Mahindra XUV300 Petrol AMT: Observations after a day’s drive

In addition to these, for the AMT, you get some unique features like ‘Drive & Reverse Lock Out’ which restricts sudden shifts between reverse and drive modes if the vehicle speed is above 5 kmph and ‘creep disable on door opening’ which essentially prevents the vehicle from moving if the door is open.

Mahindra XUV300 Petrol AMT Review

  • The Mahindra XUV300 is a car that we were mighty impressed with, when it launched two years ago. It was a premium crossover with a good set of engines and sorted handling characteristics, but didn’t have any automatic transmission options at the time of launch. In September 2019, Mahindra introduced the diesel AMT automatic, while this petrol AMT has been launched recently. Not a great plan! Here’s a detailed article by GTO explaining why it’s important to offer the right engines + AT gearboxes + variants at the time of launch – click here to read it.
  • Prior to the launch of the petrol AMT, there were plenty of rumours suggesting that the XUV300 would get a conventional torque-converter slushbox (related thread) for the 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine. Sadly, Mahindra has gone with an AMT. Let me say upfront that an AMT does NOT suit a premium car like the XUV300.
  • The AMT unit has been developed in collaboration with Marelli (previously known as Magneti Marelli). And in the top-end W8(O) variant, you get all the features from the manual variant like ESP, hill-hold assist, rollover mitigation etc. In addition to these, for the AMT, you get some unique features like ‘Drive & Reverse Lock Out’ which restricts sudden shifts between reverse and drive modes if the vehicle speed is above 5 kmph and ‘creep disable on door opening’ which essentially prevents the vehicle from moving if the door is open.
  • Along with the AMT unit, Mahindra has also tweaked the variant lineup by adding the electric sunroof from the W6 variant onwards (it was earlier available only on the W8(O) variant).
  • In an attempt to keep up with the competition and changing times, the XUV300 now gets Bluesense Plus connected car tech on the top W8(O) variant. There are 40+ connected car features; however, you do miss out on some key ones like remote engine start/stop, and remote climate control that you get in some competitors (Hyundai Venue and Kia Sonet).
  • The compact crossover space is very crowded and now, almost everyone offers an automatic option of some form. While most of them offer smooth conventional automatic transmissions (Kia Sonet, Hyundai Venue, Maruti Vitara Brezza, Ford EcoSport and Nissan Magnite), the Mahindra XUV300 and Tata Nexon are the only two cars that come with AMT automatics. Just 4% of BHPians voted for the AMT in a poll on ATs.
  • The petrol AMT is available in two variants – W6 @ Rs 9.95 lakh and the top-end W8(O) @ Rs. 11.77 lakh. At these prices, the AMT commands a premium of approximately Rs. 50,000 odd over the MT. More importantly, it makes the XUV300 AMT costlier than the Ford EcoSport, Hyundai Venue and Maruti Vitara Brezza, all of which have superior conventional automatic transmissions. Mahindra is going to have a hard time finding customers for the AMT at this price.
  • While the direct competition for the XUV300 petrol AMT is the AT competition, Hyundai and Kia’s Intelligent Manual Transmission (aka iMT) has been gaining some ground in the recent days.
  • Price & specs, relative to the competition:

Mahindra XUV300 1.2 Turbo Petrol Automatic (AMT) Review in the City

  • The XUV300 petrol is powered by Mahindra’s in-house developed 1,197cc, 3-cylinder turbocharged engine. This is essentially a reworked & turbocharged version of the 1.2L unit found in the KUV100. It features variable valve timing and produces a healthy 109 BHP (@ 5,000 rpm) and 200 Nm (2,000 – 3,500 rpm). In two words, the petrol motor is “damn good”.
  • Despite it being a 3-cylinder, very few vibrations come into the cabin. At idling, you can barely hear the engine and there are no vibrations felt anywhere. The refinement is certainly impressive! Not many will be able to tell that it’s a 3-cylinder engine, whether at idle or on the move.
  • The AMT gear shifter has a unique arrangement. It’s a good design differentiator and GTO found it to be user-friendly too. The gear lever remains in the centre position and you can shuffle through all the gear modes with a single movement. Left is for Automatic (once more for manual mode), neutral is one tap right and reverse is right + below (very much like the H pattern manual gearbox in some cars). Once in manual mode, upshifts are a tap upwards (away from the driver) and the downshifts are downwards (towards the driver). It takes a little time getting used to this, yet we will say it is a very nice pattern chosen by Mahindra.

  • Glad to see a dead pedal provided for the AMT variant (it is missing on the manual variant – reference image). My shoe size is UK10 and I found it to be comfortable.

  • Take your foot off the brake pedal and the car starts creeping forward. For someone who is used to driving a conventional automatic, you will instantly notice that the creep function isn’t very smooth. The car moves forward a bit too sharply if you take your foot off quickly, so you have to be careful. Especially in a tight parking spot when you need to make progress by inching forward slowly, you have to be extra careful.
  • Hill-hold is a feature that’s offered on the top-end W8(O) variant, along with ESP and rollover mitigation. And it works very well while going up a steep incline in the XUV300 AMT. Brakes hold the car in place and avoid rolling back as intended. However, on a not-so-steep incline that I tried (garage entrance), the car rolled backwards slowly! We found this weird & unpredictable.
  • The high torque in 1st gear and spiky throttle response need getting used to while driving in city traffic. A short 1st gear means that the AMT upshifts early and you feel that shift in the cabin with a typically annoying AMT headnod. Due to the AMT’s inherent weaknesses and the turbo petrol’s peaky power delivery, the XUV300 can get quite jerky in traffic conditions where your speed is continuously varying between 0-25 kmph.
  • Driving around at city speeds and letting the AMT unit shift up by lifting off the throttle slightly, you can improve the drive quality. As is with all AMTs, and especially with this peaky turbo petrol, it is preferred to be gentle with throttle input at low speeds. Don’t get too aggressive, else it becomes very jerky. Be gentle and gradual with your throttle inputs, so that you & your passengers are happier.
  • Drivers moving from a manual transmission to this car might still be okay with the AMT. But for someone who has driven a CVT, DSG or torque converter AT, the jerkiness in the city is a deal-breaker for sure.
  • One good thing about this engine is, because of the power on tap, a jerky downshift is not always required. We were cruising at a moderate speed of 50-60 kmph and wanted to overtake. Pressed the accelerator and the gearbox didn’t downshift. Instead, it held the gear and got through the overtake easily without any jerkiness, in the same gear! The turbo-petrol has enough punch in its mid-range to pull you through in the same gear.
  • For the AMT variant, Mahindra has skipped the idling start/stop system. The system essentially switches off the engine when it’s idling (about 4 seconds after the clutch pedal is released) to save fuel. While the fuel-conscious crowd would have liked this feature in the AMT as well, we find the feature annoying & are happy with its absence.
  • Once your speeds cross 80 kmph, you won’t have as much of a problem with the AMT. Things start to get better.

Mahindra XUV300 1.2 Turbo Petrol Automatic (AMT) Review on the Highway

  • On the open road is where this engine comes into its own. Yes, there were reports of a more powerful 128 BHP direct injection turbo petrol engine coming (related thread), but this 109 BHP, 1.2 turbo petrol is potent too. It is a quick car that won’t leave you wanting for power in any situation.

  • Unlike the jerky low-speed behaviour in the city, at highway speeds, you won’t have a problem with the AMT. In fact, you will enjoy the XUV300 on the expressway because of its power, stability, fast performance and the fact that gearshifts in higher gears are better.
  • Outright acceleration from a standstill is impressive. This may be one of the fastest AMTs on sale in India. You will be doing silly speeds without even realising it!
  • Cruising in the XUV300 is a comfortable affair. What makes things better is that the 120 kmph speed warning beep is so subtle, you will barely hear it when playing music.
  • Overtaking needs planning as the gearbox can take its time to downshift. Keep some gap, or engage manual mode & downshift before overtaking. Manual mode gives you a little more control during overtakes.
  • Low speed ride quality is compliant & mature. Small bumps are absorbed well, but keep in mind that Mahindra has raised this car compared to the Tivoli, so they would have to firm things up a bit. Plus, it runs on 17” wheels. There is a bit of a firm side to the ride which you will feel on bad roads & large potholes. Owners won’t complain as it is overall compliant, but not plush like the WR-V. Equally, we might add that the suspension is more comfortable than most of its direct rivals (EcoSport, Nexon). The ride improves as the speedometer climbs. It is comfortable on the expressway. Must be noted that our test vehicle was running on 17″ wheels, while lesser variants get 16″ rims with taller rubber. The ride quality on those will be cushier. The suspension hardware functions silently too, with no unpleasant noises heard.
  • Being a monocoque crossover, the XUV300 is car-like to drive. Owners will appreciate this in the city & on long journeys alike. Out on the highway, straight line stability is good, even well into triple digit speeds. It doesn’t get bouncy over bumps or road undulations either. Grip levels are satisfactory and the car remains composed through fast corners. Some body roll is there, yet it’s controlled and there are no scary surprises. That said, in the area of handling, the EcoSport remains the segment-best. The Mahindra does not have that absolute composure & poise of the Ford (I also found the EcoSport’s steering to be the sharper one). As with all Mahindras, this one is rough-road friendly. You won’t see yourself slowing down for rough patches, broken bits of road or dirt tracks. The XUV300 feels abuse-happy and there’s a certain ruggedness evident when tackling rural roads.
  • All-wheel disc brakes make a huge difference in the stopping capabilities of the XUV300. Emergency braking situations are handled extremely well without any drama. Added bonus – the XUV300 also gets ‘emergency stop signal’ where your blinkers will turn on in case of an emergency stop. On the flip side, the sharp brakes at low speeds mean that you need to be extremely careful to stop smoothly. The slightest of taps and the car just stops, so you’ll need some time getting used to the very-sensitive brake pedal.
  • All in all, with a punchy engine, more tolerable behaviour of the AMT unit at speed and sorted handling characteristics, the XUV300 Petrol AMT is an excellent expressway companion. In the city at low speeds though, it is jerky like the other AMTs.

We like the handsome face and will say that the XUV300 is a good-looking crossover. The width gives it a sweet stance too. We love the attention-to-detail = ORVMs fold out when you start the engine (not when you unlock the car, as is the traditional way):

Smart rear end:

AMT gets this tiny ‘autoSHIFT’ badge on the left:

Simple, single petrol badging on the fuel lid. Make sure you specify petrol to the fuel attendant. Had quite a scare when I pulled up to the fuel station and the attendant instinctively reached for the blue diesel hose. Mahindra = diesel to most people:

Nothing has changed on the inside as well, except for…

… the AMT gear lever. The gear lever has a basic design, yet it does feel sturdy and long-lasting:

At the launch (related link), Mahindra revealed that the sunroof will now be available from the W6 variant onwards:

Check out the BlueSense Plus connected car tech on the W8(O) petrol AMT variant. You can access these features via the Bluesense Plus mobile application for Android as well as iOS. It is powered by an embedded SIM that allows you to connect with the car remotely. There are 40-odd features that you can access through your phone like Remote Vehicle Control Features (Door lock / unlock, find my XUV300), location-based features (like Live Tracking & Sharing, Route Deviation), Safety & Security Features (like Geo Fencing, Emergency Assist), Vehicle Information Alerts (like Distance to empty, Tyre Pressure), and other features (like Infotainment Controls, Document Wallet):

Remote vehicle control features (the ones shown below) can be accessed only when the car is turned off. In order to perform some of the functions like ‘Horn & Blink’ or lock/unlock the doors, you need to enter a pin:

You can access the trips individually and get plenty of information like distance, average speed, top speed etc. The system will also record the number of times the speeding limit was crossed or if the engine was left on idle for too long. You can even set the timer and speed limit along with a radius for geofencing:

For the boss in the back seat, he/she can control the music and AC through the app as well. You can also keep a log of all the times you’ve refuelled:

The maps are provided by MapmyIndia and you can search for closeby ATMs, hospitals, restaurants and most importantly, Mahindra service stations. You can even make a list of all your favourite places within the app. There’s a document wallet option to store all the vehicle documents for easier access. And finally, there’s an E-manual that leads you to YouTube videos of how to get by various features within the application:

Continue reading the discussion on the Mahindra XUV300 Petrol AMT on our forum.

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