TECH­NOL­OGY & IN­NO­VA­TION

Auto components India - - CONTENTS - Text: Bhar­gav TS

TUV300 born tough with im­proved qual­ity

If you want to buy a fru­gal en­gi­neered car, go for Ja­panese ve­hi­cles, or if you want per formance ve­hi­cles go for Euro­pean cars. If you want to buy a Spor ts Util­ity Ve­hi­cle (SUV ) go for Mahin­dra ve­hi­cles. The SUV spe­cial­ist has wide range of SUVs in­clud­ing XUV500, Scor­pio, Bolero and Quanto which sell in large num­bers in I ndia. But later the num­ber came down as the com­pe­ti­tion star ted pick­ing up for the SUVs. Ear­lier it is set that Mahin­dra ve­hi­cles are tough and rugged and lack in qual­ity and fea­tures. But the com­pe­ti­tion has forced the home- grown auto ma­jor to look at the qualit y lev­els. As a first step, the re­fine­ment came when they launched the XUV500. The pre­mium SUV came with lot of fea­tures, bet­ter interiors cou­pled with Mahin­dra’s own style of drive and han­dling. For Mahin­dra the DNA lies in build­ing SUVs and as a re­sult of it, the com­pany has added one more to its k itt y, the TUV 300.

The TUV300, the new compact SUV has the space to seat 7, and with its RWD con­fig­u­ra­tion, and 184mm of ground clear­ance, it has got the real abil­ity to go off the road and even in the tough roads. The main USP of the TUV300 is that it is not de­rived from an MPV, nor is it a mono­coque cross­over. It has been en­gi­neered from the plain sheet to be tough as it sits on the lad­der-frame con­struc­tion. The look of the ve­hi­cle is in­spired from the ‘bat­tle tank ’ which has sharp edges and boxy look. In the front, the grills look sim­i­lar to that in Jeep, but looks dif­fer­ent due to the 5 ver tical slits in the ra­di­a­tor grill, bolder bumper that car­ries huge air dam and bolder fog lamps. The head­lamp as­sem­bly is well in­te­grated with the grill where the main il­lu­mi­na­tion unit with static bend­ing fea­ture gets a square shape, while the rest of the el­e­ments, in­clud­ing turn in­di­ca­tors and pi­lots are sur­rounded by an­gled lines.

The sides are cov­ered with hard lines that give the small SUV an im­pos­ingly, al­beit com­pressed, stubby stance along with the flared wheel arches. The tail-lamps sits ver tically and looks tri­an­gu­lar in shape while look­ing from the sides. It also has hor­i­zon­tal creases which ex­tend into the car ’s pro­file. To have more space in the rear and to look like a solid SUV, the spare wheel is mounted on the hard shell tail­gate and adds to its stance to be tougher. The wheels get new 10 spoke, 15 inch al­loys wrapped with 215/75 R chunky look­ing CEAT Czar H/T tyres that pro­vide more grip to the ve­hi­cle. The over­all look of the TUV300 is the strong­est point and at­tracts cus­tomers who is look­ing for a con­tem­plat­ing de­sign.

Once boarded the car, a big sur­prise comes in terms of qual­ity of the trims and fea­tures. Mahin­dra has worked with I taly ’s Pin­nin­fa­rina de­sign stu­dio for the con­tem­plat­ing de­sign. The 2-tone black-beige dash­board is

neatly laid with the hard ma­te­ri­als and use of sil­ver fin­ished plas­tic bits around the cabin looks well thought out and classy. The in­stru­ment clus­ter is in­for­ma­tive and looks great too, but doesn’t come with the touch screen. In terms of space, TUV300 is also sur­pris­ingly spa­cious when it comes to head­room, shoul­der room and legroom. The front seats are com­fort­able for shor t dis­tance but bit too firm and not com­fort­able for long dis­tance. The rear bench seats too of­fer good space for 3 pas­sen­gers and have enough legroom but lack in thigh sup­port. The last row is prac­ti­cally meant for chil­dren but for shor t dis­tance even 2 adults can be ac­com­mo­dated. Folded, the jump seats re­veal a boot space of 384 litres, which can be ex­panded to 720 litres upon fold­ing the non-split sec­ond row seats. Its no­table that the fold­ing fa­cil­ity for the sec­ond row seats is avail­able only for the top line T8 vari­ant.

While look­ing at the equip­ment list, the range top­ping T8 vari­ant comes loaded with good­ies such as re­verse park­ing sen­sors, static bend­ing head­lamps, driver in­for­ma­tion sys­tem, voice mes­sag­ing sys­tem, pow­ered mir­rors, steer­ing mounted con­trols, rear de­fog­ger, lum­bar sup­port for front seats, fol­low me home head­lamps, dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, im­mo­bi­lizer, auto door lock with driv­ing and anti theft warn­ing. The car maker has also made good ef­for t to keep NVH lev­els low in­side the cabin, whilst there would be ver y lit­tle grunt from the en­gine seep­ing into the cabin.

Pow­er­ing the TUV300 is the mHawk80. The 1493cc mo­tor puts out 82.5bhp and 230Nm of grunt with the help of twin-stage tur­bos. In city the en­gine per formance is bril­liant as the steer­ing is light and has a de­cent amount of torque avail­able lower down in the rev band. The ab­sence of dead pedal is lit­tle bit in­con­ve­nience, as the cus­tomers now look for com­fort­able driv­ing both in city as well as in high­ways. In the high­ways if you press the ac­cel­er­a­tor hard, the mo­tor sounds ver y stressed and runs out of breath. The five-speed man­ual gear­box has to be used in such a way to get the triple digit speeds. Once the en­gine set­tles in a cer tain speed it shows off some good ap­ti­tude in the ride and han­dling depart­ment due to the pres­ence of anti-roll bars and the third-gen Scor­pio de­rived chas­sis. Over­all, TUV300 drives ver y well, of­fers ex­cel­lent con­trol and good ride com­fort. As men­tioned ear­lier the small SUV is built on the shor tened version of Mahin­dra’s new lad­der-on­frame plat­form, which was in­tro­duced in the new Scor­pio by Magna In­ter­na­tional. The chas­sis is re­worked from the Scor­pio, shor tened to take ad­van­tage of the sub 4-me­tre duty ben­e­fits, yet it ’s suf­fi­ciently rigid and is ca­pa­ble of load­ing 7 pas­sen­gers.

The chas­sis ar­chi­tec­ture has in­de­pen­dent dou­ble wish­bone sus­pen­sion at the front, and a non-in­de­pen­dent, multi-link, coil-spring setup at the rear. In­ter­est­ingly its 190mm ground clear­ance is 10mm more than the Scor­pio’s, and the gen­er­ous 2,680mm wheel­base is iden­ti­cal. The sub 4-me­tre SUV, a few mil­lime­tres shorter in length (3995mm) than the Ford Ecos­port but taller (1839mm) and wider (1835mm) sub­stan­tially. and has the best-ever interiors of any Mahin­dra car till date, thanks to the good plas­tics, ap­peal­ing trim and great fea­tures. Sur­pris­ingly TUV300 also comes with the au­to­mated man­ual trans­mis­sion (AMT ) which has been co-de­vel­oped with Ri­cardo. The AMT version should help Mahin­dra to at­tract more cus­tomers who look for SUV, which has 7 seater op­tion as well. Over­all, TUV300, a well re­fined ve­hi­cle from Mahin­dra will be a tough com­peti­tor to its own sib­lings.

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