Car Specification

26 November 2012

Review: Mahindra Quanto

Mahindra has a go at turning an MPV into an SUV. Can the Quanto carve out a niche for itself?

Manish Sarser
Car image

We’re a nation that loves sport utilities, but since most of us also live in congested cities, we’ve begun warming up to compact sport utilities. Which brings us to the new Mahindra Quanto. Mahindra is pitching it as a compact holiday maker. No points for guessing the base vehicle. But being based on the Xylo brings its own challenges.
The first being how to make an MPV look like an SUV. Mahindra has chopped the rear, added a butch-looking spare wheel on the tailgate, given it smaller wheels and updated the face a bit. More importantly, the Quanto is under the golden four-metre mark, making it eligible for tax sops.

The Quanto may be based on the Xylo, but you’d think Mahindra would have tried harder to differentiate the Quanto from its bigger brother. The face has minute differences and of course you’ll notice it’s shorter in profile. But there’s no hiding the Quanto’s DNA.

The shorter proportions give the Quanto a bit of a quirky look. The wheelbase stays the same, so there’s almost no overhang at the back.

The rear is flat and ends abruptly, but the spare wheel does give it a bit of a brute character. What it really needs is a lower stance and smaller windows. This would have made the Quanto much more pleasing to the eye. But looks aside, the Quanto is a promising package. The bigger change is its engine.

The Quanto is powered by a 3-cylinder 1.5-litre common rail motor with a twin-stage turbocharger. Yes, you read that right, it has three cylinders. This is probably the first time a three-pot motor has been called for duty in a compact softroader. It puts out 99bhp and 240Nm and comes coupled with a five-speed manual transmission that also does duty in big brother Xylo.

Start it up and you’ll think the little three-pot must shake and rattle away to glory. But it surprises you with its refined nature. At idle, you can almost not tell it’s a three-cylinder motor. It’s only when you gun it do the vibes start coming in particularly strongly around 1500rpm. But refinement is certainly better than we’d expected.

The twin-stage turbocharger is designed to minimise turbolag. And out on the road, the Quanto doesn’t disappoint. It feels sprightly, especially past 1500rpm. Mid-range is good, but power tapers off fairly quickly and it’s best to shift early and keep the engine under 3500rpm. In the city, you can easily make the gaps in traffic.

The well matched ratios ensure you’re in the powerband and you can’t really tell the horsepower deficit. Well, at least not until you put a stopwatch to it. Zero-100kph takes 15.36 seconds as opposed to the Xylo mHawk’s 13.03 seconds. And top speed is pegged at 145kph.

But despite what the numbers suggest, the Quanto doesn’t feel out of breath in most situations. It’s only on the highway that you may have to work the gearbox a bit more, and it does feel a bit strained once you cross 120kph. But for most situations, the Quanto will suffice, thanks mostly to the abundance of torque available from the mCR100 motor. And being a small displacement unit, it’s more fuel-efficient as well. The Quanto will return 10.8kpl in town and 14.6kpl out on the highway. With an overall 12.7kpl, you can expect the Quanto to have a range of around 650km on its 55-litre tank.

Being based on the Xylo platform, road manners are quite similar too. This means the Quanto isn’t the sharpest handler. Push it hard into a corner and there’s pronounced body roll. You’re always aware you’re driving a vehicle with tall proportions. Ride is pretty good for the most part. But large undulations make it pitch. And the faster you go, the more nervous it feels. what must be appreciated is how silently the suspension goes about it duty. Steering, which feels nice at city speeds, doesn’t weigh up enough as the speeds rise. In the dynamics department, the Quanto isn’t the sharpest but it’ll be enough for the average driver as long he respects its high centre of gravity.

Inside is where the Quanto really starts to make sense. The cabin is large and roomy. The first two rows are almost exactly like it is in the Xylo, which means a lot of space. The seats are comfortable albeit a touch flat. The rear gets a pair of jump seats. These aren’t very comfortable and are best suited for kids and small journeys. They can be folded out of the way to store weekend luggage. In our top-end C8 variant, you get a good list of features too. Apart from the regular AC, power windows and power steering, you get electric mirrors, twin airbags, ABS, alloy wheels, fog lamps, integrated stereo and rear wiper.

Even the base C2 version comes with air-conditioner and power steering. It retails for Rs 5.82 lakh (ex-showroom, Thane), while our top-end C8 is pegged at Rs 7.36 lakh (ex-showroom, Thane).

If you look around, there’s no real competition to the Quanto. Sure, you could buy a Bolero or even a Thar for similar money, but the Quanto is a far more complete and user-friendly vehicle. Mahindra, add a four-wheel drive option soon, it’ll make it that much better a weekend getaway vehicle.

You have to remember, the Quanto is essentially a five-seater, the jump seats are just an added bonus. We also liked the fact that the spare wheel has been moved up to the tailgate. Not only does it look good, it also breaks the monotony of the otherwise bland rear.

Having the spare on the door also makes it far easier to access in case of a puncture. The Quanto does have some off-road pretensions thanks to its minimal bits of overhang and decent ground clearance. The rear footstep however, hangs too low and will be the first victim when you venture off-road. But in any case, currently, the Quanto is available only in rear-wheel drive format, so the amount of wilderness you encounter is going to be limited. A four-wheel drive system may be offered in future, and that will give the Quanto access to far more scenery, making it more usable and enjoyable.

The Quanto has a lot of things going for it. It’s got a peppy enough engine that’s also fuel-efficient, it’s spacious, comfortable and comes with a long list of features. It may not be the best dynamic package out there, but it’s a bit hard to ignore the value-for-money aspect. And if we were the Premier Rio, we’d really be afraid.

The numbers
3cyl, 1493cc, diesel, 99bhp, 240Nm, RWD, 5M, 0-100kph: 15.36s, 30-50kph (3rd): 3.52s, 30-50kph (4th): 6.11s, 50-70kph (5th): 6.43s, 80-0kph: 2.40s, 26.56m, Max Speed:145kph, Rs 7.36 lakh (ex-showroom, Thane)

The verdict
The Quanto may be quirky to look at, but there's a capable package underneath, especially considering the price.

Tags: mahindra, xylo, quanto



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