Mahindra XUV 3OO: The Safest Compact SUV

The XUV300 is Mahindra’s sophisticated sub-four-metre compact SUV. It’s a shortened and re-engineered version of Mahindra subsidiary SsangYong’s Tivoli. It is available with petrol and diesel engine options with both Manual and Auto transmissions. The diesel engine is additionally available with the option of an AMT auto apart from the Manual. The Mahindra XUV300 holds the privilege of being one of the safest car to be crash tested by Global NCAP rated 5 stars on adult occupant protection and 4 stars on child occupant protection. The legacy has been continued with other Mahindra cars too.

Pros:
✅ A very premium car for the price tag it belongs to. Everything seems to be put so well, in-fact wouldn’t shy away from going overboard and telling that the plastic quality is better than that of XUV 500/7OO

✅Superb torque output of 300nm is more than enough to keep your revv buds happy! You can drive this car, all day, all night and yet not sense the lack of good drivability

✅Really good handling dynamics for it’s proportions. Turn it on a curve at good triple digit speeds and yet it wont’t complaint. Not recommended though. Not even a bit of anxiety will kick in

✅5-Star GNCAP rating, ESP, ABS and 7 Airbags made it one of the safest cars in India for a very long time

✅A pocket sized sunroof, Front parking sensors, All discs, TPMS and Auto dimming IRVM is part of the extensive laundry list making it a feature-loaded car

✅Extremely agile to drive through in the crowded lanes. Unbelievably nimble

✅Steering response gets 3 driving modes to choose from. Pretty helpful as the normal mode has a very lacklustre response from the steering feedback. Sport mode compensates to it

✅Very supportive seats. You could easily drive it for 10-12 hours at a stretch and yet not worry about your backbone

✅Headlights illuminate the road well. Surprisingly, they lit up the road better than the erstwhile elder sibling 5OO

✅The ride quality is actually compliant and way ahead of the 5OO, thankfully

 

Cons:
❌It’s expensive for what it is from the proportions. It’s marginally bloated than a hatchback making it get lost in the crowd of Cretas, Hectors and Seltos

❌Ofcourse, the boot. With a 257L boot capacity, you got to be very conservative when packing your weekend luggage. Just for reference Kiger punches in 405L

❌No steering reach adjustment and the absence of smaller bits like a parcel tray add to the woes of inconvenience

❌No rear AC vents has to be the biggest downer, this is the first thing needed in the facelift of the baby cheetah, whenever

❌The infotainment system is outdated, feels too old and lacks the responsiveness. Speakers are mediocre

Design

 

The side profile of the car gives it a very bold and an SUV-ish look. The 17-inch dual-tone alloy wheels look extremely striking that gel really well along with it’s other proportions. The car may look not so proportionate as we move towards the rear as Mahindra had to chop it down to bring it under 4 metre (tax benefits) but in all, I think that the XUV300 scores good marks in terms of overall design language. If we were to be ambitious, we would wish for the rear tail lamps to be less polarising than what they are.

From the outside, the XUV 3OO has it’s own distinction with its well-defined front fascia that sits pointy with the signature Mahindra six-slat grille and the heavy bumper. What’s new to the 300 is the daytime running lights which look rather unique. Speaking of which, we also like the swirly design of the rear three-quarter and the high upright stance that this car has. That said, the thing that we are not sure of is the way the XUV300 looks in profile – the long hood and front overhang combined with the high stance and the complete lack of rear overhang make the whole car look slightly disproportionate. In terms of dimensions, the XUV300 is marginally wider and taller than the Tata Nexon and its 2600mm wheelbase is the best-in-segment, too. A longer wheelbase also contributes to better comfort at the rear. On a smaller note, We wish that Mahindra had done an “XUV500” with the pricing. When the XUV500 was launched, it was priced so well that the market response exceeded all expectations! Over the years, the XUV 3OO has not been very successful in setting the sales chart on fire and hence Mahindra was very aggressive in pricing the XUV 7OO. (Once bitten, twice shy. May be?). Incase you forgot, Mahindra had a lottery system to allot the bookings of the XUV 5OO. Such was the CRAZY fan following that car commanded.

The car is solidly built with 68% high strength steel in its construction and the doors, tailgate and bonnet have a good deal of weight to them. There’s barely any flex if you press the door metal with your thumb. Although it necessarily doesn’t mean that flexing of a panel indicates at diluted built quality of a car. The vehicle’s kerb weight of 1,296 kg for the petrol and 1,360 kg for the diesel makes it heavier than all other monocoque sub-4 meter rivals. What’s surprising is that it is even heavier than some larger ones like the Creta! The paint quality is as good as we’ve seen in the segment. To power the XUV300, Mahindra have used the 1.5L, 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel that was first seen in the Marazzo. A 1.2L, 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol is also available. Both power plants are mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. Although we could not get our hands on the petrol avatar, we have not been really fans of the petrol mills in compact SUVs. The low-end grunt of Diesel is simply unmatched.

 

Interiors

 

Step inside the cabin and you will be welcomed by a very premium and a well-built dashboard. The dual-tone white-black colour combination not only looks great but also gives a sense of space and airiness inside the cabin. At the centre of the dashboard is a large touchscreen infotainment system which comes with Apple Carplay, Android Auto, navigation, and many more features.

The rear of the exterior may not be to everyone’s taste but the interior of the XUV300 puts up a solid case for itself. The two-tone cabin, in fact, offers a commanding view over the road with a high seating position that immediately inspires confidence. The visibility of the bonnet from the cabin is excellent. Speaking of premium, we really like the look of the leather finished steering wheel and the bright coloured upholstery. Incase you still admire physical buttons in the era of touchscreens, they have got you covered. The XUV 3OO has plethora of them for slightest to the most complicated controls ranging from radio, AC and door locks.

SsangYong’s Korean influence is evident in the Mahindra XUV300’s well-appointed interiors, high-quality plastics and overall fit-finish. Space at the back is rather generous, with a good amount of headroom and knee room, and a wide seat that can accommodate three in comfort. What’s also nice is the inclusion of three individual head restraints, as well as a proper three-point seatbelt for the middle passenger. Not all is perfect, as some storage areas could have been design better. The biggest fly in the ointment, though, is its tiny 257-litre boot, which is smaller than some premium hatchbacks, and its loading lip is high too. Looks like it has been an arduous task for Mahindra to carve out a spacious boot and yet offer a spacious rear. Thankfully the rear seats are foldable and this increase the cargo area significantly.

In terms of equipment, the top-end variant is fully-loaded and gets features like dual-zone climate control, touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, cruise control, sunroof, keyless entry and go, reversing camera, auto headlamps with rain-sensing wipers and a lot more. What’s reassuring is that this is one of the safest compact SUVs you can buy in India. Not only is it equipped with ABS with EBD, ESP, seven airbags and all-wheel disc brakes.

 

Engine

 

For this test we have the diesel-powered XUV300 which gets a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine. Also found in the Mahindra Marazzo, this engine makes 115bhp at 3,750nm and 300Nm between 1,500 and 2,500rpm. Straightway, the most impressive thing about this engine is that it makes maximum torque from as low as 1,500rpm which is always good for low speed drivability. Naturally, the XUV300 is effortless right from the word go – everything from low speed pull to a highway pass is done with ease thanks to the strong bottom end and mid-range. This engine pulls particularly hard in the midrange, with a steady flow of torque right until 4,000rpm. Although the power delivery tapers at the higher end of the spectrum, the low-end grunt is incredible.

This diesel engine is also among the most silent performers in this segment. It’s a little louder than we expected at high revs but for daily duties, it is plenty refined and has more than enough grunt to get up to speed with minimal turbo lag. Even at triple digit speeds, the XUV300’s strong midrange keeps it punching away as it cruises in a fairly refined manner. All in all, this baby XUV punches above its weight and offers strong performance – as we found out, it didn’t feel weighed down or underpowered even with 3 adults and some luggage. The addition of the 6th gear also does wonders.

Ride and Handling

 

Drive it through bad patches of any road and you can be sure that the XUV300 is a true Mahindra at heart. Low speed bumps and undulations are dealt with minimal vibrations, however, the ride is a little noisy. Similarly, the ride remains composed at highway speeds as the bumps are soaked up with ease. In terms of handling, the XUV300 is nimble enough to feel confident behind the wheel. The feedback from the steering can be changed using the sport mode. Honestly, the sport mode is extremely significant as the steering weighs up pretty well. The steering feedback in the normal mode is best-satisfactory.

 

Verdict

 

Although the XUV 3OO isn’t the entry ticket to the World of compact SUVs, factor in its safety credentials, mature driving manners, and its equipment list, and this car does offer you your money’s worth. This is one of the most polished packages to wear a Mahindra badge, and it is one that deserves a serious consideration. What’s more, there is enough space inside and it’s a compelling proposition in terms of performance and drivability.  Given the fact that the mini tank returned an astonishing mileage of 14 kmpl on our round trip to Goa, is just another reason to get the Baby Cheetah home. Afterall, with the sky-rocketing prices, every drop of fuel matters. Period.

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