DRIVEN: Looking for a stylish compact SUV? Mahindra's new XUV300 arrives in South Africa

Image: Wheels24 / Sergio Davids
Image: Wheels24 / Sergio Davids
Sergio Davids

Mahindra South Africa has entered the next phase of its model evolution, with the launch of its new XUV300.

Built on the group’s global X100 platform, the XUV300 (pronounced XUV three double O) is a compact SUV aimed at young drivers and first-time families.

Earlier in 2019, Wheels24 attended the international debut of the XUV300 in Goa, India. In May, South Africa becomes the first international market outside India to launch the XUV300.

In short, Mahindra's new XUV300 gets a whole lot right for a compact SUV: A host of cool features, quality of materials and a comfortable daily drive that's also capable of karting a small family around on weekends. 

PREVIEW - Mahindra launches its new XUV300 in SA


Mahindra has launched two new engines with its XUV300, offering buyers the choice of either a turbo-petrol or turbo-diesel engine.

The first is a new three-cylinder 1.2 litre turbo-petrol engine, which delivers 81kW/200Nm. The second engine option is a new four-cylinder 1.5 litre turbo-diesel engine capable of 85kW/300Nm.

Both engines are mated to a six-speed manual, transferring power to the front wheels.

What's it like to drive?

Mahindra has moved from obscurity in the local market to being a real player in the automotive industry. With the launch of its XUV500, and now XUV300, it has evolved from "bargain-hunter" status to be able to take on much more established automakers (Read: Ford, Hyundai etc).

The XUV300 makes for a rather pleasant surprise and a great compact SUV offering, ready to take on rivals such as Ford's EcoSport and Hyundai's Creta.

If the XUV300 can deal with India's bizarre, claustrophobic and chaotic road network, it should be able to handle South African routes with ease. And in Cape Town at it's local launch, it proved its mettle as a capable, competent SUV. 

You'll be pleasantly surprised by the diesel engine performance, and it's good to see Mahindra listened to feedback provided in Goa, as its local testing resulted in its oil-burner being much more refined.

In India, the torque tapered off toward the top-end due to car being tuned for Indian road conditions (e.g more revs needs for brisk acceleration). This isn't as prevalent with the local model, with the torque curve being more consistent.

Its manual 6-speed gearbox is a good match for its engine. The XUV300's ride quality is excellent and able to soak up bumps and undulations with ease, and handle corners at brisk(ish) pace. The steering can lack in feedback in its default setting, although drivers can switch through modes.

Overall, the XUV300 is a an agile, accessible vehicle, perfect for "urbanites" who participate in the occasional weekend road trip, and a vast improvement over Mahindra's previous products.

There's little to no wallow in corners and negligible body roll, with sufficient grip provided you don't push it too hard.

"What an experience"

Wheels24's Leigh-Ann Londt had this to say: "What an experience. Being a rookie to motoring launches, I never knew exactly what to expect, although once vehicles began pulling up in front of the hotel, I swear the smile I had on my face was akin to a kid at a candy store. 

"I was designated driving duties during the first leg of our route and, once I hopped inside, the first thing that caught my eye was the standard luxury and features of the XUV300. 

"There's much more to the 17.78cm multimedia system that meets the eye. Music accompanied us on our journey via Bluetooth, but we were also treated to a built-in satnav.

"Our route took us through the lush sweeping hills of the Cape Winelands, and the scenery suited our drive perfectly. The XUV300 delivered a smooth and comfortable drive. The first stop saw us entering Franschhoek for a few shots of the vehicle. Through the mountain pass, we tried out the Mahindra smart-steering system. 

"This worked to our advantage as the bends in the pass allowed to truly test the handling of the XUV300, and it did it with ease. The grip was amazing for a vehicle in this segment. 

"I love the fierce look of the grille, as well as the sporty roof racks. It's a stylish, unique design, and sparks the beginning of a new era for Mahindra vehicles. 

"Although it looks small from the outside, this XUV300 offers more than enough space for the driver, as well as the passengers where leg space is concerned."


The cabin benefits from a thick-rimmed steering wheel with steering controls, a large tachometer and speedometer and a 17.78cm full colour connected infotainment system (on all models). 

The infotainment system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration and has in-built turn-by-turn navigation with regional maps as standard. The system also allows the driver to pre-set many of the vehicle functions, including the background display and, on the W8, the colour of the LED backlit instrument panel.

The XUV300’s infotainment system also features Mahindra’s Bluesense app. This app tracks the driver’s driving patterns and scores them on a set of environmentally friendly metrics. The driver can access this information and information on past trips from their phone’s connected Bluesense app or smart watch.

In addition to the infotainment system, all XUV300 models are equipped with the new Smart Steering system. Controlled with a button below the infotainment system, the Smart Steering system allows the driver to change the steering feel between Comfort mode, which allows you to negotiate urban traffic with ease, a Normal everyday mode and Sport, with the latter offering a weightier and more responsive steering feel for a more thrilling drive experience.

Abundant Luxury 

The new XUV300 is available with two trim levels, both of which offer a level of standard equipment and safety features, including the 17.8cm infotainment system, with an auxiliary port and USB connectivity.

The W6 trim level offers the most affordable entry into the XUV300 range and features aircon, electric windows, power steering with Smart Steering, black fabric trim, electrically adjustable side mirrors and central locking.

In the W8 specification level, Mahindra has created one of the most luxurious interior packages available in the compact SUV segment.

The XUV300 W8’s list of niceties include a second USB charging point, an additional information screen between the colour-customisable LED-lit instrument cluster and electric windows with express up- and down function with anti-pinch technology. There is a glass tilt-and-slide sunroof with anti-pinch technology, cruise control and an integrated voice command system with steering mounted controls.

Mahindra has also added additional driving aids, including its Tyretronics tyre pressure warning system, front and rear parking sensors, a reverse parking camera with parking assistance, and automatic rain-sensing wipers.

Other creature comforts that come standard on the W8 specification level include dual-zone climate control with three pre-set memory settings, keyless access with a start-stop button and automatic headlights.

In the W8, fabric seats are replaced with leatherette upholstery.


XUV300 W6 1.2 Petrol - R249 999

XUV300 W6 1.5 Diesel - R274 999

XUV300 W8 1.2 Petrol - R304 999

XUV300 W8 1.5 Diesel - R324 999 

All versions of the XUV300 will be offered with an impressive 5-year or 150 000km warranty and a standard 5-year or 90 000km service plan and 24x7 standard Roadside Assistance. 

To enhance the value offering and to ensure complete peace of mind to our customers, XUV300 will come with optional Maintenance Plan for period of five years or 90 000km & optional “Mobility Guarantee” plan.


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Hyundai Creta front

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