Mahindra XUV300 Petrol Autoshift: First Drive Review
The Mahindra XUV300 gets a new turbo-petrol AMT combination and some more tech
The Mahindra XUV300 has been around for almost two years now and over this time, we’ve grown to love its 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine, great ride quality and of course, its focus on safety. There was an automatic in the XUV300 line-up, but that was an AMT mated to the diesel engine. Now, Mahindra has given its turbo-petrol engine an AMT. While that is the most significant change to the XUV300 for 2021, it also gets connected car tech and three new colour schemes. We will get to all of that, but let’s take the AMT for a spin first!
Wait, what is the XUV300 Petrol ‘Autoshift’?
Put simply, Autoshift is what Mahindra calls its AMT (automated manual transmission). This is a 6-speed unit developed along with Magneti Marelli and appears to be almost identical to the one in the diesel variant. It retains the same plus-shaped shift pattern where you push the lever to the left for drive, up and down for manual control, to the right for neutral and to the right and down for reverse. While it may be a bit alienating to new drivers at first and takes some getting used to — especially slotting into reverse — but it feels quite intuitive after the first few hours of driving.
What is the XUV300 Petrol Autoshift like to drive?
The primary purpose of the Autoshift is convenience and it scored highly in that regard. At city speeds, the shifts are fairly smooth and it has been programmed well to take advantage of the 108bhp and 200Nm on tap from the 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine. There is the typical head-toss effect of an AMT, and the shifts aren’t what you’d call crisp. But in a city like Mumbai, the Autoshift makes commuting much easier.
It also has a creep function to make bumper to bumper traffic less stressful and the creep function automatically disables if a door is open, to prevent injury, which is a nice safety feature. It has hill start assist too, but that didn’t always work as advertised and there were a few instances where the car rolled back on an incline as I lifted off the brake pedal. The Autoshift variant also gets the added safety net of ESC, which the manual variant doesn’t have.
Is the XUV300 Petrol Autoshift fun to drive?
To cut a long story short, not really. The 1.2-litre turbo-petrol is an enthusiastic, eager engine that can put a smile on your face. But paired to the Autoshift, it feels a bit dull. The primary reason for this is the time it takes to complete shifts. If you suddenly step on it from a slow cruise, the gearbox takes a few seconds to figure out what gear you need and then a few more seconds to actually make the required shift, by then the gap you were gunning for has disappeared. There is also a manual mode, where the shift action makes you feel like Gaurav Gill in his Super XUV300, but here too the shifts take their own sweet time to complete and much like in the automatic mode, you have to plan ahead if you’re gunning it. The engine certainly makes up for a lot of the Autoshift’s shortcomings — it has enough mid-range grunt to keep you moving along nicely when the gearbox doesn’t kick-down and it is only when you really ring its neck that the gearbox starts to fall behind. The manual gearbox should still be the enthusiast’s choice.
What else has changed on the XUV300?
Mahindra has added in connected car technology via the new BlueSense Plus app, which brings with it over 40 features that you can access through your smartphone. These include geofencing, timefencing, vehicle alerts, vehicle diagnostics and status and a whole lot more. And once you’re in the car, you can also control some of the car’s functions like the AC and the media controls, via the app — so make sure it’s not installed on your kid’s iPad. The BlueSense Plus app works well, the interface is easy to figure out and even though the version we have been using is still in its beta testing, it feels polished and I faced almost no bugs throughout the day. Mahindra is only adding the connected car features to the AMT-equipped W8 (O) variants (petrol and diesel) of the XUV300, although I suspect that it should trickle down to other variants in the future as well.
Other than this, there are three new colour schemes on the XUV300. Two are dual-tone finishes (one of which is the red and white combination is pictured here), although these are reserved for the AMT-equipped W8 (O) variants. There is a new Slate Grey colour available on the manual versions of the W6, W8 and W8(O) variants. Mahindra is also giving the sunroof as an option to more variants now, available from the W6 variant onwards. Other than this, the XUV300 stays almost identical to when it first came out. While it hasn’t been crying for an upgrade, it would’ve been nice to see a minor facelift on the outside and a touch up to the interior, even if it was just to replace the slightly small 7-inch touchscreen.
Mahindra XUV300 Petrol Autoshift Pricing, Rivals and Verdict
At Rs 9.95 lakh for the W6 Petrol Autoshift variant, the Autoshift marks a hike of Rs 82,000 over the equivalent manual variant which is quite a significant difference. On average, AMT variants tend to cost between Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 more than their manual counterparts. More importantly, the XUV300 fails to undercut rivals in terms of price, and that high entry price could be the reason customers get swayed elsewhere. The Hyundai Venue’s entry-level turbo-petrol automatic variant starts at Rs 8.64 lakh and comes equipped with a rapid-shifting DCT transmission. Even when compared to the only other turbo-petrol AMT pairing in the segment, the Tata Nexon which starts at Rs 8.59 lakh for the XMA variant, the XUV300 feels a touch expensive. It is important to note that the mid-spec W6 variant does justify the higher price with more features than entry-level variants of rivals.
That said, the Mahindra XUV300 is a very good compact-SUV. It is safe, spacious, comfortable, packed with (relevant) features and in my eyes it looks very good too — except the rear three-quarter angle perhaps. The turbo-petrol AMT is a rather good addition to the lineup and it’s always a win when customers get more options. The gearbox works well in the city and even when driving a bit spiritedly — at seven-tenths or eight-tenths — the AMT should be the default choice for most, especially if you’re located in any of our country’s increasingly congested cities. But, if you are looking for the #ThrillOfDriving from your XUV300, the manual ’box is what you’ll find it with.