On Thursday Mahindra & Mahindra entered the compact SUV space when it launched the Mahindra TUV300. Available only in diesel, the TUV300 will not only compete with small SUVs such as Hyundai Creta, Renault Duster and Nissan Terrano, but also with crossover cars such as Hyundai i20 Active, Fiat Avventura, Maruti S-Cross and Ford EcoSport.
The company, which had earlier failed with a compact utility vehicle attempt (the Quanto), has priced the SUV competitively – from Rs 6.98 lakh to Rs 9.2 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
Unlike most modern car designs, the TUV300 looks boxy. In fact, the exterior design harks back to Mahindra’s Bolero days. It gets a bold grille with chrome inserts, imposing bumpers, static bending headlamps, ski racks, side and rear footsteps, sporty alloy wheels, high ground clearance and a tailgate-mounted spare wheel. But everything is boxy. The TUV300 is a very, very tough looking SUV. Overall, it is clearly a love-me-or-hate-me design.
However, it is the interiors where there is a generation of a difference. The plastic quality is very good, trim levels are decorous, and there are ample features and gadgetry in the cabin. It is clearly the best Mahindra cabin until now. Space is a Mahindra forte and the TUV300 has loads of it. In fact, there are two jump seats at the rear so the TUV300, technically, has three rows of seating and a 5+2 seating configuration. The new steering wheel feels good to hold and is unlike the ones fitted in most Mahindra vehicles.
The TUV300 is powered by the 1.5-litre mHawk80 engine that produces a peak output of 80 bhp and a torque of 230 Nm. The company-claimed fuel-efficiency figure is 18.49 kmpl. It is the first compact SUV that comes with an automated manual transmission (AMT) option – Mahindra has branded it as autoSHIFT.