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Mahindra XUV 300 – Expert review – The best compact SUV

Mahindra XUV 300 – Expert review – The best compact SUV

Snapshot: With its strong looks, well-appointed cabin and powerful diesel engine the new XUV 300 seems like the perfect compact SUV.

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Talk about a tough act. The XUV 300 officially takes on the Tata Nexon, Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza and Ford Ecosport in the highly competitive compact SUV segment.  Mahindra has tried its hand in this segment with the TUV 300 before. However, the TUV’s relatively agricultural image meant that sales figures were muted. Mahindra is entering the compact SUV segment armed with this knowledge and to ensure that the XUV 300 stands out from the crowd, has crammed up the car with a load of features, some of which are a segment first and seen only on cars twice or thrice the price. It hopes that the long list of kit will attract buyers into showrooms thus translating into sales. Rivals should be worried.

Mahindra XUV 300 exteriors

It is no secret that the XUV 300 is actually the Ssangyong Tivoli with some modifications. Mahindra designers have done a good job with modifying the car to make it look like a Mahindra car and like a miniature version of the XUV 500. The face if the car with its vertical slats in the grille and multiple lamps headlamp cluster gives it the cheetah-like face that looks similar to the XUV 500. A unique touch is the LED-strip that runs from the headlamp to the fog lamp on both sides of the face. The side profile gets a muscular kink in the rear door as well as blackened out C-pillar which add a sporty touch. At the rear you get rectangular lamps and a two-tone bumper that is blackened at the bottom half. From a distance, the rectangular and boxy shape will remind some of the Maruti Vitara Brezza but overall the XUV 300 looks desirable.

Mahindra XUV 300 interiors

If you have a look at the brochure of the XUV 300, you will simply be blown away by the sheer length of equipment on offer. Among the segment first features you get dual zone climate control, seven airbags, front parking sensors, disc brakes all across, heated side view mirrors and smart steering system. The perceived quality levels inside the XUV 300 are very impressive and fit and finish is generally good as well. The seven-inch touchscreen system is easy and intuitive to operate but still can’t match the Ford Ecosport’s system for sheer smoothness and ease.

Space inside the cabin is good too, especially in the rear. The generous width also means that you can seat three in comfort over long journeys. Seat comfort is good all across with generous cushioning and support on both rows of seats. What’s missing though are rear AC vents and a phone charging point at the back. The boot too looks limited especially when you compare it with rivals.

Engine, performance and gearbox

Mahindra’s new 1.5-litre diesel engine does duty on the XUV 300. This engine makes around 115bhp of power and 300Nm of torque, making it the most powerful engine in its class. Performance is good too, once you get past the 2,000rpm mark though. Before that the car feels a bit lazy and hesitant to throttle inputs. Like a typical diesel engine most of the power is generated in the mid-range of the rev band. The highlight of the engine is the sheer refinement. At cruising speeds, the car has good cabin insulation with no tyre, engine or wind noise entering the cabin.

The engine feels very flexible thanks in part to the six-speed gearbox on offer. The extra sixth gear ensures that the engine is spinning at a relatively low 2,000 rpm when you are doing speeds of 100kph or so. This should bode well for fuel economy as well. Though the shift action of the gearbox is long, the box is very light to operate, which means you won’t be tired after spending a long day behind the wheel.

Ride and handling

Around 90 percent of buyers keep their cars within city limits and Mahindra knows this. The carmaker has given the 300 an overtly light steering wheel, which means you won’t feel tired at the end of a long day. That said if you want some weight in the steering you can choose the settings on the ‘smart steering system’. Use the sport setting and there is a lot more weight in the steering. However, the steering is devoid of much feel and lacks the sportiness of some of its rivals even in the sportiest setting.

The 300 feels reasonably comfortable at most speeds, with the suspension soaking up most bumps with ease. However, it can’t quite match the Nexon for sheer high speed stability or the Ecosport for sheer driver involvement.

Summary

The XUV 300 has the right ingredients to be a success in the highly competitive compact SUV space. It looks stylish, has a powerful diesel engine, impressive equipment levels and practicality too. In short, this is all the compact SUV that you will truly ever need.

Photography By: Mohd Nasir

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