Upcoming Mahindra TUV300 (U301) spied, taillights revealed

Mahindra is readying up a spate of all-new launches in India to consolidate its position as the country's largest manufacturer and seller of Utility Vehicles. One of those crucial models is the car you see in this post. Caught testing in the outskirts of Pune by our ardent fan Guru, these test mules conceal what is widely believed to be the spiritual successor of the Bolero.

Rumored to be called the Supro TUV300, this upcoming Sport Utility Vehicle has, for the first time ever, revealed its rear albeit partially. In spite of numerous spy-shots by us and our fellow journalist friends from other websites and publications over the last one year, not much could be inferred on the vehicle's design. From these shots, we can now confirm that the Supro TUV300 would come with a glossy black finish on the D-pillar, thereby creating an impression of a floating roof. Also partially visible is one of the taillight lenses that appear to sport a trapezoidal shape that tapers slightly at the top. Despite its squarish and boxy proportions, we find this upcoming Mahindra very promising with a wide and balanced footprint. There is none of that 'sky-scraper on wheels' feeling we experienced when we first saw the Quanto. 

Of course, we will reserve our final judgement on the design and styling until we see the Supro TUV300 without camouflage. Codenamed U301, this upcoming SUV is said to have two different body lengths. One will duck under 4 meters to take advantage of the excise duty concessions offered by the Indian Government. There would also be a full length model that, in all probability, would be priced and positioned higher. Mahindra is believed to have developed all-new petrol and diesel engines under displacements of 1.2 liters and 1.5 liters respectively to be eligible for excise duty benefits. Apart from powering the TUV300 twins, these engines are also expected to do duty in the upcoming compact SUV codenamed S101. Visibly smaller than the U301, it is expected to be the entry-level model in Mahindra's lineup.

Going by what we saw in the new Scorpio and the XUV500 facelift, we expect these upcoming Mahindra launches to have interiors of reasonable quality that's decently loaded as well. Sure enough, all the goodies from the XUV500 won't make it in here but the Supro TUV300 and upcoming S101 can safely be assumed to boast kit that are par for the segment and, possibly, something more too.

Our reader also states that the launch date could be very close as the dealer dispatches appear to have commenced already.

Even after it's launch, Mahindra might contiue selling the Bolero as it is, given that the old yet rugged vehicle is still going strong as Indian's largest selling Utility Vehicle. That would mean the Nashik-based Indian brand is set for a major growth if these upcoming models hit the sweet spot with the discerning Indian customers.

EDIT: Mahindra released official sketches of this upcoming compact SUV on July-30 along with its TUV300 branding. 


Hyundai Creta launched in India, priced between INR 8.59 and 13.60 Lakhs

After weeks of speculations, factory spy-shots, teaser videos and a whole lot of buzz, Hyundai finally launched the Creta compact SUV in India today. A clone of the ix25 that's on sale in China since 2014, the Creta fits the bill of a compact SUV perfectly in Hyundai's lineup, slotting below the Tucson and Santa Fe. Currently in its first generation, India is the debut market for the 'Creta' nameplate and the second country ever to get this model.

Wearing Version 2.0 of Hyundai's famous 'Fluidic Sculpture' design language, the Creta looks sharp and striking. The familiar front end is characterized by the triple-slat chrome grille, giving it a mini Santa Fe-like appearance. The angular, stretched-back headlamps, the raked window line and the taillights that extend well into the rear fenders are typical Hyundai design traits that the Creta follows to the tee. Standing out are those black plastic inserts in the front and rear bumpers, the prominent shoulder crease lines and the vertically-stacked fog lights. The faux skid plates, chunky C-pillars, roof rails and the tall ride height completes the SUV look, giving the Creta an impressive stance. Make no mistakes though, neither is the Creta as macho as the Duster nor is it as funky as an Ecosport. Many Indians love bling and if you are one of them, Hyundai has given you a royal feast. Apart from the chrome-overloaded grille, higher variants of the Creta have their door handles and rear number plate garnish finished in the shiny stuff too.

The interiors are typically Hyundai, a delightful combination of a well-appointed, feature-loaded cabin with good quality, fit and finish to top it off. The dashboard is a two tone affair with black plastics sandwiching a beige center portion. The flagship SX(O) variant is an exception to this with its plush, all-black cabin. Nicely-shaped vertical air-conditioning vents dominate the center console, flanking the audio system on either sides. All but the base variant are equipped with a touchscreen audio system with the higher variants getting an inbuilt navigation system as well. Antilock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) is standard across the range which is good. Unfortunately though, Hyundai has succumbed to the pressure of having a lower starting price for the Creta and skipped airbags totally on the two base variants.

Having said that, the top spec SX(O) trim’s equipment levels could shame cars a segment of two higher. It gets six airbags, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), Hillstart Assist Control, 17-inch diamond cut alloy wheels, height-adjustable front seatbelts, lane change flash adjustment, speed sensing auto door lock, leather upholstery and supervision cluster, all of which are exclusive to this trim.

The Creta borrows its powertrain from the Verna and Elantra sedans. 

The petrol variants get a 1.6-liter Dual VTVT engine that churns out 123 ps at 6400 rpm and 15.4 kgm of torque at 4850 rpm. Paired to a 6-speed manual transmission, the petrol Creta has three trim levels – L, S and SX+ priced between INR 8.59 and 11.19 Lakhs. 

Two diesel engine options are available. 

The L, S and S+ trim levels are powered by the 1.4-liter CRDi engine that puts out 90 ps at 4000 rpm and 22.4 kgm of torque between 1500 - 2750 rpm. These are priced between INR 9.46 and 11.45 Lakhs. The SX, SX+ and SX(O) come with the range-topping 1.6-liter CRDi VGT (Variable Geometry Turbocharger) engine with 128 ps at 4000 rpm and a substantial 26.5 kgm of torque between 1900 - 2750 rpm. The 1.6 retails between INR 11.59 and 13.60 Lakhs.

For the first time in the compact SUV segment, a diesel automatic variant is also on offer. Good news is the Creta gets the same 6-speed torque converter automatic gearbox from the Elantra and not the age-old 4-speed unit from the Verna. Bad news is it is available only in the SX+ trim, priced at INR 13.57 Lakhs. So, you either choose added convenience of the 6-speed auto or additional safety of the SX(O) and not both. Why Hyundai, why?

All prices are ex-showroom Delhi.

With 15,000 pre-bookings prior to launch and the mad rush for SUVs in our market, the Creta is going to be yet another successful model in Hyundai India’s kitty. But, with its premium pricing, Creta is now the most expensive compact SUV in the Indian market. For that reason alone, the Creta might not end up creating as much an impact in the sales charts like the Grand i10 and Elite i20 did.


The all-new Toyota Fortuner is here, it's time for some serious mud-slinging

Very few vehicles in any category have decimated competition the way Toyota Fortuner did since its launch in India. Till date, no other vehicle priced above INR 20 Lakhs has created as much impact and garnered as much sales as this tough body-on-frame Toyota SUV. To put things in perspective, add up the sales numbers of all its competitors and that still won't be half of Fortuner's sales. Don't believe us? Toyota sold 1390 Fortuners in India last month compared to the measly 117 units Hyundai managed with the Santa Fe. HM-Mitsubishi has been selling around 200 Pajero Sports a month on average the last few months.

Looking at the official images of the upcoming second-generation Fortuner unveiled by Toyota in simultaneous events in Thailand and Australia a couple of days back, it appears history is all set to repeat itself. Shedding its boxy and macho looks for a sleek and modern design, the Fortuner has sort of reinvented itself while still retaining its menacing proportions. The sharp knife-shaped headlight clusters with built-in projectors and LEDs have their perfect matches at the rear in those sleek taillights connected by a thick bar of chrome. The busy front end is characterized by the chrome-overloaded grille and the three-dimensional bumper that smartly encompasses the air dam. Toyota has ditched its conservative approach and the silhouette is ample proof of that, what with the shoulder line stepping upwards significantly near the C-pillar. Together with the roof that nudges down a bit at the end, the Fortuner has one pleasing derriere.

While some of you might complain that the Fortuner has lost its rugged external looks, the interiors are completely transformed into a far better and modern setup. Gone is the bare-bones cabin of the current Fortuner replaced by an all-new cabin that looks quite plush. Features include leather seats, a 7-inch touchscreen entertainment system with in-built navigation, 8-way electrically-adjustable driver's seat and paddle shifters. At least for the international markets, a full complement of safety features including seven airbags, Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control System, Traction Sway System, Hill Start Assist and Downhill Assist Control would be offered. With 193 mm of ground clearance and good off-road credentials, the new Fortuner would be no slouch when it comes to going off the beaten path. 

Powering the new Fortuner is a range of new engines. Two diesel options are available - a 2.4-liter '2GD' engine with 150 PS and 400 Nm of torque and a 2.8-liter '1GD' engine with 177 PS and 450 Nm of torque. When the new Fortuner makes it to India, these are the two engines that are expected to do duty under the hood. A 2.7-liter Dual VVT-i petrol engine producing 166 PS and 245 Nm of torque would also be offered elsewhere.

Unlike the Land Cruiser, Camry or Corolla, the Fortuner does not come with a legacy extending back to several decades. Launched only in 2005, this is just the second-generation of this mighty brute ute from Toyota. Sharing the Innovative International Multipurpose Vehicle (IMV) platform with the popular Hilux pickup and the Innova MPV, the Fortuner is an Asia-specific model targeting the South Asian markets predominantly. With this all-new model, we expect the Fortuner's popularity to grow further. 

Do we hear death bells ringing for its competitors in India? Oh yes, they better be warned!


Mahindra's upcoming compact SUV (S101) spotted testing again

It’s not news anymore that Mahindra has lined up a spate of launches lined up for the Indian market. Being the country’s 'numero uno' Utility Vehicle manufacturer, Mahindra is now forced to fight to retain its turf with more and more brands entering the fray. Fresh from the launch of the XUV500 facelift, the Nashik-based brand’s upcoming launches include a compact SUV code-named S101 and the frequently-spied potential Bolero replacement code-named U301. You probably would have seen our posts featuring these vehicles testing in and around Chennai here, here and here. But the testing spree hasn’t ended yet.

This S101 test vehicle was caught in the busy GST Road in Chennai late last night. Though it still had substantial camouflage hiding crucial details, we could gather a few tidbits on this upcoming Mahindra.

First up, the infotainment controls on this test vehicle appeared to have blue back-lighting, not much different from the XUVs500 facelift’s colour. But the camouflage made it tough to ascertain if the system was integrated into the console or an aftermarket add-on for keeping the test driver entertained. The next revelation was its overall footprint. Though we knew that the S101 would be a compact vehicle measuring less than 4 meters in length, the blurred picture below confirms its size relative to the Bolero. The Bolero completely dwarfs the S101, making us believe that this could actually be a rugged hatchback that’s taller and rides higher than the rest. 

All-new petrol and diesel engines under 1.2 and 1.5 liters of displacement respectively are said to be under development to power the S101. If the other Mahindra traits are carried over, expect this upcoming compact utility to have robust underpinnings and solid mechanicals that would stand the test of time in our road conditions. Depending on its price and positioning, we expect the S101 to challenge the Renault Kwid at the lower end and the Ford Ecosport at the higher end. Currently, Mahindra is trading places with Honda for the third spot in sales behind Maruti-Suzuki and Hyundai. This could be the model that catapults Mahindra well ahead of Honda for that ubiquitous last step on the podium.

Bajaj RE60 continues testing, this time again spotted in Pune

Bajaj sprang a surprise just before the 2012 Auto Expo in New Delhi by unveiling the RE60, it's vision of a low-cost four-wheeler that intended to replace the brand's omnipresent auto-rickshaws. With an additional wheel and a narrow, tall monocoque body structure made of metal polymer hybrid, the RE60 appeared to be a better and safer replacement for the three-wheelers dotting the Indian landscape. More than three years since, there are still no signs of its launch and Bajaj seems content with just testing the RE60 across the length and breadth of the country.

We were amongst the first automotive sites in India to spot this testing, way back in 2012, wearing full camouflage. The next time we saw, it shed some of its clothes revealing more details. This time around, its devoid of any camouflage. This bright yellow RE60, spotted by an ardent reader of Anything On Wheels last evening, was caught testing in Pune, not too far from Bajaj Auto’s head-quarters. Is that a hint that Bajaj would finally be launching the RE60 in India soon? We hope it is. 

The rear-mounted engine of the RE60 is expected to produce 20 horsepower. That might appear low on paper but Bajaj claimed a top speed of 70 km/h and a real world fuel efficiency of 35 km/l from the RE60 during its unveiling. LPG and CNG fuel options are expected to be available as well. The added stability of four wheels apart, the presence of doors, hard-top and, most importantly, seat belts would mean that the RE60 would be far better than the existing auto-rickshaws when it comes to passenger safety.

Being the first-mover in this type of vehicle, Bajaj Auto had to wait for the Indian Government to approve a new classification of motor vehicle called ‘Quadricycle’, which is what the RE60 is. Let’s hope Bajaj finds a way to launch the RE60 quickly and it ticks with the rickshaw-wallas. At least, the cities would get a little safer than what they are right now.


Renault Kwid seen testing in Chennai sans camouflage

Renault created a lot of buzz some time back with the global unveiling of it's upcoming compact car, the Kwid, in India. Bringing to the market a fresh take on how an entry-level small car could look, the Kwid promises to open up new avenues for Renault in the cost-conscious Indian market.

Caught testing in the busy GST Road last evening, we find the Kwid's design distinct and appealing. That we were staring at a budget car was apparent, thanks to the those puny wheels fastened with just three nuts each and the absence of body-colored door handles and mirrors. Still, the Kwid wasn't lost in the crowd and had good street presence, its compact dimensions notwithstanding. Standing tall with what appears to be an above-average ground clearance for the small car segment with plastic cladding all around, the Kwid creates an impression of a mini crossover than a hatchback. Of course, it's compact footprint brings us back to reality but Renault has superbly differentiated the Kwid from its chief competitors, the Alto 800 and Eon.

As revealed during the unveiling, the Kwid boasts mature styling all around that would appeal to all and offend none. The interiors are expected to be very spacious too with the segment-first 7-inch 'MediaNav' touchscreen system being the trump-card. Renault is said to be readying a 3-cylinder 800 cc petrol engine for the Kwid and there could even be an Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) option to rival the AMT-equipped Tata Nano and Maruti-Suzuki Alto K10. But, what sent the interest levels on the Kwid skyrocketing was the indicative price tag of INR 3-4 Lakhs. At those prices, this could be the next big thing in the Indian automotive industry provided Renault prices, positions and markets the Kwid right.

Despite selling cars under three different brands, Renault-Nissan alliance's only smash hit in India till date has been the Duster. Okay, the Lodgy is doing respectable numbers but these are still early days for the Innova-rivaling MPV. In this scenario, the upcoming Kwid is just what the doctor ordered for the French manufacturer. We can't wait to try or hands on the Kwid.


Honda launches the all-new Jazz in India

Perceptions are very hard to change, more so when it comes to something as important for Indians as buying a new car. But, that is exactly what Honda is trying to do with the launch of the all-new Jazz today. As most of us would recall, this is Honda’s second attempt at cracking the premium hatchback segment in India, having failed miserably the first time around with the previous-generation Jazz. 

Following Honda’s ‘Flying H’ design philosophy, the Jazz impresses with its futuristic design that's sure to please one and all. Though it won’t make onlookers go ‘wow’ at first glance, it sure would keep interest levels high. Attractive styling elements abound like the sleek, wing-shaped arrangement of the headlights and grille, those prominent shoulder lines cutting across the silhouette and the funky, vertically-stacked, LED-equipped taillights. We are glad Honda chose to apply a glossy-black finish for the front grille instead of the gaudy chrome finish that other cars in the brand’s portfolio like the Brio, Amaze and City have. The Jazz is a large hatchback and looks every bit like one instead of trying to hide its visual bulk.

Unlike the previous-generation model that was offered with just a single engine and transmission combination, the all-new Jazz comes with multiple powerpack options. Under the hood, you will find either a 1.2-liter i-VTEC petrol or the popular 1.5-liter i-DTEC diesel engine. The former churns out 89 horsepower and 110 Nm of torque and is mated to either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 7-speed CVT automatic. The diesel engine, paired to a 6-speed manual gearbox like the City, generates 99 horsepower and a substantial 200 Nm of torque. India is the only country right now where Jazz is available with a diesel engine. It just goes to show how serious Honda has been in making the new Jazz relevant to our market.

Jazz’s interiors share several components with the City. For instance, the entire dashboard, center console, instrument cluster and switch gear are very similar to those found in the City with some parts lifted straight off Honda’s best-selling sedan. That’s a good thing, given that City’s interiors are amongst the best in its segment. Feature list is extensive too with the Jazz boasting a handful of segment-exclusive features like a touchscreen infotainment system with in-built navigation, touchscreen climate control system and paddle shifters in the automatic variant. The awesome ‘Magic Seats’ that offered unmatched versatility and was standard in all variants of the older Jazz is now restricted to just the VX variant.

A total of 5 trim levels each - E, S, SV, V and VX, are on offer in both petrol and diesel variants. In what is becoming a silly but increasingly common practice, the automatic transmission is available as an option only with the S and V trims and not with the top-end VX trim. The prices for manual petrol variants range from INR 5.30 and 7.29 Lakhs while the diesel variants retail between INR 6.49 and 8.59 Lakhs. The two automatic variants are priced at INR 6.99 and 7.85 Lakhs. 

Despite its stellar capabilities, Honda's optimistic pricing strategy meant that the previous Jazz bombed in the Indian market. The Japanese manufacturer has corrected that mistake in the all-new Jazz with all but the top-end VX variant priced equivalent to the Hyundai Elite i20, it's main rival. But, will the prevailing perceptions change? Will the new Jazz turn its fortunes around? Will the City's runaway success have an rub-off effect on its hatchback sibling too? Let's wait and watch!


With Maruti-Suzuki and Hyundai joining the fray, compact crossovers are set to soar

Compact crossovers have been a rage in India for quite some time now. Surprisingly though, not one of the top six car-makers have a representation in this booming segment till date. Its hard to believe but the fact is even Maruti-Suzuki and Hyundai, the compact car kings that are quick to identify emerging trends in the market and respond, were caught napping. But, all that is about to change. As if to compensate for the time and volumes lost all these years, both the biggies are on the prowl all guns blazing with their respective crossover offerings. If we were Renault or Ford, we would be very worried.

First up would be the Hyundai Creta slated for launch towards the end of this month. With the South Korean brand in terrific form after back-to-back hits in Grand i10, Xcent and Elite i20, the Creta has risen to become one of the most eagerly awaited launches in recent years. Based on the ix25 that's been on sale in China for almost a year now, the Creta wears Version 2.0 of Hyundai's striking 'Fluidic Sculpture' design language. Powering this cute ute are a range of engines borrowed from the Verna - a 1.6-liter petrol and 1.4-liter and 1.6-liter diesel engines. Mated to them are 6-speed manual and automatic transmissions, with the latter available only with the 1.6-liter diesel. This is Creta's biggest USP as the most-affordable diesel SUV on sale now costs upward of INR 30 Lakhs. Fellow automotive journalists who have experienced the Creta first hand have come back raving about its interior quality, fit and finish as well as the features on offer. Connect all the dots and we are probably looking at the next big hit in the Indian automotive industry.

Joining the fray not far behind Creta would be Maruti-Suzuki's S-Cross. Unveiled earlier this week, the India-spec S-Cross boasts a couple of oil-burners under its hood. The big news is the new Fiat-sourced 1.6-liter diesel engine, dubbed DDiS 320. Of course, the popular 1.3-liter DDiS engine that also does duty in the Swift, Dzire, Ertiga and Ciaz is on the cards too. To tackle the competition, Maruti-Suzuki is said to have equipped the S-Cross with a whole lot of features too while the cabin itself looks pretty upmarket. Though the erstwhile premium products from Maruti-Suzuki - Baleno, Grand Vitara and Kizashi - flopped badly in India, the Ciaz has been a big hit recently. Maruti-Suzuki is hoping to carry on the momentum with the S-Cross by positioning it as a premium crossover. In fact, the Japanese brand is in the process of setting up exclusive sales outlets under the brand name 'Nexa' for retailing the S-Cross. With so much efforts being put in by the country's most influential car-maker, the S-Cross could be in for a big haul, its staid design and styling notwithstanding.

Mahindra, Honda, Toyota and Tata are said to be working on compact crossovers and sports utility vehicles of their own too, with all of them hitting the market within the next couple of years. 

The Renault Duster and Ford Ecosport may have enjoyed a monopoly all these days priced and positioned differently but their numbers are under serious threat right now. For the discerning Indian customer though, it can't get any better. The compact crossovers have well and truly arrived on the Indian scene!