Mahindra XUV 3XO review

Hitting where it hurts the competition

₹ 15,40,000


Riding high on the wave of revenue, making it the second latest auto brand in India, Mahindra is pulling out all stops with its upcoming EV range of cars. But until then, the hottest segment remains the fiercely competitive compact SUV territory and Mahindra’s attack was running a bit weak with the XUV300. Enter the heavily facelifted XUV 3XO, a fresh nomenclature for a very fresh looking face. That’s a polite term actually, but you can draw you own conclusions to Mahindra’s new design language. It’s certainly edgy, quirky, funky and eye catching in the leading car’s ORVMs, but pretty, it ain’t.

Mahindra XUV 3XO review: Design

Thanks to the stiff competition, the “must-haves” list in the compact SUV segment has seen some shifts. It needs to look butch, different and imposing and the new C-shaped DRLs defining the edges of the front end certainly exude those qualities. Offset by a subtle diamond pattern on the gloss black grille and a chunky bumper does well to meet the expectations  Pratap Bose, Mahindra’s Head of Design has an acute sense of proportions and his demand for 17in wheels wasn’t ignored by the management. That’s the only big change to the side profile but the infinity connected tail light bar is what gives the 3XO the sense of width from the rear. It is in fact the widest cabin in its class and this design motif certainly helps drive that point home. 

On the inside, the refreshed cabin gets a lot of firsts too. Amongst our favourite is the soft-touch leatherette finish on the top half of the dashboard and door cards. Along with the contrast double stitching, it lends instant premiumness to the 3XO. There was no mention of ambient lighting, which would’ve elevated the look even further at night. The design and quality of the buttons lack the consistency of some of the international competitors. The slim buttons that handle the Drive Modes, traction and passenger airbag indicators feel cheap and are incongruous with the oversized AC controls in terms of design. 

Tech is where a lot of the changes have been made and it’s instantly visible in the form of twin 10.2in screens in the top-end AXL variant that we were driving. Borrowing elements from the flagship XUV700, the smaller XUV 3XO caters to the demographic that desires all the features but doesn’t require the large dimensions that are typically associated with “fully loaded” SUVs. In fact, the XUV 360 is the first C-SUV to get Level-2 ADAS, including the now familiar suite of active safety features that are associated with it. Lane Keep Assist, Blind-View Monitor, Forward Collision Warning , Auto Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Smart Pilot Assist, High Beam Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition and more are part of the suite. Mahindra has also thrown in a 360-degree surround view cam with great resolution to make it even easier for first time buyers. Relax, we’re not looking at you.

Adrenox, the in-house operating system that powers modern Mahindras is very much at the core of the infotainment system but due to our vehicles being pre-production vehicles, certain things such as Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto or the Adrenox app for iOS weren’t still functional, but trust Mahindra to have that sorted by the time it gets to dealer stockyards. There’s also a fast charging 65W USB-C port if you have power hungry devices. 

The resolution of the 10.2in infotainment screen is crisp with large and well separated panels for media, navigation etc and then additional settings can be called up by swiping up and down from the top and bottom edges. Built-in apps, vehicle settings and a whole lot more can be accessed via these control panels. Mahindra’s attention to detail even extends to the Adrenox app that uses similar colour schemes as the main unit and breeding familiarity. It gets all the tasks done, but we did experience a bit of lag in operation time, especially while switching through different drive modes. It just takes a second longer than it should and in the process, you end up with multiple taps or button presses.

Pairing with Harman Kardon instead of Sony this time, the 3XO has a 7-speaker, 380W sound system that, replete with DSP modes like Stage, Retreat, Wide Sonic and a Bass enhancer feature. Again, at the time of writing, most of these features were still locked out or under final stages of development so toggling between them didn’t make any audible difference, but the inherent sound quality even without any of the embellishments sounded underwhelming. It lacks the body and refinement of rival systems from Bose. At highway speeds, the road noise in the cabin also drowned out most of the nuances and you have to resort to using the 9-band EQ to bring back some presence into the sound. It does play at max volume without breaking into distortion, but then again, it could also do with a bit more power. 

Mahindra seems to have resorted to more gimmicks than usual to capture attention. Sometimes, even to things that shouldn’t be calling out for it. Indicator sounds, warning chimes and buzzers are all way too loud and intrusive even at their lowest volume setting and there is no off setting. Certain functions like ADAS controls which you’d expect to be nestled on the main infotainment screen, are buried in the cluster. The cluster itself can cycle between three different styles of presentation but none of them really wow you with its brightness or graphics. 

Space is well managed on the inside with enough storage and even a boot that has a larger actual holding area than the competition. The seats are perforated but strangely miss out on ventilation for the front row. Maybe for some, the sizeable panoramic sunroof will make up for it.

Mahindra XUV 3XO review: Performance

Of the three engines on offer, our test car was equipped with the range-topping option of a 1.2L turbo GDi and the 6-speed torque converter automatic transmission. It’s a fantastic powertrain that is potent and refined. Numbers are pretty explosive too, with 130hp and 230Nm of torque, with another 20Nm available via overboost. Out on the highway, the suspension set-up showed off its sophistication with a planted ride and very little body roll around fast bends. The power isn’t explosive in its acceleration, with a bit a lag until 1600RPM but thereafter, it builds speed and torque in a linear fashion that makes this a very rapid SUV.

Mahindra claims to have the best approach and departure angles, true to its SUV DNA but we couldn’t test that claim out, save for a short excursion off the main road. The 3XO does soak up bumps really well without any audible protest for the most part. The steering weighs up in Zoom mode, which is the sportiest of the three on offer but the brakes remain over-servoed and grabby at high speeds, having a steep learning curve in the art of modulation. If you want to potter around town though, this engine and gearbox combo is smooth and you’ll never feel the low-speed jerks that are so common in dual-clutch autos.

Mahindra XUV 3XO review: Conclusion

Designed to start conversations, the new Mahindra XUV 3XO certainly achieves its goal of standing out in a crowd. Especially in the new shade of Citrine Yellow, it has enough presence and we fielded enquiries from three different car owners during our drive! The interiors are a big improvement over the last gen, so is the tech with focus on safety. Four-wheel disc brakes, three point seat belts for all passengers, six airbags and a structure made to qualify for a 5-star crash rating, there is no skimping here. There are a lot of hits in terms of features and Mahindra’s calling card is the huge undercut in price compared to competitors equivalent models. Its design will be subjective but its performance is absolute, at least in the turbo+auto guise.

Stuff Says

A hot contender in the hottest segment, the Mahindra 3XO checks almost all the right boxes but will split opinion over its new face.
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Fresh design and fantastic rear-end

  1. Big improvement in cabin material quality

  1. Turbo engine and auto gearbox well mated

  1. Chimes and alerts too loud

  1. Graphics look a bit duddly

  1. Polarising front end looks

Engine: 1.2L Turbo Petrol
Transmission: 6-speed auto
Power: 130hp/230Nm
Wheels: 215/55 R17