So last week I was handed a unique opportunity, I've been writing about cars for the past 7 years and for the first time I drove a car which had an embargo on it, which means I couldn't tell anyone I drove it or how it was since the official local launch only happened this week. Call me childish but it felt pretty cool in a way, driving around in something that is almost a secret to many. Also I was one of the first journalists to get behind the wheel of one. Anyway the embargo is over and the car has been officially launch, so let me tell you how my brief drive with the all new Mahindra XUV300 went.
So first things first, the name of the car, its not three hundred, it's pronounced three double oh, yeah found that odd but I appreciate that they want to be unique or maybe that is how its pronounced in India. Also Mahindra has close ties with Durban as they have a small assembly plant at Dube Trade Port, where they put together various models, most notably their Pick-Up, so getting to drive the XUV300 on "home territory" was pretty cool. Moving on to the car, looks wise, Mahindra have done a great job, keeping the styling on point, and much different from their previous models. It has a more Euro styled front with elongated grille which tied into the sharp lights and the lines extend from the bottom of the headlamps to the fogs on the bumper below.
Mahindra were sneaky in the design of this vehicle, as with tax laws in India, cars under the 4m length get taxed differently hence you'll find the XUV300 coming in just under that 4m mark. The wheel base is well spaced giving the car a greater feel of stability around bends. The XUV300 enters the local market in two engine options, the 1.2L turbo-petrol (81kw/ 200Nm) and a 1.5L turbo-diesel, both with manual gearboxes. For my drive I had the diesel engine, which is a complete brand new engine by Mahindra and from what I was told, torque vectoring was adjusted for our country, it produces 85.8kW and 300Nm of torque. That's a lot of torque for this little car. Taking the XUV300 on the open road gave me the opportunity to push the limits of the engine and with it being on the coast, the engine would perform better than up country. I was impressed with the smoothness of the ride, handling of the vehicle on the open road as well as how it kept composed in the high winds. Seeing that we had the car for a short time, we wanted to get some pictures of it. So I took it on some dirt road driving and it was pretty much the same as on tar road surfaces. The car didn't slide around, or get bothered at all.
Having a look at the interior of the cabin, while it is almost a budget type of vehicle, the styling is brilliant. While the light colours might not be everyone's cup of tea, it does give the cabin that sense of luxury and comfort. The seats were comfortable and offered in various trims. The XUV300 comes with a full touch screen infotainment center which syncs to your phone via bluetooth and a cool feature is that you can link it to certain smart watches and even get an app for the car, giving you vitals of it, like your fuel level. The cars tech side is very on point with it being Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatible as well as giving you the option to share your stats via Twitter, Facebook or even on Whatsapp.
Mahindra has been in our market for quite some time now and while many never really noticed them, people who do own them, swear by them. I've met many Mahindra owners who always had stories to tell me about their vehicles, only good ones at that. I feel that the XUV300 is the car to break the name into the market and get the attention of people who would never consider the brand. It's the perfect sort of vehicle for today's climate, decent size, packs all the latest gadgets and very economical. It slots into the market in the Ford Ecosport and Hyundai Creta sort of segment and with the two model variants being the W6 and W8 which are pretty feature packed, I can see it getting some good sales in the future.
Pricing on the XUV
XUV300 W6 1.2L Petrol: R249 999 (incl VAT)
XUV300 W6 1.5L Diesel: R274 999 (incl VAT)
XUV300 W8 1.2L Petrol: R304 999 (incl VAT)
XUV300 W8 1.5L Petrol: R324 999 (incl VAT)