Mahindra’s experience with the sub 4-meter segment can be described as okay at best. The Quanto managed decent sales figures early in its life but that slowly declined, and sales of the Verito Vibe never really picked up. But now, with the launch of the TUV300 and the upcoming, more car-like codenamed S101 crossover, the Indian automobile major appears to change its own fate. But before we digress into astrological stuff, let’s have a look at what the battle tank inspired (not kidding; that’s what Mahindra says) TUV300 has up its sleeve:
Much like the Quanto, the TUV 300 also comes with two jump seats at the rear. And that makes it a seven seater. Okay, the seats are better left folded (and used only in emergency) but the reason why Mahindra could think of adding two extra seats at the rear when its competitors didn’t offer any (beyond the second row) is the fact that the TUV has the longest wheelbase among its peers (bar the Duster and the Quanto), at 2.68 metres. And that while maintaining the shortest length (at 3.995 metres), is an achievement in itself – a clear example of wise utilisation of limited space.
That means interior space isn’t too compromised! Also, the TUV is the widest among the lot (EcoSport, Duster, Terrano, and Creta) but is only bested by the ageing Quanto. Leave the Quanto out of the equation, and the TUV is the tallest, too, which adds a few millimetres of headroom.
Least expensive to buy
If you’re on a budget, then the TUV300 can potentially offer the best cost-effective motoring. Prices start at Rs 6.9 lakh, ex-showroom, for the manual gearbox version, and go all the way up to Rs 9.2 lakhs for the fully equipped T8 AMT variant.
The base diesel engined versions of the Duster and the Creta are priced around that (Rs 9 lakh onwards) while the EcoSport diesel’s range starts at about Rs 7.5 lakh. The Terrano is the most expensive here, with its base version available for a little above Rs 10 lakhs.
Styling is a subjective matter, but Mahindra is quite confident with that of the TUV300. While no amount of PowerPoint slides will make anyone understand the the tank reference, the square styling theme is executed well here.
It’s easily the most unique looking vehicle in the segment, and with accessories on, it looks even better. And the lack of an AWD system means venturing out in the slush won’t be the best idea, but the TUV looks really good when dirty.
The prominent lines seem to work fine, and unlike the more soft-roader like appeal of its competition, the TUV’s relatively macho appearance helps it a lot. Having said that, it’s not a very pleasing design, either. The front bumper and the rear end could have been better designed, while a size or two larger wheels would really change the way it appears.
It’s as if you’re playing a game of monopoly and are on a spree of losing everything, until one move tchanges it all. AMT is that move!
Thankfully the TUV doesn’t solely rely on AMT as its USP. The presence of an automatic transmission is confined to the EcoSport (petrol) and Creta (diesel), both of which are more expensive than the AMT variants of TUV.
Available in two trims: T6 Plus and T8, the automated manual transmission is a computer controlled 5-speed unit. Being an AMT, it’s a less complex system than full fledged automatics, and is cheaper, too.
Cornering lamps and neat interior
(Image courtesy: Overdrive)
Let’s first talk about the interior. Unlike the quirky and overly squarish exterior, the interior of the TUV 300 is conventional. And not by Mahindra standards. The centre console might resemble that of the Maruti Suzuki S-Cross a little (thanks to the hexagonal design) but the fit and finish is ahead of what Mahindra usually offers. And while the TUV might not beat the Creta in terms of interior styling, the design and materials used don’t leave the TUV feeling too short-changed.
As mentioned earlier, it’s comfortable inside, but it’s not utilitarian by any means.
Off to the cornering lamps, now. These static bending headlamps enhance the visibility by illuminating the road ahead while cornering. That’s a neat feature, and much like the rest of the TUV, it isn’t a gimmick.