Mahindra is well known for its offroad Jeeps, rugged utility vehicles and SUVs. Its their forte. In 1950s, the company started assembling jeeps under licence of the Willys Jeep in India. Later the company started developing light commercial vehicles and eventually moved on developing their own line of utility vehicles and SUVs. In automotive segment, they did pretty well, as who can forget the rugged CJ500 4WD or MM540 or in more recent time, Major or Thar which offered drivability on tarmac as well as on the farms of emerging India. In 1995, the company started to develop its own range of SUVs and roped in many senior automotive experts from around the world. Among many was Dr. Pawan Goenka who handled the team of developing a SUV that changed the fortunes for the company. That SUV was Scorpio and its creator, Mr. Goenka, now fondly called as Father of Scorpio by his peer group. To develop a new product is a task in itself. It almost took five to six years for the company to develop Scorpio which further laid the foundation of Quanto, Xylo, XUV500 and in more recent times TUV300 and KUV100. The automaker spend close to Rs 1200 Crores into developing the KUV100 that includes an all-new design, two new engines and a new transmission. Its an outcome of 350 people working for more than 4 years. Really? You might be wondering, is it an expert review of Mahindra KUV100 or a history lesson on Mahindra’s success? Those who are confused, be assured, this is an expert review of KUV100. We have driven both the petrol and diesel variant and will tell you how this Kool (Cool with K) Utility Vehicle One Double Oh performs (Yup that’s what the folks from Mahindra are calling it). But you see, my reason on focusing on Mahindra’s past is to give you a glimpse on how the company that created the CJs and MMs is now shifting gears to develop a hatchback like SUV which competes with the likes of Hyundai Grand i10 and Maruti Suzuki Swift, and that how the company that once said it will never make cars but only UVs has made a small car. Mahindra KUV100 is offered with wide range of variants in both petrol and diesel trims. The car gets 13 variants- K2, K2+, K4, K4+, K6, K6+, K8, & K8 Dual Tone in 5 and 6 seater configuration. Available color options are Pearl White, Dazzling Silver, Flamboyant Red, Fiery Orange, Designer Grey, Midnight Black, Silver & Black and Red & Black. Mynewcar’s recommended variant for Mahindra KUV100 is K6+. Now let’s find out how this small SUV looks from inside & out and how it performs on the tarmac.
|Ex-showroom Price Range||4,62,245 - 7,26,365|
The KUV100 is a sub-4 meter compact SUV with dimensions of 3675mm (length), 1705mm (width) and stood tall at 1635mm (1655mm with roof rails). The ground clearance of 170mm is good enough of protect its underbelly. The front profile, which is also the best part, has taken its designing cues from Ssangyong and to somewhat from Scorpio and XUV500-those claw marks in particular. The swept-back headlamps with tiny LED DRLs are inspired from Sunglasses. There’s also red stripe detailing in the headlamps cluster and at its ending is a clear plastic layer that houses the engine badging. The lower section of the front bumper is not body colored which overall gives it a rugged character. At the front, KUV100 also features vertically stacked foglamps and a matt silver faux skid plate. Moving to the side profile, this is where things get complicated. It looks quite disproportionate and not helping the cause are added muscles and three different crease lines and ofcourse the oversized squared shaped wheel arches that dwarfs the 185/65 R14 alloy wheels. It’s not like that we completely hated the entire side profile. We do like how the rear door handles are built into the quarter glass area, same as that of Chevrolet Beat. Coming to the rear, you will finally notice, oh well!, it looks bigger and taller than a hatchback. Designer have kept the rear quite simple and desirable. There are 3D-taillamp cluster, integrated roof spoiler and reflectors on both right and left side of plactic bumper. Overall a fair looking small SUV that tends to create its own segment. On exterior, we give it a 3 star rating out of 5, and that's because of aggressive front and docile rear, no points for side profile though.
Step inside and you will instantly feel like, Wow! That’s nice. The gear knob and handbrake are placed on the dashboard to make space for that extra seat. Yes, three people can sit on the front row and that’s how it’s six seater and if not, the third seat can be folded to be used as front armrest. The air conditioning knobs are vertically placed which kind of fills the center console. Above it is the music player which supports Bluetooth, USB and aux connectivity. There’s no touchscreen infotainment system. The seats are wide and comfortable and offers decent amount of cushion and thigh support. The driver seat gives you command while driving as the seat sits quite high. We know it does not give an SUV type feeling but still good when compared to its rival hatchbacks Grand i10 and Swift. The rear passenger seats offers good (And by good we mean great) amount of legroom and headroom. The KUV100 excels in one particular region and that’s it’s storage space. There’s room created everywhere for your nick nacks. Bottle holder on each door, cup holders on arm rests, spacious glove box and if all this looks too familiar to you, then there are two hidden spaces-one beneath the front passenger seat and one hidden in the floor at the back. The flat floor at back really helps in fitting three passengers comfortably. Boot space of 243 litres is again not as per the SUV standards but still manages to pack your weekend getaway luggage. Keeping all these things in mind, we give KUV100 score a well deserved rating of 4.
The petrol powered KUV100 is flat to drive and you really have to force the engine to squeeze some power out of it. It’s no rev happy mill for sure, but what’s good is the class leading torque figure and that too on low rpm range. The NVH levels of petrol are quite low; thanks to one less cylinder. Even though the gearbox is placed on dashboard, one doesn't require lot of time adjusting it. It falls nicely to hand and the shifts are also smooth and crisp which is further helped by the light clutch. The diesel engine on the other hand is made of cast iron block and aluminum head. It offers two drive modes- Power and Economy. The power mode is stock mode while the economy can be used for boosting fuel efficiency. The diesel powered KUV100 is very responsive especially after the 1900-2000rpm mark. The power delivery is linear and again like petrol, this engine is like to be driven with light foot which is silver lining if one considers too much of driving in traffic condition. For suspension, KUV100 uses tested MacPherson strut in front and torsion beam configuration at rear. The car absorbs majority of roughness and small potholes from the road. The steering is also light but not that light and with turning radius of 5.05 meters, driving KUV100 in traffic conditions is not that of task. On higher speed, like most Mahindra vehicles, it also offers a bit of body roll especially around the corners. You won't feel that on Maruti Suzuki Swift or Grand i10, but then too, KUV100 is no hatch. We give it a 4.3 star in ride and handling.
With KUV100, Mahindra also introduced its new range of mFalcon engines-G80 petrol and D75 diesel engine. The petrol engine is all-aluminium three-cylinder, 1.2-litre unit which gives an output of 81.8bhp at 5,500rpm and torque of 115 Nm at 3500-3600 rpm. The engine is mated to 5-speed manual gearbox which transfers power to front wheels. The company claimed fuel economy of petrol model is 18.15kmpl. Coming to diesel model, it is powered by three-cylinder, 1.2-litre,turbocharged mill which delivers an output of 77bhp at 3750rpm and peak torque of 190Nm at 1750-2250 rpm. Like petrol, diesel also gets 5-speed manual gearbox but the claimed fuel economy increases and it stands at 25.32kmpl. Since the car is offered in both the fuel trims so we don't feel the need of cutting too many stars. From our side, it receives 4 star rating in engine, transmission and fuel economy.
The KUV100 is available in four trim levels-K2, K4, K6 and K8. The car comes with standard ABS with EBD across all the variants while the dual airbags are available as an option from the base variant. The top of the line K8 variant comes loaded with features like steering mounted control, internally adjustable ORVMs, audio player with Bluetooth, USB and aux, fuel economy-enhancing auto start/stop and alloy wheels. On features, we feel couple of things missing, such as touchscreen infotainment system and rear ac vents (Grand i10 offers). Thus, it should not hurt if we give KUV a 3 star rating on features.
On pricing, Mahindra really pulled a rabbit out of the hat, as it priced KUV100 very aggressively. The base K2 petrol model starts with an ex-showroom (Delhi) price of Rs 4.45 lac while the diesel base is priced at Rs 5.25 lac. The top of the line of K8 model gets a price tag of Rs 5.99 lac for petrol and Rs 6.84 lac for diesel. The prices of KUV100 cut short both the Swift and Grand i10 which allows us to give a rating of 4.5.
The cost of ownership over a period of a year depends on several factors like variant type, odometer run, location, fuel cost, loan interest, maintenance and insurance amount. Here to make calculations easier, we have taken the base 1.2- litre petrol model with yearly run of 12,000kms (1000kms per month). We have not factored in the loan and interest amount as it varies from customer to customer. So the approximate cost of ownership of the KUV100 (Base K2 Petrol) for 12 months is Rs 61,141. This includes Rs 41,675 for fuel expenses, Rs 13,400 for insurance and Rs 6,066 on maintenance. Mahindra KUV100 comes with standard warranty of 2 years for unlimited kilometers while extended warranty is available upto 5 years. On the cost of ownership, the car scores star rating of 4.
Though Mahindra KUV100 looks like a mini SUV, it lock horns with Maruti Suzuki Swift, Hyundai Grand i10 and recently launched Maruti Suzuki Ignis.