Despite being the largest utility maker in India, Mahindra's presence in compact SUV segment is nowhere near the dominance. It started its inning with not so successful Quanto that is based upon the Xylo MPV. The car didn't falter on utility though its eerie profile and rear looks killed its selling prospects. Second launch in the compact SUV category that manifested in the form of TUV300 has got Mahindra a good name. Design and styling is not that awkward though the car took beating in quality and interiors department. Now latest to join the likes of XUV5OO and TUV300 is company’s new Kool and Kompact SUV christened KUV100. This latest offering from the house of Mahindra is aimed to lure a range of buyers; starting from the hatchbacks to Crossover to compact SUVs. So what thus new Mahindra baby is all-about and whether you should buy one? We got behind the wheels to find the answers of these and many more questions.
Design &Style & Interiors
There can be two views about the design of the KUV100 though one has to submit thaits hard to overlook its turn-out. Compared to TUV300, KUV100 is more compact, subtle and targeted at urban yuppie buying for the first time. It offers contemporary styling and dynamism without forcing you to shell out large sum.That said, we believe that Mahindra has overplayed its hand in styling. KUV100 feels overdone as lots of slashes, creases, and character lines crisscross the entire sheet metal work. We are not complaining about this though a bit of undertone sophistication would have made the things more sober and less-offending to conservative minds.
Up front, the nose is aggressive and coupled with dynamic bumper, feels very revolutionary. Side profile is dominated by rising hunches, character streaks and subtle use of plastic cladding. Roof rails and diamond cut alloy wheels augment the design flavor while at rear same task is accomplished by LED tail lamps and wraparound windscreen. Another highlight of the profile is the pillar mounted door handles. Overall quality is built to the cost and nothing stands out in terms of sturdiness and rich feel.
Inside the cabin, the car scores high on utility though make you feel let down on quality. The space is ample both at the front and rear. The front seat is offered as a bench except on top K8 variant. The console mounted gear lever is the biggest surprise and the way it falls to hand is simply amazing. The snappy nature of shift further augments the driving pleasure.
At rear seat too,space offered is more than what one gets on hatchbacks and other compact SUVs. Bench is flat, has got enough width and bolstered enough to provide good thigh support. The only niggle is that bench is set a bit upright that makes position uncomfortable. Another problem that could be avoidable is the blacked out section used for mounting door handles. These makes the inner space feel a bit congested. With size of the car ducking under 4-metre, it's not a fair to expect large boot. Still the trunk is large enough to swallow few small bags.
Engine, Transmission & Driving Dynamics
The car is powered by a new range of family engines called mFalcon. Petron unit comes with G80 moniker while diesel unit goes by D75 name. Lower and torque ratings stands at 82 PS/115 Nm and 78 PS/190 Nm for petrol and diesel respectively. Both units are 1.2-litre 3-cylinder motors with Double overhead cam arrangement featuring 12 valves configuration. Petrol unit comes with dual VTVT arrangement that helps it to cater to a wide range of torque requirement. The part throttle responses are good and quick as car moves with alacrity. The drivability is excellent as you can pick up from any speed in any gear. There won't be issue whatsoever with city driving however on the highway, the car lacks required grunt. Attaining ton-up speed is not an issue though maintaining it certainly is. Further, comparison to the likes of Maruti K-series and Honda i-VTEC would leave you even more disappointed.
D75 diesel motor, on the other hand, feels more relaxed and highway cruising is effortless. It doesn't feel out of breath thanks to 190 Nm of torque it comes with. Drivability, like the petrol engine, is excellent and augmenting the fact is the large torque figures. You won't get the typical surge of torque though KUV 100 makes up for it by linearity of power delivery. Further the slick shift action of The 5-speed gear box makes the driving more enjoyable. For now, there is no automatic transmission on offer however Mahindra could launch the AMT variant at a later point in time.
KUV 100 comes with the standard scheme of suspension consisting of McPherson strut upfront and semi-independent twist beam at the rear. 14 inch alloy wheels come shrouded with 185 mm wide rubber and turning radius stands at 5.05 meters. The car offers very plaint ride quality as the company has decided to prioritize ride over the handling. KUV is very good in screening the road undulations creeping in into the cabin. Occupants are well insulated from all kinds of bad roads and rough patches. Straight line stability of the car is also good although same is not true for the handling abilities. The car tends to roll a bit especially around corners and you can easily sense the shift of the mass from one side to another. Although this Mahindra handles better than the previous iterations, there is still ample scope of improvement.
2By sharing the platform, mahindra has made sure that price of KUV remains within an acceptable level. The best petrol variant is priced at Rs 4.45 lakh wild top of the line K8 variant needs you to shell out Rs 6.84 lakh ( ex-showroom, Delhi). As a product, thisnewMahindra baby has an optimum mixture of all the success ingredients. It looks stylish, comes with the specials cabin, has fuel efficient Motors, and rides exceptionally well. Of course, there are some niggles like plastic quality and handling issues. Further, the Incorporation of automated manual transmission would have made this offering even more desirable. Still, looking overall we think Mahindra has done a really good job. It has offered stylish and modern SUV that will make you smile without breaking the bank.
Style & Substance 4/5 Ride & Handling 3/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3/5 Safety & Equipment 3.5/5
Power-Plant & Transmission 3/5 Fuel Efficiency 4/5
Value for Money 4/5