The sub-4m compact-SUV space has been witnessing a new launch almost every month. This time around, it is the introduction of a new transmission option on the turbo-petrol trims of the Mahindra XUV300. Until now, the petrol trims of the indigenous sub-4m compact-SUV were on sale with a 6-speed manual gearbox only. However, Mahindra has now realized that the unavailability of an automatic gearbox with the turbo-petrol motor was a deal-breaker for many. And the brand has now introduced the option of AutoSHIFT gearbox (6-speed AMT) with the turbo-petrol engine of the Mahindra XUV300. But, does the 2021 Mahindra XUV300 AutoSHIFT manages to come up as the best petrol-automatic compact-SUV in the Indian market? Let’s find out in this Mahindra XUV300 test drive review.
2021 Mahindra XUV300 AutoSHIFT Review – Exterior
Design-wise, the Mahindra XUV300 is a handsome-looking car. However, the rear-end isn’t the most gorgeous of the lot, as Mahindra had to trim the original car (SsangYong Tivoli here) to make the XUV300 fit in the sub-4m bracket. On the front, it sports a good-looking nose. Thanks to the slim radiator grille, which is flanked by sleek headlamps. Also, Mahindra has sensibly used chrome here, and hence, the XUV300’s front facet is one of the most attractive ones in the segment.
Moving towards the sides, Mahindra XUV300 shows off its long hood and 17-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels. Moreover, the chunky wheel arches add the right amount of heft to the XUV300’s side profile. From the sides, the rear-end feels upright and disproportionate. However, it doesn’t look all that odd when viewed from the right direction. The taillamps seem to be inspired by a Maserati of the modern era. Also, there are enough creases to break the visual bulk.
Talking of the changes that Mahindra XUV300’s petrol trim get with the AutoSHIFT gearbox, it is the ‘AutoSHIFT’ badge itself, which sits on the tailgate. While this badge will differentiate the manual variants from their automatic counterparts, it isn’t a big change by any means. Mahindra could’ve used a different design for the alloy wheels here to freshen up the things a bit.
2021 Mahindra XUV300 AutoSHIFT Review – Interior
With the introduction of the new AutoSHIFT gearbox, the Mahindra XUV300 gets a handful of changes on the inside. The first and foremost is the new gear lever. Okay, this is obvious. But what’s not obvious is the addition of the BlueSense connected car suite. Mahindra has now started to offer the XUV300 with its new connected car tech, which aids the user with accessibility to the car’s odometer reading, fuel level, engine oil level, and some location-based functions via a smartphone or a smartwatch. The owners can use the geofencing technique to limit the car’s use in a designated area only. Also, the AutoSHIFT badge on the Mahindra XUV300 will come along with an electronic sunroof. The option of this AMT gearbox will be available on the W6 and W8(O) variants. And these trims will now have the electronic sunroof as a standard fitment.
While these changes have added a sense of fresh air in the Mahindra XUV300’s cabin, this sub-4m compact-SUV is quite a loaded car. It comes equipped with dual-zone climate control, auto-dimming IRVM, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlamps, steering modes, cruise control and more. Furthermore, it is the safest Indian-made car. The Mahindra XUV300 boasts of a 5-star Global-NCAP crash test rating. It gets a slew of safety aids on-board, such as ABS with EBD, ESP, TPMS, front & rear parking sensors, rear parking camera, 3-point seatbelts for all seats, front & rear disc brakes, seatbelt alarm, high-speed alert and more.
2021 Mahindra XUV300 AutoSHIFT Review – Engine & Gearbox
Is this the most important chapter of this review? Yes! It is indeed. The biggest change that the Mahindra XUV300 gets with the AutoSHIFT badge is the new engine-gearbox combination. Till now, the petrol variants of the Mahindra XUV300 were available with a manual gearbox only. Now with the AutoSHIFT badge, enters a new 6-speed AMT gearbox. It is designed to make the life of an urban driver easy. Well, it surely does its job of doing so. The new AMT gearbox has reduced a pedal from the driver’s footwell. Thus, driving the Mahindra XUV300 comes up as a wee-bit easier task now.
The AMT box is quite apt at doing its job, but only when the driver’s inputs are docile. A strong prod to the A-pedal gets the gearbox confused. It isn’t meant for an enthusiastic run. However, dwelling around the crowded roads of a congested city is what it is designed to do at its best. The shifts feel smooth when the Mahindra XUV300 AutoSHIFT is attended sedately. Even a little enthusiasm makes things go haywire from the gearbox’s side.
While it does get a manual mode, there’s not much of a difference to be observed with that engaged. The shifts feel slow and come in to effect with a jerk. The positive attribute of this gearbox, however, is its way of being nonsense-ly smooth when driven with a gentle foot. Also, it doesn’t get any manual gear lock as seen on other automatic cars. Mahindra folks have played a rather smart move here, as it gets an electronic gear lock, which engages automatically when the speed increases to over 5 kmph. The tap-to-engage function feels visually-appealing as the gear lever gets back to its place, but it makes you look at the instrument console to know which gear you are in. Nevertheless, this engine-gearbox combination feels faster than its diesel counterpart.
2021 Mahindra XUV300 AutoSHIFT Review – Ride & Handling
Mahindra XUV300’s strong attribute has been its ride and handling. With the longest wheelbase in its class of 2,600 mm, it boasts of great straight-line stability. The agility, however, isn’t a compromised affair either. It is quick at making a change in direction without much resistance. The poise continues to stay intact when attempting a tight bend. Also, the body roll is well-controlled. To ensure that everyone has their own setting for the steering wheels, Mahindra XUV300 comes with 3 modes for the steering wheel – Normal, Comfort, Sport. In the Comfort mode, it feels quite light and over-assisted, whereas the Sport mode invites some hustle while making manoeuvres, but with improved feel and feedback. The Normal mode is actually a perfect balance between the two.
The brakes on the Mahindra XUV300 AutoShift feel great too. With disc brakes on all ends, there’s enough stopping power at disposal. However, at slow speeds, the system feels grabby as it reacts quite aggressively to the lightest of the inputs. Talking of the suspension system of the Mahindra XUV300, it comprises of McPherson struts with anti-roll bars at the front and a twist-beam with coil springs at the rear. While this system aids it with appreciable dynamics, the XUV300 absorbs bumps and road undulations with quite some ease. Also, the 205 mm ground clearance helps a lot when going through bad roads or encountering a tall speed breaker.
2021 Mahindra XUV300 AutoSHIFT Review – Verdict
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The petrol-powered Mahindra XUV300 AutoSHIFT is priced at INR 9.95 lakh for the W6 trim and INR 11.76 lakh for the W8(O) trim. It is an increment of INR 55,000 and INR 64,000 over the manual counterparts of the W6 and W8(O) trims, respectively. With the addition of a sunroof in the W6 trim along with the AMT unit, the premium of INR 55,000 feels justified. The W8(O) trim, however, feels comparably expensive. But with these prices, the Mahindra XUV300 AutoSHIFT with the petrol motor is a great value-for-money proposition. In fact, it comes up as an appealing option in the sub-4m compact-SUV space with its long feature list and best-in-class safety rating.