Mahindra XUV300 Turbo Sport: 13 observations after a short test drive

For a car of its dimensions, it has surprisingly little body roll. The ride quality is impressive too, though it is no Nexon.

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Test drove the XUV300 Turbo Sport today. Drove it for about 15 minutes. Here are some quick points:

  • The virtues of everything about the XUV300 besides its engine are well known. I am extremely impressed by its cabin insulation, and ride and handling balance. Around curves, it is probably only the EcoSport in its segment which can beat it. For a car of its dimensions, it has surprisingly little body roll. The ride quality is impressive too, though it is no Nexon.
  • The steering is lifeless. It doesn’t feel dangerous or anything, but there’s no feedback. The steering modes do help and aren’t a mere gimmick. I would pick comfort for thick traffic and sport for the highways.
  • The clutch is light and comfortable. It is easy to find the biting point. But, there is a long travel after the biting point. So your sitting position must be defined only by the position of the biting point because your foot will actually never need to reach the floor while depressing the clutch. I would have liked a telescopic steering to sort the driving position out properly.
  • Gear throws are a little longer than I’d like, but it actually slots pretty comfortably. I think Mahindra would have done well to simply reduce the height/ length of the gear lever. There is also some ergonomic inconvenience from the arm rest. I’m about 5 feet and 9 inches tall, and the arm rest feels like it is in an awkward position when I’m shifting. My elbow feels too high.
  • Braking is confidence inspiring and good, although the pedal feels spongy. I suspect you’ll get used to it.
  • Fit and finish is good. The touchscreen is reasonably responsive and simple. Certainly not the best in its segment. The same can be said about the audio quality. Much has been said about the dashboard feeling like it is from an earlier generation. This is true, but the fit and finish is still good enough. The AC fan-speed’s knob could have felt nicer though. And all the red horizontal lines of buttons are a bit of an eye-sore and are not easy to operate. The light on the inner ring in the two dials (speedometer and tachometer) in the instrument cluster feels cheesy. It even changes colour.
  • And now the meat of the matter. The new engine is extremely refined. It is easy to think the engine to be off when it is in fact on. And this refinement is absolutely not like the refinement which people attribute to Marutis – a way to say the engine lacks grunt. There is a little lag until 1,500 RPM. The engine wakes up at 1,500 and really is in its element from 1,700-1,800 or so. It never seems to lose steam at all. I couldn’t push it much in today’s test drive, but at 2,500-3,000 it seemed somehow perfectly calm and in a tearing hurry all at once. It is fun to drive. The space until 1,500 rpm isn’t exactly dull either. It is only in the context of the push after the turbo kicks in that it seems insufficient. It is a tractable engine too. Third gear will have you moving from ~20 kmph without too much of a fuss if you’re gentle on the throttle; second gear through most speed-breakers is a breeze. Even when it shudders when you lug the engine at a low RPM, almost nothing filters into the cabin. (I can’t praise the insulation and refinement enough). This is not a fun-to-drive car that will leave you annoyed driving at low city speeds or in bumper-to-bumper traffic. You won’t have to wait too long for the turbo to kick in while moving off at signals either. There is, as I said, some lag, but it isn’t going to annoy you. The only thing I really didn’t like about this engine is that at idling RPM, certainly on the second gear but also on the first, the car moves a little faster than you’d like for moving through slow traffic. I don’t know if this observation is valid at all. Maybe it is subjective and I am moved by the biases created by the cars I am used to.
  • The car feels really sturdy, safe, solid and assured. Everything about it is calm – its engine under high demands from a greedy right foot, and its suspension around a curve under high demands from a greedy right foot. But then those are just “feelings.”
  • The rear seats are a smidge lower than I’d like.
  • The horn is good but there’s nothing special about it.
  • Everything on the touchscreen, the instrument cluster and the buttons and knobs seemed to work fine.
  • The boot is a compromise. It is small, but I think reviews on YouTube and other fora may have been too harsh on it. I think a proper assessment of its size can only be made if you see it in person. Remember that the floor of the boot can be set at two levels. Again, it is small, and it feels like the boot of a hatchback, but don’t be fully disillusioned by all the criticism it has received.
  • I really had to struggle to get the test drive though. I finally got it from PPS Motors, Indiranagar. He agreed to come yesterday (05.11.2022) at 1600 hrs. He called at 1300 hrs yesterday and asked if he could come earlier, by 1530. I agreed. At 1400, he calls and says he’ll be a little late, maybe 1630. At 1630, he says the car has gone to a customer at the other end of the city and that it is on its way back to the dealership. At 1745 or so, I call him and he asks if the car hasn’t reached yet. He then discovers that the car ran out of fuel on the way to the other customer and had not actually reached there. At 1800, or so he gave up and offered to come today at 1100. He showed up at 1200.

Meanwhile, Anant Cars had the car for just two days and we couldn’t find a time at which the SA’s schedules, the car’s schedule and my schedule would match.

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