Mahindra’s sub-four-metre TUV300, targeted at semi-urban SUV buyers, is now also available as a larger nine-seater. Known as the TUV300 Plus, it stretches the tape at 4,440mm and is powered by a larger 2.2-litre mHAWK engine that makes 120hp – 20hp up on the standard TUV. It’s got an extra 400mm, but there isn’t much to differentiate the Plus from the standard car when it comes to the styling. Look closer, however, and you’ll see a tweaked fog lamp housing and larger 16-inch wheels, instead of the regular 15-inchers.
Step – or rather, climb – inside, and you’ll also notice new seats with quilted faux-leather upholstery. The Plus gets the same touchscreen infotainment system as the TUV300, and the interior and build also remain unchanged. And as most of the materials are carried over from the smaller TUV, they lack finesse, and fit and finish aren’t too impressive either.
Also, since the TUV300 Plus is built on the same wheelbase, those seated on the second row struggle for legroom. What adds to the discomfort is that the backrest is a bit too upright. This row also misses out on a centre armrest and air con vents.
Use the door at the back to get into the rear seat and you can’t help but notice that the foot-step is placed quite high. This means access to this space will be difficult for shorter passengers and the elderly. Once inside, things don’t get much better. The space on offer is insufficient for adults, and as the seats face each other (jump seats), they don’t get any seat belts. Also Mahindra’s claim that four adults can sit in the rear must be taken with a pinch of salt. Yes, two average-sized adults can sit on one seat. But if they do, the seat opposite becomes redundant, as there’s just no knee room. And, like the middle row, there are no air con vents here, either.
So this space is best reserved for two passengers or 696 litres of luggage. And that can be further expanded by folding down the second row; then you get a massive 888 litres, which is enough to take your mother-in-law along on that outstation family trip.
At the rear, the TUV300 Plus misses out on a reverse-parking camera, and what’s worse is that the sensors aren’t accurate. You also have to remember the presence of the foot-step and spare wheel while reversing.
With the bigger and more powerful engine (and an extra gear), this TUV comes with a bit of an advantage. Refinement isn’t too bad, the engine revs smoothly and vibrations are well-contained, but the diesel clatter is still very audible.
Legroom is tight and backrest upright.
On the move, you first notice that the clutch is light and the gears slot in well, thanks to the predefined gates. Still, the long travel of the clutch results in jerky shifts and you can easily select the reverse gear instead of the first, as the two are packed very tightly, and there’s no ‘lock’ for reverse.
The TUV300 is also not happy at speed on the highway. Due to the short gearing, the engine feels strained rather than relaxed, even when cruising at 100kph in sixth gear. Another con is the heavy steering. It’s problematic while navigating tight city roads and makes three-point turns and parking especially difficult.
However, bump absorption and stability on the highway are excellent. At triple-digit speeds, it feels stable and planted, and when it comes to pothole-ridden roads, it just glides over them smoothly. Yes, being a body-on-frame SUV, there is a fair bit of vertical movement, but that’s only felt on sharp bumps and undulations.
The TUV300 Plus is available in three trims – P4, P6 and P8 – with prices ranging from Rs 9.59 -10.98 lakh. It has the ability to carry a massive amount of luggage, it tackles bad roads with ease and will be at home on semi-urban and rural roads. There’s even decent amount of power and torque. Just don’t expect it to be at home in an urban environment. This one’s better suited to down-on-the-farm than downtown.