When the Mahindra TUV300 was first launched in India, back in 2015, the SUV came with several unique attributes that made it a strong value proposition. It was the only offering to come with the butch and boxy design of a conventional SUV, it was the largest in terms of proportions (height and width) in the segment despite its sub-4 metre length, and it was the first and only subcompact SUV to offer a 7-seater cabin. However, it's 2019 now, and in the past four years, the sub-4 metre SUV segment has taken a major leap. From value-for-money offerings like Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza and Tata Nexon to more modern SUVs like Mahindra's very own XUV300 and India's first connected SUV Hyundai Venue; today the segment offers a range of feature-packed models that make those 'unique attributes' of the TUV300 a bit obsolete. Having said that, the Mahindra TUV300 continues offers a strong SUV character and drivability that is still desired by many SUV buyers in the Indian market. In fact, it is still among the top-sellers in Mahindra's line-up with an average of almost 1,300 units sold every month, and in order to keep the TUV300 updated, the carmaker has recently come out with the first mid-life facelift for the SUV. We got to spend a whole day with it and here's what we think about the 2019 Mahindra TUV300.
Visually, the TUV300 Facelift looks every bit that bold and butch SUV as the day it was first launched, however, to add that extra bit of toughness and premiumness, Mahindra has made several styling updates. The front grille, for starters, now comes with a stylish glossy black frame in addition to the matching black details inside the headlamp cluster, which look particularly nice with this dual-tone red and black TUV300. The headlamps now also come with integrated daytime running lamps. The shiny chrome elements around the grille slots and the square foglamps too have also been replaced with dark chrome bezels, which certainly go well with the overall black treatment. The lower half of the bumpers have also been coloured black with metallic grey chin plate, which now complements the new wheel arch and side body cladding, further enhancing the SUV's tough persona. However, we still wish Mahindra has considered adding turn signal lights to the ORVMs, at least for the top-end variant, which seems to be a big miss.
Also Read: Mahindra TUV300: Old Vs New
The alloy wheels are the same as before, but instead of the old silver shade, the ones on the facelift get the new dark chrome effect, which is a welcome change. As for the rear section, we get to see some similar updates like new clear-glass taillamps, a bigger rear spoiler, and a revised bumper with the blacked-out lower half. All that said, the most noticeable change, of course, is the new X-shaped cover for the tailgate-mounted spare wheel, which certainly adds a bit of freshness to the overall design.
Step inside, and you'll notice that visually, not much has changed within the cabin. We continue to get the same dual tone black and being interior with matching two-tone seat covers, which in this top-end trim are upholstered in leatherette, with cross stitching pattern. The dashboard too remains pretty much unchanged with the same four-spoke steering wheel which comes with mounted controls for audio and telephony. Behind it, you have the same twin-pod instrument cluster with chrome bezels and a MID unit at the centre offering readouts for fuel gauge, gear position indicator and more. The centre of attraction, of course, is the 7-inch touchscreen infotainment display which continues to come with a bunch of controls on either side. A new fully digital display with minimal buttons would have been a better choice, in our opinion.
Having said that, the system is still well-equipped with offerings like - Bluetooth 4.0, Mahindra Bluesense, a driver information system, and GPS navigation among others. In fact, now the system also doubles up as the display for the new reverse parking camera. Having said that, Mahindra still doesn't offer Apple Carplay or Android Auto which is a big miss considering almost every other SUV in this space gets both the applications.
The 5+2 seater layout is still on offer, but the foldable jump seats at the last row are still suitable for maybe just a couple of kids. But they still do not come with seatbelts, so it's better to use it just as luggage space, which with all the seats upright, stands at 384 litres. Although with the jump seats folded and the second row pushed down the TUV300 offers a total boot space of 720 litres. Although, we wish Mahindra would have considered offering a rear air-con vent, which is right now available in almost every subcompact SUV, and it's also a much-needed feature for the TUV300 if Mahindra wants 5 individuals to sit at the back.
All that said, the Mahindra TUV300 is certainly a lot much safer now, because unlike the pre-facelift model, almost all safety features on offer are available as standard fitment. This include - dual front airbags, ABS with EBD and cornering brake control, ISOFIX child seat mounts for the second row, seatbelt reminder lamp, auto door lock and more. In fact, the anti-theft warning is the only feature that is not standard, which is also only missing on the base model T4+. The one feature that is still missing though, which is right now offered as a standard fitment in every car, is the high-speed alert, however, we expect Mahindra to add the feature before the October deadline for improved safety norms kicks in.
Power on the 2019 Mahindra TUV300 continues to be offered by the tried and tested 1.5-litre mHawk100 diesel engine and it certainly remains one of the biggest highlights of the SUV, however, it's still not BS6 compliant yet. However, now the engine only comes mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox as standard. Yes, Mahindra has dropped the AMT option for the facelifted TUV300, which personally I won't really miss considering the manual gearbox continues to be a better choice, although, with the growing demand for automatic SUVs this certainly feels like a bad move.
Having said that, in terms of performance, there is not much to complain about the TUV300. The 1,493 cc, four-cylinder, turbocharged oil burner is tuned to churn out a maximum of 99 bhp, all of which is offered around 3700 rpm. But the engine's real highlight is its torquey nature, which offers a peak torque of 240 Nm, from as low as 1500-1600 rpm, and goes all the way up to 2800 rpm. The gearbox too remains pretty much a delight, as the shifts are nice and precise and a firm nudge on the lever is more than enough to put the gear in the right slot. Also, for an SUV, the TUV300 certainly has a pretty light clutch, so it's easier to drive in traffic as well, but the steering continues to be a bit on the heavier side, not that bothersome but you feel the weight.
The TUV300 Facelift continues to offer great handling as well, but the suspension is a bit on the softer side, so while it can handle the small bumps and undulations on the road quite effortlessly, the ride does feel a bit bouncy on really bad patches, especially if you are sitting in the rear seat. We didn't really notice any considerable change in the NVH levels of the SUV, but in general, except for the grunt of the diesel engine and a bit of road noise, not much really seeps into the cabin.
Despite all the new and updated features and equipment, the 2019 Mahindra TUV300 is certainly not in the same league as some of the aforementioned subcompact SUVs in the market. However, what the TUV300 does offer is a bold, tough looking SUV, with a capable diesel engine and good driving dynamics, and it can munch kilometres without breaking a sweat. So, if you are in the market looking for an SUV that can be both a well-equipped family vehicle, as well as a strong workhorse, then the TUV300 facelift is still a very good option. Currently, the SUV is offered in five variants - T4+, T6+, T8, T10, and T10 (O) and is priced at ₹ 8.37 lakh to ₹ 10.40 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). At this price, the TUV300 is up to ₹ 1.6 lakh cheaper than the diesel variants of the XUV300. However, as for its rivals - Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Tata Nexon Diesel, and Hyundai Venue Diesel, all three models undercut the TUV300 by up to ₹ 78,000.
Photos: Pawan Dagia