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My 2021 Mahindra XUV300: 10,000 km ownership review

Coming from a Honda City, I had three unknowns while buying the XUV300 - diesel, CSUV and Mahindra. And my decision of going ahead with the car has been worthwhile.

BHPian Duckdoc recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

After having owned a Honda City for 11 years (https://www.team-bhp.com/news/3rd-ge...ars-13-lakh-km), I have been looking for a fun-to-drive car since around Nov 2020. Having been biased toward sedans, I have always been fascinated by only one set of cars and they come from the Skoda stable - from the Rapid to the Octavia. I've admired the build quality and, more importantly, the absolutely fantastic high-speed handling which I've seen on the highway. Moreover, on a visit to the Czech Republic 10 years ago, in conversations with the locals, one could sense the immense pride they had in Skoda. On telling them that it is owned by Volkswagen, the retort was that the Germans were just helping in marketing, quite understandable given the history with their powerful neighbour. The pride in their country and the workmanship from the Java days had a positive energy to it and me having been a fan of their countryman, the late Vaclav Havel and the composer Antonin Dvorak being a family favourite, I had a soft corner for anything from this lesser-known country.

However, each time my head turned toward Skoda, it was firmly pointed away by my colleague and fellow BHPian because of the infamous service record of the local dealership. I am a bit of a dreamer but my colleague is a no-nonsense, feet-firmly-planted-on-the-ground sort of guy and immensely well informed that his words that I would be donating a significant part of my salary to the local Skoda dealership finally got through even to me.

Brief thoughts of the 5th-gen City were there but didn't like the idea of a longer overhang in front. This is when he suggested the XUV 300 with its impressive safety features, especially all seats getting the 3-point seat belt. I personally like a car for the engine, acceleration and ride quality, hate bling, and am not too bothered about gizmos, so I started taking a closer look at this. I was also not too bothered about the boot space as the kids had grown up and were in the process of leading their own individual lives.

I read almost everything about it, especially the reviews from South Africa, and was getting more and more interested. I did 4 test drives. This being the first time I drove a diesel car, I drove it like my City, with 1 gear lower than ideal for acceleration and the SA said she had never heard the engine sound like this. I was very impressed with the NVH, the acceleration and the quick time to get into triple figures. I was in favour of a petrol engine but the dealership mechanic who has been with cars for 35 years advised me to go for the diesel version for Mahindra and so I plunged into 3 unknowns for me, diesel, CSUV and Mahindra. I actually told him that I would be buying a Mahindra only because he's the head mechanic.

This is the stage when I finally told my wife about the XUV 300 and she asked me, 'What about the Thar?' I then realised the hard-to-explain, almost hypnotic, mesmerising effect the Thar has on people including me and more pleasantly surprising, my wife. I told her that it is the most impractical car ever made and someday when it's 5 doors with a bigger boot we can entertain thoughts of buying. Well, the thing which helped the decision making away from the Thar was the waiting period.

Now the next thing was the colour about which I was not too bothered, but the rest of the family wanted Napoli Black. So I finally booked an XUV 300 MT W8 Opt because of the 7 airbags, in the first week of Feb 2021. I finally managed to convince the family about the difficulty with this colour with all the dust around and the final decision was a Dual-Tone Aquamarine for which I wrote an email the following week to Mahindra.

I knew that in all likelihood this would be my last MT, but the AT I would own has to be DCT or TC with paddle-shift so I was comfortable with this choice.

I got the VIN number and knew that it was manufactured in Feb 2021, and the car was delivered to the local stockyard 3 weeks later. However, there was a delay of a week for the HU to arrive. The mechanic told me that he would do the PDI and it is one of the greatest things of being in a small tier 2 city that one can trust people like him.

It cost Rs 14.80 lakh OTR. I didn't want any chrome added and just skid pads for the back and sides. The dealership did an underbody coating and 3M sun film for the glass as a goodwill gesture and I was grateful.

So, finally, after RTO registration and underbody coating, the car arrived home at 8.30 pm on 12th March. I insisted on not having the ribbons and cheap chocolate, but the delivery guys arrived at home with a ribbon on the bonnet apologetically saying it was for a photograph for their bosses, and I insisted on removing the ribbon immediately, thereafter. The next 5 minutes was spent ripping the plastic over the seats before the shocked delivery guys and I told them I hate sitting on slippery plastic and like to be comfortable when sitting. Having already planned a 50 km trip that night to visit our relatives, we set out. My right hand kept hitting the annoying voice assist on the steering wheel and from that day I have been able to stay clear of this.

The next month being state elections, I was stopped multiple times. I had stuck printouts of the RC PDF from Digilocker on the front and back and there were no issues. The RC as a card and HSRP arrived a month later. The first 1000 km servicing was done 3 weeks after buying.

I did follow the running-in instructions but not to the letter as I was enamoured by the turbo.

First impressions

  • One look and it doesn't look or feel like a Mahindra and you know that they've definitely upped their game.
  • The light colour of the interior and upholstery gives a pleasing appearance. Surprisingly, it is easy to clean, at least so far.
  • The doors close with a solid 'thud' and there is a feeling of solidity about the build.

Things which I had to get used to

  • It took 5 minutes to get used to the long gear shift and clutch travel. The gear shifts slot in well, though occasionally there is an issue shifting from 5th to 4th.
  • I had to raise the seat to get the maximum under-thigh support which was kind of counterintuitive as I am tall.
  • As it is slightly wider than what I was used to, took a few days to have the confidence to squeeze through tight spaces.
  • Having used engine braking extensively in my previous sedan, here on downshifting there is not much reduction in speed but requires much lighter use of the brakes than otherwise.
  • There is a blind spot because of the ORVM and A-pillar which one needs to be aware of.
  • There is a sudden sharp bite to the brake and one has to be careful in city traffic. It becomes better after a few km of driving each time.
  • After a week or so, got into the habit of upshifting gears just before the turbo kicks in for a smoother, nicer drive.
  • I did stall a few times at low revs in low gear and one has to downshift to avoid this happening.
  • The Start/ Stop function has to be disabled each time and now it is routine to do that on starting the vehicle. Having said that, every time I had forgotten to disable and the engine switched off at traffic lights, it always started without any hesitation on pressing the clutch.
  • There is a single chime at 80 km/h and is continuous at and over 120 km/h. While some may find it annoying, I didn't mind it so much as with the NVH and acceleration being great, it remains a useful reminder before getting into dangerous speeds.
  • The ORVMs close only one way and I'm still wary of it getting swiped by bikers.

Ride and handling

  • Whether in the city or highway, it is comfortable and car-like to drive. I use the 'Normal' steering mode in the city and the more weighted 'Sport' on the highway, though there is a lack of feedback to the steering.
  • While it is assured at curves and there is no body-roll, on the highway at speeds one has to slow down a bit on curves, as you can feel a bit of uneasiness.
  • Straight stretches at speed are handled well and it just eats up bad stretches.

Things I wished I had known before buying

  • The car comes with 215/55/R 17 tyres, and the spare is 205/60/R16, not a big deal as most cars now are like this, but this change could have been communicated.
  • The heated ORVM feature had been removed.
  • The rear middle seat belt had been changed to a lap belt.
  • Absence of a boot lamp.
  • When the dealership doesn't tell you about deleted features and the company silently cuts features, initially you keep searching for more unpleasant surprises.

The story of the seat belt

One of the main reasons for buying the vehicle was the 3-point seat belt for all seats and its absence for the rear middle seat was an unpleasant shock and remained a grouse for a few months. While I could live with the other cost-cutting measures, this was something I found hard to stomach.

At this time there was this sensational post [https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/road-...-seatbelt.html (XUV300: I converted the lap-belt to a *safer* 3-point seatbelt!)] and got this done as well. I remain truly grateful to @Goandiaries for this. Thereafter, I truly started enjoying this vehicle.

Comfort

For someone with a dodgy back, I find the driving position great and relaxing. This is one vehicle where 3 average-sized guys can sit comfortably at the back. On top of it, my son all of 185 cm can sit comfortably behind me. Besides, with the suspension and longer wheelbase, they don't feel thrown around even on bad roads.

Other points

  • The headlights, I felt were just about adequate and I had no problems recently driving back from Chennai late at night in the pouring rain with foglights on, when a lot of cars had actually stopped.
  • The defogger also worked well.
  • I really appreciate the auto-dimming IRVM and the auto wipers in front as well as the rear wiper.
  • Having a TPMS for the first time, it has become a sort of obsession. I try to keep the cold tyre pressure just above 34 psi and on highways and bad roads at 36. I've gone over numerous potholes and unmarked speed breakers without problems.
  • I was never a fan of the sunroof and thought of it only as a marketing gimmick. However, a few months after buying this, I slid the inner lid exposing the glass on top in the pouring rain and the cabin just lit up and it was a sight to behold. Now, it is not uncommon to do this at night on the highway.
  • The AC was better than expected and though there are no rear vents, there has been no complaint on this count from the rear even in summer.
  • The music system could have been better but can live with it. Once in a while, the Android Auto gets disconnected, unfortunately usually when navigation is required.
  • The FE was around 14.5 km/l in the city and 17.5 on the highway.
  • My daily drive for work and back is about 14 km and I managed to drive in 6th gear at least for a few hundred metres and haven't had the DPF clogged warning so far.
  • The rear parking camera is alright in daylight but at night is dim and grainy.

Memorable trips

Being cooped up for a year and with the looming second wave and lockdown, decided to get out for some fresh air, more to remain sane than anything else.

Beaches

So, the day after the state elections on April 6, set out for a beach tour in the heat of summer like 'mad dogs and Englishmen'.

There were 4 members in the family and decided to visit the beaches south of Pondy for a week.

The first stop was the historic ancient port town of Pompuhar, a place I've passed by but never got to visit till now. The ancient port city destroyed by a tsunami in the 4th century AD is the setting of 2 Tamil epics Silapathikaram and Manimegalai. The priceless ancient artefacts from about 2200 years ago housed in the dilapidated, run-down museum, speaks volumes of our apathy and lack of interest in our history.

The next place, a few km away was the old Danish settlement Tharangambadi, later ceded to the British. The old governor's residence adjacent to the sea and now a hotel is a place we've stayed multiple times. Tharangambadi means, 'place of the singing waves' is a place I like precisely because there is not much else in this one-horse town, where even the single ATM may not function. Sitting on the verandah with a book and the sound of the waves in the background is my way of destressing. I have to mention, a few years ago while staying there, my wife and I were the only inhabitants and at night with a power cut and no lights, the sound of the howling wind, lashing rain and plaster falling from the high roof could have put a ghost tour of an English castle to shame.

The next stop was the beaches of Rameswaram, and it was surprising that one could find a sheltered bay without waves with only our family on the beach and swim peacefully hundreds of metres into the sea.

Tiruchendur was next. I had heard a number of stories over decades, of the filth on the beach adjoining the famous Murugan temple and was pleasantly surprised that it was clean and well kept.

Manapad is less well known and the leeward side of the triangular rock face jutting into the sea was beautiful and dotted with shoals and dunes.

I then had to make quick time to see the sunset at Sunset Point in Kanyakumari but to the disappointment of the hundreds who had gathered, the sun decided to hide behind clouds at dusk that day.

After staying the night with relatives at Palayamkottai there was a short trip to Port Trust beach at Thoothukudi, again a sheltered bay but a bit crowded with fisherman and their boats.

After a trip back to Tirunelveli, it was back home on the delightful highway. Tirunelveli to Madurai is one of the best stretches in Tamil Nadu where cruise control could be employed, though I've never used this feature so far.

Kallanai

I've made 3 trips to Trichy but on one in late July decided to visit the historic Kallanai after seeing the rare sight of the Cauvery in full flow. Having been there more than 20 years ago, I was taken aback at the crowd visiting, though the upkeep was much better than what I could remember.

Built by the legendary Chola king Karikalan, it is the oldest water regulatory structure in India and the 4th oldest in the world.

However, driving the XUV there on the dam was a feat by itself with mm separating vehicles from the opposite side with ORVM closed.

3-point seat belt for the middle passenger, much to my relief

Priceless treasures at Poompuhar

View from the verandah of the sea at night

Pamban bridge

Manapad

Kallanai

Thus, exactly 6 months after buying this car it went for the 10,000 km servicing and is back.

So, for someone who half expected the glove box or something similar to fall off, it just didn't happen. There were no clutch plate or suspension issues and no rattles at all and all sensors work well. So, this decision to go into 3 unknowns, diesel, Mahindra and CSUV seems to have been worthwhile, at least, so far.

With the XUV 300, Mahindra seems to have got the basics right with the engine, comfort, build quality, ride and handling. It also seems to have sorted out reliability issues and inspire confidence, being niggle free.

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