June 18, 2021

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2021 Mahindra XUV300 petrol-AMT review, test drive

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“Could you suggest what new car I should buy?” is the most common question us automotive journalists are asked. And more often than not, even with petrol prices at a record high, that first question is always followed up with a statement – “I would prefer a petrol and an automatic.”

SUVs, even the sub 4-metre ones have always been aspirational and not having a petrol-automatic option in the line-up is a missing piece. To plug that gap, Mahindra has added an AMT option to the turbo-petrol XUV300. Is it now easier and more convenient to drive?

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The XUV300 petrol-AMT is meant to plug a vital gap for Mahindra.

Mahindra XUV300 petrol AMT: How does it drive?

The XUV300’s AMT unit is an automated version of the 6-speed manual supplied by Magneti Marelli and developed in-house by Mahindra. It’s fair to say that this one of the best-tuned AMTs in the market and the gearbox calibration offers a level of smoothness you don’t normally associate with AMTs. While there is still a noticeable amount of typical ‘AMT nod’ in between gear shifts, it’s masked to a great extent by the punchy and smooth 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine that makes 110hp and 200Nm of torque. At regular highway cruising speeds the gearbox responds well but when pushed really hard, you will find it a bit slow to shift gears as compared to a torque converter automatic unit.

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6-speed AMT unit gels well with the punchy turbo-petrol engine.

For city driving, the AMT does a fine job and is impressively responsive at part throttle. In fact, it can be a bit too responsive and has sharp clutch engagement, which makes starting off on inclines a bit tricky. A more progressive clutch would be welcome for stepping off in stop-start conditions. What’s nice is that it does have a creep mode that does come in handy while driving in typically dense urban traffic.

An interesting feature is the way the gear lever is oriented. Typically, the gearshift pattern in an automatic is in one line, with Drive-Neutral-Reverse-Park running from bottom to the top but in the XUV300 AMT, the pattern is quite different and does take some getting used to. Firstly, there is no ‘Park’ as is typical with AMTs. Neutral is engaged when the driver pulls the lever to the right and drive when the lever is pushed to the left. One can also engage a manual mode by nudging the shifter to the left a second time and then pull the lever down to go down a gear or push it up to go up a gear. Interestingly, however, engaging the manual mode but not using the lever to manually change gears results in the gearbox holding the gear for a much longer period in the rev range – a sort of compromise for not having a ‘sport’ mode like several other AMT gearboxes seem to get.

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Typical AMT head nod is well contained.

Mahindra XUV300 petrol AMT: What’s new on the outside and inside?

On the outside, there are no changes to the XUV300 apart from a small ‘autoSHIFT’ badge on the tailgate. In the top spec W8(O) trim that you see here, it still gets the 17-inch wheels, those rather iconic LED daytime running lights and a two-tone option, all of which do help it stand out. That said, some features, like LED headlamps, are still missing and would have been a great addition just to give it that little extra.

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Besides the autoSHIFT badge, there’s no changes to the exterior.

Just like on the outside, there are no design changes to the interior either. The dashboard is still smart and the touchscreen gets features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The class-leading rear seat space and comfort too remains unchanged, although at the expense of boot space. However, we do wish Mahindra would have replaced that archaic-looking centre console, which holds the climate control panel and a small orange backlit screen, to something a little more modern.

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There’s no changes on the inside either.

Mahindra XUV300 petrol AMT: Connected car features

The AMT versions – both petrol and diesel on the top spec W8(O) variant – will now get Mahindra’s new Blue Sense Plus connected car tech. Available through a well-built and easy to use app on both iOS and Android platforms, this allows you to track the car in real-time, along with other features like geo-fencing and remote diagnostics. It will also help you keep an eye on vital data like fuel levels or tyre pressures. It also lets you remote lock and unlock the car, flash the lights and toot the horn – features typical to connected car tech, which are now becoming more common across the board.

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Mahindra Blue Sense Plus connected car tech is only available on the top-spec AMT variants.

Mahindra XUV 300 petrol AMT: Ride and Handling

 

The XUV 300 is the only car in it’s segment that gets variable steering modes – Normal, which is the default setting, Comfort and Sport. Normal and comfort are ideal for city driving conditions as it is light and easy it use in traffic or while parking. Sport mode does weigh it up a bit, but honestly, there isn’t much feedback overall. That said, there is a fair bit of grip due to the way the suspension is set up and the XUV 300 does feel very taught and planted. Ride quality as with the manual car is plush for a car of this class and like with every Mahindra, it flattens bad roads with minimal shocks filtering into the cabin.

Mahindra XUV300 petrol AMT: Verdict

As a package then, the Mahindra XUV300 petrol-AMT is a great addition to the already vast options available in the market – from other AMTs, CVTs, conventional torque converters and, of course, the dual-clutch gearboxes. With prices ranging from Rs 9.95-11.77 lakh (ex-showroom, pan-India), we think the XUV300 is, as we have already said it, one of the best petrol AMTs in the market today and certainly warrants closer consideration than ever before.

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The AMT adds convenience to an already excellent package.

Also see:

Dune bashing in the new Mahindra Thar

Mahindra Thar diesel recalled in India

Mahindra XUV300 for Africa receives 5-star Global NCAP rating

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