Mahindra has often insisted that it is not interested in developing a small car for the Indian market at this point in time. However, this may prove to be only partially true, as the company is well into putting a radically shortened version of its popular MPV, the Xylo, into the market. Known widely as the mini-Xylo or the U203, it will be the first sub-four-metre mini-MPV in India and Mahindra has confirmed that it is to be called the Quanto; in line with other Mahindra car models ending with an 'O'. The launch of this mini-MPV will be in the
The Quanto will use the same basic structure as the Xylo. The same ladder-frame construction, a modified version of the mHawk diesel engine, a similar dashboard and similar suspension components as well. It could, in all probability, also be the shortest ladder-chassis-based utility vehicle in the world, apart from some Jeep-based off-roaders.
The Quanto will have shorter front and rear overhangs-a smaller rear door and an almost Wagon R-like compact rear section with partly opening quarter glass. New bits at the rear include the tail-lights, a spare wheel that falls outside the 4000mm mark, and smaller wheels. Because it’s built on a shortened version of the Xylo’s platform, the Quanto is likely to be stiffer than the regular car thanks to the reduced wheelbase. And that should make the Quanto ride and handle better than its softly-sprung stable mate, which tends to get all over the place at high speeds.
Due to the engine’s longitudinal layout, a large part of the four-metre length is taken up by the engine bay, and it will be interesting to see how Mahindra optimises the space in the cabin. Another fact that has emerged recently is that Mahindra will have a seven-seat version of the Quanto! Yes, seven seats! You can clearly see the rear step for the seven-seat version in the spy picture. But wouldn’t seven seats be too cramped in such a small car? Sure, it’s likely to be as tight as a pill-box in the back, but Mahindra has its reasons for wanting a seven-seater certificate. While seat comfort may not be fantastic, the presence of the rear seats means the Quanto can be registered as a commercial vehicle (with a yellow number plate under the N1 category), and that means it can get away with meeting lower emissions norms.
It is also likely to be powered by a small-capacity 1500cc diesel to help it take advantage of sub-four-metre-car excise benefits. Mahindra has dropped one cylinder from its 2.2-litre mHawk engine and reduced the bore and stroke as well to get it below 1500cc. Still, the downscaled engine develops around 100bhp and is mated to an all-new, five-speed manual transmission. Reducing the engine’s capacity was a challenge for M&M. The longitudinal engine layout creates higher NVH levels compared to a conventional transverse layout because the engine is now closer to the passengers; the prop shaft contributes to high noise and vibration levels. But Mahindra has reportedly gotten over these problems, according to a source from the company.
One cannot underestimate the potential of the Quanto, purely from a value-for-money angle. With just 12 percent excise on cars under 4000mm and common components shared with the Xylo, the Quanto or mini-Xylo promises to have a very aggressive price tag, somewhere between Rs 6 to Rs 7.5 lakh. Somewhat attractive to look at, unique in execution and positioning and well suited to the requirements of the Indian market, the Quanto is the next big/small thing from Mahindra and Mahindra. The biggest challenge for M&M, however, will be attracting buyers of family cars. With MPVs like the Ertiga raising the benchmark and levels of expectation as far as quality is concerned, can Mahindra’s baby win the hearts of everyday car buyers?
Also read: Mahindra Quanto prices may start at Rs 6 lakh
Checkout fresh interior shots of the new Quanto MPV here