Review: City car must tame the economy

The price of fuel is forever increasing and does each increase have a definite impact on our wallets. The heavens hear me, if things don’t change soon I’m gonna pack up and go. Maybe to Dubai. Or one of those Eastern countries.

But maybe it’s not necessary to move, because Mahindra might have a solution for this continuous problem. It may not be a product from the top shelves, but it remains a solution. The Mahindra KUV100 Nxt 1.2 D75 K6+. It’s a damn long name for a car, so from here on out we’ll just refer to it as the K6+.

And here’s why.

Most affordable diesel

Mahindra revised its KUV100 range in 2018 and also rebadged it to KUV100 Nxt. In total six models comprise the range and the K6+ is one of two diesel models; retailing for R208 999 (the D75 K8 sells for R224 999).

These two models sit atop of the list for most affordable diesel vehicles in South Africa and is there no other manufacturer to keep them company. We looked long and hard, but under the hatchbacks there are no direct competitors. This means that Mahindra hit a mark in the market and have this piece of the pie all to themselves.

The KUV100 is actually a hatchback, but is also marketed as a crossover due to its high driving position and ground clearance. That’s why it technically competes in a different segment, as well as its own. But regardless thereof the KUV100 wants to show that you can get a new vehicle at an affordable price. Cars like the Datsun Go and Renault Kwid also do battle against inflation and a struggling economy, that’s why they register solid sales figures on a monthly basis. And the KUV100 is also speaking up.

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Image: Charlen Raymond

For the price

For 209k Mahindra did not hesitate to provide the KUV100 Nxt 1.2 D75 K6+ (damn, I’m out of breath just reading it!) with a well-appointed cabin. The cloth seats are comfortable and need to be adjusted by hand, but taller drivers/front passengers might feel as if they’re sitting a bit too high. Both the front and rear doors are fitted with electric windows and there’s a media system that plays Bluetooth, USB, and AUX audio devices.

Steering wheel mounted controls allow you to adjust the volume and to change songs.

The KUV100’s middle console is a bit strangely designed and is the layout… different. The gear lever sits high in the middle, the knobs for the temperature is also placed there, and the handbrake needs to be pulled out from underneath the centre console.

Fortunately, the rear seats fall flat to increase the loading bay from 243L to 473L.

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Image: Charlen Raymond

The economy

Mahindra deserves a thumbs-up, because they are the only automaker with enough guts to fit a diesel engine in a small city car. Yes, diesel cars are expensive, but they still did it. And the 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine that drives the K6+ delivers 57kW and 190Nm. It’s not a lot of power, but keep in mind that maximum torque is available at 1 750rpm and the car weighs only 1 235kg.

There’s a nice kick when you put your foot down and can you feel how the car reaches for 120km/h. There are two driving modes – Power and Eco – and is it my opinion that you never make use of Eco. Despite weighing almost nothing, the K6+ doesn’t move in that mode. You put your foot down and nothing happens. Power is the only option you should consider.

Mahindra says that the average fuel consumption is 4.3 L/100km and that you should, theoretically, see a range of 814km on its 35L fuel tank. Now I don’t know how much truth is in that claim, because on 400km I had to refill the tank. That means that over the course of seven days my average was around 12 L/100km. How on earth does one manage that?! That’s what you get in a Mercedes-AMG C43!

That was one of the most shocking things about the car. I can handle everything, but a small city car using that much diesel… aikôna!

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Image: Charlen Raymond

Summary

Mahindra does not have the same reputation in South Africa as other Eastern automakers, but the manufacturer gave big leaps the last couple of years to improve its vehicles. With that no one can argue. There are other things that are worrisome, but those are things that can be overlooked. Automakers can’t all speak the same design language, because imagine how boring everything will be.

The K6+ is one of those cars that makes you take note. Not because it’s the best, but because it wants you make you aware that the alternative is not always a bad choice. So, for the last time, herewith then my opinion on the Mahindra KUV100 Nxt 1.2 D75 K6+.