Ever since the Mahindra XUV300’s launch, it’s been public knowledge that an automatic version was coming soon. Said version is now here in the form of the XUV300 AMT. It is available in two variants – W8 and W8(O) – at a price of Rs 11.50 lakh and Rs 12.70 lakh, respectively. The automatic option is only available on the diesel version of the SUV and uses a 6-speed automated manual transmission (AMT) sourced from Marelli (previously known as Magneti Marelli). Interestingly, this transmission is completely different from the slow-shifting, clunky, 5-speed AMT unit in TUV300 and the NuvoSport.
We got to sample the XUV300 AMT in the top-of-the-line W8(O) variant, so let’s get right to it.
What’s it like on the inside?
The XUV300’s interior continues to have the same pleasing design with its black and beige theme. The cabin feels spacious and airy, and you are sat in a commanding driving position with good overall visibility. What’s new here is the automatic gear lever that is sturdy, nice to hold and easy to slot into different drive modes from the centre-most position. The gates are laid out in a cross position, with Automatic (A) and Manual (M) on the left, Neutral on the right, Reverse on the right and bottom, and Tiptronic on the top (+) and bottom (-) from the centre position. The lack of a clutch pedal has freed up some space in the footwell and you have a wide and comfortable dead pedal here – something that is sorely missed on the manual XUV.
Elsewhere, the XUV300 AMT is identical to the manual variants. In short, there is enough space in the rear to seat three passengers. The 257-litre boot, however, isn’t very accommodating.
What’s it like to drive?
The XUV300 AMT uses the same 117hp/300Nm, 1.5-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine as the XUV diesel-manual. Slot the 6-speed AMT’s lever into ‘A’ and the XUV300 engages Creep mode which is nice and progressive. This, in fact, is a huge improvement over the previous Mahindra AMT on the NuvoSport, which leaps forward when you lift your foot off the brake pedal. However, as smooth as its AMT is, the XUV300 still isn't completely at ease in stop-go traffic. The grabby brakes that are hard to modulate at crawling speeds are to blame for this.
With a light foot on the throttle, the transmission shifts up through the initial gears effortlessly and smoothly. Truth be told, it is comfortable to drive in bumper-to-bumper traffic, as a conventional automatic, but small jerks and some amount of head nod still remain. But there is little doubt, this is one of the best AMTs around. The gearbox is quick enough to respond and drops down a single or couple of gears when you demand more power from it. However, when cruising on the highway, it doesn’t quite drop down three gears, say from sixth to third, where the real punch is. So, for overtakes on the highways, it is best you use the manual Tiptronic mode. Even though the shifts in manual mode aren’t super quick, it gives you good control over the gearbox and helps keep the engine on the boil.
The AMT variant comes with hill-hold assist feature which prevents the car from rolling back when you are on a slope. Another good feature of the AMT is that while going downhill, the unit doesn’t upshift to a higher gear immediately when the speed increases. It will hold on to a lower gear to give you more control while coming down a hill. The auto start-stop feature from the manual variant has been given a miss on the AMT variant. It, however, gets cruise control, unlike the Maruti Brezza.
Other characteristics of the XUV300 remain unchanged and the good suspension setup offers a plush and comfortable ride over bad roads. It also gets three steering modes, which is a segment-first, but the steering lacks feedback and feel. The wide track and 215/55 R17 tyres provide good grip in corners and the all-wheel-disc brake setup helps you shed speed quickly and confidently.
Should I buy one?
The XUV300 is well equipped when it comes to convenience and safety features. The W8 variant gets 17-inch alloys, hill-hold, front and rear fog-lamps, a reverse camera, auto headlamps and wipers, dual-zone climate control, projector headlamps with LED DRLs, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, keyless entry, cruise control and an engine start/stop button. In terms of safety, it gets dual airbags, all-wheel disc brakes, ABS with EBD, child-seat anchors, ESP and hill-launch assist.
The W8(O) gets the addition of five more airbags (side, curtain and driver's knee), a sunroof, heated wing mirrors, diamond-cut alloys, a tyre pressure monitoring system, front parking sensors and leatherette upholstery.
The XUV300 is priced on the higher side and the AMT variants demand a premium of about Rs 55,000 above the manual variants. At Rs 11.50 lakh (for the W8) and Rs 12.70 lakh (for the W8(O)), the XUV300 AMT is now the priciest SUV in its class. However, the additional price you pay over the manual variants is not much when you consider all that the SUV offers; like the Marelli-sourced AMT unit, which is one of the smoother ones in the market. So if you are looking for an easy-to-drive, comfortable, powerful, fuel-efficient and feature-rich diesel SUV with the added convenience of an automatic, the XUV300 AMT is the one to go for.