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

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

Styling

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.

In­te­rior

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.

PHOTOS: QUICKPIC

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.

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