The Mahindra TUV300 is an SUV that we here at Zigwheels think has quite the potential. It might have love it or hate it looks, but you cant help but notice huge leaps of improvement in terms of interior fit and finish, practicality, NVH levels and ride quality. The only thing we were a little disappointed about was the lackluster engine and the older gearbox that did spoil the overall ratings of the car when we did an indepth review a few months ago. At the time though, we did not have a chance to drive the anticipated automatic or AMT equipped version. Now though, we have. And here is what we think about it.
The Mahindra TUV300 automatic is not an automatic in its conventional sense. In fact, it is actually an AMT gearbox unit which essentially translated to automated manual transmission. This means that the gearbox remains the same as with the manual variants but gets an additional electromechanical unit that engages and changes gears on its own without the driver having to use a clutch pedal. As with other cars in the market, the TUV300 has a shift selector which has a drive mode (marked as A/M in the TUV300), a neutral mode and a reverse mode.
What surprises us is the fact that instead of employing a traditional vertically stacked selection option, Mahindra has instead opted for a horizonal one. What that means is that the TUV comes with a L shaped selector. Moving the gear lever to the left engages drive, moving it to the right engages neutral and moving it towards the driver engages the reverse option.
This slightly offbeat and strange combination does take a little practice to get used to, especially if you are familiar with other automatic gearboxes, but in due time it does seem normal. Of course, there is also a Tiptronic-esque shifter to manually control the gearbox (marked in + and -), but for a car like the TUV300, it is best to keep it in normal drive more.
So how does it drive. Well, sadly, in start stop traffic, the TUV300’s automatic does seem to be slightly slower than what is expected. The large SUV does tend to be slightly jerky at slower speeds and the gearbox combined with the lackluster 3-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine does seem to be an avoidable combination. However, as the revs start climbing and the TUV300 cycles thorough the gears, the ease of driving and the mid range punch that seems to be much more pronounced in the automatic do tend to be redeeming features. What we do appreciate is the fact that overall NVH levels are quite decent and that once the SUV does get going, the upshifts and downshifts are quite smooth and do tend to make the act of actually driving the TUV much better.
With sales at almost an even 50:50 split between the manual and automatic when it comes to the higher end variants of the TUV300, we are not really surprised that the Indian audiences have started to gravitate towards the ease of driving that an autobox offers. So would we recommend one over the manual?
The TUV300 AMT certainly does not have the start-stop crawl capabilities that the standard diesel-manual can offer and although an automatic does have its advantages, the TUV300 in manual guise is just a better car to drive. That said, if you are looking for a not-so-expensive-big-brutish-SUV and you absolutely MUST have an automatic gearbox, then this is the one for you.
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