5 reasons why Mahindra's TUV300 is a suprisingly likable car

'Once in awhile a car arrives that nobody is excited to drive but then it knocks your socks off with its cute charms,' says Janine Van der Post as she drives the Mahindra TUV300.

Cape Town - The Mahindra TUV300 arrived at our office amidst other test units and was parked in a corner. It's akin to a new kid at school that hasn't made any friends yet.

I was always the one who'd introduce myself to lonely, shy new kids at school - "Are you new here? I'm Janine..." It's also how I met my best friend at university. 

It was the same with Mahindra's TUV300. I don't blame my work mates for not being excited about driving it since one of our previous test with its smaller sibling, the KUV100, was a fiery experience. And besides that, the build quality left much to be desired.

The difference between the KUV100 and TUV300 is night and day, with the latter, a much improved version of the former.

The interior colour is an acquired taste and it's not really an SUV but it can grapple gravel roads.

Here are 5 reasons that might make you like this car:

1. It's not a bad-looking vehicle

The TUV300 isn't the most adorable-looking car, nor is it sexy in any way... but, it's not ugly either and judging from Mahindra's previous offerings, that's a good thing.

2. It's such a friendly car.

A warm, friendly gentleman's voice welcomes you every time you start the car. No, really, the voice says "Welcome to your Mahindra TUV300".

It also pauses the audio to tell you when you switch to Eco Mode.

3. It's like an over-protective parent

It tries to tell you very calmly that you seat belt is not fastened, getting more excited the more you don't adhere to its friendly request. But it's Eco mode is something special and left me giggling every time I turned it on, or off.

The car literally goes into what feels like 'limp mode', akin to a parent gently holding the harness  tighter when their child wants to run off in a shopping mall. It also has dual airbags, but since this is a seven-seater, I'd like to see more airbags for rear passengers too.

4. It sips fuel like a princess having a cup of tea.

Eco mode certainly helps reduce the fuel consumption a whole lot more. During my couple of days driving the KUV300, I hardly used any fuel. Mahindra SA claims a combined fuel figure of 5.4-litres/100km. 

5. Ohmygosh, it's so spacious!

The second row of seats genuinely sits three adults comfortably without anyone having to remove elbows from their sides. I usually prefer seven-seaters to have the third row of seats fold completely flat into the floor to maximise boot space, but I enjoyed the TUV300's two seats in the boot. 

There are two individual seats on either side of the boot, with the seat part neatly folded up. This still leaves more than enough space for shopping bags or other larger items. And, the seats are not just for small kids - because you don't really want them sitting there anyway (for safety reasons, they should be in car seats), adults can comfortably ride along and have a great chat facing each other.

There are a couple of niggles such as the window controls sitting in the centre console next to the handbrake lever. The positioning is a bit awkward, and you often find yourself fumbling to put the window up or down. And the voice commands' novelty wears off after a while and becomes annoying rather than cute.

But with all that said, this car makes for a decent family vehicle: it's spacious, economic and is affordable from R229 995 for most customers trying to find something affordable that won't cost a limb or two. 

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