Mahindra XUV300 1.5TD W8

Slick XUV300 a major Mahindra step

Mahindras have always been quirky, so I suppose it was fortuitous that this middle SUV market has progressed so quirky. It is perhaps also apt that the Indian carmaker’s next step to the more conventional is into a market that is already moving towards quirky anyway…

A brand built on a rudimentary, rugged and highly respected farm bakkie core, Mahindra has more recently taken a more conventional approach since the bargain XUV500 SUV and XUV100 mini-SUV brought a breath of fresh air to the bottom end of the market. And now this.

Look at it and you’d be forgiven for believing that XUV300 is the love child between an Evoque and a Tiguan, because essentially it is. A significant achievement considering the level of quality, design and build to pull off being compared to that duo’s lofty expectation.

XUV three-double-oh carries its sibling’ edgy design language as it delivers a most impressive level of spec to chase its slice of the compact SUV segment. Headlined by cool daytime running lights and an aggro grille accentuated by a long 2.6-metre wheelbase in a short 4 metre overall length and overhangs punctuated by Maserati-like LED taillights and skid plates under a floating roof with slick rails atop too, this W8 version rides on 17” diamond cut alloys.

Accessed keylessly and crafted around the driver, a contemporary cabin proved perhaps the biggest surprise as leatherette clad sculpted back pew sets you down in command position behind a thick-rimmed height-adjustable multifunction steering and backlit LED dials with an info screen. There’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with voice control, navigation, an aux port and dual USBs and Bluesense to score your frugal driving and stores the data on your mobile, to keep you entertained.

Add cruise and dual-zone climate controls, anti-pinch power windows and a glass sunroof, while a reversing camera with parking sensors, auto wipers and headlights and tyre pressure warning adds a sense of security above class-leading 7 airbags and ABS EBS disc brakes with cornering control. W8 also gets ESP with rollover mitigation and hill-hold, impact-sensing locks, ISOFIX anchors, a near-flat rear floor and the boot has three floor height choices behind 60:40 folding rear seats. Plenty car, no?

Press the button to start and the 86kW 300Nm four-cylinder turbodiesel purrs to life to deliver a comfortable and perhaps surprisingly sophisticated drive. It’s not the quickest thing on the block, nor is it the crispest handling, but then you don’t really notice that — chic XUV 300 gets on just fine and stars on fuel economy in a slick and contemporary package.

Yes, the Mahindra XUV300 enters a tough market, but its bargain pricing, edgy appeal and splendid spec certainly make it worth a second look. This top spec W8 1.5 Diesel for instance sells for R324K, a fair whack off the likes of the R355K you will settle for a flagship Ford Ecosport or a bottom of the range Hyundai Creta, while the more stylish and perhaps closer matched Kona is also just north of that neck of the woods.

So yes, XUV300 indeed offers a three-double-oh percent improvement in so many areas to ensure that this contemporary car is an essential consideration if you happen to be shopping for a hell of a lot of family car for not so much money. It may not be perfect, but XUV300 certainly will do the job better than well. — Michele Lupini 

ROAD TESTED: Mahindra XUV300 1.5TD W8
Engine: 86kW 300Nm 1496cc turbo diesel I4                
Drive: 6-speed manual FWD
0-60km/h:              4.84 sec
0-100km/h:          12.13 sec                         
400m:                  8.2 sec @ 120km/h            
80-120km/h:        10.29 sec       
VMax:                    175km/h                               
Fuel:                  4.8 l/100km                         
CO2:                  135 g/km
Warranty/Service:    5y 150K/5y 90Kkm 
LIST PRICE:              R324K           
RATED:                    80%