The compact SUV wars have not died down for the last few years. Mahindra itself has made several attempts to achieve glory in this segment but none look more promising than the XUV 300. The car comes with many segment first features that Mahindra hopes will give it an edge over its rivals.

Looks

Just like the big brother XUV 500 even this baby SUV’s design is inspired by the Cheetah. On the front, there’s a chrome laden grille along with skid plates down below. The car gets nice looking projector headlamps and what is really striking are the vertical Led lights that connect these headlamps to the fog lamps. The XUV 300 gets a heavy dose of cladding all over the car which makes it look sporty. The 17-inch Diamond cut alloys also are there but only in the top variant. Rest of the models will come with 16-inch steel wheels. The dual roof option is there as well and the car gets roof rails too. The rear gets split LED lamps along with a nicely designed spoiler and skid plates. However, keeping it sub 4 metres has been a challenge as is evident from a rear that doesn’t look proportionate to the front.

The car also gets rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlamps and front parking sensors.

Interiors

Now this is a car that’s loaded with features, some of which you will not see in any other car in the segment. A 7-inch touch screen system is very functional and gives a lot options. It is compatible with both Apple car play and Android Auto and also gives reverse camera feed. The dual tone on the dash looks nice and ergonomically the car feels good too as the buttons are placed very conveniently. The car gets a dual zone climate control and you also set memory functions for temperature control. The Instrument cluster gives a lot of vital information including the direction the tyres are facing. The car also gets rain sensing wipers, automatic headlamps and front parking sensors. And presence of a sunroof makes this XUV even more versatile.  The car gets seatbelt reminders even for the second row. Boot space seems adequate on the car, and while Mahindra hasn’t yet revealed the figures here it certainly isn’t the most generous in the segment.

Engine

The good thing is that the compact SUV comes with both petrol and diesel engine options. The tried and tested 1.5 litre 115 bhp mill is what we sampled on our drive on the roads of Goa. The torque figure of the 300 Nm this XUV comes is the best in segment and that shows when you drive it around. Superior low end torque is what works well for the car. A light clutch and an slick gearshift make the XUV 300 a car that is very easy to drive. The petrol is a 1.2 litre turbocharged mill that churns out a little lesser 110 PS and a decent torque of 200 Nm. There are only 6-speed manual gearbox options being offered with the car, at least for now. But the presence of Hill start Assist makes you miss the Automatic variant lesser on this one. The claimed mileage figures on the XUV 300 are 17 kmpl for the Petrol variants and an even superior 20 kmpl for the diesel models. The Ecosense technology used here rates your driving habits and helps improve the fuel efficiency of the car.

Handling & Ride

A sub-compact SUV with a raised seating position will make you think that the car will have a fair bit of body roll. But here is where the X100 platform from SSangyong comes into play as it offers a rigid and strong base for the car. It only helps further that the SUV has the longest wheelbase and the widest track in the segment. And these attributes make it a car that is extremely stable and one which gives a planted drive at all speeds. The suspension has been altered for Indian road conditions and does an impressive job of dealing with the undulations. And with a height adjustable seat and steering finding an ideal drive position is not really a challenge. What you get here is a commanding view of the road. What also is of use are different steering modes—Comfort, Normal and Sport, and you can choose depending on driving conditions how engaging or light you steering wheel should be.

Verdict

The Mahindra XUV 300 is sure to make a major impact in the very popular compact SUV segment. The Tata Nexon, Ford Ecosport and Maruti Suzuki Brezza have one more potent rival to deal with. In fact the Hyundai Creta could also be hit to an extent. Mahindra has also put a special emphasis on safety in the new XUV 300. The car gets disc brakes on all 4 wheels and best in segment 7 airbags. Then there’s tyre pressure monitoring system, ABS with EBD and ESP. Of course we have to wait and watch for the prices which will be revealed coming Thursday (14 Feb) but if Mahindra has to arrive with a bang keeping them aggressive will do the XUV 300 no harm.

 

Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars

 

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