The KUV100 is a hatch with muscle

The Mahindra & Mahindra DNA is all about toughness. In the KUV1OO (pronounced KUV one double “Oh”), the inherent Mahindra characteristics are present in abundance. The company calls the KUV1OO a compact SUV. We would beg to differ there. Though it looks muscular and sporty, it’s still a hatch, though a tough looking one.

A few years ago, as signs emerged on the horizon that diesel cars could be at a disadvantage vis-à-vis petrol cars, Mahindra had two options before it: either buy a petrol engine or make its own. It decided to repose its faith in its research and development team, spent a considerable amount of resources (more than Rs 1,000 crore) and built a new family of mFalcon engines, in both 1.2-litre petrol and 1.2-litre diesel versions. More engines are to follow.

The petrol and diesel models come in four variants: K2, K4, K6 and K8. The company is offering air bags as option in each of the variants but the K8 is the fully loaded top model. There is also an option of a six-seat configuration in each of the variants.

I drove the vehicle on the Mahindra test tack at Chakan in Pune. The petrol powered car performed smartly and was perfectly mated to the five-speed manual transmission. The mFalcon is an all-new engine family. The “K” in KUV1OO stands for the “kool” and trendy young generation, while UV represents an SUV. The numeric “100” represents the pecking order of the series that comes in below TUV300 and XUV500.

The KUV1OO is a butch looking hatch and with a wide wheelbase, it provides immense space inside and stands on 12-spoke, 14-inch spider alloy wheels. The KUV1OO has a sculpted bonnet like the XUV500 and a sculpted rear too with smart roof rails. The wraparound headlamps seem to taper off all the way to the A pillar. The words “powered by mFalcon” are prominently displayed on this side. The car comes with “follow me home” headlamps and “lead me to vehicle” headlamps.

The KUV1OO takes on the Maruti Swift and the Hyundai i20, besides other small crossovers in the market.

It comes with a pinched grille, bulging wheel arches, sloping roofline, rear door handles perched high almost in alignment with the C pillar, all of which add to the aesthetic appeal of the car. The prominent hood and high beltline make the car look like a trendy urban crossover. The rear spoiler enhances the sporty look of the vehicle. The KUV1OO is available in seven different colours.

All the stretched wheel base and wide track of the vehicle have led to freeing up a lot of space inside the car. To ensure a lot more space, the car comes with a floating dashboard design in piano black finish, which has a sculpted steering with bolsters (tilt and rake adjustable) as well as a dash mounted gear lever and a hand brake. Mahindra is offering the option of either three or two seats in front. The middle seat (in the case of three seats in front) can be folded and made into a large arm rest for the front passenger and driver. Mahindra & Mahindra, KUV100 The KUV100. Photo: Joshua David Luther

There are a couple of innovative storage spaces in the car, besides the regular ones. The car has mood lights inside, a twin pod instrument cluster and an infotainment system with a 3.5-inches display screen and four speakers. The system can be synchronised with the Mahindra exclusive Blue Sense app.
Designed in-house and engineered at the Mahindra Research Valley in Chennai, the KUV1OO is powered by the mFalcon, an all-new engine family with options of both petrol (mFalcon, G80 — 1.2 litre, dual VVT three-cylinder) and diesel (mFalcon, D75 — 1.2 litre, turbo-charged three-cylinder).

The mFalcon G80 is an all-aluminium MPFI petrol engine. The mFalcon D75 is a turbocharged common rail diesel engine. Both the engines meet the BS IV emission norms and are future emission protected. The diesel engine delivers 77 bhp @3750 rpm and a peak torque of 190 Nm @1750-2250 rpm, while the petrol engines delivers 82bhp@5300rpm and a peak torque of 115Nm@ 3500-3600rpm.

While the top end variants come with micro hybrid technology (start /stop), the diesel model offers power and eco modes. The car meets the yet to be announced Indian crash test norms and also comes with pedestrian crash protection features.

At high speeds, the KUV1OO was well grounded and it handled well at corners too. Of the two, the diesel engine had a lot more pep to it, more so because it is turbo charged and comes with a good level of torque that peaks early at around 1750 rpm. One thing is for sure, the KUV1OO is stable, both on and off the beaten path. While it offers the comfort and grace of a car, it also offers the performance and aggressiveness of a compact SUV. It is the smart hatch with muscle. MAHINDRA KUV1OO

Engine: 1.2litre mFalcon (petrol and diesel engine)    
Power: 82bhp@5300rpm/ 77bhp@3750rpm    
Torque: 115Nm@ 3500-3600rpm/ 190Nm@1750-2250rpm    
Transmission: 5-speed manual    
Price (ex-showroom Delhi): Rs 4.45 lakh onwards

  P Tharyan is editor, MotownIndia