Mahindra XUV300 vs Ford EcoSport vs Tata Nexon: Petrol Compact SUV Comparison Review

Published On  By for Mahindra XUV300 at CarDekho.com

Can the XUV300's 'indulgent packaging, sense of solidity and fun to drive nature' drive customers away from established competition?

If you are in the market for a city-centric car with a budget of around Rs 8 to 12 lakh, you are spoilt for choices. One of the best segments to choose from seems to be compact SUVs/crossovers. Not only do they offer more space for both passengers and luggage under the magical 4-metre length mark, but also better ground clearance to tackle bad roads in and around the city. They should also offer better all-around visibility making it simpler to manoeuvre and they could be frugal too.

The Mahindra XUV300 is the latest entrant in this segment and promises premium features, space, performance at a price which will not break the bank. Till the very recent past, we would have picked the diesel variant of the compact-SUV and pitted it against its rivals, but times are changing and petrol-powered cars are becoming more popular. We have thus compared the petrol offerings in this segment to decide if the Mahindra XUV300 does well enough to draw the limelight away.

Cars Tested

Petrol Variants

Mahindra XUV300 W8(O)

Ford EcoSport Titanium MT

Tata Nexon XZ+ Dual Tone

Price

Rs 11.49 lakh

Rs 9.56 lakh

Rs 9.22 lakh

  • Sure, the Tata Nexon is the more affordable offering in this segment, but that translates to fewer features too. But more on that later.

  • While the Ford EcoSport and the XUV300 are already in the more premium side of the segment, the Mahindra is even more so. So, while you do get more features, they do come at a premium.

Exterior Design

  • All the competitors here are in a similar ballpark in terms of size, even though looking at them may not help you in deciphering how big each one is.

 

XUV300

EcoSport

Nexon

Length
(mm)

3995

3998

3994

Width
(mm)

1821

1765

1811

Height
(mm)

1627

1647

1607

Wheelbase
(mm)

2600

2519

2498

Ground Clearance
(mm)

180

200

209

  • The Mahindra XUV300 is clearly designed to make your brain go “that’s an SUV” as you look at it. The sharp defining lines along the corners of the car give it a boxy look, clever use of surfaces above the wheel arches give it some muscle.

  • The long LED DRLs, which run all the way from the top of the headlamps, down along the side of them onto the bumper, force your attention onto the XUV - thankfully they are not too garish.

  • The Tata Nexon is all about those curves, especially in this company. It can only be called unique, after all looks are subjective. On its own, the Nexon does seem to have a more muscular look with eye-catching design elements, especially because of the three-tone paint job.

  • The Ford EcoSport should be the oldest looking vehicle here, but it is not - a testament to how well the crossover was designed from the onset. It also has the most premium looking design among the three, looking more solidly built than the XUV300 while not being too flashy like the Nexon.

  • The EcoSport is the only compact SUV/crossover to have a rear door-mounted spare wheel, which may give it a feel of an old-school SUV for some. The design also makes the EcoSport lose brownie points in terms of ease of access to the luggage compartment.

  • oth the EcoSport and the Nexon have designs which seem more crossover-ish than SUV. The XUV300 sets itself apart with its brutish design though. Looks like the XUV’s design will age better than that of the Nexon, but the EcoSport has the most timeless, balanced design of the three.

Interior Design

  • The XUV300’s interior feels more airy, thanks to the use of beige plastics and seat covers. The black-and-grey theme of the Nexon and the all-black theme of the EcoSport make them feel smaller than they are.

  • Also helping matters is the rather flat dashboard design of the XUV300, which frees up more space for the front passengers. Even though the XUV300 does not feature a fancy floating centre screen like the other two, it has a responsive and feature-laden touchscreen. The dashboard is uncluttered and has high-quality buttons too.

  • Couple the all-black interior with the rather tall centre tunnel and busy design of the dashboard and the EcoSport has a rather cramped feeling to it on the inside. The design is quite interesting, but is lost because of the use of piano-black trim in most places - the ‘S’ gets contrast coloured panels which make the EcoSport feel more special than in the Titanium/Titanium+ variants.

  • The dashboard is also quite high up, which combined with the sharply raked A-pillar creates a huge blind spot for the driver.

  • The Nexon also features a floating centre display, significantly smaller than the ones on the other two, but has a lighter grey secondary coloured upholstery along with chrome and silver trim to give the interior a bit more character.

Interior Space

  • The EcoSport uses its overall height advantage to make it feel like you are getting into a larger cabin. But that all-black cabin and the narrow cabin width actually make it feel cramped once you get in.

Interior Measurements (Front)

XUV300

EcoSport

Nexon

Legroom

935-1110mm

955-1105mm

900-1050mm

Knee Room

575-805mm

635-825mm

580-770mm

Seat Base Length

495mm

495mm

480mm

Seat Base Width

480mm

495mm

510mm

Seat Back Height

645mm

610mm

615mm

Headroom (min-max)

885-975mm

870-1005mm

965-1020mm

Cabin Width

1370mm

1320mm

1405mm

  • The lighter colour scheme and the larger dimensions of the XUV300 are complemented by great interior packaging to make the XUV300 one of the more spacious cars to sit in. The only grumble is the wide door sills, which make entry and exit a bit awkward for most and outright difficult for some.

  • You sink into the Tata Nexon, not just because of the heavily sculpted seats but also because of the softer seat cushions. The door panels are scooped out at just the right point, allowing more shoulder room for passengers.

  • Front knee room is heavily compromised in the Nexon due to the swooping design of the dashboard. The Nexon’s footwell also has the least space among the three, making it less comfortable to sit in at the front.

Interior Measurements (Rear)

XUV300

EcoSport

Nexon

Shoulder Room

1330mm

1225mm

1385mm

Headroom

925mm

930mm

970mm

Knee Room

600-830mm

590-800mm

715-905mm

Seat Base Width

1320mm

1230mm

1220mm

Seat Base Length

445mm

480mm

510mm

Seat Back Height

650mm

610mm

610mm

  • The tables are turned when it comes to the rear seat experience. All the vehicles here can seat two people with ease and three in a squeeze.

  • The EcoSport is the most cramped here, but has the best seating position among the three. An SUV-like upright seating position has many advantages. For starters, you don't need to sit down into the seats, making ingress and egress much easier. It also eliminates the need for a lot of horizontal space for your knees, the numbers might not show it but you don’t feel cramped. It also allows for the best underthigh support of the three.

  • The Nexon’s acres of space at the rear makes it the most comfortable vehicle here in terms of rear seat experience. It’s also the only SUV with a rear blower.

  • The Mahindra XUV300 has the most disappointing rear seat experience in the comparison. The seats are placed very low to compensate for a lower roof. This forces you to sit with your knees higher up than comfortable. The lack of underthigh support and the unusual seating posture will make the rear seats a nightmare to sit in on longer journeys. Better limit rear seat usage to short journeys for adults or for small kids otherwise.

Interior Feel and Features

  • The Mahindra XUV300’s interior has a premium feel to it, be it the plastic quality, switch feel or seat materials used.

  • The Ford EcoSport received an updated interior in 2018 and features high quality plastics and an uncluttered centre console. Compared to the others, the Ford has a better build overall.

  • The Tata Nexon’s interior, though modern and stylish, does not feel premium. In this company, it feels like it is from a segment below. The quality of materials is not bad if looked at in isolation, but it does not match up to the Ford or the Mahindra.

  • The Mahindra’s extensive feature list also makes it feel special. This includes a large sunroof, leatherette upholstery, a touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Segment-first features like a dual-zone climate control, steering modes and steering position indicator (at standstill) add to the premium feel.

  • It is the only vehicle to offer adjustable centre hearest and a three-point seatbelt for the centre rear passenger - a big addition in the safety department. Seven airbags and disc brakes on all four wheels also add to its safety kit.

  • The Ford EcoSport is kitted up pretty well too, it gets a floating 8-inch touchscreen, sunroof, and rear parking camera. Only if the interior theme was not all black, it wouldn’t feel so uninviting to some.

  • The Tata Nexon misses out on a sunroof, but is not exactly low on features. A floating 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, steering-mounted controls and the audiophile’s delight in the form of an 8-speaker Harman sound system are some of the features on offer.

  • The difference in quality in all forms is perceivable though, the touchscreen is slower than the other two, the resolution of the rear view camera is not as good, the tambour door design of the centre console may be elegant but the space inside is too narrow and deep to be used. The Tata Nexon may be the most affordable SUV here, but it shows in the quality.

Performance

 

XUV300

EcoSport

Nexon

Displacement

1197cc

1497cc

1198cc

Power

110PS @ 5000rpm

123PS @ 6500rpm

110PS @ 5000rpm

Torque

200Nm @ 2000-3500rpm

150Nm @ 4500rpm

170Nm @ 1750-4000rpm

Cylinders

3

3

3

Transmissions

6-speed Manual

5-speed Manual

6-speed Manual

  • The EcoSport has the biggest engine of the lot in terms of displacement, but like the other engines here, it is a three-cylinder unit too.

  • The 1.5-litre EcoSport’s extra displacement gives it a natural power advantage over the others, both of which are powered by 1.2-litre engines.

  • Turbocharging helps both the XUV300 and Nexon’s petrol motors develop more torque lower down the rev range than the EcoSport.

  • The XUV300 should, in theory, be the fastest vehicle here without any doubt.

 

XUV300

EcoSport

Nexon

0-100kmph

12.39s

12.12s

11.64s

30-80kmph (3rd gear)

8.65s

10.2s

10.91s

40-100kmph (4th gear)

14.11s

17.59s

19.09s

  • But in reality, it isn’t, at least in terms of 0-100kmph times. And that is down to aggressive engine maps aimed at reducing emissions which limit power when pushed hard from a standstill. In a drag race, or a stop light dash, the Nexon will be the winner.

  • In every other situation, the Mahindra XUV300’s superior torque and smooth power delivery will keep it ahead of the pack.

  • The torque advantage of the XUV300 is not only good for performance but also for in-city driving and highway cruising. Peak torque is available over a wider rpm band, resulting in fewer gear changes in the city and quicker overtakes on the highway.

  • The Nexon may be the second quickest car here, but taller gearing makes it slower when in-gear accelerations are compared. The tall gearing helps it in being more efficient (as you will see below), but it does make it rather slow in the city or on the highway.

  • The Nexon is the only SUV here to offer three distinct driving modes, changed using a rotary selector on the lower centre console. The Eco mode actually limits power and torque, and slows throttle response - the best way to extract the most efficiency from it.

  • The Ford EcoSport has the smoothest engine in the comparison, even though it is a three-cylinder unit like the rest. While it is not slow, as you may notice in the chart above, it does not have the same sense of urgency as the others.

  • The EcoSport never feels out of breath and even has a nice smooth torque curve that helps it potter along in the city. You have to trash it like an old school petrol engine, keeping it above the 4000rpm mark all the time to have any sense of fun.

 

XUV300

EcoSport

Nexon

100-0kmph

41.59m

47.93m

40.63m

  • In spite of being equipped with disc brakes all around, the XUV300 isn’t the quickest to come to a halt. The Nexon’s braking stability is noticeably better, even though it does not have disc brakes all around or the fattest tyres in the comparison.

Fuel Efficiency

 

XUV300

EcoSport

Nexon

Claimed FE

17kmpl

17kmpl

17.88kmpl

Tested City FE

12.16kmpl

12.74kmpl

14.03kmpl

Tested Highway FE

14.25kmpl

17.59kmpl

17.89kmpl

  • All the cars in this comparison have a claimed combined efficiency of around 17kmpl.

  • The Tata Nexon is the most efficient, both in the city and on the highway. But, this can be achieved only when driving in the Eco mode, where the power and torque figures are lowered and the throttle response slowed down.

  • The Mahindra XUV300’s highway efficiency is quite disappointing, to put it mildly. Expectations were high as the XUV300 has a 6-speed gearbox and should be ready to adhere to upcoming CAFE norms.

  • The low figure of 14.25kmpl on the highway could be down to the fact that at 100kmph, its turbo spooled up around the 2100rpm mark, drawing in more fuel and air. This may be good for performance, but efficiency suffers. Cruising at speeds of around 80kmph may help improve the mileage.

  • The best SUV here overall in terms of efficiency is the Ford EcoSport then. You do not have to select a performance zapping Eco mode to achieve the respectable mileage numbers like the Nexon. Its smooth engine also means you will rarely be pushing it to its limits and wasting precious fuel.

Ride and Handling

  • If you favour handling over everything else, the Mahindra XUV300’s handling characteristics will make you fall in love with it. The suspension handles most undulations and bumps without any fuss, except for the sharpest ones which make themselves felt via a muffled ‘thud’ in the cabin.

  • This forgiving ride quality does not compromise handling either, it stays flat through corners and does not roll even when pushed hard. The steering does not have a lot of feedback, but is quick and responsive.

  • While there are three steering modes to choose from in the XUV300, it is best left in ‘Comfort’ or ‘Normal’. ‘Sport’ just makes it unnaturally heavy and is only good if you want to work out your arms.

  • Couple the sweet handling package with the powerful and responsive motor and the Mahindra XUV300 comes across as the driver’s car in this comparison.

  • The next best handler is the Ford EcoSport, but changes to its suspension make it compromise on both handling and ride quality. Complaints of a harsh ride quality in earlier models forced Ford to soften it back in 2017.

  • But being the tallest of the three, Ford also has had to keep the suspension stiff enough to prevent too much roll in the corners. This suspension combination leads to the EcoSport feeling jittery on most surfaces and easily unsettled over bigger bumps.

  • The Tata Nexon reaffirms its family car status with its brilliant ride quality. It is not as adept at handling as the others as it tends to roll a lot more in corners. But it seems unfazed by any sort of road irregularities, be it small or large. The only irritant would be the rumbling noise over small bumps which emanate from the rear wheel wells.

Verdict

So, does the Mahindra XUV300 do well enough to draw the limelight away? No. While it has certainly impressed with its premium in-car experience, powerful engine and sporty handling characteristics, it has some faults that could be deal-breakers, depending on your requirements.

  1. For all that premium feel, you do end up paying quite a premium over the Tata Nexon, which remains the value for money pick in the segment.

  2. You need to be single or have a nuclear family, as the rear seats are not comfortable enough on longer journeys and the luggage space is too small to carry the weekend luggage of four or five adult occupants. The Ford EcoSport, in comparison, offers both along with a similarly premium experience.

  3. You should be able to overlook the fact that this is not going to be cheap to own car, thanks to less than ideal fuel-efficiency, especially if you are going to do a lot of highway trips.

If these are deal-breakers for you, you should take a long, hard look at the other two competitors in this comparison. The Tata Nexon should be your choice if you want a compact family car with fantastic value. If you don’t mind paying the premium for a more luxurious feel, the EcoSport is the petrol compact SUV you should choose.

Clarifications

  • The Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza is not offered with a petrol engine and is not included in this comparison. For now, it doesn’t look like Maruti needs to add a petrol engine to the lineup but things could change once BSVI emission norms kick in from 2020.

  • The Honda WR-V was not included in the comparison as it is clearly a segment apart in terms of body style and hence driving dynamics and space. It is a great city commuter, but would not stand a chance in regards to other features against the other competitors in this comparison.

Honda WR-V

  • Ford does not have an EcoSport Petrol S in its media fleet, which is why we do not have the top-of-the-line variant in our comparison. The S is also powered by the more powerful turbocharged EcoBoost engine. It would have made the comparison slightly better since all the competitors would have had turbocharged motors, but you have to work with what you have got. The same explanation stands for why we did not have a Titanium+ variant of the EcoSport.

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Mahindra XUV300

Variants*Ex-Showroom Price New Delhi
W4 Diesel (Diesel)Rs 8.49 Lakh*
W6 Diesel (Diesel)Rs 9.3 Lakh*
W8 Diesel (Diesel)Rs 10.8 Lakh*
W8 Option Diesel (Diesel)Rs 11.99 Lakh*
W8 Option Dual Tone Diesel (Diesel)Rs 12.14 Lakh*
W4 (Petrol)Rs 7.9 Lakh*
W6 (Petrol)Rs 8.75 Lakh*
W8 (Petrol)Rs 10.25 Lakh*
W8 Option (Petrol)Rs 11.49 Lakh*
W8 Option Dual Tone (Petrol)Rs 11.64 Lakh*

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