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Honda

MAHINDRA KUV 100: KILLER KOMPACT KROSSOVER

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Following the footsteps of the XUV 500 and TUV300, the KUV 100 is the newest vehicle to enter the Mahindra & Mahindra stable with an alpha numeric badge. According to Mahinda’s plans. all monocoque vehicles that share a platform with the current XUV500 in the future will carry the XUV prefix, those that share the ladder frame platform of the Scorpio will be badged TUV-something and the compact cars on the new S101 platform will be branded KUV. They call this one the Kool Utility Vehicle One Double Oh (KUV 100), and claim it to be ‘kool’ and ‘kompact’ car. New segments in the auto industry have been coming up in recent times. With massive SUVs becoming less affordable and feasible, interest has been shifting towards compact vehicles. Recognizing this shift, Mahindra has cashed in on the trend with their most compact passenger vehicle ever made.

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There’s a completely new approach to the designs, engine and chassis. Take one look at it and all of that becomes apparent pretty quickly. The KUV 100 enters the competition as an SUV that could be the worst nightmare for its hatchback competition. Displaying a completely new design and styling theme, the KUV 100 wants all the attention it can get, and it isn’t messing around.

EXTERIOR:

It takes a little time to get used to the styling of the KUV 100, we’re being completely honest here. But we grew to love it. The styling is edgy and bold and not an orthodox approach which makes it all the more exciting when it comes to the KUV 100. This works out well since the design is focused on attracting the younger crowd.

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Up front, the SUV-inspired contoured bonnet and dual colored bumper gives the Mahindra a strong jawline. The headlamps wrap around the front fender, a design aspect that Mahindra claims to have been inspired by wraparound sunglasses. To make this work, the headlamps have been split into two sections. One section houses the main head lamps and LED DRLs while the other is an extension that integrates the engine badging and side indicators. Because the lower bumper isn’t the same color as the body, it gives the vehicle a very likable dual tone. The aqua blue and black went particularly well. The bumper houses neat fog lamps and a contrasting silver mock bash plate.

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The design elements come in stronger as you move onto the profile of the KUV 100. Designers at the headquarters have experimented with a disproportionate short length and the longish front section. Character lines run from the headlamps almost up to the door handles, through the bottom of the doors and a more prominent line that runs upwards from the rear door to the tail lamps. Another design aspect on the side is the ORVM shell that gets a clenched fist inspired design. Rear door handles are mounted on the pillars which gives the KUV 100 a two door appearance. Had it have larger wheels, the side profile would have been even more interesting.

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The fun keeps going in the rear, with the rectangular taillamp that protrudes slightly upwards since it sits below the extended haunch line. An integrated spoiler is standard across all variants.

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INTERIORS & FEATURES:

Despite the compact nature of the KUV 100, it has a surprisingly spacious cabin. There is plenty of leg room and headroom for all the passengers. Keeping true to the idea of having more space, the gear knob and hand brake lever have been adapted onto the console. This means that there is no division between the passenger and driver’s side and the floor is flat. The reason for such a design is that the KUV100 is a 6-seater. Unlike a conventional car that gets two bucket seats, the SUV gets a regular driver seat and a bench like passenger seat with a foldable middle section that can seat children or small adults who will end up disgruntled for having to squeeze into the space. This comes optional on most trims; it comes standard in the base trim. The centre seat also folds up to act as an armrest for driver and passenger as well offer two cup holders. The centre console isn’t cluttered though, despite incorporating the stereo and climate control knobs. Stereo was very easy to connect to the Bluetooth, something that is more fancy than required in most cars. The KUV100 is also compatible with the Blue Sense app from Mahindra, which helps you control audio and check important vehicle alerts on your phone.

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The steering wheel is chunky and sculpted well for extra grip and the silver accents similar to the centre console look sporty. Instrumentation is clear and easy to read. For a car this compact, the KUV 100 offers a lot of storage. For instance, the entire passenger seat folds upwards to give access to an under seat storage compartment. This section houses a removable storage bin with handles that can carry upto 10kg of weight. That’s not all, the rear section of the cabin also features a flat floor and there’s a covered storage area under it. A 243liter boot space expands to 473 liters with the seats folded.

PERFORMANCE:

One thing about compact cars, they are a pleasure to drive around the city. The KUV100 offers both diesel and petrol engine options. We got our hands on the 1.2 Litre mFalcon 3 cylinder which has been mated to a new 5 speed manual transmission. Using 3 cylinders instead of the conventional four apparently reduces the friction. Producing a maximum power of 82PS at 5500rpm and 115Nm of torque available between 3500 and 3600rpm, the KUV 100 proves to be a punchy performer on the roads. Mid range revs are where it thrives and excels, thanks to the torquey nature it shows at lower revs.

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The all new monocoque chassis provide a lower kerb weight and better dynamics compared to a conventional ladder frame. Although it is categorized (loosely) as an SUV, it handles much like a hatchback. It is nimble and agile which makes it perfect for urban travel. Steering is light and weighs in well as speeds escalate.

On paper, the KUV 100 is not an off roader and features a more hatchback like ground clearance of 170mm. But during our test drive we loitered off and lost our way, finding ourselves in the middle of nowhere. Inadvertently, the KUV 100 had to take on a little more off-road terrain than panned but it held up its own well.

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Braking is also very good, and all variants get ABS as standard. It isn’t confidence inspiring but it does get the job done.

VERDICT:

As always, Mahindra offers an array of variants: the K2, K2+, K4, K4+, K6, K6+ and K8. You’re not short on options with the KUV 100. It has been deemed an SUV, but at heart it knows it finds itself more at home as a hatchback. And that’s not a bad thing at all. The design overhaul is a major change and we’ll still have to see how it pans out for Mahindra, we personally grew to like (love/tolerate) it.

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It is a good performer and has a fun peppy engine. If space is the name of the game, then the KUV 100 wins it all day. So it is a very practical vehicle for the urban lifestyle.

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For anyone having trouble getting used to the looks, we can’t really see the fuss. Sure it might take a little while to love it, but keep an open mind and your perspectives might change.

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For variants & pricing, click here

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