Hey look, Quanto just got a facelift\\!
No, do not say that out loud as Mahindra may take offense. The SUV maker claims the NuvoSport is an all new car as it's been thoroughly reworked upon and is more than just a facelift.
Okay, what's your take on it?
Well, when we first set our eyes on the NuvoSport from a distance, it looked exactly like the Quanto. And as we walked closer, it still resembled the Quanto. We aren't kidding - look at it from profile and the rear, it's a beefed up Quanto with extra body cladding and a smoked tail lamp. Okay, the front end is heavily modified. In fact, it's all new. The aggressive face, bolder grille, twin headlamps with DRLs, functional hood scoop, and 16-inch wheels along with all the plastic add-ons does lend the Quanto replacement that added SUV feel, which wasn't there before. However, the fact that Mahindra decided to retain the Quanto's top hat, despite Indian populace not showing a lot of admiration the first time around, is puzzling.
So then, what's new about this new compact SUV?
Apart from the new face, Mahindra says the chassis is now shared with the new Scorpio and not the Xylo, which makes it more modern in that sense. However, if you compare the spec sheets of the Quanto and the NuvoSport, which we have done for our beloved readers, the dimensions are identical, barring the overall height that's now down by 10mm. We doubt anybody without a measuring tape would notice that. But the good part is that it handles slightly better than before. More on that bit later.
As you said, the chassis is borrowed from the Scorpio, so does the interior resemble that of the Scorpio or the Quanto?
Sadly, it's the latter. Mahindra has made a few changes, of course. For instance, the colour combination is similar to that of the Scorpio, making it look brighter than before. Quality too feels improved upon with the use of hard-wearing plastics that could withstand beating for over half a decade, quite easily. Then, things like the instrument cluster and steering wheel are new. The dashboard design, too, has been altered with a new-ish centre console that now houses a touch screen infotainment system. But overall, despite all the modifications, in essence, it's still a Quanto cabin with new colours.
Oh\\! Then the NuvoSport must even drive like the Quanto?
Yes, it's very Quanto-like to drive. High seating position, body-roll around corners, notable nosedive under hard braking, ride comfort, notchy gearshifts, great drivability, easy handling, comfortable front row seats et al.
Wait, you just praised the NuvoSport for something. Please elaborate.
Yeah, the drivability bit. Under that macho hood lies a 3-cyl, 1.5-litre mHawk100 motor that now makes 100bhp and 240Nm, teamed with a 5-speed gearbox.
What? Aren't the numbers same as before?
Oh, is it? Let us give it a quick check... Turns out it is. You were right. The numbers are identical, with only 'Hawk' lettering replacing the 'CR' bits on the engine badging. However, the party trick here is the twin-stage turbocharger.
Wow, twin turbos\\!
No, it's a twin-stage turbocharger. A 2-stage turbocharger. What it does is instead of having two turbos, which isn't the most cost effective option on a compact SUV, there are two fans for turbo-charging. The smaller one does its magic at lower revs, while the bigger one wakes up only once you build up the revs. And in the real world, it does make a lot of difference. There's instant grunt from as low as 1300rpm and it continues to feel good till the 4000rpm mark, after which it begins to taper off. Plus, the NuvoSport comes with Eco and Power modes for its engine, similar to the TUV300, that decides whether the engine should spin at 3500rpm or breathe freely till 4600rpm.
You did mention about the gearshifts being notchy, right?
Yes, it's quite rubbery to use, just like before. However, the good part is that the drivability is so good, it doesn't warrant frequent change of cogs, which is a good thing. Plus, Mahindra is also offering the NuvoSport with an AMT option, which should completely take care of the notchy gearshift bit.
Check out more pictures of the NuvoSport here.
Is the AMT any good?
Depends how you look at it. Say for some reason you need an SUV for your daily city commute that forces you to crawl through thick traffic and you are not a big fan of the three pedal configuration. The AMT then, is a good option. But if you love driving and highways is where you would like to spend most of your driving time, the AMT won't really win a lot of brownie points. It's convenient, yes, but slow to react to your throttle inputs - a typical AMT trait. The only occasion it's quick is while up-shifting. The moment you are off the throttle or start cruising, the 5-speed AMT will happily shift to the highest cog in the interest of efficiency. But don't worry, once you're used to driving an AMT, it's easier to live with it.
AMT is also available in petrol?
The NuvoSport is only available with an mHawk100 diesel unit.
Okay, what about the interior space? Good as before.
Oh yes. Space is top-class and it's amazing how well Mahindra has managed to create big sedan-like legroom in a car that's only as big as the Ford EcoSport. It's a seven seater, with the third row getting two jump seats, which we aren't big fans of. But keep them folded and enjoy more than 400 litres of boot space. Fold the second row and get 800 litres of cargo. Also, the transmission tunnel is nicely packed under the floor, which means you get a flat base and that makes it easier to seat three in the middle row. By the way, the NuvoSport is rear-wheel drive, hence the special mention of transmission tunnel here.
You mentioned about improvements in the handling
Yes, it's definitely better than before but there's scope for improvement, especially since the NuvoSport competes with the likes of Maruti Brezza and Ford EcoSport, two dynamically sound products. Thankfully it doesn't roll around corners as it used to before and there's a certain level of softness in the way it rides and handles bad roads, which also means a lot of vertical movements. But it's nowhere as jerky as it used to be. However, we've only sampled the NuvoSport within Mahindra's testing facility so we shall reserve our final verdict on its ride quality till we subject it to Indian conditions.
One last query. Mahindra already has the KUV100 and the TUV300 as compact SUVs. And we thought the TUV was a Quanto replacement. Where does that leave the NuvoSport?
That's a good question. Mahindra says it has found a sweet spot between the TUV and the Scorpio, and that's where the NuvoSport fits in. Priced at Rs 7.35 lakh, ex-showroom, Mumbai, the NuvoSport is only Rs 9,000 more than the TUV. Which is, according to us, the NuvoSport's biggest competitor.
Specs 3cyl, 1.5-litre, 2-stage turbo-diesel, 100bhp, 240Nm, 5M / AMT, RWD, 17kpl (claimed)
Verdict Apart from the new face and added cladding, it's a Quanto that's easier on the eyes. Handling isn't its forte but scores good points for drivability, space and comfort.