See why Mahindra’s KUV100 does for car design what Shane Warne’s googly did for spin bowling.
BRIAN BASSETT admires daring design in the new KUV 100
MAHINDRA South Africa, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mahindra family company in India, has been operating in this country for about 11 years.
My own experience of Mahindra starts with the Bolero 2.5TD, which Peter Hylton, dealer principal of Kia/Mahindra Pietermaritzburg lent to an Edendale development initiative which I started.
The bakkie was driven hard for more than a year in an inhospitable environment and performed well — so well in fact that we purchased the Scorpio four-door SUV to succeed it.
With my experience of the brand I was anxious to drive the newly introduced KUV 100, which is a new vehicle from the ground up and I am grateful once again to Peter Hylton, still DP of the Maritzburg franchise for making the car available to us for a short period.
The styling of the KUV 100 comes across as cool, bold and substantial. Up front this crossover has an SUV-inspired contoured bonnet and dual-coloured bumper, flanked by swept back headlamps and a centrally — placed Mahindra logo with three, chrome claw marks on either side, giving the vehicle a strong front line. The sides of the vehicle carry a strong brow line, which extends to the front door and faceting which creates interest and a strong shoulder line.
Rear door handles are mounted next to the rear window, adding to the cool feel of the design. Side mirrors are colour coded and electric. The chrome outlined rear fog lamps and large rear lights add character to the rear end. In fact the entire exterior is tastefully done. My only complaint is the 14-inch wheels, which make the car seem a little under-nourished, although the alloy spider rims are fun. The rear spoiler completes the design.
The cabin is spacious and wellappointed. There is plenty of window space making it light and airy. At the front the floating dash has easily readable analogue speed and rev dials with a digital panel in between which displays gear position, engine temp and fuel level.
The gear lever is also dashboard mounted and adds a funky feel to the overall cool design. The seats are well upholstered and the driver’s seat is fully adjustable. There is space for five adults and seating at the rear is no problem due to the flat floor surface. I liked the piano black inserts in the interior and the finishes are of good quality.
The blue puddle lights under the doors are fun and light your exit from the vehicle on cold, winter nights. The six-speaker infotainment system with steeringbased controls is excellent and the tactile steering wheel on which the system is based is fully adjustable. The LUV 100 also has Bluetooth connectivity and the system responds to the Mahindra Bluesense vehicle management app which you can download on your cell. There are also two 12v plugs, front and rear for your electronic toys and an excellent air-conditioning system. The boot, which has above and under floor storage gives you 243 litres of space and 473 litres with the rear bench seat folded flat.
My only criticism of the interior is that it could do with a little more sound proofing, as the little diesel motor can be quite loud at times.
Safety and security
The KUV 100 has a wide range of safety features. The best of these is the one you do not see, namely a monocoque construction which envelopes and protects the passengers.
There is also ABS with EBD, Corner Braking Control, and dual airbags for the driver and passenger. Follow-me- home headlights are a mixed blessing, as they light the way to your front door for yourself and your mugger. There is a collapsible steering column and seatbelts for all. The alarm and immobiliser is factory fitted and there is keyless entry.
Performance and handling
The KUV 100 is two cars — the one is the vehicle you potter around with in traffic with the ECO-switch on; easily parked, easily handled and responsive to all your shopping needs. The other is the car which comes on stream when you switch to power mode and the turbo-diesel, three-cylinder, 57 kW/190 Nm becomes a mini beast which provides peppy acceleration and performs really well on hills and the hurly-burly of the N3. On D roads the front-wheel drive is useful for maintaining control and the 170 mm of ground clearance the vehicle offers will take you over most obstacles with ease.
We had the vehicle too short a time for an acceleration test but this is not the sort of car you buy as a robot racer. Fuel consumption claimed by the maker is 4,4 l per 100 km but so much depends on how you drive.
Costs and the competition
The KUV 100 starts at around R150 000 and the model we drove costs about R198 000. There is a three-year/100 000 km factory warranty and a five-year, 50 000 km service plan is optional. The competition is fierce so also look at the Toyota Etios, VW UP, Suzuki Swift and Hyundai i10, to name but a few.
A 170 mm ground clearance and affordable, if rather small, 14-inch wheels make the KUV 100 as tough on dirt roads as it is quirky in the city.