WHEN THE GO­ING GETS TUV

The Mahin­dra range con­tin­ues to expand with the in­tro­duc­tion of an­other new cross­over

Car (South Africa) - - DRIVE - MAHIN­DRA TUV300 T8 PRICE: ETA:

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

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