A more powerful engine addresses the TUV300’s biggest drawback
IIF YOU FACTOR IN THE term ‘Compact SUV’, the TUV300 has a lot going for itself. Tall, rugged and imposing (relatively); it sits on a ladder frame chassis unlike other compact SUVs and when it comes to going off the road, its tight approach and departure angles, high ground clearance and wading capability means off-roadability is only limited by the absence of four-wheel drive. It is quite capable on tarmac as well with good ride and stability. The only thing lacking was power. The 84bhp three-pot motor was woefully underpowered for a vehicle that weighed close to 1600 kilograms. Mahindra have now addressed this grievance with a more powerful 100bhp motor. The motor now gains from lightweight materials like aluminium cylinder heads and composite materials and has been massaged for more power and torque with a wider torque band.
On paper the results seems promising with a gain of 16bhp and 10Nm over the older motor. The 3-pot mill maintaining a flatter torque curve, peaking from as low as 1500rpm and staying till 2800rpm. There is a stronger surge in power thanks to the way the twin-stage turbocharger delivers it. The twin stage turbo has two impellers on a common shaft and has separate valves directing exhaust gasses on the impellers to activate them. The smaller impeller works at low revs to reduce lag and fill the initial torque gaps while the larger impeller takes over at mid to high revs to provide maximum boost. This system modifies engine characteristics to behave more like a petrol mill. The power delivery is linear throughout and while you miss out on the shove associated with traditional turbo motors, you get a linear surge with little to no turbo lag that should do well in low-speed city driving. The issue here is that the bump up in power isn’t as noticeable due to the associated kerb weight of 1590kg which is quite a lot for a compact SUV and high-speed highway runs will be a bother. In addition the motor gets an AMT option with optimised shifts and a creep function.
On the inside is the same authentic SUV-esque commanding driving position and well-appointed cabin with two new updates. The rear seat gets more cushioning at the base for more under thigh support though for my five-foot eight-inch frame it felt like it could do with some more. The second update is with the engineers doing away with the invisible man in the cabin and voice alerts limited only to seatbelt and handbrake warnings. The ride is SUV-like with great bump absorption though it could do with a bit more secondary damping dialled in, especially at the rear as at slow speed, judders associated with small speed breakers and rumble strips are felt by the occupants. The body roll is well controlled with anti-roll bars at the front and rear and though it is hardly enthusiastic round corners, the approaching limits of the vehicle are signalled well in advance by the 15-inch Ceat tyres. The brakes have good initial bite and the vehicle tracks straight under hard braking.
The mHawk100 will come in two top-spec variants. The T8 variant will retail at `8.99 lakh while the AMT-equipped T8 is priced at `9.72 lakh. With added power, this TUV300 makes a better case for itself as a compact SUV delivering an authentic SUV vibe at an affordable cost. As for the styling – you can make up your own mind on it.