There’s no denying the fact that the Compact SUV segment is the fastest growing segment in India and almost all the mass manufacturers have a product or two in the offering for the domestic consumers. From the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza to Hyundai Creta, the segment attracts a lot of new car buyers, who want to own a big looking vehicle, with the ease of a hatchback. However, one carmaker that has not tapped this potential gold mine of a segment is the homegrown Mahindra, which left us quite surprised as Mahindra is known for utility vehicles and has launched some really good utility vehicles in the past. It seems like Mahindra has finally realized the sales potential of a smaller SUV in India and they are ready with their own compact SUV – the XUV300. We recently test drove the car in Goa ahead of the launch on 14th February and here’s our first drive review-
What We Like
Good performanceMahindra XUV300 competes in the compact SUV space. (Image: Arjit Garg/ News18.com)
What We Don’t Like
Lack of automatic gearbox
Average build quality
Rear seat legroomMahindra XUV300 has a wider track. (Image: Arjit Garg/ News18.com)
Even though compact SUV is a popular segment, the chances of going wrong with the product design are always high. Reason being, one has to make a car look as big as possible in under 4-metres. However, Mahindra XUV300 deserves our praise for being unique and good looking, especially from the rear end, all thanks to a wider track and protruded tail lamps, that lights up in a very attractive manner. The large black bumper with skid plate also gives it a sporty character. At the front is a chrome element grille, rectangular headlights with a connected golf club inspired LED and fog lights. The front design can lead to a split opinion, but we found it quite interesting. Combined with a dual shade paint job and nicely done 17-inch alloys, the XUV300 looks quite refreshing and new in the segment.Mahindra XUV300 has one of the most unique designs in the segment. (Image: Arjit Garg/ News18.com)
The cabin of the XUV300 has a very interesting design and many 1st in segment features. But it’s the basic things like seat comfort where the Mahindra excels. The XUV 300 offers brilliant seats with ample cushioning for comfortable long drives and the reason why we are talking on the seat comfort is because a lot of manufacturers, no matter what the segment is, gets too involved with the features and design leaving the seat comfort aside which has to be paramount, and thankfully, Mahindra has given this aspect of a vehicle some thought.
This goes the same for the rear seats too, however, we found the leg space just enough to seat a person with 5’10” height comfortably. The headroom is good though! Mahindra has also nicely integrated spaces for your mobiles, water bottles and even tablets/ small laptops, enhancing the practicality of the XUV300. The seats can be folded 60:40 to free up the boot space, which is not at par with the competition and Mahindra has not revealed the official number too.Mahindra XUV300 offers many segment 1st features. (Image: Arjit Garg/ News18.com)
When it comes to features, the Indian consumers are getting more and more demanding and the Mahindra XUV300 satisfies their hunger pangs. The XUV300 gets segment first features like heated ORVMs, dual zone climate control, and front parking sensors. More features include a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation/Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, tyre pressure monitoring system and reverse camera display with guidelines, push button start, engine idling stop, sunroof, cruise control and mood lighting for the instrument cluster.
The Mahindra XUV300 misses out on the rear AC though. The cabin design in itself is eye catching and the whitish tone with grey dashboard gives it very premium feel. That said, the Mahindra will have to work on the built quality of the XUV300. While we didn’t like the button design throughout the cabin, even the doors refused to close without force.The rear legroom is not good enough in the Mahindta XUV300.(Image: Arjit Garg/ News18.com)
If the segment first comfort features were not enough, Mahindra has introduced something new in the XUV300 that enhances the driving dynamics. While most of the cars offer various drive modes that alter the throttle input, the XUV300 has a unique feature called the Smart Steering System that alters the steering input as per the mode selected – normal, sport and comfort. The steering input does offer varied response and you can feel it while driving at various speeds, especially selecting between sport and comfort mode.
The power to the Mahindra XUV300 is provided by 2 engine options, a 1.2-litre petrol unit producing 110 bhp and 200 Nm torque and a 1.5-litre diesel engine producing 115 bhp and 300 Nm torque. We drove the diesel XUV300 and its linear torque delivery left us mighty impressed and satisfied. That, combined with a slick 6-speed manual gearbox gives you a pleasurable driving experience.
The torque kicks in pretty early and it’s not hard to touch three digit speed, but the engine noise is quite audible inside the cabin. The 180 mm ground clearance and a supreme ride quality mean you can take this mini SUV to the roughest of terrains. However, we missed the all-wheel drive system and the automatic gearbox in the XUV300.There are 2 engine options in the Mahindra XUV300 - a 1.2L petrol & 1.5L diesel units. (Image: Arjit Garg/ News18.com)
As for the safety, the Mahindra XUV300 again offers the segment first safety feature like 7-airbags including knee and side airbags apart from a traction control system, ESP with hill hold and ABS with EBD.
Despite the fact that Mahindra borrows the name of the compact SUV from its elder sibling XUV500, the XUV300 has its own identity and it’s quite unique. The XUV300 has almost everything going its way, including a unique and eye catching design, good driveability and segment best features. But then, where it can face the challenge is the build quality and pricing. Indian consumers are extremely price sensitive and compact SUVs in India are priced as low as Rs 7.5 Lakh (ex-showroom). Mahindra will have to seriously address these issues and only the time will tell how these both pans out for the XUV300.