Mahindra KUV100 surpasses expectations
Every now and again a car pops up that surprises the bejabbers out of me because it delivers the unexpected. One such case was the recently-launched Mahindra KUV100.
Mahindra has been in South Africa for around 15 years now, but in all that time I'd never even sat inside any of their products, until I recently got my paws on a XUV500 that offered excellent value despite some obvious cost-cutting inside.
About five months ago, the Indian manufacturer quietly introduced the KUV and since then sales have grown to between 100 and 150 per month, often more than all of their other six models combined.
The KUV looks sweet, although the origin of its name is more saccharine - Kool Utility Vehicle. It's styled a little differently to its rivals and I liked its lines. It's small but has more than adequate interior space for four adults, and the interior is made up mostly of quality bits laid out attractively and sensibly.
There are three specification levels - K4, K6 and K8 - with the K6 and K8 versions progressively adding features, and the only thing missing from the basic model that really matters is a sound system. Pricing ranges from R149 995 for the petrol K4 to R179 995 for the K8. The two fancier models are also available with diesel engines that push their prices up by R18 000.
The test car was a K8 with Mahindra's 1.2-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine that doles out 61kW and 115Nm. It is, typically for a three-cylinder motor, a gruff little number and I liked it for the character it adds to.
This engine takes more than 15 seconds to haul the car to 100km/h and tops out at 140km/h, but because of its nature it feels livelier than that. The turbodiesel version has just 57kW of power, but its 190Nm of torque from 1 750rpm should inject a little urgency into the car's nature.
All models come with crisp five-speed manual gearboxes, with a stubby little gear-lever protruding from the dash quite close to your left hand. One of the best features of the little Indian car though lies in its ride quality. It's plush without being over sloppy, and for a city car of this nature it's close to perfect.
The Mahindra KUV100 comes with a three-year / 100 000km warranty and a three-year / 50 000km service plan for the K6 and K8. The latter is an option for the K4 version.
Article written by Gavin Foster