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
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photos
The KUV100 (pronounced ‘one double oh’) is the latest addition to SUV maker, Mahindra & Mahindra’s (M&M) burgeoning model line-up. M&M may market the KUV100 as a compact SUV but in reality think of the model as the Indian manufacturer’s first indigenously developed ‘car’. The KUV100’s  3.6 metre length, front-wheel-drive setup and monocoque construction broadly puts it in the same category as hatchbacks such as the Maruti Celerio, Maruti Swift, Hyundai Grand i10 and the Tata Bolt.
 
A rival to conventional hatchbacks it may be, but there’s nothing conventional about the way the KUV100 looks. Like the template-busting Renault Kwid that was launched last year, the KUV100 too relies on SUV-like cues to distinguish itself from the crowd. The final product gets your attention though not necessarily for the right reasons. The styling may be too over the top, but like the Nissan Juke this is a car you simply can’t ignore and for many that may be reason enough to buy it. There’s a mishmash of styling elements, the proportions are awkward and there’s a general lack of cohesiveness to the design; the SUV-like front and the hatchback tail could very well belong to different cars. 
 
View the KUV head on and it will certainly catch your eye. The front is similar to what we’ve seen on newer SsangYong concepts (remember Mahindra owns the Korean SUV maker), but there’s a hint of Range Rover Evoque to the pinched grille and the acutely swept back headlights which extend almost all the way to the A-pillar. The detailing in the headlights is superb and the LED strip is particularly distinctive, especially at night. There’s beefy cladding on the lower portion of the bumper and a scuff plate at the bottom to announce the KUV100’s SUV credentials.
 
However, it’s in the side profile that the KUV looks particularly disproportionate. Also, there are too many design elements such as the pronounced crease extending from the headlights to the front doors, and another one originating at the rear door that rises to the tail. The oversized wheel arches dwarf the 14-inch wheels which are small even by hatchback standards. Look closely and you’ll notice the rear door handles sit aft of the rear window (à la the Chevrolet Beat) rather than on the doors. From the rear, the KUV gives the impression of being a tall hatchback with crossover detailing in its blackened bumper base. The protruding tail-lamps, again, look distinctive. Just wish the good folk at Pininfarina (recently acquired by Mahindra) could have been involved when the KUV was in its design stages.

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: 215 | Autocar India: July 2017

We’ve exclusively driven the third-gen Maruti Swift, compared the Dzire with all its compact sedan rivals, and tested the all-new Volvo XC60. That and lots more in the July 2017 issue!
Autocar Magazine
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