Mahindra goes from utes to cute

The KUV100, launched yesterday, marks Mahindra’s entry into the petrol engine space. The chic, hatchback-like SUV creates a new segment, targets a new customer group

By: | Updated: March 19, 2016 7:30 PM

Is it a raised hatchback car? Is it a compact SUV? Opinions were divided—both at the launch of the KUV100 by Mahindra & Mahindra at Chakan near Pune on Friday, and on Twitter. But experts were united on one aspect—that the styling is unique, futuristic, modern, chic.

With the KUV100, India’s largest utility vehicle maker has driven into an all-new segment with new engines—mFALCON D75 diesel and mFALCON G80 petrol. The vehicle also marks M&M’s entry into the petrol engine space—with its strong diesel engine DNA, petrol engines was an uncharted territory for the company. In fact, it took executive director Pawan Goenka six months to decide whether to buy a petrol engine from outside or to make one in-house. The engineering team at M&M were confident they could deliver a good petrol engine and convinced Goenka to build one. He is glad he backed the team. “It is good to have our own petrol engine,” said Goenka during the launch.

“We are entering the petrol segment at a time when there is so much going on in Delhi about diesel engines. With this, we have proved that Mahindra can do a petrol engine as well as it does a diesel engine,” he said, adding, “In many ways, the KUV100 is what Make-in-India is all about. Barring a little engineering work in Korea for the interiors, all design and development work was carried out in India.”

Rajan Wadhera, president & chief executive, Truck & Powertrain, and head, Mahindra Research Valley, said this was their first attempt into the petrol engine space from ground up. “The mFALCON G80 is a 1.2-litre all-aluminium lightweight engine and the company has got 11 patents for various technologies it developed for this engine,” Wadhera said.

Going forward, the company will have a range of petrol engines, from 1-litre onwards. SsangYong Motor, the company’s Korean arm, is also working on petrol engines 2-litres and above which will likely be fitted in M&M’s bigger SUVs, the XUV500 and the Scorpio.

Young SUV

Pronounced as KUV ‘1 double Oh’, the compact SUV combines aggressive styling and an SUV stance. It gets refined and stylish interiors, enough space to comfortably seat six passengers, ample safety features such as ABS with EBD standard across the range, dual airbags optional from the base variant onwards, and ISOFIX mounts for a child seat on the rear seat.

Priced from R4.42-5.91 lakh for petrol and R5.22-6.76 lakh for diesel (ex-showroom, Pune), the KUV100 is built on an all-new monocoque platform—a vehicle structure in which the chassis is integral with the body—and is designed in-house with contemporary urban crossover cues.

The exterior is sculpted with sharp lines, prominent hood, high beltline, aggressive front fascia and large square wheel arches—all adding to its dominating road presence and lending it an SUV stance. There is a lot of style quotient too—wraparound sunglass-like headlamps, daytime running lights, chrome-accented fog lamps, spider-design alloy wheels and double-barrel tail-lamps.

The interior plastic quality is clearly the best in a Mahindra vehicle until now, and there is loads of space. It gets a flexi six-seating capacity—essentially, the KUV100, while a five-seater, has an option that lets you change the seating configuration as per your convenience. There is a large armrest between the front two seats that can be converted into a seat and vice-versa.

Petrol: The mFALCON G80 petrol is a 1,198cc all-aluminium engine. It gets Dual Variable Valve Timing technology and has a good low-end torque for quick acceleration. It develops a maximum power of 82bhp and a maximum torque of 115Nm. Its claimed fuel-efficiency is 18.15kpl.

Diesel: The mFALCON D75 diesel is a 1,198cc turbocharged engine. It gets Common Rail Direct Injection technology and, similar to the petrol, has a good low-end torque. It develops a maximum power of 77bhp and a maximum torque of 190Nm. Its claimed fuel-efficiency is 25.32kpl, making it India’s most frugal SUV.

The KUV100 not only marks Mahindra’s entry into the petrol engine space, but the hatchback-like SUV also creates a new segment and targets a new customer group.

Pravin Shah, president & chief executive, Automotive, said, “Being a listening organisation, we identified that today’s youth wants an SUV that helps them stand out, that reflects their personality and enhances their lifestyle. I believe the KUV100 will appeal to youth and first-time car buyers with its unique styling, trendy interiors, long feature list and an attractive price point.”

Hormazd Sorabjee, editor, Autocar India, believes that the KUV100 will also attract prospective compact car customers. “The KUV100 is the most important launch for Mahindra as it marks its first foray into the hotly-contested hatchback market. This is the first true ‘car’ from Mahindra,” he said.

Clearly, with the KUV100, Mahindra has gone from utes—an abbreviation for “utility” or “coupe utility”—to cute.

Powerplants

mFALCON G80 petrol

* 1,198cc all-aluminium engine

* Dual Variable Valve Timing for better fuel efficiency & performance

* Good low-end torque for quick acceleration

* Maximum power: 61kW (82bhp)@5500rpm

* Maximum torque: 115Nm@3500-3600rpm

* Claimed fuel-efficiency: 18.15kpl

mFALCON D75 diesel

* 1,198cc turbocharged engine

* Common Rail Direct Injection technology

* Good low-end torque for quick acceleration

* Maximum power: 57.4kW (77bhp)@3,750rpm

* Maximum torque: 190Nm@1750-2250rpm

* Claimed fuel-efficiency: 25.32kpl

What makes it different

*     Aggressive design with imposing SUV stance

*     Tall and wide front fascia and muscular body lines

*     Wraparound sunglass-like headlamps

*    Chrome-accented front and rear fog lamps

*     Spider-design alloy wheels

*     Dual-tone interiors with piano black inserts

*     First-in-class flexible seating to seat six

*     ABS with EBD standard across all variants

*     Dual airbags available as option even on base variant

*    ISOFIX mounts for child seat on rear seat

*    Available in seven variants and seven colours

(With inputs from Geeta Nair in Pune)

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