The XUV300 W6, more than any other recent Mahindra, demonstrates that the brand wants to appeal on style and sophistication, as well as reliability. It competes with a wide range of contenders and while value for money remains a strong selling point, affordability is no longer the ace up its sleeve. Tested here in flagship turbodiesel form, this XUV300 has to contend with established players such as the Opel Crossland X and Renault Captur.

This manufacturer has gone from strength to strength locally and the XUV 300 is the logical next step in growing its product portfolio. Thus far it has focused on offering humble cars with no direct competitors, but the XUV is set to compete in the hotly contested small SUV segment.

Luckily Mahindra has stuck to its formula for offering loads of car for not much money. Pricing for the XUV starts at R250 000 and goes up all the way to R325 000. Another day, another new small crossover… But in the case of the XUV300, the arrival of this new contender is arguably of greater significance than most, particularly for Mahindra itself. You see, for years the brand has been respected for producing tough and affordable products.

The Mahindra, however, is arguably better looking. Given its stubby exterior appearance, the XUV300’s interior is appreciably more spacious than we expected. In front, generous head- and shoulder-room is availed, and there are numerous storage spaces, including large door pockets and a handy tray for your smartphone, which is conveniently positioned close to the two charge outlets.

Kicking off the range is a 3-cylinder 1.2 turbocharged petrol engine with 81 kW and 200 Nm. Engines are mated to 6-speed manual transmission. You can easily feel the comfort of the drive and the quick and swift speed pickup of the petrol engine. The W6 also features a 17.8cm infotainment system with an aux port and USB connectivity. Safety features include 2 airbags, ABS, EBD, CBC, remote central locking, disk brakes all round, ISOFIX mounts, 5 seatbelts-can you get any safer? I think not.

An interesting feature is the 3-mode adaptive steering, which allows the driver to set his/her preferred steering “feel”. When set to “Comfort”, it is lighter, making parking in town a cinch. Switch to “Sport” and there’s more weight/directness to it. It’s probably a little gimmicky for a vehicle in this segment, but one can definitely feel the difference between the modes.

There is no doubt in my mind that the XUV300 will become an integral product for the Indian brand in the local market and that’s not only related to projected sales volumes.

By Noni Nchwe