In Indian automobile market if the first decade of 21st century belonged to the hatchbacks and sedans, second one is definitely hinting towards the sunrise for the SUV category; especially the compact ones. If the enthusiasm of Indian car manufacturers at the 11th auto expo held at New Delhi was anything to go by, compact SUV and MPV segment will be the next battle ground for car manufacturers in India.
Maruti Suzuki fired the first salvo with the Ertiga followed soon by Renault Duster, then the Evalia from Nissan and finally the Mahindra Quanto. Enjoy from General Motors is waiting in the wings to be launched anytime soon and definitely not later than Dec 2012, which will be followed by Ford Eco Sport, probably the most anticipated car by the Indian car buyers 9If searches on eco Sport on the net is anything to go by). As if all this wasn't enough, market rumours are that Hyundai is also working at a frantic pace to usher in its contender in same segment to offset the first mover advantage of its rivals, not to forget a car from Honda which Honda has already announced and plan to launch not later than 3rd Quarter 2013.
But unlike Hyundai, Honda and other car manufactures in India, Mahindra too got its act right and planned for the Quanto much in advance. It was being tested and developed as Mini-Xylo, till just before its launch, when it was renamed and launched as Quanto. Mahindra launched the Quanto on 21st September 2012. Basis initial response and booking numbers of 5000 which are floating around, Indian car buyers seemed to have showered their love on Mahindra Quanto to, Whilst, the numbers are not quite big as the XUV 500 phenomena, but even at 5000, Mahindra Quanto has got a far better response and welcome from the car buyers in India, than its original version; The Xylo. Without doubt Quanto’s aggressive pricing did play a major role in it getting these booking numbers.
Having said all this, we at ecardlr.com decided to put under our expert test drivers scanner to find out whether Mahindra Quanto has the potential to become a preferred option for car buyers actively considering Compact SUV’s for their next purchase OR Will the Quanto makes sense to premium hatch buyers in India. Whilst future is always difficult to predict, an exhaustive test drive does throw up points to ponder.
Exteriors – To be or not to be another Xylo
Quanto as mentioned earlier was always referred to a mini-Xylo and there are reasons why those who had seen the car decided to call it the Mini-Xylo, even though Mahindra always had different branding plans for it. Mahindra Quanto ground up is nothing but chopped Xylo and a look at it from the front does reconfirm this perception about it being a smaller Xylo. It is only when seen in profile and the rear of Mahindra Quanto which forces one to think of it as a Quanto and not a Mini-Xylo.
Front face of the Quanto has the new lineage of Mahindra family, with company’s logo sitting at the centre of the grill. Headlamps are straight lift from the Xylo and makes symmetry with the fog lamps and air dam. Front wind screen is sharply reclined though sculpted bonnet could be shorter in length to aid the practicality. Longer bonnet seems a necessity, which is required the horizontally laid engine under the hood.
Side profile of Mahindra Quanto features Xylo’s high window line and low glass area. OVRMs’ are placed impractically (could be placed closer to the window) but side steps are very useful as you need to climb up into this tall car. Flared wheel arches remind you that this is an SUV, even though it comes with hatchback dimensions (at least its sub 4 meter length).
Rear part of the Quanto is dynamic and sporty, sided to a great extent by partially covered spare tyre. The partial cover painted finished in matt silver with wide black centre strip on which proudly sits the Mahindra logo. Mahindra Quanto’s rear does add a lot of freshness and style to an otherwise bulky and stout Quanto. All in all Mahindra Quanto as an overall design proposition will impress you only if you are not acquainted with all the criticism that was heaped to Xylo’s exterior. Look at it from fresh new eyes and one might fall in love with Mahindra Quanto thanks to its rear design.
Like the exteriors Quanto interiors too is a cut and paste job from the Xylo, though the clever use of fabric trims in the top variant has done the trick for Quanto by raising the overall aesthetic appeal of Quanto’s interiors.
Use of light colour has really improved the roominess aspect of the Quanto, which could have gone up many folds had the windows lines were little lower. Steering wheel, centre console, air con vents and instrument cluster; all are straight lift from Xylo. Bottle holders in transmission tunnel, under seat storage space, mobile charging point along with foldable snack trays are very thoughtful touches, though the illuminated glove box is worthless because of its ultra-small size.
Space proposition of this sub-4 m length Quanto is great. With wheelbase of 2760 mm, it literally surprised us by offering ample amount of all types of rooms. Front seats are large, and big, but fall short on bolstering, though thigh support is ample. Also the provision of armrest is flawed ergonomically and often interferes while changing the gears. In fact a tad lower position of the armrest would have made it more comfortable.
Side foot steps are very useful as the cabin is placed at reasonably good height. Enter rear seat and you will instantly say “WOW”. Quanto has more than enough space to appease all your limbs and their respective joints. It delivers space by truck’s load and 3 full grown adults can easily sit comfortably in Quanto's row 2. One has to give the credit to Mahindra’s designers who very cleverly used each mm of space to liberate such roominess even with a length constraint of 4 m. Thigh support in row 2 of the Quanto fall short like in row 1. Also a little bit of more recline would have made seats Quanto’s rear seat more comfortable. Quanto does have a third row, but unfortunately the two jump seats in row are sat best suitable for small children (make it very small children).
Engine and Performance
Power to rear wheels of Quanto is transferred through 5 speed transmission drawing grunt from 3-cylinder Mcr100 engine. The total output of the power stands at 100 PS while torque of 240 NM is attainable between 1600-2800 rpm. The power plant is scaled down version of mHawk engine with one cylinder looped off making the current unit to feature the 3 cylinders in its final derivation.
Refinement level of the Quanto is about average with audible diesel clatter present all the time. Inside though things seem better and Quanto feels quick off the heels. There are sharp responses to input throttle and the power delivery is precise too. Drivability of the motor is good and ambling around in city is a comfortable affair.
Having said that, Quanto does not liked to be pushed in a hurry, as it takes it own time to respond to driver’s inputs which surely takes away the fun factor from this compact SUV. In fact we think that Mahindra had developed the Quanto for a sedate city outing rather than for driving it in 3 digits speed mark.
Engine is mated with 5 speed transmission. Clutch has light feel but travel distance is long. Gear box is imprecise and need considerable efforts in changing the gears. You need to be careful while slotting the gear as this is not at all near to even average level of preciseness.
The underpinning of the Quanto is same as that of Xylo; double wishbone up front and 5 link at the rear, which suspend the wheels. Ride quality is absorbing as Quanto comfortably soaks all the undulations of the road. Rear passenger will be in the utmost comfort thanks to the soft suspension settings of Quanto. The potholes however will bother you, as they can be felt straight inside though things seems to improve with rising speed on the Quanto.
The tall boy designed (really tall) Quanto is bets not thrown into the corners. Quanto loves sedate driving style. Any aggression and the Quanto shows its displeasure through the heavy roll. Panic braking is also best avoided with the Quanto as the car tends to dive forward when braked hard.
On equipment level, top model C8 comes with air bags and ABS. There is provision for assisting you while reversing and rear wiper is useful touch that aids the overall utility of the Quanto. On the whole there is nothing exceptional on the equipment front.
Mahindra Quanto’s 4 varinats are priced from 5.99 lacs to 7,57 lacs ex-showroom Delhi. Reduction in excise duty has amply benefitted the company and in turn helped Mahindra to price it very competitively. On VFM proposition, Quanto is really hard to beat and when you see especially from hatch owners perspective. The best thing about the Quanto is its ability to meet both the opposite extreme ends. It’s big yet compact, its spacious yet not cumbersome, it’s an SUV but something you will not hesitate to drive in the city. Therefore with its all-around ability, it seems that Quanto will carve out a niche for itself and sure to get the attention of traditional hatchback buyers and not feature spoiled premium hatch buyers, sedan buyers might and we are saying might give it a miss all together.
Style & Substance : 3/5 Ride & Handling : 3/5
Interiors & Space : 3/5 Safety & Equipment : 3/5
Power & Transmission : 3/5 Mileage : 3/5
Value for Money : 3/5