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Friday, 21 September 2012

Mahindra's Quanto: DNA Drive

Okay, so this car doesn’t really come as a surprise to most people. There have been rumours about it for a while and test mules running around the country for even longer, but now, it’s our turn to see the car in the flesh with nothing but sheet metal on it, no camouflage, no masking tape, just painted metal. So what do we think of it? Well, read on to find out.
LooksThe Quanto, for the longest time, has been called the mini Xylo and even internally, that’s what it’s known as and there’s a reason for that. Imagine a Xylo, and then imagine chopping off the rear of the car aft of the rear axle, and there you have it. The bonnet’s V line is more accentuated with a lip added above the grille. Till about the C-pillar, the car is exactly the same as the Xylo and aft of that, there’s new sheet metal. 
The tailgate looks nice and the mounted spare tyre adds to the visual appeal of the rear. We’re glad they didn’t just put the Xylo’s tail lamps and called it a day though -- the new, compact units go a long way in reducing the visual mass at the rear. The reversing lights have been moved to the rear bumper now. Overall it’s a quirky package.
The Quanto does appear to be a lot lower than the Xylo though, but that’s attributed more to tyre size than the suspension settings, we think. Proportionally, it’s still a little off, but there’s something very endearing about the stubby design that kept drawing our eyes back to it. It’ll be turning a lot of heads initially, for sure.
InteriorsAgain, it’s not called the mini Xylo for nothing. The entire dash is lifted right out of the Xylo and that’s certainly not a bad thing. Especially considering the fact that the Xylo recently underwent a revision.
The first thing that strikes you is the incredible room inside because of a big wheelbase of 2760mm and then seating position, which is high and that engenders great visibility. The fit and finish of materials could have been better in this simple, functional interior, but then the car is priced to a cost. The top-end model we drove came equipped with power windows, two airbags, a music player with MP3 and AUX connectivity and a reverse-parking sensor. The same double DIN stereo system found in the Xylo is there in the Quanto, and the sound quality is quite nice for a stock unit.
In all this, however, don’t make the mistake of thinking this is a small car -- the Quanto is a proper seven seater with factory-installed, side-facing, jump seats in the boot area. To fit those extra seats, the middle row seats seem to have been made shaved but that didn’t affect the comfort. The backrest may be a tad upright; beyond that, there’s nothing to complain about in the middle row. Even the legroom is quite nice, considering the Quanto rides on a shorter platform compared with the Xylo. As for the seats at the back, well, they’re passable for shorter stints, but we suggest you don’t prefer that over longer journeys.

A smaller car calls for a smaller engine, so naturally, Mahindra lopped one of the cylinders from their mHawk engine to give the Quanto three-cylinder power. It’s not that simple, really. Yes, 1.5-litre turbo diesel engine is derived from the four-cylinder unit, but they’ve added a twin-scroll turbocharger to help keep the power output high. The engine makes a very healthy 100 bhp of peak power and a peak torque figure of 24 kgm, which is more than adequate.
You might be wondering that Mahindra already has a 1.5-litre diesel unit, then why this. The point is, making it suitable for a rear-wheel-drive application would have been prohibitively expensive and the engine technology belongs to Renault anyway, so they set out downsizing the 2.2-litre unit. The 5-speed transmission has well spaced gear ratios that are usable in all conditions, but shift quality could definitely see an improvement. Unlike the Xylo, which has a direct shift mechanism, the Quanto comes with an indirect shifter which takes away from the experience.
The engine takes a while to come to life – it takes more than 17 seconds to touch 100 kmph from a standing start. Nevertheless, the engine comes off as refined with decent NVH values. The mill isn’t a screamer, and loses power in higher revs past 3000 rpm, but for city driving this shouldn’t be an issue. As a long distance cruiser though, another gear would have been perfect because of the fact that the engine revs out of its mid-range comfort zone as you crank up.
Ride and handlingLooking at its stance, you wouldn’t think that this car would be much of a handler, but you’d be surprised. Yes, it’s a tall stubby car, but for what it is, body roll is well controlled. It doesn’t feel unstable either. Sudden directional changes don’t unsettle the chassis much , but we’re not going to repeatedly try that one out. As for the ride quality, it’s a little bouncy, maybe dialling back tyre pressures a little would have taken care of that issue.
VerdictThe engine is surprisingly refined, but interiors, ride quality and handling could have been better. But then, it’s a great offering for the price and will intensify the mid-segment wars.

EXPLORE:  World News      Business      Mahindra Quanto

Edited By Cen Fox Post Team

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