Car Review: New Mahindra XUV300

Mahindra’s brand-new, city-friendly, compact SUV is here. We recently spent some time with it, so here’s what you should know…

Mahindra has officially introduced its all-new compact SUV to our local market and with it comes a fresh, city-friendly design, an interior that steps up from its siblings, as well as some new features to keep customers connected and safe on the road.

The new XUV300 takes on the likes of the Ford EcoSport, the Renault Captur and the Hyundai Creta, and Mahindra hopes that its latest offering will allow customers to ‘Rise’. We joined Mahindra in the Cape to see what its latest compact SUV is like to look at, to drive and to be in…

To look at

Styling for the new Mahindra XUV300 might just be the reason customers opt for this model instead of others in Mahindra’s SUV range. It’s a lot more up-to-date in terms of design, and dare I say, ‘nicer-looking’ than some of its family members. I like what Mahindra has done with the XUV300, particularly from the front where chrome detailing and a sleek-looking grille give it a sense of sophistication and class. From the side, it’s far less bulky-looking and better proportioned than some of of Mahindra’s other products, while the rear shows character with distinct tail lights and a nicely sculpted tailgate.

For now customers have three different exterior colours to choose from: Dynamic Red, Pearl White and DSat Silver.

To be in

Step inside the Mahindra XUV300 and just like its exterior, you might be pleasantly surprised – more so of course in the W8 variant with all its attractive features. The W6 variant offers air conditioning, electric windows, power steering with Smart Steering, premium black fabric trim, electrically adjustable side mirrors and central locking.

On the W8 you can expect a lot more luxury features like a second USB charging point, an additional information screen between the colour-customisable LED-lit instrument cluster and electric windows with express up- and down function with anti-pinch technology. There is a glass tilt-and-slide sunroof, also with anti-pinch technology, cruise control and an integrated voice command system with steering-mounted controls. For now, the interior of the W8 comes standard with (white) leather upholstery only, and while it adds to the cabin’s fresh and luxurious look, this might put you off if you’ve got kids and pets who regularly travel with you. That being said, these seats are super comfy, especially the front seats with well bolstered sides that keep you supported and snug behind the wheel.

In terms of space and roominess well, there’s a lot of it! We noticed almost instantly how much legroom there was for rear passengers, even when I was sitting behind my tall co-driver. There are also loads of storage compartments around the cabin for things like water bottles, phones, keys and so on, and the XUV300’s boot space capacity is 259-litres – pretty generous for a compact SUV.

As standard in the top-of-the-range W8 variant, you get seven airbags (the W6 only offers two), a sunroof and a steering-wheel correction system that helps you straighten things out after those tricky parking maneuvers.

Adding onto the XUV300’s list of standard safety features, the W8 variant gets roll-over mitigation and Electronic Brake Stability (ESP), as well as warning lights on the front doors, hill-hold assistance, an anti-theft alarm system and seatbelt reminders on all seats.

To drive

At launch we only had the 1.5-litre turbo-diesel engine to test, which delivers 85.8 kW of power and 300 Nm of torque, but there is also a 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine for customers to opt for. The petrol derivative offers 81 kW of power and 200 Nm of torque. For now, all derivatives come with a 6-speed manual gearbox which we enjoyed while driving over various mountain passes and highways. It’s responsive and well mated to the punchiness of the engine, making overtaking or pushing up steep hills a fuss-free affair, so we’re looking forward to seeing how the petrol variant plays out in similar conditions.

It’s fairly quiet on the road and I don’t seem to recall much road or wind noise – not enough to bother me anyway. Mahindra’s clever steering system allows you to change between different settings (Normal, Comfort and Sport) to give you the desired amount of weight from the steering wheel. Sport Mode tightens the feedback up and helps when dealing with tight corners on mountain passes, while other modes are useful during tricky parking conditions, or while taking a relaxing drive on the highway.

To buy

While the XUV300 may have its work cut out for it in such a competitive and busy segment, Mahindra’s latest little SUV has a lot of potential, particularly from its new, urban-friendly design and a spec-sheet that’s jam-packed with cool new features. It might not be the most powerful compact SUV, but I suspect that high-performance isn’t what its customers are after, but rather, good looks and exciting interior features at an attractive price.

The introductory retail pricing for the model range is:

XUV300 W6 1.2 Petrol: R 249 999 (Incl. VAT)

XUV300 W6 1.5 Diesel: R 274 999 (Incl. VAT)

XUV300 W8 1.2 Petrol: R 304 999 (Incl. VAT)

XUV300 W8 1.5 Diesel: R 324 999 (Incl. VAT)