Since the XUV 3OO’s launch five years ago, Mahindra has sold about 2.5 lakh units of the car, making it a fairly successful model. Considering Mahindra wasn’t quick to bring to the market what is a localised version of the SsangYong Tivoli and that the competition was already quite strong by the time it happened, that’s a respectable figure. Although for a moment, if we were to pause and compare what Maruti Suzuki (who had about a four-year head start in comparison to the XUV 3OO) achieved till now, you’d be surprised that the Brezza —over two generations —makes a much stronger business case, with 10 lakhs + units sold since 2016. Mahindradefinitelyneeded to do something substantial and with the new XUV 3XO, that’s what they’ve tried.

What’s new?

The transition from ‘3OO’ to ‘3XO’ hasn’t just involved a new name but a thoroughly refreshed variant lineup, too, but most importantly, it has given the compact SUV a nearly all-new design. Whether or not you are immediately enamoured by it is down to your design preferences, but the more complex front end is probably going to be a topic of contention for months, at least. I feel that the XUV 3OO had an overall cleaner look to it, but the 3XO’s design has more visual weight and drama now and the front-end styling deserves to be credited for that.

From the rear three-quarters, it looks much better than it did previously. The connected LED taillight and the prominent ‘3XO’ badging are hard to miss. The design at the back is a huge improvement over the XUV 3OO’s, aiding which are nice stylistic touches like the roof spoiler and cleverly ‘connected’ rear windows with the rear windscreen. The profile is largely untouched and it wasn’t a poor design to start with, anyway, but the new 17-inch alloy wheels fill the wheel arches nicely. To round up the design, it’s nice to see Mahindra retain the good bits of the XUV 3OO but at the same time, the new front and rear bring out a lot of character. This is always a good thing and we can expect the 3XO to secure some space for itself in the market by going down this route.

Prospective buyers will be glad to know that the interior of the 3XO is miles ahead of the 3OO. Like before, it has decent room inside (and in the 364-litre boot), the seats are made quite well and the steering wheel looks and feels good to hold. The all-digital instrument panel isn’t an unexpected inclusion, considering that’s what others offer in the segment.

The touchscreen infotainment system has been displaced from its previous position and is now a floating unit. There’s no shortage of features, at least in the top-spec AX7 L version that I drove. In addition to the onboard Harman Kardon audio system, there’s the XUV 7OO’s suite of AdrenoX features and some more tangible ones like a panoramic sunroof, wireless connectivity (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) and charging for smartphones, a 360-degree camera system, rear AC vents, a 65-watt USB-C charger at the rear which can also be used to power a laptop, dual-zone climate control and electronic parking brake.

The use of a mix of light and dark surfaces makes the cabin feel more spacious and the inclusion of soft-touch materials is also appreciated. That said, it can be a challenge to keep it clean, plus some of the glossy black material is inherently a haven for dust and fingerprints. Making matters worse is that the surfaces getreallyshiny and the small font on buttons becomes nearly illegible.

While the overall build seems decent, some parts felt a little off, showing signs of wear, already. Plus, someone at Mahindra needs to lower the warning sounds —the default volume for indicator, seatbelt reminder, etc. is annoyingly high and makes the 3XO seem a lot less polished than itreallyis.

What powers it?

Since this is an update to the XUV 3OO, one wouldn’t expect Mahindra to make significant changes to the platform. Why should they, because from the way it drove to how safe it was, the XUV 3OO was quite promising in the mechanical department. We’re happy to report the 3XO is, too. The range of engines is pretty much the same as before: a 110 bhp 1.2-litre naturally aspirated petrol is joined by a 1.2-litre turbo-petrol (most powerful of the lot at 128.7 bhp) and a 1.5-litre diesel (115 bhp). Our test car was turbo-petrol-engined and had the optional 6-speed automatic gearbox. As one can expect from the headline numbers of 128.7 bhp and a healthy 23.4 kg-m, the car accelerates from a standstill quite effortlessly and highway cruising poses no problems at all. At partial throttle input, especially at city speeds, the cabin remains quiet and the noise that the engine makes when it’s being asked for more power isn’t intrusive, either. The gearbox could do with some urgency, though, so if you’re after outright performance, the 6-speed manual would be a better bet.

The interior of the XUV 3XO is spacious, but certainly more feature-rich than before

The interior of the XUV 3XO is spacious, but certainly more feature-rich than before | Photo Credit: Photos by Amit Naik 

Enhanced interior

On the move, the 3XO continues with the promising nature of the 3OO, only exhibiting signs of body roll and understeer when pushed harder. The steering isn’t devoid of weight, the all-around disc brakes add to the driver’s confidence and large bumps are dealt with rather adeptly.

The smaller of the bumps and potholes get transmitted into the cabin, especially at the rear, which is a negative. The overall handling is only hampered by the slightly skittish nature of the car, which was also the case with the XUV 3OO. What surprised me was that with its impressive ground clearance, downright bad roads don’t pose a problem for the 3XO and that’s something its buyers will certainly appreciate.

The other thing that will be received well is the safety inclusions on this car. Six airbags are standard on all variants, it also gets level-2 ADAS and the usual suite of driver aids: ABS with EBD, traction control, hill assist, etc. There’s also an impressive 5-star GNCAP crash test rating for the XUV 3OO, although it must be noted that this model hasn’t been tested yet.

How expensive is it?

There’s no doubt that the Mahindra XUV 3XO embodies everything that the XUV 3OO did and then some. It’s a definite improvement over the 3OO in nearly every aspect. Not just that, it even makes cars from the segment above seemunder-specced, for the 3XO offers great value without skimping on features.

The starting price is an astonishingly low ₹7.49 lakh while the top-of-the-range model is priced at ₹15.49 lakh. Both prices are ex-showroom and to give you an idea of where the competition stands, the Tata Nexon is about 60k more expensive, the Kia Sonet and the Venue are about half a lakh more expensive and the Maruti Suzuki Brezza is about 85k more expensive.

The XUV 3OO was a pretty strong (safety-wise, too) car and we didn’t find it difficult to recommend that to buyers in the segment and that doesn’t change with the 3XO. If anything, it should make it easier for Mahindra to grab a bigger bite of the compact-SUV-shaped cake.

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