Going Quantum in My Hometown

  James Siddall


 30 Jun, 2019

Mahindra XUV300 W8 1.5 Diesel

You’ve already heard it all, doubtless.

How the new Mahindra XUV300 – that’s pronounced “three double-O,” apparently – is next level for this Indian manufacturer.

That it’s a quantum leap over previous Mahindras, with perhaps the exception of its big brother the XUV500 which is pretty polished in facelift guise.

While we’re here “quantum” is a word peppering contemporary conversations, and quantum physics does seem pretty cool from the utterly infinitesimal fraction I’m only trying to understand.  The Dreams That Stuff Is Made Of indeed, which is also the title of a compendium of papers on the subject, incidentally.

More topically and rock-ically if I had a song for the XUV300 it might be Bruce Springsteen’s My Hometown.

Now this is a little after the fact (don’t ask).

But a little before this subcompact crossover Indian hit our market, I spent a morning with a couple of Mahindra people touring and traversing my hometown of Hillcrest, KZN, in an XUV300.

Sort of a sneak preview.

First, my favourite coffee-shop-cum-office. And then into the range-topping W8 1.5 Diesel they had waiting outside, an alluring little artifice with its tight shutlines and cool LED-strip daytime running lights, and styling that’s “Cheetah-inspired.” A little far from its continent of conception, perhaps, but there you have it.

Now because so much has been written already about this machine, including on this website, I’ll just skim things like its “slick” six-speed gearbox – I’m still waiting for someone to say the gearbox was notchy – and the full suite of stuff designed to add to the store of human happiness.

Including 17-inch alloys, seven airbags, ESP (Electronic Stability Programme), 17.78cm colour infotainment system, and more.  Rather nicely for the connected generation, this user-friendly set up includes Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto integration, as well as in-built turn-by-turn navigation.

Bubbling away under the little front-driver’s hood is a new and perky 1.5 turbodiesel making a healthy 86kW, and a yet healthier 300Nm from 1 500rpm to 2 500rpm.

A “quantum” leap indeed over the Mahindras we’re used to, I mused as we tooled part of the Comrades Marathon route (a race I’ve twice run, I tastelessly told my poor passengers), overlooking the Valley of a 1000 Hills – where I once hiked and camped as a teen.

Certainly a “quantum” leap over the first brick-basic grey-market Mahindra I drove back in 1996 when I was working on a magazine in Johannesburg in another life.

How on earth did it get so late so very quickly?

And I was going to say that the current lack of an auto ‘box in the XUV300 lineup and a price tag for the range-topper that puts it in Ford EcoSport territory could hinder it a little – especially for  those still associating Mahindra with more utilitarian vehicles.

I mean the four-car range starts at R249 999 for a 1.2 turbopetrol running to R324 999 for the vehicle here, including a five-year/150 000km warranty, and a five-year/90 000km service plan on all models.

Then I saw that in May alone the SA market took 124 of these refined, polished little machines, making it clear that as Roger Waters sang, The Tide Is Turning.

Especially as sales only officially started in the latter part of May.

It’s clear then that the future, at least in developing countries like ours, perhaps belongs less to Tesla-type vehicles and hydrogen-cell wonders that we’ll drive in glittery tin-foil suits, and more to the Chinese, especially Haval, and the Indians.

“Quantum” stuff indeed.

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