Photography by Sanjay Raikar
By offering 6-seater capacity and mini-SUV stance, the Mahindra KUV 100 was the smallest vehicle to roll out of their stables. Going by their sales figures, they made a good noise in the new buyer segment as nearly 50 per cent of the owners were first time buyers and 15 per cent of them were females. So with a good start, it now appears in an even more stylish avatar – the KUV 100 NXT.
The basic silhouette of the car remains the same. There are few details which do stand out after the first glance. The front grille now gets chrome inserts and goes nicely with the dual chamber headlamps with LED DRLs. The front and rear bumpers now appear in a dual-tone finish with silver skid plates. The front bumper neatly integrates the fog lamps which appear with a bezel surround. You now get ‘Aero Corners’ to go along with the integrated spoiler. This being the K8 model, you get 15-inch diamond cut two-tone alloys which complement the design well.
The double barrel tail lamps continue but now appear with a clear lens cover. There is no other way to open the boot other than the remote key, a potential hassle for the customer when they roll up to the security checkpoint prior to entering a shopping mall or hotel.
Step inside and there is an improvement in the overall fit and finish. The quality of plastics used is noticeably better with the dash and the upholstery getting a faux carbonfibre finish. The air-conditioning knobs make way for electric controls though I have to clarify that it is not climate control. It feels better than before but there is still room for improvement.
The infotainment panel is the 7-inch touchscreen system which the bigger Mahindra SUVs come fitted with. The overall interface of the panel is user friendly and can now be synced with your phone by the Blue Sense Mobile App, developed by Tech Mahindra. While it gets the usual AUX, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, I feel that Mahindra should jump on the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay bandwagon to stay up to date.
It drives pretty much the same as before with the 1.2-litre diesel engine making 77bhp and 190Nm of torque. These may not seem stunning but they do the job adequately. The diesel gets a Power/Eco button along with Mahindra’s micro-hybrid stop-start technology, only one in its class to come laden with this feature. The engine response is tremendously dulled down in ‘Eco’ mode, however in both modes there is not enough mid-range pull to make swift overtakes.
The ride is quite soft and it could do with a little stiffening. The car does soak up undulations easily, especially on the banks of the Mahindra test track, but there is a bit of unwanted body roll, especially with the yawing action as the car rolls down a straight.
The USP of the car is its SUV-ish appeal and with these added features it might continue to attract even more new-age buyers. If only Mahindra sorted out the few niggles, tightened up the suspension and gave it more punch, the overall appeal of this mini Mahindra will be enhanced.