Mahindra KUV100: First look

14th Jan 2016 9:34 am

The KUV100 gets striking design; to come with 1.2-litre petrol and diesel engines; to be priced under Rs 4 lakh; launches tomorow.

Also read: Mahindra KUV100 launched at Rs 4.42 lakh

Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) has released the first official pictures of the all-new KUV100, earlier codenamed the S101. The KUV100, pronounced as ‘one double oh’ in keeping with M&M’s tradition of christening its cars with names that end with an O, is a compact SUV which, as the numeric ‘100’ suggests, sits below the TUV300 in M&M’s portfolio.

The KUV100 is the smallest and most affordable SUV M&M has ever made, and is a big leap of faith by the company into the ultra-competitive hatchback segment. The KUV100 will be directly pitted against giants like the Suzuki Swift and Hyundai Grand i10 and M&M has ambitions of stealing market share from these segment leaders. It’s a tall order no doubt but M&M is banking on the fact that the KUV100’s crossover design will be the differentiator and help it stand out in a sea of conventional hatchbacks. 

Mahindra KUV100 rear styling spy pic

In fact, the KUV100’s design is anything but conventional and it’s guaranteed to stand out in the parking lot. However, M&M’s designers who don’t believe that less is more, have once again gone overboard with the styling. There’s a mishmash of design elements and excessive detailing which makes the KUV100 look a bit kitsch. 

The nose has many layers and the pinched grille seems to have been inspired by the Range Rover Evoque. In fact, there’s a bit of Nissan Juke as well. The tough-looking skid plate lends to the KUV100’s SUV credentials but the talking point will be the very striking pair of headlights with LEDs that stretch back almost to the A-pillar.

The smooth and rounded sides are less extreme except for the pronounced fold or character line that extends from the rear doors into the tailgate. You can’t miss the bulging wheel arches either which make the 14-inch wheels and tyres look disproportionately small. 

The rearward sloping roofline and hidden handles for the rear doors, as found on the Chevrolet Beat, give it a sleek profile and the roof line is more hatch-like than SUV. 

The cab-forward design, with the A-pillar starting just after the front wheel arch, hints at spacious interior room, and earlier spy pictures have shown the car gets a bench seat for the front row to make the KUV100 a six-seater. Unlike the Datsun Go which has a pseudo sixth seat, the KUV100’s +1 in the centre comes with a lap belt. However, it’s not the place you’d want to be in, in the event of a crash.

To accommodate the front bench, the gearstick is mounted on the dash, while a smart instrument binnacle layout includes multimedia controls and space for a small screen.Underpinning the KUV100 is an all-new platform developed from a clean sheet of paper. It’s the second monocoque chassis after the XUV500 and uses a similar transverse front-engine, front-wheel-drive layout. There are no plans to introduce a 4x4 version as there would be few takers for it in the segment and would unnecessarily add to cost and weight. The suspension system is quite conventional with MacPherson struts up front and a twist-beam axle in the rear.

The KUV100 also sees the introduction of Mahindra’s all-new engine family badged mFalcon and two other engine options – an 82bhp 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and 77bhp 1.2-litre three-cylinder diesel engine, both mated to an all-new five-speed manual transmission. M&M is also working on an automatic version with a Magnetti Marelli-sourced AMT unit.

Four variants of the KUV100 will be available, with ABS and airbags standard across the entire range. Top-spec variants are expected to be well equipped and higher variants of the diesel will come with a dual-mass flywheel for better refinement.

There’s no word as yet on the prices but sources indicate that the KUV100 range will be very aggressively priced with the base version expected to start under Rs 4 lakh when it is launched later this month.

With its ‘love it or hate it but you can’t ignore it’ styling, clever interiors and SUV appeal, the KUV100 could be the cat amongst the pigeons in the hatchback segment.

The new mFalcon engine line-up

The KUV100 is the first Mahindra to be powered by the mFalcon range of engines developed in-house by M&M. The company has invested Rs 500 crore to design and develop this all-new engine family which includes petrol and diesel engines in three and four-cylinder configurations with cubic capacities ranging from 1.2 to 1.6 litres. This new engine family will power future models from both Mahindra and SsangYong. In fact, the SsangYong Tivoli, which uses a 1.6 petrol and diesel, is the first recipient of the new powertrain.

Six engines – three petrols and three diesels – will be spawned from this new family and additionally, future petrol engines will get turbo-charging and direct fuel injection which could push power as high as 140bhp in the 1.2 three-cylinder turbo-petrol. M&M has invested in a very flexible engine plant in Chakan and both petrol and diesel engines will be made on the same assembly line.

The 1.2 three-cylinder petrol engine is a full-aluminium, lightweight unit with an offset crankshaft and a very stiff aluminium block for better refinement. It gets four-valves per cylinder and twin overhead camshafts to achieve the optimum valve angles and combustion chamber design. The 1.2 diesel also has similar valve gear but comes with a cast-iron block that again has been extensively stiffened for lower noise and vibration.

Developed along with AVL, M&M says it has pushed the envelope on technology with the mFalcon family of engines and has applied for 18 patents.








On the significance of the new engine family

This is a full engine-platform strategy, where we wanted to start with a 1.2-litre diesel and petrol, and move on from there. This is very important for Mahindra because it’s the first time we are building a grounds-up petrol engine; earlier, we have derived petrol versions from diesel engines. Of course, thirty or forty years ago, we had gasoline engines, but those were inherited from Jeep. Now, we are also coming up with a new diesel engine at the same time.

On Concerns About Three-Cylinder Engines

It’s true that three-cylinder engines derived from four-cylinder engines were not very well balanced. But grounds-up three-cylinder engines are very good and I don’t think anyone needs to feel apologetic about the NVH. We know that small engines are certainly going to be the future and therefore, there is scope for the three-cylinder to be refined considerably.

On the impact of the anti-diesel sentiment on petrol

Definitely, there will be a higher push for petrol, and all our plants that are set up for both petrol and diesel engines. In the case of the KUV100, the push for petrol will be higher.

On the prospects of petrol SUVs

Petrol will never give you diesel-like driving pleasure unless you go to gasoline direct-injection (GDI) and then you need turbo-charging for low-end performance. It’s very expensive but is fuel efficient too and I believe that’s what will be required for SUVs because Indian customers will not like petrol SUVs without the low-end torque.

Also read: All you need to know on the Mahindar KUV100


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