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Mahindra XUV300 Petrol Automatic First Drive: Fitness For Purpose


The fun-to-drive XUV300 petrol gets an automatic after too long a wait. But there’s a catch.

First, a little perspective into what was on our mind as we went into this short drive.

  • Gaurav Gill just won his latest INRC title at the helm of an XUV300-based rally car 

  • The little XUV is easily one of the most fun cars to drive that you can buy for Rs 10 lakh or less

  • We’ve been waiting for the XUV300 petrol automatic for nearly two years

  • Mahindra was extremely tight-lipped about what transmission the automatic petrol XUV300 would use

With all this in mind, you can imagine why we’re a little surprised that the XUV300 petrol automatic employs an AMT. Surely not the enthusiast’s choice of two-pedal technology, but let’s set that aside for a moment.

Cut The Enthusiast Trumpeting! Can I Commute In It?

Yes, and quite easily so. As a daily commuter, the petrol AMT is smooth-to-use, and that’s the beauty of what a strong engine can do for any transmission. The 1.2-litre turbocharged, three-cylinder engine of the XUV300 has functional and enjoyable performance throughout its rev range and makes gear changes smooth at part throttle. You can manage to crawl through traffic too, thanks to the ‘creep function’ that’ll go up to around 8kmph.

Quick Fact: Mahindra is working on a more powerful direct-injection turbo-petrol engine that’ll produce around 130PS and 230Nm (it currently makes 110PS/200Nm).

Credit where it’s due, this transmission is intuitive and shifts at the point where you’d usually do the same with the manual. Additionally, it’ll stay in gear while going uphill or downhill to stay in the powerband, or control acceleration when required. Plus, there’s always a manual mode should you feel the need for more control.

Quick Fact: The MID shows you the drive mode selected. In manual mode, it displays the chosen gear as well.

Overtaking is no tall task either, and the XUV300 makes quick work of it, thanks to the low-rev punch that’s readily available. Lightning quick? Well, no. You are aware that it’s an AMT, which does warrant a pinch of additional patience.

Quick Fact: The gear lever is shared with the diesel, and the mode layout is identical. That is, the gear selector always returns to the centre, no matter what transmission mode you engage. 

However, you will need to up your patience game if you want to drive aggressively. Go hard off the line, and there’s a long gap and a noticeable head-nod as you shift from 1st to 2nd gear. And this nature is consistent through the gears -- even when you’re hard on the throttle or downshifting quickly.

In All Honesty

Look, if you like the XUV300 for how engaging it is to drive, stick with the manual. The auto transmission has been tuned really well, but an AMT has some limitations by nature. It’s not as quick or responsive as the torque converter of the EcoSport or the DCTs you get in the Venue or Sonet. If you like the XUV300 as a package and just want the convenience of an automatic, this transmission won’t give you a reason to complain. Just that it’s not the ideal choice to exploit all the potential this car has.

Quick Opinion: The XUV300 petrol manual is an easy daily driver by itself, thanks to the light steering and clutch.

Otherwise, the XUV300’s driveability, ride, and handling remain strong selling points. The car almost glides over road imperfections and inconsistent speed breakers, providing a pleasant in-cabin experience. 

Complementing this are factors like excellent noise insulation, premium interior quality, and space for five occupants. The XUV300 is, quite literally, a chop-sized SsangYong Tivoli. While that does take a heavy toll on boot space, the passenger cell is as accommodating as it would be in SUVs that are a segment higher (or a size larger).

Talk Value To Me

The XUV300 petrol AutoSHIFT can be had in the W6 & W8 (O) variants, which command a premium of Rs 55,000 and Rs 65,000 respectively over their manual counterparts. For 2021, a sunroof is now offered with the W6 variant and above, whereas the top-end W8 (O) also gets Mahindra’s new BlueSense Plus connected car system (more on this here.)

Quick Opinion: The XUV300’s dashboard design and displays do look dated.

Thankfully, you don’t have to compromise on features and safety (you get the full safety kit suite) with an XUV300 automatic. 

XUV300 Feature Highlights

7-inch touchscreen with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay

7 airbags

Auto Dimming IRVM

All wheel disc brakes

Cruise Control

Front & Rear Parking Sensors

Dual Zone Climate Control

TPMS

Push Button Start

ESP

Halogen Projector Headlights

ISOFIX

The Final Takeaway

The petrol AutoSHIFT is about pure convenience. Its purpose is to take the sting out of daily commutes and make city/highway drives easier. As long as you’re aware of that, you will like the XUV300 petrol automatic, especially considering the reasonable premium it commands over the manual.

Prices start at Rs 9.95 lakh for the W6 petrol AMT and Rs 11.76 lakh for the W8 (O) (all prices ex-showroom).

Mahindra XUV300 Video Review

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Mahindra XUV300

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