Quick review: Mahindra's new XUV300 is surprisingly good and affordable

Mahindra has taken a moment to listen to its customers' feedback and its new XUV300 is solid proof of going forward in the right direction and meeting buyers' needs.

The KUV100, first launched here in South Africa three years ago, left a bad taste with some consumers and overall just mentioning the automaker's name is met with apprehension.

DRIVEN: The new Mahindra XUV300 hits the road to Paternoster

Mahindra has evolved over the years and though its vehicles have been improved they lack perceived build-quality. The larger XUV500 would be my pick in the Mahindra stable but it too has faults, despite an impressive fuel consumption and spacious, comfortable cabin.

mahindra xuv300

                                                                                     Image: Wheels24 / Leigh-Ann Londt

I have just driven the new XUV300 and the improvement in build quality compared to the KUV100 and XUV500 is night and day. The compact SUV feels  much more solid, and you can definitely tell the equipment and material has been upgraded. I was thoroughly impressed before I had even set out to drive the vehicle.

There's a better touch under your fingertips when running your hand along the dash and interior bits. The panels have tight spaces and are joined firmly together. There's no rattling of parts when reaching speeds of 120km/h or more. Yes, it can reach in excess of that speed and rather quickly too, all while feeling like a more premium product.

mahindra xuv300

                                                                                      Image: Wheels24 / Leigh-Ann Londt

Seats are comfy and I am still a bit surprised to find just how spacious the interior is with more than enough legroom  - and elbow room - for everyone.

What I impresses the most is its driving dynamics. Its 1.5-litre diesel engine, mated to a six-speed manual transmission, is a boon. It's feisty off the line and doesn't want to be held back when driving. The diesel engine is a bit noisy, but it sounds more like a cute bark than an intrusive grumble, reflecting its nimble character; so it's forgivable. 

mahindra xuv300

                                                                                    Image: Wheels24 / Leigh-Ann Londt

It drives a like dream when compared to the KUV100 and XUV500, as if it's built by a completely different brand. It just feels so good behind the wheel and on the road. The engine delivers about 89kW and a whopping 300Nm. I was driving home on the highway at a good pace, and a brand new identical model came blistering past me. That kind of driving just emphasises the confidence owners are finding in Mahindra.

It looks really good too, making the current TUV300 look rather outdated. At the same time, it's a clear indication of the new direction the automaker has taken. Like the cousin at a family reunion that now has a great job, is in great shape and happy with their life; the one everyone swoons over.

The usual attention to a new car in my driveway was welcomed and I couldn't stop saying good things about the brand's new product. I would recommend this as an alternative choice to families or motorists looking for a new vehicle. You're looking at a price of R274 999, so that equates to about R3399 per month in instalments. 

The boot is not massive, but suffice. There are loads of storage compartments and pockets. 

If this is what is to come from all future products of Mahindra, they could become a serious contender in monthly sales figures.