DRIVEN: 2022 Mahindra XUV300 is an affordable and safe SUV starting at R234 999

Johannesburg – Generally South Africans can be a bit laissez-faire when it comes to safety and their car purchases.

We tend to take “bargain” before brakes, thinking it will never happen to me. With our road conditions as they are and no sign of them ever improving and our abysmal track record when it comes to road safety and obeying the most basic rules of the road, it’s more a case of when it happens rather than if it happens.

This is especially so when it comes to first time car buyers who don’t yet have the necessary experience or skill to avoid an ugly situation.

Which is why it’s important that manufacturers wear their ratings on their sleeves so that before we put down our hard-earned cash we are completely aware which safety features will come into play when things go awry.

Ring in then Mahindra’s XUV300, touted as the “safest car in Africa”.

When it was first launched in May 2019 the XUV300 received a five-star rating as the safest car ever tested by the Global New Car Assessment Programme (GNCAP) in 2020. © Provided by Independent Online (IOL)

Last year Mahindra South Africa submitted their own locally homologated entry level XUV300 and it received the nod of Africa’s safest car.

The 2022 version has received a nip and tuck but the safety features remain.

During side and front offset crash tests it was awarded with a score of 16.42 out of 17 for adult protection, four stars for child protection and “good” and “adequate” in occupant protection, cabin intrusion and vehicle body deformation.

So what do you get when you decide that safety is a priority?

In the entry level: two airbags, electronic stability control with emergency brakeforce distribution, disk brakes all round, ISOFIX seat mounts, speed sensitive door locks, an impact sensing unlock function, collapsible steering column and pre-tensioners and load limiters on the front seatbelts. © Provided by Independent Online (IOL)

The top spec W8 version gets an additional five airbags including side curtain and knee, dynamic cornering brake force that comes into play if the car is driven fast, a panic braking system, bright warning lights on the doors and hill hold assist.

Outside there’s no change to the 2022 version except for new multi spoke diamond cut 16 inch alloys on all versions except the entry level W4 and the W4 SE that gets alloys with black and silver detailing.

It’s inside where things have improved significantly.

The interior moves away from the previous generation’s beige interior to black which gives it a more upmarket feel and is also easier to deal with if kids are being carted around.

The black seats are of the upholstery kind with the W8 models upgraded to leatherette.

There’s also a new nine inch touchscreen infotainment system that replaces the previous seven inch screen that’s Apple CarPlay and Android compatible. © Provided by Independent Online (IOL)

The overall look and feel of the cabin is not unpleasant although there is a lot of hard plastic which is not uncommon at this price point.

Under the hood there are two engine options in the form of a 1.2-litre turbo petrol that delivers 81kW and 200Nm and Mahindra’s new 1.5-litre turbo diesel with 85.8kW and 300Nm of torque.

Both are coupled to a six-speed manual transmission that drives the front wheels. There’s an automated manual version in India which thankfully the local management decided against. CVT’s aren’t great but an automated manual takes it to a whole different level of frustration.

We got to drive the W8 diesel version and the overall impression was that it’s a lot better than the previous generation.

It’s a quiet willing engine with slick and easy gearchanges and with its low down torque will easily idle along in heavy traffic or cruise along easily at highway speeds.

I can’t really tell you what it’s like under hard braking and sharp corners because we had an instructor with us as part of a defensive driving and hijack prevention course so no shenanigans were allowed.

But it’s a well balanced family orientated SUV that makes all the right noises.

Interestingly while driving defensively with an instructor you really get to notice how badly people drive. No indicators, lane changing at will, driving in the wrong lane, swooping across two lanes to get to an off ramp to name only a few.

It’s really messy out there and the XUV300 should certainly be on your list especially with the interior improvements and most definitely because of the safety features it comes with.

The W4 models come with a five year/150 000km warranty and a three year 50 000km service plan while the rest of the range has the same warranty and a five year/90 000km service plan.

Mahindra XUV300 pricing (March 2022)

W4 petrol: R234 999

W4 petrol SE R244 999

W6 petrol: R261 999

W6 diesel: R281 999

W8 petrol: R316 999

W8 diesel: R336 999