Mahindra has made its mark in the subcompact SUV segment in India with the XUV300. We say that because it ticks all the right boxes and the fact that it has been selling more than 4000 units a month ever since its launch and received over 26,000 bookings. It was also the second best-selling subcompact SUV in April 2019. The interesting part here is that the top-end W8 variant commands a lot of demand, nearly 70 per cent out of the rest of the variants. But while Mahindra followed all the trends - of making a feature rich subcompact SUV with a competitive price - to make the XUV300 a hit, there was something missing. For those of you who have caught on. Yes I am talking about the XUV 300's automatic variant.
Five months after the launch of the car comes the variant which will have the automated manual transmission. This AMT has been sourced from Magneti Marelli. It's different from the automated manual transmission that we've seen on other cars and by this I mean the lay out. This is a mono stable shifter which means that wherever you move the shifter, it comes back to its original position right at the centre. What is also interesting is that the AMT layout for drive reverse is more like that of a manual transmission. So left is drive, in between are the manual drive modes and right and back is reverse and this is good because those who want to buy an automatic after having driven a manual for a long time will get used to this transmission very easily.
The car that we're driving is based on the Mahindra XUV300 W8 (O) variant and so comes filled to brim with features and with the AMT it certainly makes it a well-rounded package. But let's get to the part where we talk about how it drives.
Now, the 6 speed AMT is only available with the diesel engine, there's no petrol automatic yet, but we are told that Mahindra is working on one. So the engine and specifications remain unchanged. 1.5-litre, 115 bhp and 300 Nm of torque. The torque kicks in from as low as 1500 rpm and stays with you till about 3500 rpm, so there's a strong mid-range, but anything below 1500 rpm and there's a slight lag in power and in city conditions, the Creep mode on the car helps give that initial push so you don't have to provide too much of throttle input. The gears shift seamlessly and there's no clunking of the gears and that's a big take away. Sadly there are no driving modes on the car so there's no change in the way you drive at any stage.
Also Read: Mahindra XUV300 First Drive Review
The AMT in fact did well even when we took the XUV300 off the beaten track and the gearbox does well to feed in the power when you need to climb an obstacle or even manoeuvre over a dirt road. There might be a slight hesitation but you don't have to push the throttle hard down for power and that's pretty good for an AMT.
Also Read: Mahindra XUV300 Petrol Review
The ride and handling is similar to the manual transmission variant, so it creases out any of the rough patches that you might hit and yes, there's still that hint of body roll that you have to deal with.
As we already told you, the AMT we got to drive was on the W8 (O) variant and there are features like the 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. There's also navigation, tyre pressure monitoring system and a segment first dual-zone climate control with memory function, cruise control, sunroof and more.
Of course the AMT will come at a premium price. Considering that the diesel W8 (O)variant with the manual transmission is currently priced at ₹ 11.99 lakh, the AMT will certainly cost a little more. Given that the prices for the Vitara Brezza AMT start at ₹ 8.54 lakh topping out at 10 lakh 49 thousand rupees and the Nexon AMT costing between ₹ 8.95 lakh and ₹ 11 lakh (all prices ex-showroom Delhi), Mahindra certainly has its work cut out for it.
But there's one more hurdle to cross and that's the newly launched Hyundai Venue. The Venue gets a dual clutch transmission only with the petrol engine though and that is priced between ₹ 9.35 lakh and ₹ 11.10 lakh and there's already a strong demand for the automatic variant. 35 per cent of the bookings received by Hyundai are for the automatic variant so there are two things to observe here. One is the demand for an automatic and two a clear shift towards petrol. It's interesting then, that Mahindra will introduce a diesel AMT. To keep the price competitive though, the company will have to introduce the AMT in more than one variant in the XUV300. It will be a task to push a less sophisticated AMT in the segment and we think the response to the XUV300 AMT would have been better in a pre-Venue era.