The sales of diesel-powered cars are slowing, which means that carmakers don’t have a choice but to introduce petrol variants of models that they hope will be real contenders. Cue the XUV300 petrol…
When we drove Mahindra’s new baby, the XUV300, prior to its launch in Goa, we couldn’t stop singing praises of this new sub-4-metre SUV. However, we soon realised that we had only done half the job in the first-drive review. And that’s because, during the media drive, we only got to sample the diesel variant of the vehicle. But, surprisingly, a lot of people have been asking us about its petrol sibling. So, naturally, we rang the folks at Mahindra and got hold of a petrol variant of the XUV300.
What’s under the hood?
Since everything – space, interior and features – is identical to its diesel sibling, which we’ve already covered in great detail (check it here - Mahindra XUV300 Review), we’re solely going to focus on the petrol powertrain and its driveability here.
Under the hood, you have a 1.2-litre, in-line, three-cylinder turbo-petrol motor that shares its basic architecture with the KUV100’s engine. But thanks to forced-induction and a couple of other modifications, this unit churns out 109bhp and 200Nm of torque. Like the diesel motor, the refinement levels here are impressive too, but you can feel the gear-lever shake at idle – owing to the fact that it is, after all, a three-pot motor.
There’s a lot of lag below 2,000rpm, which is expected, given that it is a diminutive turbo-petrol that’s under the bonnet. However, once the turbo spools to life, the XUV300 gains momentum pretty quickly. And while the power and torque delivery is quite peaky, this motor revs quite spiritedly – meaning that you’ll find yourself riding the torque wave even with the slightest push of the accelerator pedal. In fact, it’s so free-revving that you tend to hit the rev-limiter – which is just below 6,000rpm – very easily. Beyond 5,000rpm though, the performance tapers off quite noticeably.
Driving it in traffic can be a bit tricky at first, for the clutch pedal has a long travel. And while it’s super light to operate, feeling its biting point is a bit of a task. Couple this with the lag of the motor, and you may even end up stalling the vehicle on a couple of occasions. The 6-speed gearbox has long throws – just like the diesel – and has tall ratios for better fuel-efficiency. And this invariably kills its driveability in urban environments, because at city speeds every gear change effectively lands you right back into the dead zone of the turbo. Also, when you ease your foot on the accelerator, the deceleration is quite jerky because of the abrupt cut-off of the fuel supply. It feels as if you’re tapping the brake pedal every time you take your foot off the throttle.
Is the ride still stellar?
The ride quality of the petrol version remains stellar. It gobbles up every undulation on the road without a care in the world. And once you realise this, there’s no slowing down for potholes or other imperfections on the road. The XUV300 simply glides over everything. Like the diesel, the seats are supremely comfortable and you get all the bells and whistles in the top-end W8 (O) variant.
But, compared to the diesel, the steering feels a bit too lifeless. And, at high speeds, you can feel the front-end wavering – causing you to constantly feed in corrections through the wheel. This is perhaps because the front end of the petrol is lighter than the diesel – owing to the reduced weight of the petrol engine. Of course, Sport mode firms up the steering wheel, but even this can’t stop the front from flailing at high speeds.
Bye or buy?
The XUV300 petrol isn’t a bad choice, once you learn the nuances of its motor. But, frankly, it left me wanting more. The fact is that the diesel motor is peppier and offers better drivability. So, my choice remains the diesel!
- Mahindra XUV300 1.2 W8 (O)
Engine: 1,197cc / 3-Cylinders / 12-Valves / Turbocharged
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual / Front-Wheel Drive
Power: 109bhp @ 5,000rpm
Torque: 200Nm @ 2,000 – 3,500rpm
Price: ₹ 11.49 lakh (Ex-showroom)
X-Factor: A petrol-powered XUV, with a feature-packed cabin and stellar ride.