Yes, it gets the Bolero name but looks like a TUV300 upgrade. So what do you make out of it? Essentially, the Bolero Neo, which is an all-new vehicle made on a new platform is a TUV300 replacement but Mahindra is using the Bolero Neo name to do away with the poor sales of the first-generation TUV300. We got a chance to drive around the all-new Bolero Neo on a specially curated off-road track. Here is what we think about the new offering.
Even though you will see TUV300 inspired design on the Bolero Neo, Mahindra has done a significant job to make it look much better. First of all, Mahindra has worked on the stance of the vehicle. The height of the bonnet and the roof has come down by a bit. Also, the thick cladding on the side will give you an illusion of a lower beltline, which makes the Bolero Neo look much better in proportion and stance.
At the front, Mahindra envisioned an updated version of the Bolero and has added a vertical slat chrome grille. The headlamps are enclosed in the grille that adds a modern touch. The Bolero Neo looks solid, especially with that chunky looking bumper and a faux skid plat that also works as a registration plate holder.
On the side, apart from the above-mentioned changes to improve the stance, Mahindra has also added cladding. One thick cladding that runs from the front to the rear. The second cladding is around the wheel arches. This small change sure adds a muscular look to the Bolero Neo. The wheel size is 15-inches so the wheel wells do not fill up. However, the articulation because of the third-generation chassis is quite good so the space in the wheel wells do have a job.
The rear part mostly remains the same. There is a spare wheel inside a newly designed holder that further adds to the muscular look. It also gets rectangular tail lamps that takes up space on the D-Pillar. It still gets the sideway opening tailgate that opens up to two jump seats.
Changes in the cabin?
Let’s continue with the jump seats. The foldable side-facing seats are good for children of a certain age. An age in which most of them remain cranky enough to not use those seats for long. These foldable seats can be removed and you would not feel that you are missing a feature in the Bolero Neo.
The second-row gets a bench seat with a foldable armrest. The seats are not split but offer a good amount of space for three. You can easily fit three and four passengers with little uneasiness. There are no rear AC vents or charging solutions. The passenger in the middle will get that extra space and a clear view of the road ahead. It does feel like an airy cabin even though there is no sunroof.
The doors get large bottle holders and a power window button. It is important to mention the power window button because there is none in the front doors. All four power windows are located between the seats. The front seats are comfortable though. The top-end N10 variant offers attached armrests that are not adjustable but are very comfortable.
The dashboard will remind you of TUV300+. It is in a similar dual-tone theme but the infotainment system is new. It is a 7.0-inch touchscreen system that offers Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Mahindra BlueSense. The steering wheel gets buttons to control the infotainment and the instrument cluster. The instrument cluster gets the semi-digital system. There is a monochrome MID in the middle.
So how is it to drive?
I only drove around an off-road track so I will only talk about that. Since it is a new chassis, the road behaviour must be quite different compared to the TUV300 and the standard Bolero. To test that, we will do a video review later.
The driver seat in the Bolero Neo sits quite high. You get a clear view of what lies ahead and that is quite useful when it comes to off-roading. The first obstacle was a muddy rut that the Bolero crossed quite effortlessly. We also tested its capacity to tilt sideways. Since it is a new chassis, it did quite well. Then we went through a deep pit, which tested its overhangs and the Bolero Neo scored a perfect 10.
We also did a small rock climb to test its breakover angle. Well, till now, most other SUVs from the segment will be able to do these obstacles with a little ruffle in their feathers and scratches here and there. But the last challenge of chicken pits was the highlight of this car.
Mahindra has added the MLD or the Mechanical Locking Differential in the N10 or the top-end model of the Bolero Neo. That means, it can do wonders in such situations. A steady input of the throttle activates the MLD and you get the confirmation through a metallic thud. After that, it just glides through the pits.
MLD works when the wheel, which is free moves above a certain rpm and a flywheel mechanism open to engaging the latching bracket. This ensures that both the wheels move at the same speed and the Bolero Neo N10 does not get stuck anywhere. Now no other SUV will be able to do this bit.
So good enough to buy?
It is affordable, looks good, can go through most of the surfaces if you will visit and offers good comfort. What it does not offer is features and a feel of owning a premium vehicle. There are a few quality issues too. Like if you open the glove box, it will reveal the air filter too. It will be a good choice for many in the Tier-II and Tier-II cities. But I don’t see a Bolero Neo stuck in a traffic jam of the metro-cities in India.