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Date: 04 Nov 2019 Author Type: Press Release
Author: Julian Lurie edited by Liam Mothilall
Source: Julian Lurie
Mahindra is certainly making inroads into the South Africa automobile market and after spending a very enjoyable week with the latest XUV300, I can honestly say that it is really a nice car, draws a lot of attention, and is about to enter the next phase of its evolution. Built on the group's global X100 platform, the XUV300 (pronounced XUV three double O) carries its larger sibling's cheetah-inspired design language into a new generation of vehicles. At the same time, it introduces a new range of engines and a nearly unmatched level of specification to the local compact SUV segment, and it comes with both the latest petrol and diesel drive-trains and the choice of a W6 or W8 trim level.

The new XUV300 was launched in India, in February 2019, and South Africa is the first international market outside of India to get the new XUV300. Mr. Rajesh Gupta, CEO of Mahindra South Africa says that the compact SUV market in South Africa represents more than 25 000 units sales every year, and Mahindra has already generated over 26 000 bookings which are roughly equal to the total size of the compact SUV market in South Africa.

The new XUV300 is very attractive for a compact SUV. Viewed from the outside, most prominent are the dual LED-strip daytime running lights (DRLs), the aggressive grille, wide LED taillights, and diamond-cut 17” alloy wheels, shod with Bridgestone 215/55R17 tyres. The cheetah styling cues are further visible in the XUV300's squat stance, which is accentuated its 2.6-meter wheelbase in a body that is just short of 4 meters. This stance is further enhanced by wide and bold wheel arches, and large wheels on the furthest corners of the vehicle. Mahindra's design team also added a floating roof (color-coded roof on darkened side pillars), as well as side cladding and a wide rear-quarter hip line that flows into unique LED taillights, a roof-mounted spoiler, and high-mounted stop lamp. Like all Mahindra SUVs, the new XUV300 has elements of the group's signature design language that includes full volumes, sculpted sections, and muscled surfaces. It also has the distinctive Mahindra billet grille with chrome highlights on the highest specification level. On the W8 model, the design is accentuated by LED indicators in the heated and folding side mirrors, dual-tone roof rails, and silver front- and rear skid plates.

A brand-new model range deserves brand new engines and Mahindra has launched two new engines with the XUV300, offering buyers the choice of either a turbo-petrol or turbo-diesel engine. The first is a new three-cylinder 1.2-liter turbo-petrol engine, which delivers 81 kW at 5 000 r/min and a healthy 200 Nm of torque between 2 000 r/min and 3 500 r/min. The second engine option is a brand-new four-cylinder 1.5-liter turbo-diesel engine that delivers 85.8 kW at 3 750 r/min and 300 Nm in a flat band between 1 500 r/min and 2 500 r/min. All versions of the XUV300 are equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox, which transfers power from the engine to the front driving wheels. Gupta says that both the 1.2-liter petrol and 1.5-liter turbo-diesel engines have been subjected to extensive stress-testing at Gerotek, in Gauteng, and they are confident that they will not only offer exceptional durability but also deliver the type of acceleration and high-speed cruising power that South African drivers enjoy.

Moving to the interior, the new XUV300, Mahindra's designers have crafted the vehicle controls around the driver and have added a thick-rimmed steering wheel with steering controls, a large tachometer and speedometer, and a 17.78cm full color connected infotainment system on all models. The infotainment system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration on the W8 and has in-built turn-by-turn navigation with regional maps as standard across the range. The system also allows the driver to pre-set many of the vehicle functions, including the background display and, on the W8, the color of the LED-backlit instrument panel. The XUV300's infotainment system also features Mahindra's Bluesense app. This app tracks the driver's driving patterns and scores them on a set of environmentally friendly metrics. The driver can access this information and information on past trips from their phone's connected Bluesense app or smartwatch.

In addition to the infotainment system, all Mahindra XUV300 models are equipped with the new Smart Steering system. Controlled with a button below the infotainment system, the Smart Steering system allows the driver to change the steering feel between Comfort mode, which allows you to negotiate urban traffic with ease, a normal mode and Sport, with the latter offering a weightier and more responsive steering feel for a more thrilling drive experience.

The new XUV300 is available with two trim levels, both of which offer a high level of standard equipment and safety features, including the 17.78cm infotainment system, with an auxiliary port and USB connectivity. The W6 trim level is the most affordable entry into the XUV300 range and comes standard with air conditioning, electric windows, power steering with Smart Steering, premium black fabric trim, electrically adjustable side mirrors, and central locking. The Mahindra XUV W8 specification level comes standard with a long list of convenience and luxury equipment which includes a second USB charging point, an additional information screen between the color-customizable 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.

Mahindra has also added additional driving aids, including its Tyretronics tyre pressure warning system, front and rear parking sensors, a reverse parking camera with parking assistance and automatic rain-sensing wipers. Other creature comforts that come standard on the W8 specification level include; dual-zone climate control with three pre-set memory settings, keyless access with a start-stop button and automatic headlights. In the XUV300 W8, Mahindra has replaced the fabric seats with its luxurious leatherette upholstery. With its long wheelbase and width of 1.821 m, the XUV300 offers exceptional interior space for the driver and passengers, with ample head and shoulder room for adult occupants, including three adult passengers in the second row. The interior space is further improved by a near-flat floor in the rear with sculpted front seatbacks for additional rear legroom. In front, the driver has the benefit of a six-way adjustable seat and a height-adjustable steering wheel. In the rear, the luggage compartment can be extended both vertically, with the option of three height settings for the luggage floor and horizontally by folding the rear seats forward in a 60:40 configuration.

The Mahindra XUV300 offers category-best safety and security features. The W6 specification level is equipped with ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, cornering braking control and discs on all four wheels. It also has impact-sensing door locks and a high-mounted stop lamp in the rear spoiler. An emergency braking signaling system is fitted to all models, as are ISOFIX child anchors on the rear seats. The W8 specification level adds 5 more airbags; side, curtain and a driver knee airbag to the list totaling to a class-leading 7 airbags, while also adding electronic stability (ESP) with rollover mitigation. The XUV300 W8 also adds warning lights on the front doors, hill-hold assistance, an anti-theft alarm system and seatbelt reminders on all seats.

Getting into the XUV300 W8 is surprisingly easy, despite it being a little higher than a car. Inside the cabin is well finished, more luxurious than one would have expected, and there’s a comfortable air of quality throughout the cabin, with new materials to the dashboard and door trims, as well as to the center fascia. The front bucket seats are well-bolstered and comfortable, and there’s still plenty of room in the second row, even behind longer-legged front-seat passengers. The rear bench will easily accommodate three adults in comfort, and the boot is fairly spacious and should be able to pack plenty of luggage when going the annual holiday. The multi-function 3-spoke steering wheel is adjustable for height and all instruments are decently positioned. The manual gear lever has a higher quality look and feel, as well as improving comfort when actuating shifts.

Over the week I had the XUV300, I took it on to some good roads and also some with very poor surfaces, but on all, the W8 acquitted itself very well. On the freeways, the turbo-diesel engine cruises effortlessly at the 120 km/h limit with the motor turning at just 2 300 rpm and with 300 kW of torque available right from low revs, long inclines hardly hamper its progress. There is also almost no lag, and throttle response is immediate, while the six-speed manual gearbox is smooth, precise and well-weighted. On the highway, the Mahindra XUV300 6-speed manual is pleasant and an easy vehicle to drive, straight-line stability is also really good. The steering is well-weighted, body lean is well controlled, and the SUV is really entertaining to drive on the twisty stuff. On the freeway, the XUV300 will cruise nicely at the 120 km/h limit with the motor ticking over at just under 3 000 rpm. Tyre and wind noise is kept to a minimum, even on the highway, which helps to give the XUV300 SUV an inviting and somewhat up-market ambiance on the move. Engine noise is also well suppressed, and it’s quiet even when idling. Thanks to its well-tuned suspension, the XUV handles imperfections like potholes and rough tar very well, and the car’s good turning circle makes it easy to maneuver in restricted areas. At fairly high speeds in the bends, there is very little body roll, and the light but direct steering makes the XUV easy to handle, and even at speed, it is well-balanced and re-acts well to driver input.

The recommended retail selling price of the Mahindra XUV300 W8 1.5 Diesel SUV is R 324 999 which includes an impressive 5-year / 150 000 km warranty, a standard 5-year / 90 000 km service plan and 24/7 standard Roadside Assistance. Mahindra states that to enhance the value offering and to ensure complete peace of mind to their customers, XUV300 will come with an optional Maintenance Plan for 5 years / 90 000 km.
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