The latest to joins the ranks of the XUV500 and TUV300 in the alpha-numeric brigade of Mahindras is the KUV100. It's one 'kool' and 'kompact' car, says the company. And though we don't find kool cool, its hard not to overlook the car's design. Its a new car from the ground up – chassis, engine and everything else.The KUV100 looks bold and imposing by hatchback standards. The Mahindra looks like it has more meat on its bones compared to its leaner, sportier-looking rivals – the Maruti Swift and the Hyundai Grand i10. Theres a lot to take in up front – from the SUV-inspired contoured bonnet and dual coloured bumper which gives the Mahindra a strong jawline, to the swept-back headlamps with tiny LED DRLs (available in the top two trims) and those claw marks either side of the Mahindra logo on the tiny grille. In profile, youll notice the brow that stretches into the front door. The Mahindra stands 1,655mm tall, and sits 170mm off the ground. The rear doors handles are mounted next to the window à la the Chevrolet Beat. Its all tastefully done, the 14-inch wheels aside, which make the car look somewhat undernourished. Theres even a sharp, eye-catching waistline that flows to the back of the car and ends above the tail-lamps. The lower half of the KUV gets plastic cladding which will help keep dings and scratches at bay.Inside, you're treated to a well-appointed, spacious cabin with ample storage space and comfortable accommodation for five occupants. All-round visibility is good, and the cabin is quite airy with a sizeable window area. The high floating dashboard incorporates an instrument cluster which looks like a downsized version of the TUV300's – with an analogue tacho and speedo readouts on either side of the digital screen which displays gear position, engine temperature and fuel level. There are seven variants on offer with both engines\: K2, K2+, K4, K4+, K6, K6+ and the K8. The variants with the + suffix come with airbags, while ABS will be standard across the range. The model we drove was the top-end K8, which gets the whole bag of tricks. This includes DRLs, alloys, fog lamps, puddle lamps on all doors, an infotainment system, mood lighting, exterior chrome touches, remote keyless entry, steering-mounted audio controls and micro-hybrid start-stop tech. The top-end diesel KUV100 also gets an Eco mode, which dulls throttle response to boost efficiency.Space is the name of the game, here. The KUV is 1,715mm wide (with the ORVMS folded) to meet regulations for vehicles that can accommodate six occupants in two rows. The five-seat and six-seat versions are sold as separate models with both getting a dash-mounted gear lever (like on the Maruti Ritz). The five-seater gets two individual seats up front that come with moderate bolstering, while the six-seater gets a flat bench, where the backrest for the middle passenger folds to double up as an armrest and the bench seat, once folded up, gives you access to storage space underneath it. Legroom at the back is great thanks to the flat floor, but we noted there was some cladding around the C-pillar that deprives rear passengers of shoulder room. Theres enough space in the boot for a couple of heavy bags. However, the boot lip isnt flat, which might make loading and unloading goods a bit of a task. The KUV100 is built on an all-new monocoque chassis, and marks the debut of the new family of 1,198cc, three-cylinder mFalcon petrol (G80) and diesel (D75) engines, both of which are mated to a new five-speed manual gearbox. The petrol lacks punch, and being a three-pot, sounds gruff. The diesel, on the other hand, sounds and feels more refined and has a good amount of pulling power from low down in the band - 1,750 to 2,300 revs – but fades out at the top. We hit 100kph at 2,600 revs on the tacho. Throws of the five-speeder are short and slick. If you fancy yourself a KUV, youll definitely want to go with the diesel. Cabin insulation could have been a bit better, though. With the petrol range starting at Rs. 4.42 lakh and the diesel at Rs. 5.22 lakh (both prices ex-showroom, Pune) positions the KUV100 against the likes of the Maruti Swift and the Hyundai Grand i10. Aesthetically, the KUV brings something new to the segment. It also has (nearly) more seating space than its rivals, which is never a bad thing.The numbersDiesel (D75)\: 1198cc, 3cyl, 77bhp, 190Nm, 5MPetrol (G80)\: 1198cc, 3cyl, 82bhp, 115Nm, 5MLxWxH (mm)\: 3675x1715x1655; Ground clearance\: 170mm; Boot\: 243 litres, Fuel tank\: 35 litresPetrol\: Rs 4.42 - 5.96 lakhDiesel\: Rs 5.22 - 6.81 lakh (all prices ex-showroom, Pune)
The verdictA competitively-priced, bold-looking compact UV with a pleasantly spacious and well-equipped cabin.