SUV buyers have never had it so good in India. If you want something with a posh image, lots of features and a powerful engine at a relatively affordable price then there are atleast have a dozen options to choose from. Mahindra’s latest offering the XUV 300, comes loaded with tech and features, which cars twice the cost have. Mahindra hopes that this rich features list alone will pull buyers away from rivals and into Mahindra showroom. But just how good is the new XUV 300? We decided to take along the Ford Ecosport for a quick comparison.
The XUV 300 is essentially based on the SsangYong Tivoli. Mahindra had to chop of the rear section of the car to bring it under 4-metres in length. The car has strong styling elements all across and looks like a mixture of the bigger XUV 500 as well as the Vitara Brezza from some angles. This gives it strong road presence, something that most compact SUV buyers will appreciate. The back end of the car is muscular as well and the taut lines should appeal to a wide audience.
The Ecosport has been around for over five years now. Despite the recent update to its styling, the baby Ford is starting to look its age. The big grille is still a key highlight. The low profile tyres give it plenty of appeal as well and the car looks sporty in profile. The rear mounted spare wheel also gives it a distinct look. While looks are a subjective matter, we would say the fresher looking XUV 300 clearly has the advantage.
The XUV 300 comes loaded with features. You get dual zone climate control, seven-airbags, tyre pressure gauge and steering modes to name a few. The seats are definitely more comfortable than the Ecosports and the cabin in its beige shade feels more upmarket as well. Jump into the back seat of the XUV and you will appreciate the generous width on offer, which makes it the better car for three abreast and legroom is better too than the Ecosport.
Ford still has an advantage though. The Ford Sync 3 enabled touchscreen is a whole lot better than the one on the XUV. The screen is smoother to operate and the menus, sub-menus are all legibly marked. This is by far the best system on any car below Rs 15 lakh. In terms of equipment, you get traction control, ABS, six airbags on the top version. But the Ecosport feels narrower in the back and simply doesn’t have the same legroom on offer as the XUV.
Engine, performance and gearbox
Both cars come with 1.5-litre diesel engines. The XUV with 115bhp is now the most powerful car in this segment. The Ecosport makes 100bhp. Power delivery is different on both cars. While the XUV 300 needs a shove of 2,000 rpms to get going, the Ecosport feels lively from around 1,500rpm, making it the better car for city driving. Both cars have a generous wave of torque on offer from 2,000-4,000rpm. The sporty, short shifting five speed manual gearbox on the Ecosport is a joy to operate. Sometimes you will be shifting gears for the heck of it. The XUV offers a six speed gearbox, which gives the engine good flexibility on the highway. You will also enjoy the lightness of the gearbox, which doesn’t need a heavy hand to shift. That said, the XUVs unit isn’t a sporty to operate as the one on the Ford.
Ride and handling
If you consider yourself a keen driver simply stop reading here and buy yourself an Ecosport. The crisp steering, dynamic chassis and agile handling make this car a keen handler. There is plenty of grip available from the tyres as well making it an enjoyable package. Buyers will also like the taut suspension, which offers a confidence inspiring ride at faster highway speeds. At slow city speeds some bumps can filter into the cabin though.
The XUV 300 on the other end is meant for calm, sedate drivers. Though you can change the amount of weight in the steering wheel, there is hardly any additional amount of feel with the extra weight. So it’s best to choose the comfort setting on it. Buyers will also appreciate the soft suspension setup, which ensures most bumps and potholes are absorbed well. Though the XUV can’t be called a thrilling car to drive, it offers a very comfortable ride at most speeds.
If you want a keen drivers compact SUV, then simply go ahead and buy that Ecosport. If you want a feature laden, practical, fuel efficient diesel engine car, then go for the XUV 300. In short, its between choosing your heart and your head.