than the Quanto did. In the last couple of years, the demands of buyers have changed and they want more that what they ever have. Mahindra is also clear this is a car that is made for those who love adventure and the Nuvosport will play along and not ruin the plan.
There are similarities and there are differences when you compare the Nuvosport with the Quanto. The biggest attraction in terms of looks is the air intake on the hood which also is functional and the daytime running LEDs. The best part is that these LEDs are not a part of the headlamp cluster but are placed separately just a shade above them. The front grille looks aggressive and remind of the Scorpio and the plastic cladding on the profile is something that adds ruggedness and makes it look more like an SUV. The bulges on the bonnet and the flared wheel arches also add their bit while the new 16 inch alloys round up a bold muscular look. In fact the front profile is the angle from where it looks the most attractive and muscular, because from the profile and the rear the Nuvosport largely reminds of the Quanto. In fact just like the latter it seems the designers have had a hard time in adhering to the sub 4 meter rule and that shows when you look at the rear. Of course the spare wheel mounted on the rear door is a bit of compensation when it comes to looks.
The biggest attraction in terms of looks is the air intake on the hood which also is functional and the daytime running LEDs. The best part is that these LEDs are not a part of the headlamp cluster but are placed separately just a shade above them.
The interiors in the Nuvosport are a bit of a letdown especially in terms of quality. We’ve gone miles praising the interiors of the TUV 300 and the KUV 100 and it seems inexplicable why the same couldn’t be replicated inside this car. There is a now a new grey and black tone on the dash, and looks nicer than before but quality of plastics doesn’t feel as premium. The seats too don’t feel as comfortable as you would expect in a car of this segment. But once you look at the features you may feel better because Mahindra has loaded the Nuvosport with tones of utilitarian features. These include steering mounted controls, a 6.2-inch touch screen system that comes with Navigation along with cruise control. Rear parking sensors are there but a camera would’ve been ideal. The space also makes you happy as there’s an abundance of it. Just like the Quanto and the TUV, the seats on the last row are best left for kids and even better can be folded or removed o create more luggage space. The 60:40 split second row seats adds more practicality. Once you fold down the second row fully you get a whopping 850 liters of space.
The car runs on a 1.5 litre Mhawk diesel engine that does the duty on the TUV 300 but here the 3 cylinder mill delivers significantly more power of a 100 bhp. An impressive figure is the torque that is available which at 240Nm of is the highest in the segment. It’s also available from as low as 1,500 rpm and that helps in the smooth running of the heavy SUV. The car comes with both a 5-speed manual gearbox and the much talked about AMT variants. Now this feels somewhat better than the AMT seen on the TUV 300. While there are the usual lags that you expect on an AMT gearbox, the car plays along as long as you don’t’ want it to win a drag race. It’s just about spending more time and getting used to the gearbox and then it will be a boon for the urban chaos. The mono-stable unit which makes it like a joystick means you push it into any mode- N, A, or R the lever will come back to its original position.
Ride and Handling
The Nuvosport is even taller than the Quanto and that means that some bit body roll is there, especially when the car is thrown around the corners. But what comes to the rescue is the chassis of the new Scorpio on which this car is based. The good thing is that the driver gets a great view of the road and because it isn’t as wide the car can squeeze into spaces where bigger SUVs cannot go. The ride quality also is good as the suspension is tuned to the softer side and that takes care of most bumps and potholes you’re likely to counter during your drive.
The Nuvosport is a mix of a lot of hits and a few misses. It scores well on practicality as well as ergonomics but could’ve done with a few improvements. A big hit is safety as according to Mahindra newly integrated crumple zones make a huge difference. The SUV has already successfully been crash tested in Europe, which will come into effect in India by next year. The starting price at Rs. 7.36 lakh (ex-showroom) is competitive but at Rs. 9.76 lakh (ex-showroom) the AMT variant feels somewhat overpriced. But it’s a price Mahindra wants you to pay for convenience. The choice of course is yours.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars.