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Mahindra and Mahindra Quanto
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This Car Has Been Discontinued.
Customer Rating
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Expert Rating
: 8/10
Warranty
: 2 Yrs / 50,000 Kms (Whichever is earlier)
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Strong Areas

  • Good handling
  • Good fuel economy
  • Ultra-modern styling
  • Loaded luxurious cabin
  • Performance driven engine

Weak Areas

  • Poor ergonomics
  • Middling fit-finish
  • Poor slow-speed ride
  • Imperfect gear clogging
  • Dull interior colour scheme
Mahindra and Mahindra Quanto
 
 

Mahindra launches the sub 4 meter compact SUV - Quanto

Sub 4 meter compact suv version of the Xylo was in the making since June 2010, it had to happen, as this is one way Mahindra both its product portfolio and footprint of target audience it can appeal to. Mahindra has to move beyond it rugged village based cars appeal to a more sophisticated cars like XUV 500 and now Quanto to appeal to professional urban car buyers in India.


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ecardlr.com National

The Car you see here is probably Mahindra’s worst-kept secret. If you didn’t see camouflaged mules undergoing testing yourself, you’d probably have seen it in spy shots (and even some videos) all over the internet. In fact, Autocar India broke the news of the ‘mini-Xylo’ (code: U203) on our website on June 3,2010 and it wasn’t hard to establish that Mahindra was developing its own sub-four-metre car, one that has finally taken shape as this, the Quanto.

From a business perspective, the compact SUV makes great sense for Mahindra. Apart from the obvious cost advantages of parts-sharing with the Xylo on which it is based and relatively low development costs (under Rs 100 crore), its sub-four-metre length and 1.5-litre diesel engine qualifies it as a small car and correspondingly a lower 12 percent rate of excise duty. So final pricing is aggressive even by Mahindra’s standards.

But for a buyer, the real question is, does the Quanto fit the bill as a mini-SUV? Has the Xylo’s incredible interior space been compromised to meet the length target? It the new 1.5-litre three-cylinder diesel up to the job? And what about dynamics? We just had to sample the Quanto at Mahindra’s sprawling Chakan plant to find out.

BOOT CUT

With the Xylo as a starting point, the Quanto was never going to be a looker. But in the flesh, it’s not that bad and didn’t elicit a gasp of shock as the original Xylo did. Perhaps we’ve just become accustomed to the Xylo’s unusual styling or maybe the huge array of spy photos took some of the suspense away. The front is similar to the facelifted Xylo’s, the raised headlights are there and the bumper looks identical too. Closer inspection reveals a new lip above the toothed front grille as well as a more defined ‘V’ on the bonnet. The large windshield remains unchanged but where the upright A-pillar spoils the Xylo’s MPV silhouette, it works well to give the Quanto its SUV stance.

In case you’re wondering, the Quanto shares its 2760mm wheelbase with the Xylo, which should give you an idea of the space inside. In fact, the two are near identical right upto the rear doors, saving Mahindra huge costs in the bargain. But as is clear in the pictures, the Quanto, though far more palatable than the Xylo, still has pretty gawky proportions. Remember, it’s not a scaled-down version of the MPV. Rather, the shortening exercise was carried out by merely chopping the Xylo’s tail. The Xylo’s large rear windows and sizeable rear bumper have been replaced by a smaller quarter glass and minimal overhang aft of the rear wheels. The result is a rather abrupt tail which, along with the Quanto’s height, make this mini-SUV look even more top heavy than the Xylo. Its 15-inch wheels are also partly responsible for this appearance. Our guesss as to why Mahindra has downsized from the Xylo’s 16-inch wheels is for better packaging. Smaller wheels require smaller wheel wells and hence allow better use of space, especially in the region of the rear wheels. Crucial because the Quanto is a seven seater! More on that later.

As part of the alteration, the Quanto gets D-pillars different to the Xylo’s. Finished in black, they house the neat-looking wraparound tail-lamps and also get horizontal strakes (ala the XUV500) on the upper portion for added style. Also unique is the side-opening tail gate, which on the Qunato comes mounted with a partially covered spare wheel. The Xylo’s spare, if you recall, is positioned under the body but such an arrangement would not have been possible on the Quanto, given the minimal space behind the rear axle. Not that we’re complaining, because the tail-mounted spare is not only easier to access but also goes with the Quanto mini-SUV ethos. Do note, the spare wheel is not considered when measuring the length of the car, so the 3985mm length you’ll find in the brochures is up till the rear bumper only.

HAPPY LEGS

Just like the Xylo, the Quanto uses body-on-fame construction and as a result it’s quite a step up into its high-set cabin, which calls for a certain athletic ability. But once inside it’s easy to get comfortable behind the wheel. All-round visibility is excellent helped in no small part by the massive windows that extend low on the doors. The steering adjusts for rake, the supportive driver’s seat comes with a crude but effective height adjust (it’s tough to raise while seated) as well as lumbar adjust, and even the footwell is spacious. There is ample room for the largest of occupants here and the foldable armrests only add to the comfort factor. Given the space on offer you really can’t think of the Quanto as a shortened Xylo, atleast until it’s time to park, where its smaller dimensions come into play.

Adding to the familiarity is the dashboard that is a straight lift from the Xylo, though it comes finished in lighter beige plastics here. What also won’t escape your eye is cabin quality, which is not quite upto the mark. Bits like the front door pockets look crudely finished and panel fit in the region of the steering column is particularly poor. The air-con knobs carried over from the Xylo don’t feel special either.

There’s more parts-sharing on the instrument cluster as well as the reading lamps that interestingly have their roots in the Ford Escort the Mahindra manufactured in the 1990s. However, the Xylo’s comprehensive Digital Drive Assist System atop the centre console has made way for a simpler unit that still displays important information like distance-to-empty and average fuel economy. The top-spec Quanto C8 we drove also comes with power windows, two airbags music player with MP3 and aux connectivity and a reverse parking sensor. You don’t however get steering-mounted audio control, or a rear AC though the bulging central vents do a good job of channeling cool air to the back.

The middle row is very spacious with lots of headroom, good legroom (even without the option to slide the set back) and sufficient width Aiding comfort for the middle passenger here is the flat floor, which makes the seat suitable to travelling three abreast. For its part, the ‘chapta’ middle row is comfy enough, though it is nowhere near as well padded as the Xylo’s. The slim and non-adjustable backrest is also a tad too upright, undoubtedly to free space for the last row seats. But that’s a compromise Mahindra could have done without because the pair of side-facing seats in the back are only suitable for small children. Space is really tight here, there are no headrests and the knees-up seating position and near-vertical backrests are far from nice. Sure these seats can be used over short drives but their safety in the event of a rear impact is a serious question mark. More so because these seats come without as much as a lap belt.

These seats do fold and with them out of the way there is decent luggage space in the back. The cabin also has a fair amount of storage space for smaller items, including a useful box under the driver’s seat , foldable tryas for the middle-seat passengers and five cupholders.

THREE TO TANGO

The Quanto marks the debut of Mahindra’s new small capacity (and first sub-2-litre) diesel engine that, among others, will also find use on M&M’s future compact cars. Christened the mCR100, this common rail motor is not a grounds-up design but is actually a downsized three-cylinder version of Mahindra’s existing 2.2-litre mHawk diesel engine, a target of the downsizing programme being to bring engine displacement under 1.5-litres to qualify the Quanto for excise duty benefits on small cars. To this end, the cylinder bore was also reduced from 85mm to 83mm and stroke from 96mm to 92mm, bringing the long stroke, three-cylinder engine’s swept volume to 1493cc.

These details apart, the new engine is similar to the mHawk in its use of a four-valves-per-cylinder and DOHC architecture and also an identical 18.5:1 compression ratio. While understandably not as powerful as the mHawk, the new engine outputs fairly impressive power and torque figure of 98.6bhp and 24.5kgm, respectively. Helping in no small part is an intercooler that works in conjunction with a two-stage turbocharger which has been tuned to deliver good low-end torque. Such systems are known for their lower torque curves (and hence better driveability) but their complexity and high cost was a challenge for Mahindra.

Given the inherent imbalance of a three-cylinder engine, refinement was another major area of focus during the Quanto’s development phase. The Quanto is the first Mahindra to come with ‘tuners’ at the engine mounts which function similar to torque dampers to kill specific frequencies of noise common to three-cylinder engine. Noise insulation in the engine bay and bonnet has also been beefed up to reduce noise. Turn the ignition key and what becomes immediately clear is that Mahindra’s efforts have paid off. Idle is fairly quiet, vibrations are well contained and some transmission judder apart, refinement is very impressive.

Even on the move, that typical three-cylinder thrum is obvious but doesn’t become intrusive until you go high up the rev band. However, given the characteristics of this engine, you’d be better off not trying to rev it too hard. Power seriously tapers off post 35000rpm and even on full throttle it doesn’t gather much pace.

For what it’s worth, the mCR100 engine will pull to a max of 4600rpm, though you’d find yourself short-shifting at around 4100rpm. Out testing gear also brought light to the Quanto’s mediocre performance. Zero to 100kph comes up in a slow 17.41 seconds. The Quanto’s heavy kerb weight of 1640kg seriously weighs it down.

But then, this isn’t really the sort of vehicle you’d take to a drag race anyway. Most Quanto will spend life in the confines of a city and that’s exactly where it will feel most comfortable. The in-gear timings of 11.94 seconds from 20-80kph in third and 15.09 seconds from 40-100kph in fourth that are comparable to the 84bhp Renault Duster highlight this aspect. Power delivery is very linear right from start-up and there is a decent pull between 1500rpm and 3500rpm, though the engine still lacks the responsiveness and punch we’ve come to expect from Mahindra’s larger engines. You miss that surge in the mid range and the mCR100 motor feels flat for most of the part. All this points to a car that will amble well through traffic but could find itself out of depth on the highway.

At city speeds, the gear ratios seem well matched to the engine but we found the gearshift quality on the 5mt320 five-speed box that is shared with the Xylo to be slightly rubbery. There’s a reason for this. Since the engine has a cylinder less, the block is shorter and this has moved the gearbox forward and closer to the engine bay. As a result, there is an indirect linkage between the gear lever and gearbox so it lacks the direct feel for the unit on the Xylo. A trait the Quanto shares with the Xylo though is its light but snappy clutch, which is not all that easy to modulate at slow speeds.

A unique feature on the Quanto is its Micro Hybrid (start-stop) technology that, when activated, switches the engine off over long halts and restarts it as you depress the clutch. While this feature should result in marginal improvement in fuel economy, the fact that it also switches the air-conditioner off limits its use. For the record, the Quanto has an ARAI-tested fuel economy of 17.22kpl which, for such a heavy vehicle, is really good.

MOVES LIKE JAGGER

Driving the Qunato on Mahindra’s test track may not have been the ideal place to judge ride quality, but we got a fair idea of what to expect in the real world. On the smooth sections of the track, the Quanto moved about quietly with acceptable levels of road noise filtering into the cabin. But it was the small undulation on the main straight that revealed the truer picture. Suddenly, the ride became bouncy with lots of vertical movement (more so in the back) and more in line with what we’ve come to expect from the Xylo. Not surprising because the suspension hardware is the same combination of double wishbones up front and a five-link setup at the rear, though they differ in tunning.

It was similar story on the long hairpins at either end of the track too. The Mahindra Xylo is not the first name when it comes to dynamic prowess, so to be honest we weren’t expecting much from the Quanto on this front. A smaller body should have resulted in greater rigidity and tidier handling, but the top-heavy mini-SUV was slow to change direction with pronounced body roll (there’s no rear anti-roll bar) spoiling the experience further. Its hydraulically assisted power steering (standard across the range) wasn’t particularly fast either, so this is just not the car for enthusiasts. To its credit, the Quanto is easy to steer at typical town speeds, which is of more importance to the majority of its buyers. Braking was decent, with our ABS-equipped Quanto tracking true to its line on the grippy surface at the track.

TO QUANTO OR NOT TO QUANTO?

The Quanto’s quirky looks and oddball dimensions will certainly be a make or break for many buyers. But there’s more to the Quanto than just that. Its elevated cabin gives you a commanding view of the road and atleast for the first two rows of passengers, space is comparable to a Xylo, which is phenomenal given its sub-four-metre footprint. Mahindra could have done without the pair of jump seats in the back and instead increased middle-row comfort. But the fact is, buyers will appreciate the extra seats for the flexibility they bring along. Mahindra has also done well to give the Quanto’s three-cylinder diesel engine good levels of refinement and also sufficient power for city use. Where the Xylo fails to make an impression is in the areas of ride comfort (bumpy) and handling (sloppy) and interior quality is pretty disappointing too.

But factor in the Quanto’s pricing that starts at Rs 5.9 lakh for the base C2 model and stretches to Rs 7.7 lakh for the top-spec C8 variant, and it looks a whole lot more interesting. It simply outclasses the Premier Rio CRdi4 that is the only other mini-SUV at the moment, and also comes across as a genuinely interesting ‘lifestyle’ alternative to the battery of premium hatchbacks on offer today. No, it won’t be able to match cars like the Maruti Swift or Hyundai i20 for ease of use or sophistication, but for space and versatility the Quanto is unmatched. If the success of Mahindra’s latest products is anything to go by, the Quanto is set to be a huge seller.

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