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2016 Mahindra NuvoSport Review, Road Test

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2016 Mahindra NuvoSport is versatile in many aspects as it has been improved dramatically, but there are some places where it could have been better

Enchanting –

  • Front-end styling is well crafted
  • Improved Chassis and Stellar Engine with AMT gearbox
  • Surprisingly comfortable and fuel efficient
  • Spacious and value for money

Unsatisfying –

  • Dynamics still far away from inspiring
  • Interiors could have been more modern
  • Third row of seats unusable, best used as boot

The Indian market has only few manufacturer that only makes SUV’s. Yup, we are talking about Mahindra today. The Mumbai based manufacturer is global when it comes to its approach and is setting trends in almost every sub brand of the automotive world. Be it electric, scooters, two-wheelers, SUV’s and premium brands under its hold. However, Mahindra is best known for its SUV in the Indian market. Made of ladder on frame chassis, the vehicles are set to be tough and durable and taking on the rough terrains of the urban and rural that our country has to offer. Mahindra Quanto was one such attempt with a twist. The sub four meter SUV with a ladder on frame chassis seem to be a great idea but it did not work thanks to the weak link, which was the ride and handling of the SUV. Things change, Mahindra did too. Mahindra has now called the revised Quanto, the NuvoSport. The car has changed mechanically and cosmetically in many ways. Does it have the improvements needed to go ahead? We find out!

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Design:Styling wise we can see a radical front-end. Typical but small Mahindra-Jeep grille can be seen. Sleek eyebrow type LED DRL can be seen which look really good. The tail-lamps have the jewel effect which makes the front-end the most modern of the lot after the XUV 500. The overall front gets dual-set of bumpers one painted and one which is not. The large split in the bumper helps the car breathe. Hood scoop along with large fog lamps make the overall front styling is commendable and a very good change indeed.

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Rear continues to be the same with the spare wheel mounted. Tail-lamps are fogged units which look cool. Side profile is where the car has minute changes. There is masking tape at the c-pillar to make sure it stands out. Large windows and doors at the same time give it a very large SUV look. Side cladding continues and this time larger 16-inch wheels with a good design have made the car look more substantial than before. The 16-inch are replaced with the 15-inch that came with the older car. The height of the car remains unchanged and hence the overall proportions stay the same.

Interiors

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Step inside and you see a similar interior. The SUV has grey color interior which can be seen on the dashboard, lining all around and hints of the color can be seen on the seats too. Xylo inspired A/C vents just don’t fit the bill any more and look massively outdated. The screen is an after market unit and to make things worse it placed very low so you need to divert your attention completely to do anything on the screen. Dials also remain pretty similar and they just don’t look upmarket. We can notice sporty pedals, new black color steering wheel with steering mounted controls on it.

Features list includes eco and power modes, electrically adjustable ORVM’s. Touch-screen unit with connectivity options such as Bluetooth, AUX and USB. Seat height adjustable feature makes it to the list but it is only a two-way adjustable. There is cruise control on offer also. A/C also has an ECON button which optimizes air-con for better fuel efficiency. The A/C is a chiller in normal mode.

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The top most small screen showcases fuel efficiency parameters such as average, current fuel efficiency along with distance to empty along with date, time and gear shift indicator. Start-stop button is also at the top. There are lot of cubby holes in the car and there is a massive glove-box on the other side and coin-box on the other side with large door pockets.

Space in the back is of gigantic proportions. Ample headroom, shoulder room and leg room can be used. Armrest on both rows add to the comfort quotient. Large seats in both rows are comfortable and adjustable too. Third rows of seats are best not used as they do not have seat belts and not comfortable for long journeys or tall people. Use the large are as boot space to make it more useful.

Engine and Gearbox

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What gets us tempting about the Mahindra vehicles these days is the new 1.5 3-cylinder diesel engine that the manufacturer has created. It is the best engine by far in the sub 2.0 litre category along with the 1.3 Fiat engine. The oodles of power and torque from lower RPM and mid-range help it seriously mask the vehicle’s weight that the ladder on frame chassis vehicles that Mahindra makes. 100 PS and 240 Nm of torque is the right number and we would love to see it a monocoque chassis equipped SUV from Mahindra soon.

Here, the engine is super smooth, refined and has power all over the rev-range. There was a higher top-speed than the earlier Quanto that we tested. 160 km/hr is what we saw on the speedo. The car can easily cruise at highway speeds of 110-120 km/hr. Low-mid range torque along with tall gearing made driveability in the city simply superb. There is always power on demand. Engine is fuel-efficient too at 14.3 km/l overall which included expressway run and bearing traffic in peak hours of commute to our office.

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NVH levels are good and gets minutely crude at higher RPM’s. Clutch is light, but the travel is a bit longer. Gear shift throws are long but they are smooth and require less effort than the previous generation cars of Mahindra. Eco and Power mode continue to make a large difference and we request people to do keep in check as Eco mode severely cuts the power down and Power mode does take a toll on efficiency.

Dynamics

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All though the chassis has changed dramatically and comes from the TUV 300 which is based on the Scorpio, which was also improved in the year 2014 makes it to the NuvoSport. This SUV isn’t based on the Xylo anymore and this is far more superior in every way. TUV 300 was acclaimed for its better dynamics than the Quanto and felt like a mini Scorpio in the way it rode. NuvoSport is no exception but NuvoSport is even better than the TUV 300 which is the highlight here.

Why? One single fact that makes this SUV far better is the new 16-inch wheels. Mahindra has finally heard the critics requests and slapped on 16-inch wheels onto the NuvoSport. The weight that it carries, deserves bigger wheels. This has improved the ride by a huge margin. Stability is top-notch and now it rides even more taut than the TUV 300.

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The sense of security has never been better with Mahindra compact SUV that have ladder frames underneath them. However, all of this happened at low to medium speeds, go faster over a speed breaker and every body is shaken and stirred in the car, but now in more secure way. It isn’t all over the place in the corners.

Body rolled is now well under control, but it’s still there by a subtle margin. Blame the height of the SUV which is just too much. Highway speed stability is rock solid and it feels like it a house on four wheels, with its dimensions, most promptly the width and the height. Steering feedback is surprisingly good, ratio is well calculated but it isn’t downright enthusiastic.

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Brakes continue to be typical Mahindra. Mushy pedal with no initial bite but has enough stopping power with very little drama at the end of it. Overall, the car is well suited for sedate driver who want to have fun at times, but it is still far away from enthusiast’s choice.

2016 Mahindra NuvoSport Review, Verdict

Like any other modern Mahindra SUV, the NuvoSport continues to be do what it always does best. This time though, it does it in a better way. The revised engine and chassis along with an option of AMT makes it a competent SUV if you are looking out for an automatic car for your daily use. Automatic makes a lot of sense in an SUV, both SUV and automatics are in fashion as we speak. That said, we think the interior could have been spruced even more to make it more attractive to buyers.

Prices are attractive though and you do get good value for money. Safety has been provided with ABS and Airbags as standard except base variant. Question is that would you pick it up over its monocoque rivals? Only if you want a diesel automatic SUV with low cost of ownership and maintenance that the brand offers.

2016 Mahindra NuvoSport Prices

N4 Rs. 7.35 Lakh
N4+ Rs. 7.65 Lakh
N6 Rs. 8.36 Lakh
N6+ Rs. 9.0 Lakh
N8 Rs. 9.12 Lakh
N8+ Rs. 9.76 Lakh

(Ex-Showroom Thane)

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