For one day, the men became children who dreamed of being racing drivers. What followed was a crazy race to the finish!
What is the best way to launch a car with a powerful turbo gasoline engine, which already has one of those? Just call up Gaurav Gill and a bunch of journalists and play out your fantasy of buying him time on a temporary training course! Hilarious, I tell you. The car in question is the Mahindra XUV300, and if anyone remembers the lineup of TGDI engines that Mahindra showed off at Auto Expo 2020, this new XUV300 has one of those. The 1.2 liter unit to be precise. The transmission is a 6-speed manual, there are no automatics here. It’s almost as if Mahindra is telling you to have fun with this car. And fun, we had it.
Not much difference apart from the engine. You get red front grille and air dam inserts, blacked-out ORVMs, a new Blazing Bronze hue, black upholstery, and with that, back on the track.
Our goal for the day was simple. Mr. Gill was going to set a time on the course, and we would all have one reconnaissance lap and three timed laps to beat his time. I don’t know why I keep coming back to beat his time, because that wasn’t going to happen, not even in fantasyland. But it’s exciting to even think about doing it, and that was pretty much the theme of the day. It was a tight ride with the first half so tight you didn’t get out of first gear, and the second half required you to string together some quick sections in second gear to the finish line. The track was dusty and required you to use the handbrake liberally. The theory of this was quite simple. The actual act of doing it was not.
The beat time was 39.98 seconds, I was third in line. When I was ready to set my lap times, one of my colleagues was just 1.4 seconds off the time. If there was no pressure already, it had definitely arrived now. To top it off, as soon as I got close to the start line, it started to drizzle. I left the traction control on for my reconnaissance lap just to see how much it intruded, and immediately knew it had to go. What helped me was the steering, the clutch and the gear changes. The steering was very easy to maneuver. You could turn it lock-to-lock with one hand, the clutch action was light and precise, and the gear changes went from first to second like clockwork with little effort. My first time was somewhere in the upper 44 with the second in the same region. But by now I had gotten the hang of the car and my third lap turned out to be the best: 42.88!
Granted, that’s a long way from the time at the top of the timesheets, but hey, I had to race Gaurav Gill one way or another and for that alone, I’m elated. As for the XUV300, well, as Gaurav proved by setting a new record midway through the event (a 38.14 in the wet!), he had a lot more to offer. Bombay being Bombay, there was a torrential downpour and most times were set to the day, and the general consensus was that the XUV300 TurboSport was quicker in the wet. After everyone had set their times, I went back out to test that theory, and while I didn’t set a fastest time, the XUV300 felt more fluid in the corners, and in the wet, you really didn’t need to use a handful of handbrake! !
The XUV300 has been around for a long time, and nothing has really changed on that front. It’s a comfortable cruiser that can chew up highway miles for breakfast and has plenty of power to intimidate your day-to-day. With the TurboSport, Mahindra is targeting other SUVs that have slightly sportier versions on the market, and for a first try, the XUV300 TurboSport looks like a lot of fun!
P.S: Anyone looking for a first drive review, I barely got out of first gear and second gear is the highest, so I’ll have to wait to form more concrete opinions when we get the car tested before I run my fingers.
Mahindra XUV300 TurboSport Series launched at Rs 10.35 lakh
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