Most of the carmakers we know of have started out with petrol engines and then moved on to diesels. The desi ones like Mahindra as well as Tata have done the other way though. Diesel first and then petrols. Mahindra especially took a long time to get their petrol engines. We saw a modern petrol in a Mahindra in 2016 when the KUV100 was launched. This engine set the tone for future Mahindra petrol engines. It is still in use in the KUV as well as in a higher state of tune in the Mahindra XUV300. The engine in the KUV100 is a naturally aspirated motor while the one in the XUV300 is a turbocharged unit. Of course, the power outputs are different too, with the KUV’s unit making 83hp of power whereas the XUV300’s motor makes a superior 120hp of power.
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We have also seen this engine in the XUV300 Sportz version that was shown at the Auto Expo and promised a power output of 130hp. That this engine never saw the light of the day is another story. Express Drives spoke with R Velusamy, Chief of Global Product Development (Automotive), Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd on the challenges the company faced during the making of petrol engines. Velusamy told us that the mandate for developing petrol powertrains came in as early as 2009. A 72 person workforce was put into place for making the petrol engines. At the onset, three petrol engines were planned. These were the 1.2-litre, 1.5-litre and the 2.0-litre. For the 1.2 and 1.5, being small capacity engines, the bore and stroke were kept the same with the swept volume being different.
Mahindra engineers kept the base 1.2-litre MPFi engine with variable valve timing. There was also testing done with CNG as a fuel. The latter bore results as the KUV100 Trip – car for the fleet markets. Of course, the turbocharged version was always in the background – the same motor in the XUV300. At present, Mahindra offers the 1.2-litre turbo, naturally aspirated as well as the 2.0-litre turbo in their modern cars. The 1.5-litre engine is yet to be launched and we think it could be provided with the upcoming XUV300 7-seater.
Velusamy said that the challenge was to ensure that the NVH of the petrol engines was lower than the diesel units and acceptable by segment standards. Customers will usually accept a diesel engine as having the gravelly note but for a petrol motor to be loud, it was completely unacceptable. This was kept in mind while developing the petrol engines. Modern technologies like friction reduction techniques, special coating for the pistons and so on were included. Higher fuel-efficiency was also something that was factored in during the engine development. Velusamy chimes in by saying that the Mahindra engines are always known for spirited performance and the idea was to ensure good city driveability with minimal gear changes.
Speaking of which, we asked Velusamy if a transmission is always kept in mind while designing an engine or is it amalgamated later? Velusamy said that when the petrol engines were being developed, they checked the characteristic of the motor and accordingly paired a transmission. For example, for the relatively lower-powered 1.2 and 1.5-litre engines, a manual, AMT as well as DCT were considered. The DCT though never made the cut, perhaps due to the higher cost. For bigger engines like the 2.0-litre turbo petrol from the Thar, a torque converter works the best. Velusamy also elaborated that for the 2.0-litre turbo petrol, the starting power is 150hp whereas it can be significantly bumped depending on the car it will be used in.
The upcoming Mahindra XUV700 for example might use the same 2.0-litre engine but in a higher state of tune – closer to 180hp (likely). All these engines and transmissions were designed to be Euro-V compliant from the onset. This being said, the looming question about the future of these engines was lurking on our minds. Velusamy elucidated that these engines will easily make it past the CAFE norms that will soon be implemented in India. He also mentioned the use of a 48V architecture to meet the cut with the upcoming new emission norms. This means, the Mahindra XUV700 might just have a 48V architecture to it, paired with the 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine. Lesser emissions as well as higher level of refinement is usually a given with such powertrains. Moreover, some amount of electrical assistance too is provided during the drive experience, thereby allowing for a higher driving pleasure without having adverse effects on the surroundings.