DRIVEN | XUV300 1.5TD W8 - Could this be Mahindra's finest vehicle in their stable?

2020 Mahindra XUV300 1.5TD W8. Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond
2020 Mahindra XUV300 1.5TD W8. Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond
Charlen Raymond

• XUV300 best Mahindra on sale today

• Powered by turbocharged 1.5-litre diesel engine

• Price: R324 999

There is one type of vehicle that I am particularly fond of, and it doesn't necessarily fall in the category that comes to mind first.

No. I'm talking about the underdog. The one that few will give the benefit of the doubt to. And immediately an example springs to mind: Rey Mysterio when he won the WWE championship in 2006 (I know it's not real, but bear with me). No one gave him a fighting chance against Kurt Angle and Randy Orton, but the 'Master of the 619' stunned all by winning the main event of WrestleMania 22, and capturing his first WWE championship.

He was labeled as the 'greatest underdog of all time.' Sigh, the lengths WWE would go to…

So, too, does the XUV300 have the cards stacked against it in an industry that looks favourably on cars like the Volkswagen Polo, Polo Vivo, and Ford Fiesta.

Would you consider purchasing the Mahindra XUV300, and why? Email us.

Fighting range-topper

The XUV300 range is a small one, but has a good offering to its disposal that comprises both petrol- and diesel-powered cars. Our test unit is the top-of-the-range 1.5TD W8 model and leads the charge with an array of standard features that you'd probably fork an arm and a leg for to have it fitted as optional extras in the competition.

Items such as seven airbags, daytime-running LEDs, rain sensor wipers, heated exterior mirrors, a tyre pressure sensor, climate control, all-round electric windows, front and rear park distance control with a rear-view camera, and a sunroof are all standard. Yes, standard!

REVIEW: The Mahindra XUV300 in my driveway keeps turning heads

I guess that one would be inclined to think that this would set you back a good couple of hundred thousand Rand, but it doesn't. The 1.5TD W8 retails for R324 999. Against its traditional rivals - the Renault Captur and Opel Crossland X - the car compares pretty good, as well as to the Polo and Fiesta in terms of price. Against all, the Mahindra boasts with a comprehensive list of standard equipment.

Mahindra XUV300

2020 Mahindra XUV300 1.5TD W8. Image: QuickPic

Practicality and comfort

Several points of concern came up for scrutineering throughout the car's tenure in the Wheels24 garage. The doors, for example, would require a harder than usual push to shut. You think you've applied enough force, but more times than not, you have to repeat the action. The fifth door - the boot lid - suffered from the same issue. It could be unit-specific, but it's frustrating when you attempt to close it for the umpteenth time.

WATCH: Take a look inside the Mahindra XUV300

Inside, the seats offer a generous amount of comfort, but the seating position for taller drivers can take some getting used to. Changing gears feels off-ish at first, only because the back of your upper arm brushes against the driver's seat. Once you find the nick, engaging second, fourth, and sixth gears become an easy task. The controls for the electric windows are also positioned somewhat awkwardly, and it feels like you're pushing your right arm further back than it's supposed to go.

Again, this is something that could affect taller and bigger drivers.

Mahindra XUV300

2020 Mahindra XUV300 1.5TD W8. Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond

On the road

So far, the XUV300 1.5TD W8 is a 50-50 proposition - given the subjects covered above. But where it shines is on the road. The turbocharged 1.5-litre diesel engine produces a generous 86kW and 300Nm. Set off, and the pull of the torque is already available between 1500 and 2500rpm. This does have a profound effect on the car's drivability, which never leaves the looking for that extra breath.

WATCH: The Mahindra XUV300 is the safest Indian car, ever!

Activate the Sport steering function, and the feel between your hands become weightier. It does not unlock more power, but you do feel how the car's confidence grows on the road. On-road dynamics are good, and body roll is kept to a minimum. Average fuel consumption hovered around 6.4-litres/100km.

One would not think that a Mahindra can drive this well, but the XUV300 rewrites the book on 'The Perception of Mahindra'.

Mahindra XUV300

2020 Mahindra XUV300 1.5TD W8. Image: QuickPic

In summary

Having first made an acquaintance with the XUV300, a 1.5TD W8, in 2019, the car impressed from the off. Fast-forward almost a year and I got to live with the car and experience it more intimately. It's far from perfect, but the 'imperfections' are user-specific and may not be representative how the next person will perceive it.

I'd much instead have opted for a black interior than the beige, but that is about the only gripe I have. Oh, and the relatively small boot. But other than that, there is a vast list of positives that will only substantiate why this Mahindra is the best one that money can buy. And the drive is by far its biggest attribute.

Looking at it, you would probably never give it a fighting chance against its rivals. Though, when you least expect it, this car will pull off an upset and walk away with its hand held high. The XUV300 is the industry's underdog, and it deserves a fair chance to prove its worth.

Mahindra XUV300
2020 Mahindra XUV300 1.5TD W8. Image: Wheels24 / Clavern Van der Post
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