A little known fact is that Ssangyong Tivoli, the cute compact SUV on which Mahindra XUV300 is based, is named after the Italian town of Tivoli, and the name, apparently, was chosen because it can be read as ‘I LOVe IT’ in reverse. That pretty much describes how you might feel about the XUV300—a Tivoli reengineered for the Indian market. We drive it near Pushkar in Rajasthan.
How does it look?
The XUV300 is slightly shorter than the Tivoli, so that it fits into the Indian sub-4 metre passenger vehicle segment. Its projector headlamps, DRLs, front grille and wheel arches look somewhat similar to those found on the bigger XUV500. The front and sides have a lot of chiselled body lines, making the XUV300 look lean and muscular. What add to the expressive design language are dual-tone roof rails, side cladding, large wheels, and a floating roof pattern. (From certain angles, and to some people I showed this SUV to, the XUV300 appears to have borrowed design cues from Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, and from certain other angles Hyundai Creta.)
How roomy is the cabin?
All Mahindra vehicles are known for being spacious, and the XUV300 is no exception. It’s the most spacious SUV in its segment—it’s the widest (1,821mm) and has the longest wheelbase (2,600mm). Three large-sized adults can easily sit at rear. The boot space, however, isn’t the best in segment, with the spare tyre taking up much space.
The cabin looks and feels premium: The quality is clearly better than what you find in, say, the Vitara Brezza. In the W8 variant I drove, there is leatherette upholstery plus leather-wrapped steering and gear knob, chrome inside door handles, dual-tone black & beige dashboard, push button engine start/stop, electric sunroof, steering-mounted controls, height-adjustable driver seat, 60:40 second-row split seat, flat floor … you don’t really need anything extra in a vehicle in this segment.
And then there are some features from a segment higher, such as dual-zone automatic AC, seven-inch touchscreen with GPS navigation, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, Micro Hybrid engine start/stop system, rear parking camera with assist, cruise control, auto-dimming rear-view mirror … the list is long.
In short, the top-end variant of the XUV300 offers you some features that are usually found in cars priced, say, Rs 20 lakh and above.
Which engines power it?
The diesel is the 1497cc turbo engine (115bhp power and 300Nm torque). The petrol is the three-cylinder 1197cc turbo engine (110bhp power and 200Nm torque). Both are mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. There are three steering modes also: Comfort, Normal and Sport (to suit your driving conditions), but I didn’t find any major difference in steering inputs in the three modes.
How does it drive?
I drove the petrol, and this tiny turbo engine is so powerful that from any speed to any speed, it just shoots the XUV300 ahead as soon as you release the clutch. So while initial acceleration is quite good (0-100kph in about 12 seconds), acceleration through the gears is a revelation, and overtaking long vehicles on a highway at even speeds of above 100kph is as easy as 1-2-3.
However, because it’s a three-cylinder unit, the engine is noisy. Also, while it returns very good mileage on the highway (from Delhi to Pushkar, driving on cruise control in sixth gear at 90kph, it returned 18.4kpl), in urban traffic the mileage drops to 13-14kpl.
As far as driving comfort and handling is concerned, an area where the XUV300 is perhaps the best in its segment is driving on broken roads, where its suspension ensures minimum vibrations enter the cabin. Similarly, on the highway, the vehicle rides planted on the road even at high speeds.
Overall, both the petrol and diesel engines deliver best-in-segment torque, and so both are fun to drive and promise amazing acceleration.
Should you buy it?
The XUV300 is available in three variants: W4, W6 and W8, and one optional pack on the W8 variant. It is available in six monotone colours and two dual-tone colours, and there are enough accessory choices for making your vehicle stand out. Prices start at Rs 7.9 lakh for the W4 petrol and Rs 8.49 for W4 diesel (ex-showroom, all-India).
It’s the most spacious SUV in its segment, is available in both diesel and petrol (unlike Vitara Brezza that comes only in diesel), it has the most powerful engines (torque), and looks handsome. Its mileage is not the best in segment, but ride quality and handling is good. If you have to buy, the W8 variant is the one you must consider: For Rs 10.25-10.8 lakh, you get an SUV that has some features usually seen in luxury cars.