Sexy new XUV300 a massive Mahindra step

Mahindra prefers you call it the three-double-oh, but take it with salt that this brand new XUV300 SUV is a three-double-oh percent step forward for the brand.

Mahindra Automotive arrived in South Africa in the late ‘90s amid huge pomp and ceremony as it unleashed its rudimentary Thar Jeep on an unsuspecting market. I was there. Since then the Indian brand has remained true to its rudimentary core, but its bakkies and SUVs have become hugely respected as rock solid and tough as Africa machines that deliver strong on bargain prices.

Things started to change five or six years ago as Mahindra turned its attention to a more conventional approach through a new series of models brought to market alongside the tried, tested and effective metal South Africans have come to love. The XUV500 was the first step — and a damn good step at that and it’s become even better over a nip and tuck or two since, while the XUV100 mini-SUV brought a refreshing if quirky breath of fresh air to the bottom end of the market.

Mahindras have always been quirky, so I suppose it was fortuitous that this middle SUV market in general has progressed strongly to quite a quirky neck of the woods — there are several players around there that are quite different to the rest of their ranges, so with that in mind. Mahindra’s next huge step to the more conventional is into a market that is moving towards its quirkiness anyway…

Look at it and you’d be forgiven for believing that XUV300 is a bit of a mix 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.

Built on the Mahindra’s global X100 platform, the XUV three-double-oh carries its larger sibling’s cheetah-inspired design language into a new generation as it introduces a new range of engines and a most impressive level of specification to the compact SUV segment to deliver on the brand’s ‘Rise’ promise.

New engines
XUV300 brings two brand new Mahindra 81kW 200Nm three-cylinder 1.2-litre turbo petrol and 86kW 300Nm four-cylinder turbodiesel engines to market, but getting back to the styling, XUV300 is headlined by dual LED-strip daytime running lights and an aggressive grille up front in an aggressive stance accentuated by a long 2.6-metre wheelbase versus its relatively short 4 metre overall length with short overhangs punctuated by Maserati-like LED taillights. 

Wide, bold wheel arches framing large diamond cut alloy wheels under a floating roof further echo Mahindra’s bold signature design language, while W8 models add 17” wheels, LED indicator repeaters to the heated folding power side mirrors, dual tone roof rails, and silver front and rear skid plates.

Crafted around the driver, XUV300's cabin proved perhaps the biggest surprise in contemporary Western style with exceptional interior space for driver and passengers and ample head and shoulder room for adult occupants, six-way adjustable seats with sculpted backs and a near-flat rear floor. 

High spec
Boasting a popular command high-driving position, there’s a thick-rimmed two-mode height-adjustable two-mode power Comfort and Sport Smart multifunction steering wheel, a large tachometer and speedometer, air conditioning, power windows, black fabric trim, and central locking. XUV300’s luggage compartment can be extended vertically, with the option of three height settings for the luggage floor and there are 60:40 folding rear seats.

XUV300’s 17.78cm full colour connected infotainment system comes with inbuilt turn-by-turn navigation with regional maps and the ability to pre-set many of the vehicle functions, an auxiliary port and USB connectivity as well as Mahindra Bluesense to score the driver on a set of environmental metrics and record information on past trips via a smart phone or watch. 

W8 models add a LED backlit instrument panel, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, keyless access and button start, luxurious leatherette upholstery, a LED backlit instrument panel, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The luxury model also gets cruise control and integrated voice command, an additional information screen on the instrument cluster, a second USB charging point three pre-set memory dual-zone climate control.

W8 also adds express up and down anti-pinch for the power windows and a glass tilt-and-slide sunroof, Tyretronics tyre pressure warning, rear parking sensors, a reverse parking camera with parking assistance and automatic rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlights too.

Standard safety and security features include ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, cornering braking control and discs on all four wheels; impact-sensing door locks and a high-mounted stop lamp in the rear spoiler. An emergency braking signalling system is fitted to all models, as are ISOFIX child anchors on the rear seats.

W8 specification adds 5 more side, curtain and a driver knee airbags for a class-leading 7 bag count, electronic stability with rollover mitigation; warning lights on the front doors, hill-hold assistance, an anti-theft alarm system and seatbelt reminders on all seats.

XUV300 packs an impressive 5-year/150 000km warranty, 5-year/90 000km service plan and 24/7 standard Roadside Assistance and an optional Maintenance Plan for a period of 5 year/90 000km Maintenance Plan, while an attractive Mahindra Finance offer in association with WesBank finance makes the W6 Petrol variant available at R3,400 a month including VAT over 72 months at a R25K deposit with R71K balloon payment, among other conditions.

The impressive and contemporary new Mahindra XUV300 enters a fiercely contested market, but it can be expected to cut a significant slice of that pie for itself — especially considering its bargain pricing and surprising pre-order success. 

If first impressions are anything to go by, XUV300 indeed offers a 300% improvement in so many areas to ensure that this most contemporary family car is an essential consideration if you happen to be shopping in this neck of the woods. So much so that I’d suggest you found out where your local Mahindra dealership is situated and go take a good look for yourself... - Michele Lupini 

Mahindra XUV300 Pricing
W6 1.2 Petrol: R249K
W6 1.5 Diesel: R274K
W8 1.2 Petrol: R304K
W8 1.5 Diesel: R324K