WHEN THE GOING GETS TUV
The Mahindra range continues to expand with the introduction of another new crossover
FOR an automotive brand to grow in a market that declined by 14% last year is commendable, but to do so by 13% over the preceding year is extremely impressive. That’s exactly what Mahindra SA did in 2016, when it sold in excess of 3 500 units, a handy total for a marque considered to be a fringe player in the local context … and even that’s a little unfair given that Mahindra has shifted 32 000 units through 56 local dealerships since arrival here in 2004. The Indian autobrand has certainly outlasted and outperformed many other fly-by-night operations from the Far East.
This success is largely thanks to the Indian firm offering only bakkies, SUVS and crossovers in its line-up, and along with strong Scorpio Pik-up and Balero bakkie sales it has traditionally enjoyed, the latter two segments have displayed consistent growth. Last month, the specialist automaker launched another new crossover into its family, the TUV300.
This newcomer is said to take styling inspiration from an army tank, hence the squared-off lines and chunky appearance. Much like the recently launched KUV100, the tyre size seems at odds with the large slabs of metal, so in profile it looks a little ungainly. But, its compact dimensions (under four metres long) place the TUV300 in the same category as the Ford Ecosport, Renault Duster and Suzuki Vitara.
Inside, the TUV is pretty basic fare. A light hue is the only choice for the upholstery and the roof lining. This shade is broken by dark plastics on the facia. The layout is simple, clean and modern, featuring an infotainment system with a neat monochrome screen that features a USB port and auxiliary input. A high seating position will suit most drivers, although a lack of reach adjustment on the steering can hinder finding the ideal seating position. Dual front airbags, air-conditioning, rear parking sensors and Bluetooth connectivity are all included in the price, as are ABS and EBD.
There is also seating for up to seven occupants and, with this packaging, the TUV’S only real rival is the Honda BR-V. The third row of side-facing chairs folds away or can be removed entirely to increase luggage volume, although there is no luggage cover in place to keep prying eyes off your valuables; an oversight in safety-conscious SA. .
Power is provided by the firm’s in-house-developed mhawk 1,5-litre three-cylinder turbodiesel. The only engine on offer in the range, this