Our friends at AutocarIndia.com have the first spyshot of Mahindra's real EcoSport challenger - the S101 (codename) - from its early development stages.
The spyshot reminds us of the first time we saw the Mahindra W201 in a similar state, all decked up with camouflage, missing body panels and fittings, wearing donor organs and testing on the highways outside Chennai back in 2009.
Will the S101 be the company's next game changer by giving the Indian utility major access to market segments below its current product offerings? The S101 can be used as a tool to tap into the segments which Maruti Suzuki calls its bastion.
Details are very scarce at the moment as the first prototypes of the car have just taken birth. The plan should have gasoline and diesel engines that are under 1.5-liters in displacement. The Quanto's 1.5L three-cylinder engine is perhaps the least refined diesel engine in the personal SUV segment. As the S101 will use less steel and plastic between the driver and the engine bay, the quality of the engine will have to be a few grades better than the Quanto's mill. The fuel efficiency benchmark for this segment is likely to be set by Ford, and Maruti, whenever the XA Alpha is ready to roar, would try beating that. Mahindra will have to invent a motor that can return 22-24kpl in the ARAI test cycles, while being calm, torquey and easily drivable.
As the S101 is smaller than the Quanto, trying on a 7-seat configuration sounds like a poor idea. As we've experienced in the Quanto, this would hugely compromise on the comfort of the second row passengers while the third row would be usable only by kids unless the seat-backs are uncomfortably thin.
Another avenue that is virgin in this segment is the diesel-AT technology. Pairing the compact diesel engine to a 5-speed AT could add some exclusivity to this car as the One Ford plan doesn't permit region-specific technology changes and Maruti Suzuki's dependency on Fiat diesel engines puts heavy limitations on how far the powertrain can be availed by the driver. Being a self-driven SUV, this combination is bound to work on the S101 better than say on a sedan where rear seat travel is common.
Mahindra can cascade infotainment features of the XUV500 down into the S101. A smaller and low-priced variant of the XUVs audio-visual-navigation package can make the car competitive in the future marketplace. The usual fun of the fare such as auto climate control, steering mounted buttons for infotainment, a versatile trip computer, a flexible seating layout, and perhaps high-end features like leather seats, side airbags and ESP could be in store on an all-frills variant.
The S101 is all set to be the second monocoque car from Mahindra that employs a transverse layout.
We can't wait to see more images or hear new details about this baby SUV that could unlock new market segments for Mahindra, and cause panic in camp Maruti!
[Source - AutocarIndia.com]