Mahindra's new MPV (U321) spotted testing yet again

Mahindra has been testing it's upcoming Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV), code-named U321 internally, in and around Chennai for almost two years now. On two separate occasions - once last August and once in February this year - we caught a test mule up close and revealed details that were not known until then. Earlier this week, Mahindra's new MPV - expected to slot in between the TUV3OO Plus and the XUV5OO as a premium offering in the brand's lineup - was caught testing again in the heart of Chennai city. 

With the expected launch date getting closer, the test vehicle has started shedding its camouflage. The fascia is now completely visible right from the detailing on the mesh grille with Mahindra's trademark 'toothy' inserts to the wraparound headlights with inbuilt projectors and the shape of the LED Daytime Running Lights that outline the fog lamp enclosures. The cab-forward design, the heavily-raked hood, positioning of the wheels at the four corners and absence of ungainly overhangs on either end give Mahindra's newest people-mover proportions that are just right. None of Mahindra's usual craziness in terms of cuts and creases seem to be present on this MPV but let's reserve our judgement until we see the car uncovered. At the rear, the vertically-stacked taillights make their presence felt.

Though the interiors have not been seen or revealed yet, Mahindra's recent launches - the TUV3OO specifically - have had decent interiors with acceptable levels of fit and finish. That gives us hope this upcoming MPV would raise the brand's standard even higher. Mahindra has always loaded their models to the hilt with features and gizmos and this MPV would be no different when it goes on sale later this year.

Mahindra has been tight-lipped on the powertrain options until now. Reports elsewhere on the World Wide Web indicate the Nashik-based car-maker is working on all-new gasoline and diesel engines to power the vehicle along with a 6-speed manual transmission. That would explain the extremely long testing cycle this new MPV has been put through by Mahindra. 

When it launches later this year, expect the new Mahindra to challenge Tata's Hexa head-on and occupy the space vacated by the earlier Toyota Innova. In addition to these direct rivals, Maruti-Suzuki's Ertiga at the lower end and an army of similar-priced SUVs and crossovers are not going to make it easy for this upcoming MPV to settle down.

Will Mahindra break the shackles, make people look beyond 'the SUV look' and succeed in this attempt? Let's wait and watch.

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