Mahindra XUV 3XO review - Feature and power packed compact SUV

    Out goes the Mahindra XUV300 and in comes the XUV 3XO. The new name is just the starting point of a very comprehensive upgrade.

    Published on May 02, 2024 12:52:00 PM


    Make : Mahindra
    Model : XUV 3XO
    We Like
    • Upmarket interior
    • Strong engines
    • Long equipment list
    We Don't Like
    • Boot space

    Competent as the Mahindra XUV300 was, it never quite made it to the list of compact SUV bestsellers. Mahindra is now gunning for glory with the updated XUV300, christened the XUV 3XO. Mind you, this is no run-of-the-mill nip and tuck update. Mahindra has gone all out with a new look, redone interior, some class-first feature introductions, some class-best specifications and very enticing pricing. The aim is to take the fight to the Tata Nexon, Maruti Brezza, Kia Sonet and Hyundai Venue, and win.

    Mahindra XUV 3XO: design and styling

    Where the XUV300’s styling was understated, the XUV 3XO is big on flash. Giving the 3XO its distinctive face are the large, new vertically oriented headlights outlined by C-shaped DRLs (a link to the larger XUV700). The headlights are split into two sections with a concealed projector unit up top, and an open projector fog lamp unit lower down, both set amidst a black surround. The lights flank the new grille, which is actually a gloss panel that runs much of the XUV’s width. The new front bumper with its pronounced cuts and creases is very concept car-like and the newly contoured bonnet also does its bit to add volume to the design.

    New C-shaped LED DRLs provide a visual link with the larger XUV700. 

    Like the XUV300, the 3XO looks muscular in profile, and furthering the impression are the stylish new 17-inch diamond cut alloy wheels that are the largest in the segment. There’s also chunkier side cladding with cuts at the wheel arches. Mahindra says ground clearance is a generous 201mm, up from the XUV300’s figure of 180mm.

    In its basic shape though, the 3XO is no different than the XUV300. The 2,600mm wheelbase remains class best, but the short overhangs, particularly at the back, tell you that this is a vehicle that's brutally shortened (remember it started life as a SsangYong Tivoli) to get length under the critical 4m mark, needed to qualify as a ‘small car’ and hence a lower rate of tax.

    New 17-inch alloys are the largest in the segment. 

    At the back, you sure won’t confuse an XUV 3XO for an XUV300. The new tail-lights (including a light bar on top versions), sharply cut tail gate and a more purposeful looking rear bumper give it a strong look. The 3XO is on sale in eight colour options with top-spec AX7 and AX7 L versions distinguishable by their contrast roofs.

    Mahindra XUV 3XO: interior

    There's more than meets the eye on the inside. The 3XO gets a new dashboard but the bigger talking point is the significantly enhanced cabin quality. Top-spec versions get a soft-touch finish on the dash, there's a generous use of gloss black and the perforated leatherette seats look suitably upmarket – their high-maintenance cream colour notwithstanding. Elements like the leather-wrapped steering, window switches, and wiper and light stalks wouldn’t look out of place in a pricier car.

    Interior feels premium with soft-touch materials on the dashboard.

    Headlining the redone dashboard is a free-standing 10.25-inch touchcreen and it's not the only screen in here. Mahindra has also drafted in the XUV700’s 10.25-inch digital dials and the combined effect of these two screens is that the 3XO’s cabin looks up to date. Also worth a mention is the restlyed centre console. Thankfully, the XUV300’s dated orange backlighting is now a thing of the past.

    Mahindra XUV 3XO: features

    Mahindra has gone the distance when it comes to features, with even the lower variants packing in more than similarly priced rivals. Top-spec AX7 and AX7 L versions, meanwhile, can put some pricier SUVs to shame on this front.

    The 10.25-inch touchscreen is smooth but our pre-production test cars weren't running features like wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which will be available on customer cars. Wireless mirroring aside, the XUV 3XO packs in eSim-based connected car tech that brings in functions like remote ignition and cooling, remote vehicle updates and a whole lot more. On fully loaded AX7 L versions, the screen is also the display for a 360-degree camera; the camera resolution is good but we did note some lag in the feed.

    360-degree camera has good resolution but there's some lag in the feed.

    The digital dials look special and also give you the option to shuffle between layouts. Also part of the package is a two tweeter, four speaker and subwoofer Harman Kardon sound system. Sadly, certain settings weren't available on our cars, so we couldn't test the full spectrum of sounds.

    Other features of interest include dual-zone climate control and an auto-dimming mirror, something ironically not offered on the pricier XUV700. There's also a 65W USB fast charger (good enough to charge a laptop) as well as a segment-first electric parking brake with auto hold. But perhaps more than all else, one feature that could really sway buyers is the segment-first panoramic sunroof. The one big miss is ventilation for the front seats.

    Panoramic sunroof is a segment-first feature.

    Mahindra XUV 3XO: space and comfort

    The XUV 3XO seats you at a reasonable height and you get a good view out. Average-sized adults will find the front seats comfy, although larger-framed individuals will find side bolstering a touch intrusive. A bigger complaint is the absence of a dead pedal for the driver to rest their left foot.

    Rear seat space is a highlight with the class-best width delivering enough shoulder space for three passengers to sit in reasonable comfort. What’s also nice is that all three rear passengers get three-point seat belts and dedicated headrests. Ample knee room, good foot room and well padded seats also make this one of the comfiest back seats in the segment.

    Rear seats can accommodate three passengers comfortably.

    If anything, accommodating the mechanism for the sunroof has eaten into headroom but that’ll only be an issue for those taller than 6 feet. On the subject, the panoramic sunroof doesn’t extend all the way back, but the effect it has on the cabin is very positive. Amenities at the back include AC vents, a well positioned fold down centre armrest, a 12V charger and a USB Type C charger.

    Also See: Mahindra XUV 3XO vs XUV300: old vs new

    Mahindra XUV 3XO: practicality and boot space

    The 3XO scores well on space for small items. There’s a bottle holder on each of the doors, a pair of cupholders front and rear, a deep cooled glovebox as well as storage under the front centre armrest.

    A reprofiled floor allows for slightly more luggage space than before.

    Luggage space was an area where the XUV300 was lacking and Mahindra has tried to make amends. A reprofiled floor has helped enhance volume, measured up till the seat top, from the XUV300’s 259 litres to 295 litres. Space is still not class best, but you can fit in more luggage than before. However, the low floor and high sill make loading and unloading heavy luggage inconvenient. Notably, a 60:40 split and fold rear seat is standard and will come handy when you have bulky items to transport.

    Mahindra XUV 3XO: engines and performance

    Like the XUV300, the XUV 3XO is offered with three engine options: a 117hp and 300Nm, 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel; a 111hp and 200Nm 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbo-charged unit; and the range-topping 131hp and 230Nm, 1.2-litre, three-cylinder, direct injection turbo-petrol unit.

    Six speed manuals are available across the board, and while the diesel continues with a 6-speed AMT, both petrols get the option of a new, Aisin-sourced 6-speed torque converter automatic.

    The 1.5-litre diesel helps get up to cruising speeds without much effort.

    This was our first time driving the 1.5-litre diesel in BS6.2 spec and the takeaway remains the same – it’s a very likable engine. Turbo lag is really well contained at low speeds, and there's a very nice spread of power that helps get the XUV 3XO to cruising speeds without much effort. You don’t get a spike of power but it feels responsive throughout and that’s what you’d want. That class-best 300Nm really counts for a lot on the highway. Refinement is decent (Hyundai and Kia’s 1.5 diesel is quieter) and things quieten as you build pace. The 6-speed gearbox also helps make the 3XO a relaxed cruiser, and although the gearshifts on the manual are decent, the clutch can feel tricky to modulate at low city speeds.

    You experience the best of the XUV 3XO in the mStallion T-GDi turbo-petrol variant. For starters, its remarkably refined. It doesn't thrum like you'd expect a three-cylinder engine to and noise levels are kept so well in check that at higher speeds you'll almost always underestimate engine rpm. This direct-injection unit also feels wholesome with ready power at all times, and a particularly pleasing mid-range. The 230Nm (250Nm on overboost) is well clear of segment rivals and performance is actually at par with pricier SUVs.

    The 1.2-litre TGDi engine is refined and punchy with class-leading numbers.

    The new 6-speed torque converter automatic also gels very well with this engine delivering smooth and timely shifts. You can take manual control via the gear lever (responses aren’t lightening quick) but paddleshifters are missed. In slow speeds you’ll find that the XUV 3XO lurches forward, and this can catch you off-guard. Drive modes on the petrol-auto, namely Zip, Zap and Zoom, help fine-tune the experience by altering steering weight and engine power.

    Mahindra XUV 3XO: ride and handling

    You’ll feel a hint of firmness in the manner the XUV 3XO tackles bumps and potholes. At the same time, there’s a very reassuring feeling of being in a car that can take some abuse. Ground clearance isn’t an issue and the long travel suspension makes the XUV 3XO feel absolutely comfortable on kacha paths. On smooth highways, the Mahindra cruises with the heft of a larger vehicle and that’s a very good thing.

    The steering weighs up depending on the drive modes, but doesn't feel particularly precise.

    As standard, the 3XO gets steering modes (part of drive modes on higher-spec versions) and you can feel a difference in weight and steering effort as you toggle between comfort, normal and sport. Even so, the steering doesn’t feel precise at its sportiest. Otherwise, the XUV 3XO is a keen handler with superb grip and a surefooted feel at all times. Strong brakes add to the confidence.

    Mahindra XUV 3XO: safety and ADAS

    The XUV300 was a Global NCAP 5 star rated model and its almost certain Mahindra will present the XUV 3XO for Global NCAP or Bharat NCAP rating too. Six airbags, electronic stability control. three-point seat belts for all seats and Isofix child seat mounts are safety features standard across the range, while higher-spec versions add in a tyre pressure monitoring system and blind view monitor (it relays a feed from the wing mirrors onto the dials).

    Where the XUV 3XO goes one up on rivals is in its camera and radar-based Advanced Driver Assistance or ADAS features. The suite includes adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, auto emergency braking, high beam assist and traffic sign recognition. All the features we tried worked well but what does need a rethink is the ADAS' menu that's tucked into the digital dials and aren’t quick to access on the go.

    Mahindra XUV 3XO: price and verdict

    Now for the matter of pricing. Mahindra has been very aggressive with an entry price of Rs 7.49 lakh (ex-showroom) for the base petrol version. Of the two petrol options, there’s no overlap in trim levels with the higher-spec AX5 Luxury, AX7 and AX7 Luxury exclusive to the T-GDi.

    Spec for spec, the standard turbo-petrol and diesel XUV 3XOs undercut chief rivals in comparable trims, with the advantage of offering more features. The TGDi-powered variants are on the pricey end of the spectrum, but the engine alone is worth it for the performance it enables. 

    The XUV 3XO is a package that's hard to ignore.

    So, should you be interested in the XUV 3XO? The short answer is, yes. It feels properly upmarket inside, the cabin is roomy, it’s loaded with features and the strong engines are highlights in their own right. The tough build and good ride also help it fulfill the SUV brief. Making this a package that’s hard to ignore is the keen pricing. It's got a good stance, styling is undoubtedly polarising, and the limited luggage capacity has also been addressed to some extent. 

    In conclusion, then, Mahindra didn’t quite crack the compact SUV segment the last time around. First impressions suggest they’re on to something with the XUV 3XO.

    Also See:

    Mahindra XUV 3XO video review

    Tech Specs

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