Mahindra SA is an automotive company on the rise. Last year the Indian automaker sold just over 5 500 units locally, increasing its sales share against a sliding market and making it one of the fastest growing brands in SA. It’s no wonder when you look at its current portfolio that comprises almost entirely of SUVs. This week the Mahindra XUV300 was launched to help the company maintain its current upward trajectory.
What is it?
As mentioned, Mahindra SA offers mainly SUV/crossover products. The small KUV100 crossover and large XUV500 SUV are just two of the company’s offerings, which include the TUV300 and go-anywhere Thar. This newest model, the Mahindra XUV300 fills a gap in that range.
In Mahindra’s line-up, it is a mid-size model, but based on its dimensions it is a small crossover in the same vein as Hyundai’s Kona, Volkswagen’s Cross Polo, Ford’s EcoSport and the Renault Duster. It is quite compact in size with an extremely short rear overhang.
Click here to read our Hyundai Kona launch report.
The XUV300 has been styled in-house by Mahindra. Its appearance is modern, as witnessed by the LED DRLs and taillamps, and quite European in execution; we see a hint of Peugeot 3008 in its lines. Were it not for the Mahindra badge most onlookers would not easily guess its origin.
What’s it like inside?
Cars from the sub-continent were often criticised for their interior treatment. Materials were of an iffy quality and colour choices were usually dubious. The Mahindra XUV300 does away with all those foibles of old.
The cabin boasts a clean and tidy layout with a full-colour touchscreen infotainment screen taking pride of place on the facia. Black is the colour of choice for the upper half of the dashboard, with a light cashew the colour of trim and upholstery in the W8 models.
What options do they offer?
For now, Mahindra SA is offering four derivatives. There are two engine options, a 1,2-litre turbopetrol (81 kW/200 N.m) and a 1,5-litre turbodiesel (86 kW/300 N.m). And there are two trim options dubbed W6 and W8.
The aforementioned infotainment screen is standard across the range and includes USB connectivity as well as an Aux port. W6 versions have air-conditioning, electric windows, two front airbags, ABS, black fabric upholstery and remote central locking as part of the standard make-up.
W8 owners can expect a lot more, such as seven airbags, a sunroof, satellite navigation, tyre-pressure monitoring, a reversing camera, an electronic stability programme, hill-hold functionality, parking sensors front and rear, 17-inch alloys, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, leatherette upholstery, cruise control and dual-zone climate control among others.
How does it go?
The national media ride and drive took place in the Western Cape, from Cape Town International Airport through the Winelands and back. During our 200-odd km behind the wheel we had the chance to sample a wide variety of terrain.
On motorways the Mahindra XUV300 W8 diesel has a loping gait that belies its short wheelbase. The small turbocharged motor has enough torque to remain in higher gears for most of the journey. When the road surface wasn’t ideal the ride quality impressed as it soaked up imperfections and bumps along the byways of the Winelands. Thankfully the ride doesn’t fall on the sporty end of the scale, which means it will suit the tastes of most buyers.
All in all our impression of the Mahindra XUV300 was favourable… especially when one factors in the price (see below for pricing). Mahindra SA has been extremely aggressive with its pricing. It’s no secret that the buying trend over the past few years has been towards SUVs/crossovers, in part it accounts for Mahindra’s sales success locally.
In the XUV300 the company has created an appealing product without the styling quirkiness of the smaller KUV100 or the size (which most people may not need) of the XUV500. Mahindra SA spokespersons stated that the company received an unprecedented 400 pre-bookings for the XUV300, so don’t be surprised when you start to see many of these on the roads soon.
XUV300 W6 1,2 petrol: R249 999
XUV300 W6 1,5 diesel: R274 999
XUV300 W8 1,2 petrol: R304 999
XUV300 W8 1,5 diesel: R324 999
All prices include a 5-year/150 000 km manufacturer warranty plus a 5-year/90 000 km service plan, which includes roadside assistance.