Exclusive: Mahindra XUV300 vs. Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Ford EcoSport And Tata Nexon

The newest subcompact SUV to enter one of the fastest growing segments in the market is the Mahindra XUV300. In this epic shootout it battles the most obvious yet strong rivals. So who will come out on top?

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The Mahindra XUV300 is currently offered only with a 6-speed manual transmission

The Mahindra XUV300 has joined what is possibly the most relevant and hottest segment in India right now - the subcompact SUV. Yes, everybody seems to want one and since the Mahindra XUV300 has just driven in, the customary thing to always do, is to pit it against what the segment currently offers. So we have to put it in the boxing ring with the Ford EcoSport, Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, and the Tata Nexon. I want to make a point here about how typically when anybody brings a new entrant, you can always say that it's a huge leap over the rest as it improves past benchmarks. The subcompact SUV segment though has seen a field of very capable, strong products that fight on a near even footing - at least in product terms. And so the XUV300 has a lot to beat. After all, from being a one-horse race just a short few years ago, the subcompact SUV segment has grown into a crowded space. Mahindra itself has had three sub 4 metre outings in the past with the Quanto (turned NuvoSport), TUV300 and KUV100. But those Mahindra models have a very specific demographic they go after and so don't truly compete in this very urban space (and to be fair the KUV100 is a much smaller, different segment player).

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The Mahindra XUV300 enters the ring with very capable subcompact SUVs 

Mahindra XUV300

9.27 Lakh * On Road Price (New Delhi)
Mahindra XUV300

So in the fray are the Ford EcoSport - that has for long been our segment benchmark, then there's that highest selling, most popular car - the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, the car with the better AMT and highest safety certification - the Tata Nexon. And while the older models all have automatic variants, the Mahindra XUV300 has been launched manual-only. And the Vitara Brezza does not have a petrol variant, while all the rest do. Maruti has been toying with introducing a petrol, but owing to incessant demand for the current offering, and overall capacity crunch - has had to delay it indefinitely. Now since each of these cars is solid in its own way, let's compare the new car to each one, shall we?

Ford EcoSport vs. Mahindra XUV300

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The Ford EcoSport still looks contemporary compared to the newly launched XUV300

First up - the Ford EcoSport, which received its facelift at the end of 2017. The car still looks bold, modern and contemporary. The choice of engines includes the two 3 cylinder petrols - the 1 litre or 1.5 litre, and the 1.5 litre diesel.

 

EcoSport 1.5 Petrol EcoSport 1.0 GTDi EcoSport TDCi
1497 cc 999 cc 1498 cc
120.5 bhp @ 6500 rpm 122.5 bhp @ 6000 rpm 98 bhp @ 3750 rpm
150 Nm @ 4500 rpm 170 Nm @ 1500-4500 rpm 205 Nm @ 1750-3250 rpm
5-Speed Manual
6-Speed AT 6-Speed Manual 5-Speed Manual
XUV300 Turbo Petrol XUV300 Turbo Diesel
1197 cc 1497 cc
110 bhp @ 5000 rpm 115 bhp @3750 rpm
200 Nm @ 2000-3500 rpm 300 Nm @ 1500-2500 rpm
6-Speed Manual 6-Speed Manual

 

On the inside both cars get well appointed cabins. The plastic and fit on the EcoSport is better as is that touchscreen - possibly the single biggest USP of this car's cabin. Sync 3, better graphics, and a more intuitive screen itself, the EcoSport scores big on this. But the XUV's got more features and gadgets on the whole, including dual zone AC and plenty more. Read our full review to find out.

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The Ford EcoSport gets Sync 3, better graphics, and a more intuitive screen itself

On the road is where the EcoSport's prowess has always stood tall though. Yes the Ford EcoSport had always had it down pat when it came to handling - nice and sporty, with a really nice tight steering that's very precise. Visually it always seems like a car that would have a lot of body roll, but it keeps that in check too. Add to that the slightly sportier, edgier engine, which is the Ecoboost or 1.0 GTDi and things start to look up. And you get a credible automatic option as well; though that is only on the 1.5 petrol variant.

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The Ford EcoSport's handling is nice and sporty, with a really nice tight steering that's very precise.

So, the point is this car seems to be the performance package - especially when it came to handling. When it came to ride quality - you could also argue that some others were also pretty good, but now on the XUV, I think it is the ride quality that will probably be the big differentiator. And it is.

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The Mahindra XUV300's is less sporty than the EcoSport but handles quite well

The more car-like feel makes for very comfortable driving. The XUV's suspension is also well tuned and the car handles quite well too. Perhaps a bit less sporty than the EcoSport, but the adjustable stiffness settings on the steering makes up for that in some measure. Throw in a really fun to drive petrol option and things look up even more for the Mahindra model.

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs. Mahindra XUV300

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The Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza is the segment leader of the subcompact SUV segment

Unlike some of the Maruti designs, which have tried too hard - the A Star, and dare I say, even the new Swift - there are no gimmicks on this new design. It's a really clean, well-executed design, and that's why it's really going to age really well. This car will always look contemporary because it is the quintessential SUV. Now you might argue Maruti played too safe with that, but then that's where the twist comes in - right from word go you had the customisation options, and the contrast roof options (black roof on some colours, white on some), and a host of other things that you could do with Maruti's i-Create option.

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The Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza only comes with the diesel engine

So everything from decals to chrome embellishments - and a bunch of stuff on the inside. That's what keeps the appeal of this car sky high. Now on the Tivoli, the car on which the XUV300 has been based, the styling is rather gimmicky, and that's one design I dare say will not age very well. The good part is they have taken some of the drama off the face, while giving it the 'Cheetah' elements; and yet kept styling a bit muted, while also providing the classic SUV silhouette. The proportion does the rest and so, yes the styling on the XUV300 works too. But in my opinion, the Vitara Brezza is still the more attractive car.

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Maruti Suzuki sells close to 14000 units of the Vitara Brezza on an average every month

The Vitara Brezza is also the undisputed champion of the segment. Maruti has sold 80,745 Vitara Brezzas in just the last 6 months (Aug'18 to Jan'19). Tata sold 27,116 Nexons and Ford sold 21,690 EcoSports in the same period. Mahindra though managed only 9,432 units of the TUV300. So you can see why there was a need for the XUV300, right? If Mahindra can get to selling about 8-10,000 XUV300s a month - it will race past Maruti in the segment overall - and perhaps regain its lost UV leader crown. But that is all in the realm of conjecture, so back to reality eh?

Vitara Brezza DDiS 200
1248 cc
89 bhp@ 4000 rpm
200 Nm @1750 rpm
5-Speed Manual/AMT
XUV300 Turbo Petrol XUV300 Turbo Diesel
1197 cc 1497 cc
110 bhp @ 5000 rpm 115 bhp @3750 rpm
200 Nm @ 2000-3500 rpm 300 Nm @ 1500-2500 rpm
6-Speed Manual 6-Speed Manual
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The Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza returns a fuel economy of more than 24 kmpl

The XUV comes across as a segment higher product in terms of fit, finish, features, equipment and build. Yet one cannot ignore the ride height, stance and efficiency of the Vitara Brezza. And its black alloy wheels at the top end are pretty cool. Its 24.3 kmpl mileage is higher than the expected 21 kmpl on the XUV's diesel. But the XUV is better to drive, and more confident in its cornering and higher speed cruising - by quite a mile.

Tata Nexon vs. Mahindra XUV300

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The Tata Nexon is youthful in its design 

The Tata Nexon has been the surprise package in so many ways. It has both fuel types, AMT on both as well, and comes loaded with a fair number of features. Yes the car also has a few gimmicks up its sleeves including the dial to allow you to drive in three different drive modes (Eco, City, Sport). Its boot is generous and overall the car looks urban, pretty and impressive. Who'd have thought I'd be saying this about a Tata car, but I am glad I get to say the Nexon's layout in terms of the design, the materials and also the finishes (not necessarily the plastic quality) is really refreshing! Because it looks so different, it really stands out. I would have liked a slightly bigger screen, but the touchscreen itself works quite well and you get all the basic things that everybody wants including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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The seats of the Nexon are very well designed

The instruments could have again been a little snazzier and hipper - like you do get on some of the other cars. The seats though are really well designed, nicely contoured and have got a classy understated print too which never happens really at this price point. So I have to say this cabin gives me this young vibrant sort of a feel that you don't always get from the others. But the good part on the XUV300 is that while the Nexon kind of plays on young, the XUV300 while not as vibrant, is classier, more sophisticated and upmarket.

Nexon Revotron Nexon Revotorq
1198cc 1497cc
108bhp@5000 rpm 108 bhp@3750 rpm
170Nm @1750-4000 rpm 260 Nm@1500-2750 rpm
6-Speed Manual/AMT 6-Speed Manual/AMT
XUV300 Turbo Petrol XUV300 Turbo Diesel
1197 cc 1497 cc
110 bhp @ 5000 rpm 115 bhp @3750 rpm
200 Nm @ 2000-3500 rpm 300 Nm @ 1500-2500 rpm
6-Speed Manual 6-Speed Manual

 

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The Tata Nexon's AMT is the best of the lot - smoothest shifts and quickest response.

And yes as I have already said the XUV has many first in segment features - 7 airbags and front parking sensors, disc brakes on all wheels, seat belt reminders for all passengers (with 3 point seatbelts for all as well), amongst many others. Most of that is at the top end of course. While we have no crash test rating, given its platform and build we expect a good performance. That being said the Vitara Brezza has 4 stars and the Nexon has 5 from Global NCAP. The Nexon's AMT is the best of the lot - smoothest shifts and quickest response. Interesting fact - the Vitara Brezza, Nexon and now the XUV300 will all have the same supplier for the AMT - Magneti Marelli!

Prices

And now a look at the prices for all the cars. The EcoSport has a slew of variants that are priced between ₹ 7.82 lakh and ₹ 11.89 lakh. The Vitara Brezza starts at ₹ 7.67 lakh for the base LDI and goes all the way to ₹ 10.64 lakh for the two tone ZDI+ AMT variant. The Nexon has the most attractive prices. The base petrol manual starts at ₹ 6.36 lakh while the diesel XZA+ top trim with dual tone roof and AMT is priced at ₹ 10.80 lakh. That puts the XUV300 a notch higher. Prices start at ₹ 7.90 lakh for the petrol W4 and go to ₹ 11.99 lakh for the W8 option pack diesel. But please keep in mind the AMT variants will only add to these prices when they arrive later this year.

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The Mahindra XUV300 is pricier than the Nexon and the Vitara Brezza but undercuts the EcoSport

Verdict

Alright so now you know everything, which means it's down to the verdict. When it comes to performance, sporty handling, and nice ride quality - the EcoSport always kind of cornered that end of the market - and now more so with its S and Signature variants. The good news is that the two engines we have with the XUV, well they kind of give you some of that as well. The highest torque in the segment helps, overall performance is smooth as we have already told you. Safety has become the buzzword when it comes to the Nexon, but it's not just about that. The cabin layout is very trendy and young, and for what it's worth you get the gimmicks like the driving modes.

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The Mahindra XUV300 main rival in the segment is the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza

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Now you have the three steering modes on the XUV, and the interior layout is very swanky and upmarket. And then of course there is the bestseller - the mighty Vitara Brezza. Regardless of what I say here, it will continue to sell in massive numbers, so what is the point of that? And if you think it's going to get a bit of jaded, don't forget Maruti still has to launch the petrol version of this car, and do a facelift at some point soon enough - so there is still lot more that can happen with the Vitara Brezza. Don't count it out in any regard. But still having said that - the XUV300 also does many things for many people on styling and pretty much every other department. The fact that it can meticulously counter each individual strength or USP of each of the rival cars, means it manages to very keenly take this entire shootout. Yes the Mahindra XUV300 is our winner. But with Hyundai, Kia, MG, Renault and others lining up products in the same segment - this space will continue to hot up over the next few months!

     Mahindra XUV300         Ford EcoSport             Tata Nexon Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza
Variants P D Variants P D Variants P D Variants D
W4 ₹ 7.90 lakh ₹ 8.49 lakh Trend ₹ 8.56 lakh ₹ 9.16 lakh XE ₹ 6.36 lakh ₹ 7.40 lakh LDi ₹ 7.67 lakh
W6 ₹ 8.75 lakh ₹ 9.30 lakh Trend Plus - ₹ 9.56 lakh XM ₹ 7.12 lakh ₹ 8.05 lakh VDi ₹ 8.19 lakh
W8 ₹ 10.25 lakh ₹ 10.80 lakh Trend Plus AT ₹ 9.76 lakh - XMA (AMT) ₹ 7.72 lakh ₹ 8.61 lakh VDi AGS ₹ 8.69 lakh
W8 (O) ₹ 11.44 lakh ₹ 11.99 lakh Titanium ₹ 9.55 lakh ₹ 10 lakh XT ₹ 7.73 lakh ₹ 8.75 lakh ZDi ₹ 8.96 lakh
      Titanium Plus ₹ 10.52 lakh ₹ 11.04 lakh XZ ₹ 8.20 lakh ₹ 9.20 lakh ZDi AGS ₹ 9.46 lakh
      Titanium Plus AT ₹ 11.36 lakh - XZ + ₹ 9.02 lakh ₹ 9.90 lakh ZDi + ₹ 9.92 lakh
      Ambiente ₹ 7.82 lakh ₹ 8.41 lakh XZ+ (Dual Tone) ₹ 9.22 lakh ₹ 10.10 lakh ZDi+ AGS ₹ 10.42 lakh
      Signature ₹ 10.40 lakh ₹ 10.99 lakh XZA+ (AMT) ₹ 9.62 lakh ₹ 10.60 lakh    
      S ₹ 11.37 lakh ₹ 11.89 lakh XZA+ (Dual Tone) ₹ 9.83 lakh ₹ 10.80 lakh    

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