A brilliant concept. Take one portion SUV crazed nation. Add a huge middle class to it. And then top it up with bad roads. And what you get is a desperate need for an SUV that is efficient, spacious, rugged and only as expensive as a hatchback. The Mahindra KUV100 is the answer to this need. At least on paper. It starts at Rs 4.42 lakh, comes with a claimed fuel economy of over 18kmpl (for the petrol), is tall and wide in order to liberate good interior room, and because it is a Mahindra, let’s assume, it is also rugged.
the KUV100’s styling is the first dampener. Yes, we know looks are subjective. And we know we are more grease monkeys than style critics. Even so, we can still tell a visually appealing design from an oddball one. And the KUV100 borders on the latter. It has the detailing, the cuts and creases, and some nice design touches. But, it is the proportions and the randomness of these elements coming together that leaves a lot to be desired.
It’s pleasing with the variety of shades, textures, finishes and surfacing. There’s gloss, matte, dull and metal finishes, and lots of geometrical shapes as well. And it looks good in the photographs. The gloss and textured plastic all round looks upmarket but the dull plastic used for the aircon vents and the door opening latches on the inside look downright tacky. The satin silver finish is passable. The quality, the fit and finish and the operability, also isn’t great. There are roughly cut edges, loose fittings and an overall lack of finesse in the way the buttons, knobs and stalks work.
The KUV100 we have here is the petrol, which uses Mahindra’s own all-aluminium engine. It’s a 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder engine that gets variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust sides. It makes 82bhp and the torque at 115Nm is commendable. It is mated to a 5-speed gearbox and because it is a monocoque with a transverse engine, it’s also only front-wheel-drive.