The interior is not identical to the TUV300 – it’s identical to the Quanto. That’s a huge disappointment, as that car, in turn, dates all the way back to the original Xylo from 2009! The reason is the same reason they’ve retained exterior panels for – though the chassis is new, the car’s body-in-white had to stay the same to keep manufacturing costs in check and with it, the placement and fit of most of the interior panels were carried over as well. So, you get the same upright dash, awkward-looking central AC vents and the same central console, among other things. Though they look old and hard-wearing, to their credit, the cupholders and cubbyholes in the central stack are pretty useful. The door pockets, however, are still too small and narrow.
There are a few new bits to bring this cabin more up to date. The Xylo’s instrument binnacle gets new chrome-ringed dials that look a bit smarter, the AC and ‘power mode’ controls are lifted straight from the TUV300, there’s dual-tone leatherette upholstery and a 6.2-inch touchscreen (see box) dominates the top of the dash. But some things are still irksome in here. The doors have speed-sensitive locks, but there’s no ‘central lock-unlock’ button anywhere in the cabin – you have to lift up the knob like it’s 1995; there is an electronic fuel cap release button though. The multi-info display is annoyingly split between the instrument binnacle and the dash-top display, so while the trip and odometer are where you expect, you have to turn to the dashboard for the fuel consumption, distance to empty, optimum/selected gear (essential in the AMT version) and inside/outside temperature displays. And finally, though it may have improved slightly from the days of old, fit and finish in most places is still below modern standards, and some parts like the column stalks and door locks clearly feel a generation old.
The NuvoSport may seem similar to the TUV300 in exterior dimensions, but it actually has an 80mm longer wheelbase, and this has translated directly to greater legroom in the middle row. The boot, at 412 litres (with the jump seats folded away) also trumps the TUV’s 384 litres. As ever with Mahindra’s ladder-frame SUVs, you have to climb two steps into the cabin, and then a bit more into the seats. The advantage here is a tall and commanding driving position with a great view in every direction. The only trouble is, the NuvoSport’s bonnet tapers quite sharply, and so if you’re not very tall, it’s hard to see the front left corner of the car from the driver’s seat, especially going up a steep slope.
Climb into the middle row and you’ll find ample room in all directions, and this is one area where it truly trumps all its rivals, and how. It’s easy to fit three abreast here, and even the tallest passengers won’t want for headroom or kneeroom. The seats are a touch flat, though, and this might hurt comfort over long distances. The middle row can now be split-folded 60:40 for a more flexible luggage area and the backrest can even be reclined. But there’s one caveat and that’s the jump seats in the boot. They have to be flipped down to recline the middle row, and doing so means no passengers and limited luggage in the boot. The jump seats have three positions – flipped up, opened, or flipped down – the first giving maximum luggage room, the second letting passengers use them, and the third letting the middle row recline. And they are standard, so you can’t opt for more luggage and two fewer seats, even if you wanted to. It’s good to see height-adjustable seatbelts for the front seats, and while there’s a conventional three-point system for two middle passengers and a lap belt for the middle, there are no seat belts for the rear jump seats. And speaking of safety, ABS and two airbags are standard on the middle and top trims, while they are optional on the base trim too.