Mahindra XUV 3XO SUV first drive review: Comprehensive challenge to champions

₹7.49 - 15.49 Lakhs*
*Ex-showroom price
4.5 out of 5
4.5
Safety
4.5
Performance
4.5
Feature
4
Design
4
Comfort
4.5
Safety
4.5
Performance
4.5
Feature
4
Design
4
Comfort
Pros
  • Loaded with features
  • Extensive updates to appearance
  • Upmarket cabin
  • Peppy drive trait
Cons
  • Boot space is still limited
  • Front design may not appeal to all
If Mahindra XUV 300 was boring, the XUV 3XO is aiming to be anything but. Does the latest from the Mahindra stable light up an already livery segment
...
Mahindra XUV 3XO
The Mahindra XUV 3XO is a radically updated version of the XUV 300. It gets updates and new additions galore to help it potentially rival the champions in the sub-compact SUV space.
Mahindra XUV 3XO
The Mahindra XUV 3XO is a radically updated version of the XUV 300. It gets updates and new additions galore to help it potentially rival the champions in the sub-compact SUV space.

The sub-compact SUV space in the Indian car market is one of the most exciting segments with a vast number of options available to a potential buyer. The likes of Maruti Suzuki Brezza, Hyundai Venue, Tata Nexon and Kia Sonet have all made a mark and are common sights on the country's roads. But while its larger SUVs have become enormously popular, Mahindra has been eerily quiet in this particular segment with its XUV 300 thus far competing only for presence. But not anymore because the Mahindra XUV 3XO is here and is making a massive noise.

The Mahindra XUV 3XO is essentially based on the XUV 300 even if the Indian carmaker is repeatedly underlining its unique highlights and significant updates. This is also perhaps why the name has been changed in its entirety. It will, however, take more, much more, than a name change to challenge and possibly bring down champions in the field of play for sub-compact SUVs.

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What does the Mahindra XUV 3XO bring to the table? How is it different from the XUV 300 and does it have the potential to challenge the champions and emerge as the new big boss? Here is our first-drive review of Mahindra XUV 3XO:

Watch: Mahindra XUV 3XO review: XUV300 reborn with more zeal and style? | Check - Price, Interior, Colours

Mahindra XUV 3XO: Variants and pricing

The Mahindra XUV 3XO is offered with two petrol and one diesel engine options. There is automatic and manual transmission options with both. There are nine broad variants with the base MX1 with manual gearbox at 7.49 lakh. The top-of-the-line AXL variant is priced at 15.49 lakh (all prices are ex-showroom). Check out full price list of XUV 3XO here.

Mahindra XUV 3XO
The price range of the Mahindra XUV 3XO is one of the widest in the segment with the top version nearly double than the base version.
Mahindra XUV 3XO
The price range of the Mahindra XUV 3XO is one of the widest in the segment with the top version nearly double than the base version.

Mahindra XUV 3XO: Exteriors

The XUV 300 has always appeared as a bit of an introvert in terms of its styling on the outside. Understated, underplayed and understyled. The Mahindra XUV 3XO is the exact opposite of all of these. While obviously at less than four meters, the SUV has a wide stance and looks significantly different from several angles from the model it now replaces.

Mahindra XUV 3XO
The Mahindra XUV 3XO measures 3990 mm in length, is 1821 mm wide and stands 1647 mm with its roof rails.
Mahindra XUV 3XO
The Mahindra XUV 3XO measures 3990 mm in length, is 1821 mm wide and stands 1647 mm with its roof rails.

From the rear is where the XUV 3XO poses most confidently and that wide proportion is amply highlighted by a prominent light bar connecting the two reworked tail lights. The rear bumper too is more prominent now and lends the vehicle a very strong visual presence.

The front of the XUV 3XO has also been extensively redesigned although it may not suit everyone's artsy palette. Whether it is the C-shaped DRLs or the new projector lights or even the updated grille, the face has received significant surgeries and while not boring for sure, may not be exactly charismatic either. The bumper too has been reworked while the contour lines on the bonnet have been updated.

From the side, the Mahindra XUV 3XO looks eerily similar to the XUV 300 - eerily because while the front and rear have been reworked big time, it appears the designers may have entirely forgotten about the model from this angle. There is no change in dimensions (ground clearance is up by 20 mm) and most of the cuts and creases have been carried forward. The few changes that have been made, however, include a fresh alloy design, larger 17-inch wheels on top variant and prominent body cladding.

Mahindra XUV 3XO
The colour options on the Mahindra XUV 3XO include Yellow, Deep Forest which is basically dark Green, White, Black, Grey, Blue, Beige and Red. There are dual-tone options on the upper variants as well.
Mahindra XUV 3XO
The colour options on the Mahindra XUV 3XO include Yellow, Deep Forest which is basically dark Green, White, Black, Grey, Blue, Beige and Red. There are dual-tone options on the upper variants as well.

The Mahindra XUV 3XO is available in as many as eight colour options although the Citrine Yellow shade looks gaudy - this is a personal opinion of course. The AX7 and AX7 L variants also come with dual-tone options.

Mahindra XUV 3XO: Cabin

If the changes on the outside are significant, the updates on the inside are exhaustive. Someone at Mahindra sat down to patiently list out all the flaws that the XUV 300 had and made a deliberate attempt to address each of these. The result? The Mahindra XUV 3XO.

The biggest gripe I always had against the XUV 300 is just how plebeian its interiors were - both in terms of features as well as aesthetics. The XUV 3XO is far more regal in comparison and yes, in terms of both features and aesthetics.

Mahindra XUV 3XO
A look at the dashboard layout inside Mahindra XUV 3XO.
Mahindra XUV 3XO
A look at the dashboard layout inside Mahindra XUV 3XO.

The top-end AX7 L variant in this review session sported generous use of soft-touch panels on the reworked dashboard and on the doors, flamboyant dashes of piano black finish on the dashboard and centre console as well as perforated leatherette seats in a plush cream colour. The sense of premiumness is a high jump from the previous model although maintaining the colour and piano black finish would be a task.

But would you really care if you are spoilt to the core with features? A 10.25-inch infotainment screen has been brought into the cabin of the XUV 3XO and there is a 10.25-inch all-digital driver display as well, teleported straight from the larger XUV 700. Both screens pack in a lot of information and will take some getting used to for first-time Mahindra owners. Thankfully, the touch interface is mostly prompt and there is minimal glare on the screens. There is also support for wireless Android Auto and wired Apple CarPlay even if both of these were not available at the time of the review due to the certification wait times.

Mahindra XUV 3XO
The infotainment screen inside the Mahindra XUV 3XO is powered by the AdrenoX system, the same that is also on models like XUV 700 and Scorpio-N.
Mahindra XUV 3XO
The infotainment screen inside the Mahindra XUV 3XO is powered by the AdrenoX system, the same that is also on models like XUV 700 and Scorpio-N.

The sound system too has been given special attention and the Harman Kardon unit combines four speakers, two tweeters and a sub-woofer to drown out everything else anywhere around.

There are plenty of storage options, cooled glovebox several charging points (including one 65W USB fast charger), dual-zone climate control, auto-dimming mirror, 360-degree camera and a massive sunroof that is the largest in this segment. And while the folks over at Mahindra have peppered the 3XO with features galore, they have missed one of the most practical convenience highlight in Indian climatic conditions - ventilated seats.

The erstwhile XUV 300 was also rather cramped and this is also what Mahindra has focused on. In comparison, the XUV 3XO feels far more airy and comfortable.

Mahindra XUV 3XO
The premium appeal in the cabin of the Mahindra XUV 3XO is undeniable. But maintaining the upholstery will be quite a task.
Mahindra XUV 3XO
The premium appeal in the cabin of the Mahindra XUV 3XO is undeniable. But maintaining the upholstery will be quite a task.

The emphasis on width translates into respectable shoulder rooms for three at the back while the kneeroom, legroom and space for feet are all quite adequate. Dedicated headrests, well-cushioned seats, dedicated AC vents and a foldout armrest further make the second half of the XUV 3XO a nice place to be in. As for the front, all of these elements are carried forward and the relatively high seat position gives a nice view of the surroundings. And if you are out on a long journey, there is some good news for your luggage because the previously paltry cargo area has been tweaked for a lower floor which allows more bags to be piled one on top of another. The precise capacity figure is up from 259 litres to 295 litres.

The cabin inside the XUV 3XO then is a radical update and is a job that has been extremely well done, possibly standing out as one of the biggest threat points for rivals.

Mahindra XUV 3XO: Drive

Mahindra XUV 3XO
The Mahindra XUV 3XO is one of the most fun cars to drive in its segment.
Mahindra XUV 3XO
The Mahindra XUV 3XO is one of the most fun cars to drive in its segment.

The Mahindra XUV 3XO is also trying real hard to be an enthusiast's car. Three engine options and the option to choose between manual, AT and AMT are available. During the course of this review, the unit was the one with the 1.2-litre, three-cylinder TGD-i petrol motor with an Aisin-sourced six-speed torque converter.

In this version at least, the XUV 3XO is one of the peppiest cars to drive with dollops of power (130 bhp) and torrents of torque (230 Nm). The mStallion turbo petrol motor is an extremely eager unit that responds to the minutest of throttle inputs with aplomb. But this isn't at the cost of refinement because there is not much in terms of noise that is palpable within the cabin even when the SUV is being pushed around.

The torque converter also ticks the numbers well and accentuates the sprinting abilities of the vehicle. While I would have wanted even more control courtesy paddle shifters, there is still the option of taking manual control through the stick itself.

But because of all the eagerness, the XUV 3XO is a bit jerky to drive at low speeds and within city limits. Even in the sanest drive mode - Zip, it is just too keen to Zoom. And yes, Zip, Zap and Zoom are the three drive modes.

Mahindra XUV 3XO
The XUV 3XO benefits from a high ride position which allows the driver to have a commanding view of the road ahead.
Mahindra XUV 3XO
The XUV 3XO benefits from a high ride position which allows the driver to have a commanding view of the road ahead.

The SUV also benefits from a well-weighted steering which has a reassuring feel at high speeds. It may not be the most precise when the car is being thrown around but for everyday drives, it holds itself well. And yet another feather in the cap is the high ground clearance and the slightly stiff suspension that helps the XUV 3XO move over most road aberrations with ease.

Mahindra XUV 3XO: Safety

The XUV 3XO comes with Level 2 ADAS, making it the only car in the segment to offer this. The assisted driving systems are made possible by one front camera, one front radar, ultrasonic sensors all around and a 360-degree camera. Six airbag, selectronic stability control and three-point seat belts for all seats are standard across all variants. The other safety highlights include tyre pressure monitoring system and blind view monitor.

Mahindra XUV 3XO: Verdict

It would have needed a solid offering to compete in the sub-compact SUV segment in India. The good news for Mahindra is that the latest XUV 3XO is solid and then some more. The regular turbo petrol and diesel engine versions are priced extremely well and offer plenty of features.

The XUV 3XO with TGD-i engine is on the pricier side but is aiming big and beyond its own league. Mahindra has attempted to keep most bases covered and the XUV 3XO has all the potential to emerge as a very, very strong performer.

First Published Date: 08 May 2024, 12:07 PM IST
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