Mahindra KUV 100 Expert Review

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Introduction

Pros
  • Safety features. All variants get ABS with EBD as standard. Dual front airbags on all variants except the base K2.
  • Feature loaded: Daytime running lights, chilled glovebox, 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with steering mounted controls and ambient lights, etc.
  • Space. Headroom and legroom at the rear are generous.
Cons
  • Average handling and noise insulation. Competitors like the Grand i10 and Ignis are better in these aspects
  • Not a real 6-seater. Front middle seat is cramped and unsafe to use.
  • Looks. While better than, it may still come across a bit too quirky for some buyers.

Stand Out Features

  • Auto-start stop, i.e., micro-hybrid and eco/power drive modes.

    Auto-start stop, i.e., micro-hybrid and eco/power drive modes.

  • Plus-sized and comfortable front armrest

    Plus-sized and comfortable front armrest

  • 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

    7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

CarDekho Verdict

With the updates, the KUV100 NXT is a more modern and appealing package than before.

"The changes aren't drastic but do enough to make the car a more attractive and value for money proposition."

What's more, it packs in more features throughout the range, yet, the lower variants are actually cheaper than before, while the top two versions only get a marginal price increase.

Exterior

The KUV100 NXT mildly reworks its predecessor’s design. It’s still a polarizing styling package but slight tweaks like the twin pod headlights and new front grille make the new look cleaner. The front airdam has been restyled as well with the body coloured portion of the bumper flanking it on both sides. Even the fog lamps have been redesigned and blend into the face seamlessly.

Mahindra KUV100

Look closely and you also find that the wing mirrors no longer have the ‘clenched fist’ design and now feature integrated indicators. These mirrors aren’t just electrically adjustable, but foldable too. The black body cladding has been beefed up to reinforce its SUV appeal and faux skid plates at the front and rear add to the rugged look. Even the 15-inch wheels have a sportier design and have the flash factor that you either love or hate.

Mahindra KUV100 NXT

Where the KUV100 facelift truly looks more mature is the rear. The tail light design remains the same but now gets a clear lens casing, making it look more modern. Like the front, the rear bumper’s body coloured portion takes up more space than before and the rear reflectors have been integrated in a smarter way too. The rear spoiler gets ‘Aero Corners’ too, which are essentially extensions to make the roof to rear windshield swoop smoother.

Mahindra KUV100 NXT

Overall, the new look isn’t drastically different but small touches have helped the KUV100 facelift look more palatable. The dual-tone paint scheme, which gets the contrast black roof and pillars, looks quite attractive.

Mahindra KUV100 NXT

Exterior Comparison

Ford Figo Maruti Swift Mahindra KUV100 Hyundai Grand i10
Length (mm) 3886 3850 3700 3765
Width (mm) 1695 1695 1735 1660
Height (mm) 1525 1530 1655 1520
Ground Clearance (mm) 174 170 170 165
Wheel Base (mm) 2491 2430 2385 2425
Kerb Weight (kg) 1040-1130 - - -
 

Boot Space Comparison

Maruti Swift Mahindra KUV100 Ford Figo
Volume 204-liters 243-litres 257-litres

Interior

The changes inside aren’t extensive either but the new layout immediately looks classier. To begin with, instead of the old dual tone colour scheme, the KUV100 NXT sports an all-black theme. The dark interior palette extends to the seats as well, which also use a new fabric pattern. Prudent to note that the all-black layout is only offered in the top-spec K8 variant, which we feel should have been offered as standard.

Mahindra KUV100 NXT

The KUV100 NXT comes with a 6-seater arrangement as standard, while the 5-seater can be availed of on a made-to-order basis. Frankly speaking, though, the middle front seat shouldn’t be used even for children. The centre console and handbrake lever leave negligible knee room here and apart from being uncomfortable, it’s also unsafe, even though there is a lap belt. However, the middle seat doubles up as what is possibly the largest armrest known to man. It’s very comfortable to use for both front occupants and operating the gear lever is no hassle either.

Mahindra KUV100 NXT

Then there’s the new AC console. It’s still a manual air-conditioner but the chunky old dials have been dropped in favour of a cleaner electronic setup. There is just one dial to control the fan speed now and Mahindra says the new setup has helped reduce the wiring complexity too.

Mahindra KUV100 NXT

The steering is a simple three-spoke unit that gets some silver highlights and controls to manage the sound system and calls. The switch quality in particular isn’t too great, it feels cheap and plasticky. It’s a similar story for the stalks behind the steering wheel - not the best quality Mahindra could’ve used. The steering wheel can be adjusted for rake, but not for reach.

Mahindra KUV100 NXT

The rest of the cabin remains largely the same and is still quite spacious. Seating two 6 footers one behind the other is easy. The space utilisation is impressive with adequate knee room and headroom offered in the front and back. Seating three at the rear is also possible. However, the occupants will sit with their shoulders touching each other. The older model did offer adjustable rear head restraints for all three rear occupants, which was a segment first. Sadly, that has been dropped and the middle occupant doesn’t get a head restraint at all anymore.

Mahindra KUV100 NXT

Storage spots in the cabin are well thought out. There are 1-litre bottle holders in all the doors, a well-sized and cooled glovebox, a storage space with a removable bin under the co-driver’s seat, and even the rear under seat + under floor storage where you can hide precious items away from prying eyes. At 243-litres, the boot space is enough for a few duffle bags. With the rear seatback folded down you get 473-litres of storage space.

Technology

The biggest interior update is the addition of the 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system which is offered in the K6+ and K8 variants. It features AUX/USB/Bluetooth connectivity and gets an in-built navigation system in the K8. There’s even a driver information system which can be operated via the Mahindra BlueSense app as well, making it more convenient to use for rear seat occupants. The interface itself has an easy to understand layout, with good touch sensitivity and legibility even under harsh sunlight. The setup is compatible with a rear camera, though, Mahindra doesn’t offer one even in the range-topping K8.

Mahindra KUV100 NXT

The head-unit is mated to 4 speakers in the K6+ and gets 2 additional tweeters in the K8. Sound quality is acceptable and there’s nothing that would wow you. Audiophiles will want an upgrade. For someone who enjoys casual FM listening and Bluetooth streaming, the system does just fine. If need be, you can also connect your smartphone via USB or an aux-cable.

Other features offered include a micro-hybrid system (engine auto start/stop) and the power/eco drive modes.

Performance

Diesel: 

The KUV100 facelift remains mechanically unchanged, so you still get the same 1.2-litre petrol (G80) and diesel (D75) engines as before. We drove the KUV100 NXT’s diesel iteration which still makes 78PS/190Nm and comes paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox. The primary change here is the improved NVH by employing more silent engine mounts and adding more cabin insulation material. It has worked and the vibrations are certainly better controlled than before. However, noise insulation levels aren’t too great, and there’s still a noticeable amount of engine noise that creeps into the cabin.

Mahindra KUV100 NXT

Otherwise, the diesel engine’s nature remains unchanged. The clutch is light and bites in just where you’d want it to. Power delivery is linear and it doesn’t have the surge of power that one expects when the turbo kicks in (like in the Swift for example). Turbo lag is well controlled and the engine has a nice low end. It even feels quite relaxed at 100kmph and is capable of going faster. That said, this is a low displacement diesel that’s been designed for the city so past 100kmph, the signs of strain to creep in.

This engine also gets the micro-hybrid tech for better urban efficiency, along with the ‘Eco’ and ‘Power’ drive modes. There is a perceptible difference in throttle response when you shuffle between the modes. While the eco mode will work alright in the city, better stick to power mode on the highway.

Performance Comparison (Diesel)

Mahindra KUV100 Maruti Swift Hyundai Grand i10 Ford Figo
Power 77bhp@3750rpm 74bhp@4000rpm 75bhp@4000rpm 99bhp@3750rpm
Torque (Nm) 190Nm@1750-2250rpm 190Nm@2000rpm 190Nm@1750-2250rpm 215Nm@1750-3000rpm
Engine Displacement (cc) 1198 1248 1186 1498
Transmission Manual Manual Manual Manual
Top Speed (kmph) 160 kmph 155 kmph 157 Kmph 170 Kmph
0-100 Acceleration (sec) 14.5 seconds 14.8 Seconds 15.6 Seconds 11.6 Seconds
Kerb Weight (kg) - 1060kg - 1040-1130kg
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI) 25.32kmpl 25.2kmpl 24.0kmpl 25.83kmpl
Power Weight Ratio 1040-1130kg 69.81132075471697 bhp/ton - 95.1923076923077 bhp/ton

Petrol:  

The petrol motor (83PS/115Nm) is an all-aluminum unit. While this contributes greatly in keeping the overall weight of the engine down, it does not suppress the engine noise too well. The petrol motor has a lot of vibrations on startup and idle.

The low-end grunt isn’t a strong point for the petrol motor and you will need frequent downshifts to keep the revs in the mid-range where the actual performance lies. The peak torque is generated at a relatively high 3500rpm; you really need to step on it to extract any sort of performance. The engine is quite peppy when kept on the boil, though, nowhere close to that of the Swift.

Outright performance simply isn’t the petrol motor’s cup of tea. It will cruise at 100kmph all day long, but progress beyond that is slow. This engine is best suited to the confines of the city and it does feel strained on the highways.

Performance Comparison (Petrol)

Hyundai Grand i10 Ford Figo Maruti Swift Mahindra KUV100
Power 82bhp@6000rpm 86.8bhp@6300rpm 83.11bhp@6000rpm 82bhp@5500rpm
Torque (Nm) 114Nm@4000rpm 112Nm@4000rpm 115Nm@4000rpm 115Nm@3500-3600rpm
Engine Displacement (cc) 1197 1196 1197 1198
Transmission Manual Manual Manual Manual
Top Speed (kmph) 165 Kmph 157 Kmph 160 kmph 160 kmph
0-100 Acceleration (sec) 12.9 Seconds 15.7 Seconds 12.3 Seconds 14.5 seconds
Kerb Weight (kg) - 1040-1130kg 965kg -
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI) 18.9kmpl 18.16kmpl 20.4kmpl 18.15kmpl
Power Weight Ratio - 83.46153846153847 bhp/ton 86.12435233160622 bhp/ton -

Ride and Handling

The KUV100 NXT gets no structural alterations or changes to the suspension. It still rides and handles like before and while it’s no enthusiast-pleaser, it does well for general point A to point B transport duties.

Mahindra KUV100 NXT

Parking or taking quick U-turns are quite easy and they’re one-handed affairs. It does weigh up nicely as you speed up. The steering isn’t particularly communicative though. This is a tall-hatchback and behaves like one too. Throw it into a corner and there’s evident body-roll, and since the steering won’t tell you much, it’s best to not get overzealous in the ghats.

Mahindra KUV100 NXT

The little Mahindra gets disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear. The brakes bite in very early and stopping power is adequate. However, there is a certain amount of nosedive under braking.

The suspension on the KUV100 is on the softer side. While this does cushion out most of the bumps and undulations on the road, it also manages to toss the passengers around a fair bit. For example, going over a speedbreaker at around 10kmph saw all occupants in the car sway side to side. As you’d expect, it’s a comfort-centric setup and not one that prioritises dynamics.

Mahindra KUV100 NXT

To summarise, the KUV100 NXT, like its predecessor, does just fine for the city and the occasional highway stint. Just don’t push it too hard and you won’t have much reason to complain.

Safety

Mahindra has cut down on the number of variants and focused on offering safety variants directly. Like before, ABS with EBD comes as standard on every variant of the KUV100 NXT, and save for the base K2, all versions get dual front airbags too. The K6+ and K8 get speed-sensing auto-door locks, an anti-theft alarm and auto hazard light activation under panic braking or when the bonnet is opened. Exclusive to the K8 are rear parking sensors and ISOFIX child seat mounts.  

Variants

The Mahindra KUV100 NXT is available in 5 variants – K2, K2+, K4+, K6+ and K8. All versions come with a 6-seater arrangement as standard, while save for the K2/K2+, all variants can be had with a 5-seater layout on a made-to-order basis.

Even if you’re on a tight budget, we recommend settling for nothing less than the K2+. It costs a little under Rs 30,000 over the base K2 but adds dual front airbags and seatbelt warning for the driver’s seat. It’s a small investment that goes a long way in enhancing your safety. 

Otherwise, this is a very basic variant and while you do get body-coloured bumpers, skid plates and a rear spoiler, the only luxuries here are air-conditioning and tilt-adjustable power steering. There is no music system, nor are there any speakers. For fleet operations, this variant will do just fine.

The K4+ adds body-coloured door handles, full wheel covers (instead of partial covers), the power/eco drive modes (diesel only) and fabric instead of vinyl upholstery. It also adds a height-adjustable driver’s seat, a folding rear seat, adjustable front row headrests, power windows, central locking and a day/night interior rearview mirror. For nearly half a lakh more than the K2+, the KUV100 K4+ does add some nice to have features but it is slightly expensive for the goodies added.

The K6+ costs around Rs 85,000 over the K4+ and adds features like the 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, 4 speakers, steering-mounted audio and phone controls, the electronic AC control unit, dual chamber headlamps, wing mirrors with integrated indicators and the auto start/stop function (micro-hybrid). It also gets a remote key, electrically-adjustable mirrors, a driver information system, rear washer/wiper/defogger and auto-door locks, among other features. The K6+ is where the Mahindra KUV100 facelift’s premium features are offered and while the premium over the K4+ is heavy, the features added are good value.

So, then, should you spend more and gets the K8? Additional features here include front fog lamps, 15-inch alloy wheels, all-black interiors, in-built navigation in the touchscreen infotainment system, 2 tweeters and daytime running LEDs. You also get electrically-folding mirrors, a rear armrest, adjustable rear head restraints, a cooled glovebox and rear parking sensors, among other features. It is also the only variant offered with ISOFIX child seat mounts.

For a premium of less than Rs 40,000, we recommend you get the K8 over the K6+, if your budget permits. It really bumps up the feel good factor and for around Rs 7,500 more than the standard K8, you can get the KUV100 NXT with a black roof and pillars, making the car look a lot cooler.

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*Ex-showroom price

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