The dude in the Hexa coming from the opposite end is staring at me. I am not sure if I am familiar to him or what. When he draws close, I can vouch I don’t know him. He is rather looking at the car. The car I am driving is no Range Rover or an open top for that matter. It is the new Mahindra TUV300 Plus. The reason he may be looking is because a) We are at eye level, b) I just crossed a broken section of the road without even braking once and neither was I being tossed around. So, the first impressions of the car according to a passerby seem really good, eh?
Honestly, there isn’t anything new. Mahindra wanted the vehicle to resemble a battle tank and well, it is slab-sided for sure. Changes from the sub-4m TUV300 include the skid plate in the front, chrome fog lamp nacelles as well as the bigger 16-inch wheels. The Mahindra TUV300 Plus also cannot be called aerodynamic by someone in their right sense. It is a brick house on wheels. Period! For the sake of differentiation, the TUV300 Plus measures 4,400mm in length, 1,835mm in width and 1,812mm in height. Between this and the sub-4m TUV, there is only the differentiation in length, with the former being the longer vehicle.
The cabin is airy thanks to the large glass area. Speaking of which, Mahindra still offers a automatic power down option for the driver side window. There is no auto up functionality and frankly speaking, it is a pain. The glass takes a lot of time to wind up and even more so on the passenger side. The motor also makes a weird noise. This aside, the cabin is cheerful with the beige and black treatment.
The infotainment system is new and is a touchscreen unit. Music played out from the system though is loud enough at low settings but overall is a tad hollow. The touchscreen has good response and while there is no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, navigation is a part of the deal. Instrument console, AC vents, seats and even the wing mirror controls are shared with the smaller TUV300.
Mahindra still doesn’t think its prudent enough to offer auto closing mirrors on the TUV300 Plus. The second row seating promises good head room but is a bit low on the knee room. There are also no AC vents provided for the second or third row passengers. If you were wondering about the additional length, then you will be disappointed. There is no change in the 2,680mm wheelbase from the sub-4m offering.
This brings me to the third row seating. There is no way you can seat four passengers in there. Head room, shoulder room or knee room is simply insufficient for four adults. You may try seating children out there but even they will be claustrophobic. The best bet then is to put in two passengers at the back plus stack in some luggage. Even the two seated at the third row will have to make do without seat belts.
Luggage space is rated at 696 litres with third row down. Push the second row bench forward and you liberate an additional 180 litres.
Engine and transmission
Mahindra has used a new mHawk engine in the TUV300 Plus. This four cylinder 2.2-litre diesel engine makes 120PS of power and 280Nm. Compared to the regular TUV, this number is up by 20PS and 40Nm more. Let’s not forget that the TUV300 runs a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder engine.
The transmission offered with the Plus trim is also a new 6-speed unit. It’s a bit weird though with both reverse and first gear placed very close to each other. I took a good 20 minutes of practising first and reverse in my parking lot before taking the car out. There is no safety lock for the reverse gear as well.
This being said, the gear throw is a bit long but the clutch is reasonably light. The engine, as is the norm with most Mahindra vehicles, makes ample amount of torque lower down. With a short ratio gearbox like the one here, chugging along in 4th gear at 35kmph is quite possible. The engine is also very tractable, however overtakes require a bit more of planning. 6th gear and 100kmph is the best combination for cruising in this vehicle. Anything above it and you sense that the motor isn’t happy doing it.
As far as efficiency is concerned, the TUV300 Plus returned a mileage of 13kmpl overall. There are Eco and regular modes which are displayed on the instrument cluster and infotainment system. The latter also provides an audible cue. The mileage we achieved was in regular mode and not the Eco. Try Eco and you might end up getting better efficiency than what we got. The top speed of the TUV300 Plus is around 140kmph.
Ride and handling
Mahindra has used its typical body on frame chassis for the TUV300 Plus. A double wishbone in the front with a multi-link coil spring at the back handle suspension duties. Ride quality as can be expected from such a vehicle is very good. You literally don’t care about the potholes on the road or vice versa. Load up the TUV300 Plus and the slight bounciness vanishes. The handling though is heavy and you will not be happy taking fast corners at anything more than 60kmph. In the same vein, the steering is heavy at city speeds making it a tad cumbersome.
What you will love is the lofty seating position as well as the unadvertised yet good ground clearance of the vehicle. NVH is also on the lower side and things become noisy only when you are doing triple digit speeds.
In terms of safety, Mahindra offers dual airbags and ABS with EBD on the P6 and P8 trims. There is also the reverse parking sensors provided for the in the P8. The P4 which is the base trim unfortunately doesn’t come with any safety aids.
If you are a tourist operator, then there is nothing better at the moment for you than the Mahindra TUV300 Plus. It is decently modern, has just about okay features and comes with a killer price tag. At a starting price of Rs 9.47 lakh – Rs 10.86 lakh, ex-Mumbai, the TUV300 Plus is value for money. It’s rugged nature will also ensure it will have many a buyer in the rural regions. As for you city dweller, there is the all-new Mahindra Marazzo waiting for you!