Mahindra and Mahindra, a name synonymous to rugged SUVs has launched yet another Compact SUV, The Nuvo Sport. Nuvo Sport is primarily the facelifted version of their earlier model "Quanto" which was a mini XYLO since both XYLO and Quanto had almost similar front end design. So, as Quanto's sale began to fall and buyers turned towards more comfortable and Fun-to-drive alternatives, Mahindra's think tanks began to design a suitable alternative. With the launch of TUV-3OO, for once, I felt that Penninferina has done a good job but after seeing their latest offering, I actually was surprised. Now whether the surprise is pleasant or an unpleasant one shall be known in due course of this review. To be frank, at the launch of the Nuvo Sport, I was kind of confused since what is actually the target audience of this one? Mahindra has KUV (their MINI SUV) then TUV-3OO is there which also is compact SUV followed by Scorpio and XUV-5OO. May be at the point of time when the Indian market/buyers were not as conversant with the concept of sub-4m SUV, a vehicle like Quanto could survive but today, there has been a big change in the tastes of buyers and more importantly, the buyers are actually better informed today. The Nuvo-sport has been launched in 3 basic variants i.e N4, N6 & N8 and there are additional variants like N4+, N6 AMT and N8 AMT. The Nuvo Sport is offered in 6 color choices and 2 transmission options i.e 5 Speed AMT and 5 Speed Manual mated to a 1.5 L Diesel engine. However, even though all this is being offered, the question remains, If someone is a die-hard Mahindra fan, will he or she buy a Nuvo Sport over TUV-3OO?
Specs of some other Compact SUVs being offered by various other brands including Mahindra in India.
Just to recall, what the Quanto from Mahindra looked like!
Well to talk about the front end of the Nuvo Sport, that's perhaps according to me the only saving grace. The front of Nuvo Sport is far more aggressive than the Quanto's sub-lime front end. Keeping in line with the present tastes and expectations of the buyers, Mahindra has provided a aggressive front profile to this one. The headlamps and the DRL eyebrows translate into a more attention grabbing profile for the Nuvo Sport. The sleek grill thankfully hasn't been loaded with chrome tooth and looks pretty neat. The hood scoop, is not just ornamental, rather, as I am told, it functions well too to keep the engine cool. The front air-dam has the honey comb mesh and the skid plate which further add to the masculine front profile. Coming to the side profile, the all-round black cladding adds a more tough look to the Nuvo Sport in comparison to Quanto. For me, I feel, like we have a Elite i20 and an i20 Active with skid plates and cladding, same way apart from the obvious different front profile, the only thing that differentiates Nuvo Sport's exteriors from that of Quanto is the skid plates and the cladding. If Mahindra can market KUV-1OO as mini-SUV then they definitely can market this too as yet another compact SUV. But in my view, by adding this type of vehicle, in today's time, it is only going to confuse the buyers, clutter the model line up and cannibalization of the sales would happen no matter how small it might be. Finally, talking of the rear profile, the Nuvo Sport gets smoked tail lamps and roof mounted spoiler and apart from that there is nothing new to offer in comparison to Quanto. The rear profile remains just like Quanto with minor cosmetic tweaks only.
To begin, I am really disappointed with the interiors provided to Nuvo Sport. Comparing to TUV-3OO, they do not stand anywhere close. The plastic quality is average and at places you'll find part sharing from TUV in form of knobs and switches. The cabin is pretty unappealing to my liking. It is resembling to the cabin of Quanto to a great extent. Why Mahindra gave such plain interiors in top variant that is approx 10Lacs Ex-showroom is beyond understanding. What ever bit of interest that might generate from the exteriors of Nuvo Sport will vanish in no time once you see the interiors and compare it to the other offerings in market. Coming to space and seating, over here, It saves it's face. The cabin is spacious and the seats offer good headroom, rear legroom and knee room. The front seat are captain seats with separate arm-rests for each. The fabric and stitching of the seat is average at best. As the transmission tunnel is almost flat so a 3 pax might be accommodated too in 2nd row. Also, the rear seats in top variant get the arm-rest with integrated cup holders. Coming to the 3rd row, there are 2 seats there facing each other. The 3rd row seats are low and best to be used by teenagers or children. For long trips, adults should best avoid the 3rd row. Coming to the ingress and egress, as the cabin has been placed high so you'll need support of foot-boards to get-in and come-out. For a tall guy like me, it is easy to get-in and come-out but for ladies and elderly, it would be an issue without the foot-board. There are ample storage pockets and cup-holders in the cabin with integrated bottle holders too which can easily keep a 500ml Bottle to 1 Lt bottle in them. Another feature worth mentioning is, the 2nd row seats come with reclining feature in N8 and a 60:40 split too. This flexi seating in 2nd and the 3rd row seats ensure enhanced boot space and improved traveling comfort for passengers. However, the kind of summers that we have here in North India, I would have preferred a rear AC vent too in top variant which is absent and an eye sore for me. Finally, if you may compare the interiors to Quanto, you'll note a slight level of improvement but in comparison to segment's standards, the cabin feels out-dated and boring.
On this front, the AMT left me with mixed feelings. In the Auto Mode, the car is outright a below-average performer and in manual mode its performance in comparison is still much acceptable. To begin with upon cranking this 3 pot diesel mill, the idle NVH is also noticeable as at slight revving you'll hear the engine noise inside the cabin. On paper, its a 100 bhp and 240 Nm torque producing mill but the driving manners in Auto mode are actually very much questionable. The acceleration is sluggish and this Nuvo Sport lacks punch in auto mode. As always, I kept the driving speed in range of 70-80 km/h even in that much of speed the Auto mode lacked in performance but in same speed range the manual mode appeared comparatively better. So seeing this substantial difference of performance, I kept driving it in manual mode and that is where it began to perform bit acceptably. In low revv range of 1300-1800 rpm you'll be able to hear engine and I took it today to 4500 rpm so it was howling like wolf. Sheer shame. This SUV looses its steam once you take it beyond 4000 rpm. So it wont be wrong to say, It has poor top-end torque. I would say, this AMT transmission has made it a average product along with the mediocre engine. Absolutely incompetent transmission. We went through an underpass and on the incline at 30-50 km/h in 3rd gear (auto mode) with AC it was an uphill task for us. We were 2 guys and once I drove, I made the TD coordinator also drive it in Auto and Manual mode and even he was saying, there is big difference in Auto and Manual mode performance. The one thing you'll find pleasing in manual mode is the smooth acceleration. The pulling power in Auto mode is questionable but in manual mode, you can still live with it if you are considering just a A-to-B Commute. The 240 Nm of torque is best felt in Manual mode where in the Nuvosport decently drove out of the busy streets of Noida. So, in traffic it won't leave you much hassled provided you are in manual mode. Do not expect a A-grade performance from this engine. It at best can be termed as a "lazy work-horse". Coming to NVH, as stated, idle NVH is noticeable, even after many types of insulation the noise filters in the cabin and that is a bit unacceptable for a car that costs Ex-showroom 10 Lacs as top variant. Once you roll up the windows the noise mellows down but still not 100% gone. The NVH levels in my view could have been much better keeping the segment standards in mind. Many enthusiastic forums say TATA's NVH is poor, would request them to drive this one. I am not taking sides but honestly, a spade needs to called a spade and one has to be unbiased. This 1.5L diesel mill, as I told in my TUV-3OO test drive also, is kaam chalau. Coming to the transmission, from the time I drove TUV3OO manual and later on the AMT too, this AMT transmission is a tad bit more smooth than my earlier stint. However, the gear lever vibrates quite a bit and you'll soon realize what's under the hood. My observation on the gear lever was also accepted by 2 more gentlemen who had come to TD the Nuvosport. They went unhappy with the performance.. The AMT to me appears a half heart-ed move. Coming to the ride, though it has new chassis but from it's rivals, the Nuvo Sport lacks behind by miles. Too much of body roll and bumpy feel on undulated roads. At a speed of 30-40 km/h try making a sharp turn, you'll surely feel it. As I gradually increased the speed, I could feel there is lot of vibration inside the cabin which shows how poor R&D makes a product a metal wreck. As a passenger, I sat in the rear seat and it felt bouncy on potholes too which made me totally loose my interest and badly curse the suspension. A thorough re-work needed here. Coming to braking, the brakes aren't as accurate as needed. The car took time to stop from 40 km/h as the coordinator was driving. Coming to the steering, the unit is not precise and feels a quite weak. The steering feedback at a speed range of 80-100 km/h today on DND Flyway was not much confidence inspiring. Very mediocre high speed manner I must add. Finally, talk of the Tyre(s), my TD Car had Apollo 215 Section Tyre with 16" 10 Spoke Silver alloys. The alloy design was good and the grip of these Tyre(s) was good. But, on giving a closer look after ending the TD, I found the cladding in rear wheel arcs to be missing and this confirmed the reason why road noise was filtering inside the cabin and the NVH levels rising while in drive.
Great Review Aakash. I guess the nuvosport is just an addition in the line up and most the mahindra loyalist may take this home. Simply because pricing it close to TUV and TUV being a better product does not seem to make sense to me. The Front is good but rest of the car is not that good. Probably Pravin shah and team have read the market better and may surprise us with some great number even for this car.
A well deserved 5* for the review, not the vehicle.
I think the rationale for M&M launching this thing is to keep the customer in the showroom a la Maruti, cannibalization or not TUV is beginning to loose steam, lets see how things pan out for this company for the so called 3 SUV new launches.