Mahindra Bolero Neo vs Bolero: Which Is The Better Do-It-All SUV?
By Seshan Vijayraghvan
1 mins read
Published on September 9, 2021
- The Mahindra Bolero Neo is the facelifted TUV300 with a new name
- The Neo aims to be a do-it-all SUV like the Bolero, but with more style
- In terms of pricing, the Bolero Neo is slightly more expensive
The Mahindra Bolero moniker has been present in India for over two decades now and everyone across India knows it as the quintessential workhorse SUV. The SUV took over the mantel from the famed Mahindra Armada, and even after 20 years remains that one vehicle which sells more than any other Mahindra product in India, accounting for over 6000 units every month. Recently the homegrown utility vehicle manufacturer added a new member to the Bolero family, which promises to offer all that the Bolero does, but with more comfort, better styling, and new features. We are, of course, talking about the new Mahindra Bolero Neo.
Now, as you might already know, it is not an all-new SUV by any stretch of the imagination, and neither is it a generation upgrade for the existing Bolero. What it is, is the facelifted version of the TUV300, donning a new identity. As the TUV300, the SUV did not make any significant impact in the subcompact SUV space, and now, Mahindra is probably looking at taking advantage of the popularity the Bolero brand name has managed to achieve over the last 20 years. But, will that strategy work? To answer that, we spent an entire day with the two Boleros and compare their similarities, differences and capabilities as a 'do-it-all' SUV.
Visually, both come with the boxy and upright proportions of a conventional SUV, something that customers in tier 2 and tier 3 markets are familiar with. The classic Bolero gets the same multi-slat grille, rugged metal bumper, large halogen headlamps with integrated turn indicators, doors with exposed hinges, and a tailgate-mounted spare wheel. It comes with a set of 15-inch steel wheels with squared wheel arches, side-steps, and shorter overhangs which aid in better approach and departure angles while driving in hilly or rough terrains.
In comparison, the new Bolero Neo certainly gets a more finished look with smoother lines. The original design of the TUV has been retained with the raked pillars and tall hood line, however, some of the Bolero genes have been added in the form of the new grille with added chrome inserts, the signature body cladding and of course, the embossed Bolero lettering on the X-shaped spare wheel cover at the back. Other updates include a revised set of headlights with new LED daytime running lamps, a new sculpted front bumper, which certainly looks much nicer compared to the older TUV, and new foglamps. In fact, the SUV also gets side-steps and new red lenses for the taillamps.
Also Read: First Drive: Mahindra Bolero Neo
Interestingly, both SUVs are equally long at 3995 mm and share the same 2680 mm wheelbase, however, the Neo is 50 mm wider than the regular Bolero, but it is also 63 mm shorter. In fact, even the ground clearance is identical at 180 mm.
Interior and Tech
Step inside the older Bolero, and you'll know in an instant that it comes with a utilitarian cabin out-and-out. The exposed metal and hard plastic surfaces are built for durability, rather than looks, and it certainly shows. The dashboard design too is very basic, and even the top-end B6(O) variant we had, featured only the essentials like a 2-DIN audio system with Bluetooth, AUX-IN and USB connectivity, and a basic instrument cluster with digital read-outs for speedometer and tachometer. There's also a separate digital driver information display that shows time, trip metre and gear position indicator. The SUV also comes with glossy wood colour inserts around the air-con vents, a 12V power socket and a beige interior. Yes, it also gets power steering, along with all 4 power windows and a manual air conditioning system.
As for the Bolero Neo, it also gets a beige interior, with a 5+2 cabin layout, but that is where the similarities end because everything else is drastically different compared to the classic Bolero. You get a more modern design for the dashboard with dual-tone black and beige treatment, and it features a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system as well. The display is not the most intuitive out there, but it gets the job done. Mahindra doesn't offer Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, but it does get the Blue Sense connectivity app with a more modern driver information system. The fit and finish are much nicer, and the seats, which are draped in premium fabric, comes with better cushioning adding to the overall experience. As for other creature comforts, the top-spec N10 variant of the Bolero Neo we drove comes with automatic climate control, a multi-functional steering wheel, individual armrests for the driver and front passenger and a foldable centre armrest for the second row.
The second row of both SUVs comes with a bench seat that can comfortably seat three average-sized adults. As for the third row, both SUVs gets side-facing seats which are both uncomfortable and unsafe. Even for a shorter journey, two adults won't be comfortable here, and because there are no seat belts, it's not suitable for kids either.
With regards to safety features, the older classic Bolero just gets the basics, which are - a drive side airbag, ABS, reverse parking sensors, and seat belt reminder. Optional bits include central lock, keyless entry, static bending headlamps and rear wiper and washer. On the other hand, the Bolero Neo feels like a much safer SUV. It comes with standard safety features like - dual airbags, ABS with EBD, speed-sensing door locks, High-speed alert warnings, cornering brake control, follow me headlamps, and seat belt reminder. Sadly, the Neo too misses out on a rear parking camera, however, it does come with ISOFIX child seat mounts, but only in the top-spec variant.
Powertrain and Performance
The Classic Bolero uses a modified ladder-on-frame platform based on the original Mahindra 4x4, while the Bolero Neo is based on the third-generation ladder-on-frame chassis. Both SUVs use a 1.5-litre diesel engine and send power to the rear wheels. But the similarities end pretty much there. The older model is powered by a 1.5-litre mHawk75 diesel engine that is tuned to churn out 75 bhp and 210 Nm of peak torque. The engine is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. Under 2,200 rpm the engine doesn't feel very alive, but as soon the needle crosses that mark the Bolero feels a lot more eager, however, that only lasts until 3500 rpm. It has a strong mid-range feels at home, and 70 to 90 kmph is the sweet spot. Having said that, the gearbox has long throws and it feels a bit clunky, also the clutch is a bit on the harder side, so driving in bumper to bumper traffic can be a bit cumbersome.
However, as we move over to the new Bolero Neo, things change drastically. First of all, the engine is more powerful. Yes, it's the same 1.5-litre mHawk100 motor that powered the TUV300, but it's now BS6 compliant, and in addition to churning out 100 bhp, the engine also makes 260 Nm of peak torque. That's 20 Nm more than the BS4 version. And you feel that extra torque as early as 1700 rpm. Here too there is a bit of turbo lag in the lower revs, however, once you cross the 2500 rpm mark, the motor feels more spirited. It is also the more refined engine of the two and doesn't feel strained while doing higher speeds. This too gets a 5-speed manual gearbox as standard, however, this one offers smoother shifts and the gears slot into the positions quite nicely. Also, the Bolero Neo gets a lighter clutch compared to the classic Bolero and that makes this SUV far easier to drive in city conditions.
Ride and Handling
One of the reasons why the Bolero continues to be a popular choice among customers from the semi-urban and rural markets of India is because of its do anything and go anywhere capabilities. And one of the key components that facilitate that is the SUV's suspension system. The Bolero comes with a pair of coil springs up front and a set of rigid leaf suspensions at the back, which are enough to tell us that the SUV means business. It handles bad roads with the utmost ease and feels quite capable on rough terrains. However, while driving on regular tarmac, the ride becomes quite bumpy and you can feel all the undulations on the road. The NVH levels are also not very good.
The Bolero Neo, on the other hand, comes with independent front and multi-link rear, both with coil springs and stabilizer bars, which aid in better ride quality on the tarmac and can also handle rough terrains pretty well. The Neo also offers much better NVH levels, and although some amount of engine noise seeps into the cabin, for the most part of it the drive is quite pleasant. Both SUVs come with ample body roll, but the Neo wins over the Classic when it comes to sheer comfort. The ride quality is better, and irons out undulations better especially on the highway.
Mahindra does not offer the Bolero with 4x4 anymore, while the Bolero Neo now comes with the Multi-Terrain system and a Limited-Slip differential, which gives it an additional level of capability off-road. However, it is only offered with the top-spec N10 (O) trim, which is expected to be launched soon.
Pricing & Verdict
Mahindra offers the Bolero in three variants - B4, B6, and B6 (O) - and they are priced in India between Rs. 8.41 lakh and Rs. 9.41 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The new Bolero Neo, on the other hand, is offered in four variants - N4, N8, N10, and N10 (O) - and this one is priced between Rs. 8.48 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). So, in terms of pricing, the Neo is just marginally more expensive.
While there is certainly going to be some amount of cannibalisation over here, one cannot deny the fact that both SUVs cater to a different set of buyers. While the customer buying the Bolero is looking for a no-nonsense workhorse purely for utilitarian needs, the Neo's customer wants a rugged people mover that can also handle the rough terrains, while keeping its occupants in relative comfort. In a nutshell, the Bolero Neo is not here to replace the existing model but it comes as an alternative for anyone who's looking for a bit more.
Last Updated on September 9, 2021
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