If you happen to have a large family and if you are looking for a vehicle to ferry them around, then yes, you should consider the TUV300 Plus. Compared to the standard car, it’s roomier, more powerful and in our eyes, better looking as well. On the downside, the engine could have done with more power, middle-row with more knee-room. We would have also preferred having a conventional third-row of seats as compared to jump seats as they are both, more comfortable and safer.
If you need to make a revelation with one of your existing products, why not make it longer and more viable? That’s exactly what Mahindra has done with this new version of the TUV300 we had in our garage recently. It’s called TUV300 ‘Plus’ and as the familiar suffix would have you guess, it’s roomier and more practical than the standard car. Measuring 4.4m in length (400mm over the sub 4-meter TUV 300), the Plus can seat up to 9 occupants and as a result, is targeted purely at large families. Let’s see whether the extra row of seats and a bigger footprint help the TUV300 Plus strike a chord with the masses.
There is no getting away from the fact that the TUV300 Plus is huge. It’s 4.4m long and riding 1.8m off the ground, it towers above other road users and gets surprising amount of stares despite the mediocre design. Speaking of which, it looks exactly the same as the standard car – the only major difference, of course, is the added length. As for the rest, you get 16-inch wheels (compared to 15-inchers in the TUV300), a slightly different fog lamp housing and that’s about it.
How is it on the inside?
In terms of updates, there isn’t much to explore if you are familiar with the TUV300’s cabin. The design and layout of the dash remains the same for the Plus which means the not-so-nice materials continue with shiny hard plastics on the centre console and doors. The overall fit and finish leave a lot to be desired, especially if you consider similarly priced vehicles. Materials aside, there is a lot of room up front with plenty of open storage cubbies between the front seats. The seats itself are large and wide and the under thigh support is surprisingly good, too. You also get usable armrests which make long distance driving that little bit more relaxing.
So that’s the good bits. Unfortunately, space at the back is something that’s still a concern. Since the wheelbase remains unchanged, the TUV300 Plus isn’t any better and there is a serious legroom crunch even for average sized adults. We aren’t fans of the cushioning either as it’s too firm for everyday use. As for the jump seats at the back, Mahindra claims you can seat four passengers but that’s simply not possible because of the lack of legroom when either side of the jump seats are occupied. What’s also worth adding is that the latter don’t get seatbelts either because of the confronting layout.
When it comes to equipment, the top spec P8 version offers a good mix of features but it’s not exceptionally packed. You get faux leather seats, steering mounted controls, height adjustable driver’s seat, front seat armrest, rear parking sensor and a touchscreen infotainment system with a 4 speaker/2 tweeter setup. While the display looks crisp and reacts well to touch inputs, the audio quality is seriously lacking.
How does it drive?
The TUV300 Plus shares its ladder frame chassis and the 2.2-litre, four cylinder diesel motor with the Scorpio. That said, to compensate for the extra weight, Mahindra has dished out 20 more horsepower over the standard car – the TUV300 Plus delivers 120bhp and 280Nm through a 6 speed manual which sends power to the rear wheels. So how does it drive?
Starting off with the engine, it is surprisingly refined when you are doing city speeds and picks up revs in a smooth manner all the way till 3,000rpm, post which you can hear some diesel clatter. As for the actual go, it is effortless and pulls strongly till the midrange, exhibiting plenty of gusto while hauling the car forwards. Be it in the city or on the highway (until speeds of 120kmph or so), the torque build up is meaty and even with a full load of passengers, the TUV300 Plus never feels like its struggling. The 6-speed manual, meanwhile, also impresses with its light and precise shift action. The clutch is light, too, and easy to modulate meaning even newbies would be able to pull away from standstill without stalling or bunny-hopping this massive vehicle. The only downside to the driver-train are the long throws of the gearbox and the fact that there is no shift lock for reverse which happens to be right next to the first gear.
As for the ride and handling, the TUV300 Plus handles just fine around town, with a moderately heavy steering and good composure. At highway speeds, however, the steering feels imprecise and doesn’t give you the confidence to maintain triple digit speeds. The ride quality also gets a little bouncy at the rear end so if you go through a severe undulation at speed, there is a certain amount of dip and rebound. Having said that, if you keep it below the speed limits there is no questioning the incredibly cushy ride no matter how rough the road surface gets. It’s supple yet predictable and much like the Scorpio, manages to smother almost everything in its way. Of course, the lateral movements that are typical of a ladder-frame construction, are still there when you tackle bad roads but all said, there is no stopping this massive, big wheeled vehicle even if the road is riddled with potholes.
Should I buy one?
If you happen to have a large family and if you are looking for a vehicle to ferry them around, then yes, you should consider the TUV300 Plus. Compared to the standard car, it’s roomier, more powerful and in our eyes, better looking as well. Crucially, the ability to seat up to nine occupants (even if it’s a squeeze for the third row passengers) gives the Plus a strong point of difference in this price range, especially for rural buyers.
On the downside, it’s not the most polished offering for the price – the interior quality is below par and so is the second row comfort but if you are in the market for a rugged yet easy to drive people carrier that can take on bad roads with ease, the TUV300 Plus is probably your best bet.