SUVs, be it sub-compact, mid-size, full-size, and everything in between, are all the rage now with customers preferring to purchase one over a sedan or a coupe, and Bangladesh is no stranger to this growing trend.
One merely needs to stop at a traffic signal (or visit Butlers on a Friday evening) to picture this trend to its fullest extent.
With Japanese SUVs of all sizes dominating the Bangladeshi market since, well forever, a handful of brands have tried to intercept this region and get a slice of that customer preference pie.
Mahindra is one such brand and their artillery to counter Japanese automakers comes in the form of the XUV300.
The XUV300 is based on the slightly larger SsangYong Tivoli and is marketed as one of the safest cars in India for both children and adult occupants, with the W8 being the top-of-the-line trim level that Mahindra offers for the XUV300 with a host of optional extras over the lesser trim levels.
On paper, for a price of just below Tk30 lakh, the XUV300 W8 certainly looks appealing.
It is powered by a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel with ample amount of torque and power for city and highway driving and is mated to a six-speed automated manual transmission (AMT) which Mahindra calls "AutoSHIFT".
The upholstering throughout the cabin felt premium for its class and the price it is being sold at. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, albeit wired, are also present and are definitely very exciting and something that vehicles, let alone subcompact SUVs at this price point do not offer.
However, it was not the phone connectivity options or the heated side mirrors, the tyre pressure monitoring system, and the "hill start assist" that took me by surprise, it was the fact that this subcompact SUV had a button to toggle between modes for the steering wheel that alters its weight and feel.
The interior is decently sized for adult occupants with there being abundance of headroom and legroom, and the sunroof further aids to the roominess of the interior. It comes with a decent boot space but a slightly bigger volume would have been even better.
Many individuals opine that diesel engines are very rough and sound like a truck, with the vibration from the engine entering the cabin and causing a rather unpleasant overall experience.
This is not incorrect; however, it only applies to older generation diesel engines that were fitted to old diesel cars. Modern diesel engines are much more refined and the 1.5-litre turbo diesel in the XUV300 W8 is nothing short of that.
The car struggles to gather speed in first gear, however, it quickly recovers and gains pace from second gear and onwards. Most of the torque and power lies in the midrange which is great for city driving in our country.
However, one thing to note is the noticeable lag or a delayed engagement between gear changes that occurs due to the XUV300 W8's AMT; the vehicle momentarily bogs down before picking up speed again. This is very evident when shifting from first gear to second but smooths out from second gear onwards.
I tested out the button that toggles the changeable steering feel and to my amazement, it works perfectly. It comes with three modes - normal, comfort and sport. Normal and comfort felt exactly the same; the steering was light and the connection between the road, front wheels, and steering wheel was rather ambiguous.
However, the sport mode significantly changes the steering feel and makes it weighty and more direct. It makes you want to chuck the car into whichever space it can fit in. To no one's surprise, I left the steering feel in sport mode for the rest of the test drive.
The brakes are quite sensitive - a little jab goes a long way; however, you get used to it fairly quickly.
The suspension is soft and soaks up the ever-present bumps and potholes nicely without giving you spinal trauma. But this also makes the XUV300 W8 handle as one would expect it to handle, although, the audience that this subcompact SUV is being targeted towards should not be swayed by this rather trivial matter.
The driving position is comfortable and it is also a cosy car to be chauffeured around in. The horn sounds pretty good too, if that is your thing.
For the price of Tk28,50,000 lakh and numerous features it comes with, the XUV300 W8 seems like a rather interesting contender in our subcompact SUV market. being offered by Rancon Autos Ltd.
If you are in the market for a subcompact SUV, and if you spend a majority of your time being chauffeured around and the country of origin is not an issue to you, the XUV300 W8 is a vehicle you can definitely consider short listing when hunting for a subcompact crossover.