Over the last few months one company that has been under constant attack from competitors is homegrown utility vehicle leader Mahindra and Mahindra. First it was Maruti with its Ertiga, which tried to dent its middle of the road Xylo. That was quickly followed by French Renault Duster targeting its decade-old bestseller Scorpio. The early success of these two vehicles may not spell failure on the part of Mahindra's corresponding vehicles, but it does pose the question: can M&M counter attack? It appears that it can, and Xylo's shortened sub-4 metre version Quanto promises to do what no other utility vehicle has ever done - take the attack to small cars.
As far as looks are concerned, the big question is whether Quanto is just a shortened Xylo, or is there something more to it? On the face of it, there is not. From the front it is a replica of the refreshed Xylo that was launched earlier this year. It has the same raised stance, the quasi wraparound head lamps and the meshed grille. Till the edge of the rear door, there is little...er, nothing ... to differentiate it from the Xylo. At the back, though, things are different. The first big difference is the mounted spare wheel and redesigned tail lamps that are now placed high up on the body. Somehow, it works. Compared to the Xylo, which looks like a butter box, the Quanto looks younger and sportier. While novelty value is missing, this is not intended to be an XUV and is positioned more as a utlilitarian practical product. To that end a slightly better looking Xylo is not a bad deal at all.
This has never been a stong point in Mahindra vehicles, and the Quanto is no different. For a car that costs less than Rs. 7.5 lakh, though, it is surprisngly loaded: parking sensors mounted on rear view mirrors is a segment first. However, there is little by way of aesthetics. The plastic looks and feels tacky; fit and finish are iffy, and the colour combination dull. The biggest problem however is the attempt to squeeze in seven seats in a vehicle made to fit five. The third row gets jumpseats so small that even kids would cringe. It has also eaten into middle row space, which feels too upright in a car that is already quite high. And if you do use all the seats, there is no the boot space left. A roof carrier would push its centre of gravity even higher. The seven-seater sub-4-metre experiment does not work.
Engine, Ride And Handling
On paper, the 3 cylinder 1.5-litre diesel engine that powers the Quanto should have been a noisy, coarse, unhappy story. Mahindra surprises here. Basically a stripped down version of the 2.2-litre m2Di engine that powers the Xylo, it gets a two-in-one turbocharger that more than makes up for the lack of power with a boost in torque. A maximum power of 100 bhp and 240 Nm torque are adequate for this segment.
Not the quietest of all engines, the refinement and low noise are still a revelation. Acceleration is also quite linear for city driving, though on the highway the vehicle's high kerb weight and lack of power does show it up.
Handling, however, remains dodgy. There is substantial body roll and the steering is unsure. The small 15" tyres do not help the Quanto's cause either. Not a bad mover within the city, it comes a cropper when travelling across cities. The so-called stop-start technology was a disappointment each time we tried it: stopping was fine, but no re-starting.