First Drive

Mahindra KUV100 review, test drive

The radical-looking KUV100 promises to stand out from the crowd. But just how good is to drive?

DETAILS
12
photos
 
What’s it like on the inside?
 
Where the KUV100’s exterior design will take time getting used to, its cabin is immediately likeable. Ingress and egress is convenient thanks to the relatively high-set seats, there’s plenty of space in both front and rear rows and the design of the ‘bowed’ dashboard with drooping edges is quite distinctive. Note the dash doesn’t extend all the way to the floor and that the gear lever comes positioned on the centre console. This has allowed Mahindra to cheekily fit the KUV100 with an optional front bench seat and increase seating capacity to six, something that is sure to catch the attention of buyers with large families. It’s a clever arrangement and will work well for small kids but with no airbag (in the centre) and just a lap belt as a restraint, the middle seat is not a safe place to be. Also, three abreast for adults is too much of a squeeze but manageable for very short runs. Folding down the middle seat backrest forms a large arm rest for the driver and co-passenger and, in our books, that’s the only way you should use it. Also, the bench seat is flat and offers little by way of lateral support. The standard five-seat version’s individual front seats are more contoured and far more supportive. The space freed up by removing the middle seat allows for a very useful storage console. The parking brake, also located in the centre console, is a bit fiddly to use especially for hill starts and will take some getting used to. 
 
Rear seat passengers have it really good in the KUV100. Firstly, getting in and out is easy, and there’s a good deal of knee and headroom, very generous under-thigh support and enough width for three. Thanks to the flat floor even the middle passenger will be comfortable. What’s also nice is that all three occupants get adjustable headrests and the back rest angle is just perfect. You can also make use of the well- positioned centre arm rest when the middle seat is not in use. What is an irritant though is the blanked-out space after the rear windows (there to accommodate the exterior door handle), as it cuts outside visibility.  
 
In terms of storage, the KUV is very well thought-out. There’s a bottle holder on each door, a reasonably spacious glove box, cup holders on the arm rests, a large storage bay concealed under the front passenger seat and one even hidden in the floor at the back.  However, with the middle seat in place, there’s no proper place to store your phone and if you need lots of space to store knick-knacks then opt for the five-seater version which has a well-designed central console with multiple storage slots between the seats. The 243 litres of boot space is useable and can be extended by folding the rear seat's backrest down, but the high boot sill and narrow loading lip are spoilers here.
 
The KUV100 is available in four trim levels and what’s commendable is that all versions come with ABS as standard. Dual airbags are available as an option from the base variant on, and are a standard fit on the top-spec K8 cars, though how much protection the front middle passenger gets remains a question mark. Top-spec KUV100 K8s also feature alloy wheels, power windows, power steering, internally adjustable mirrors, audio player with Bluetooth, USB and aux, steering-mounted audio controls and fuel economy-enhancing auto start/stop (Micro Hybrid in Mahindra speak).
 
Cabin quality is pretty good by class standards with certain bits like the dashboard top feeling premium, but lower down, plastic quality isn’t as good. The switchgear feels fairly chunky but the small screen with its monochrome display in today’s touchscreen age looks a bit old-fashioned. However, its quite intuitive to use and the steering mounted controls make things easy too. 

Fact File

Engine

Fuel Petrol / Diesel
Installation Front, transverse
Type 1198cc MPFI with Dual VVT / 1198cc turbocharged, intercooled, common rail direct injection
Power 81.8bhp at 5500rpm / 76.4bhp at 3750rpm
Torque 11.7kgm at 3500-3600rpm / 19.37kgm at 1750-2250rpm

Transmission

Type Front-wheel drive
Gearbox Five speed manual

Dimensions

Length 3675mm
Width 1715mm
Height 1655mm
Wheel base 2385mm
Boot volume 243-litres
Ground clearance 170mm

Chassis & Body

Construction Five door hatchback, monocoque
Wheels 14-inch alloy
Tyres 185/65R14

Suspension

Front Independent, Mcpherson Strut, coil spring
Rear Semi-independent, twist-beam with coil spring

Brakes

Front Disc
Rear Drum
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Autocar Magazine

Issue: 213 | Autocar India: May 2017

We bring you all you need to know about the Hyundai Xcent facelift and the all-new Swift Dzire, along with a WR-V vs Vitara Brezza vs i20 Active shootout, and plenty more this month.
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