Driven #16: Mahindra Quanto

The latest craze in the Indian automotive market are the so-called 'compact' Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV). Offering customers a nice blend of macho looks, high ground clearance and spacious interiors in a compact footprint that is often less than 4 meters to qualify for the excise duty cuts, it is not very difficult to understand why. The fact that these compact SUVs are not much expensive than many premium hatchbacks just make their business cases that much more simpler. The latest manufacturer to jump into this segment is Mahindra, that is still basking in the huge success of its XUV 500. Continuing the tradition of naming its models with words that end in "o", Mahindra has christened the new model as 'Quanto'.

After announcing its name a couple of months back, Mahindra launched the Quanto late last month, just in time for the festive season highs. So, how does the mini Xylo, oops, the Quanto stack up? We find out with a test drive, albeit a really short one.


With the possible exception of XUV 500, none of the other Mahindra models can be called pretty. Until a facelift came by early this year, the Xylo was the worst among them all. With the Quanto being derived from and sharing most components inside and out with the Xylo, we never really expected it to be a good-looker. And the Quanto doesn't prove us wrong.

The front end is lifted straight out of the Xylo, with a mix of pre-facelift and post-facelift elements thrown in. After quite liking the redesigned front end of the 2012 Xylo, we certainly missed those nice touches in the Quanto. Take, for instance, the chrome inserts in the headlights and grille. They added a touch of class to the Xylo and would have done the same to the Quanto as well. Also, the top portion of the grille that extends into the hood is taken from the Genio pick-up. Here again, we would have preferred the much-better-looking clam-shell hood of the face-lifted Xylo that tapers down and merges beautifully with the grille and headlights. The Quanto's front is then a classic case of something that is good, but could have been a whole lot better.

In profile, the Quanto is very similar to the Xylo up until the C-Pillar. Mahindra's deliberate attempt to chop off the length and bring it under 4 meters is blatantly evident from then on, with the Quanto's rear ending abruptly. In certain angles from the rear, the Quanto looks like a mini sky-scraper on wheels. The superb taillights that are integrated in the D-Pillars and the slightly over-styled spare wheel cover are the highlights at the rear. Mahindra has purposefully added the roof rails and hooked on the spare wheel to the tailgate to give the Quanto that 'pseudo-SUV' look. The blackened pillars all around and side steps help in reducing the visual bulk of the car. The stylish 'Quanto' font needs a special mention here too.

Though the Quanto has many interesting bits and pieces of design, it's not-so-long profile does not gel well with its disproportionately tall body, making it look a little weird.


Unlike the exteriors which had a few unique elements, the interiors of the Quanto are exactly similar to Xylo, save for the colour of the plastics. The 4-spoke steering wheel is dual colored, as are the dashboard and door pads. Thankfully, Mahindra has used a pleasant shade of greige (mix of grey & beige) as the base and a similar but slightly darker shade on certain places to break the monotony. The lower half of the center console incorporates the music system and rotary knobs for the air-conditioner, while the upper half has the triangular vents and the Digital Drive Assist System (DDAS) that displays data like outside and inside temperature, current speed, instantaneous fuel efficiency, etc.

There are 4 variants of Quanto on sale, starting from the sparsely-equipped C2 to the fully-loaded C8 variant. The C8 variant that we drove comes with a host of features that include ABS with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), twin Airbags, reverse parking assist with graphic display in the rear view mirror, integrated music system with USB compatibility and 15-inch alloy wheels. Mahindra's much-hyped Micro Hybrid System, which is nothing but a Start-Stop System is also present to improve the fuel efficiency. Features like foldable snack tray for the middle seat, driver under-seat storage and a whole lot of mobile charging points, bottle holders and magazine pockets increase the utility quotient of the Quanto. As with all Mahindras, interior fit and finish and ergonomics are not upto the mark and definitely needs improvement.

While the front and middle rows are extremely spacious and fairly comfortable to be in, the same cannot be said of the third row with two side-facing jump seats. Though Mahindra is cleverly marketing it as a 7-seater, we would have preferred the Quanto as a 5-seater without those excuses called third-row seats in place. Seriously, the curtailed length of the Quanto makes it so narrow and cramped that only kids would be happy to be seated there. The presence of proper door handles and unlock button is the only positive thing about the third row.

Click on the image above to check out the specifications and comparison of features of all the variants.


With the body itself being a chopped-off Xylo, will the engine be any different? The Quanto comes with a new 3-cylinder engine dubbed 'mCR100', with the number denoting the power output. As you might have guessed, this engine is derived from the 'mEagle' engine of the Xylo, with one of its cylinders cut off. This 1493-cc common-rail diesel engine develops a maximum power of 100 bhp at 3750 rpm and a peak torque of 240 Nm between 1600 to 2800 rpm. If you think the power output is high for a 3-cylinder unit, think again. The Quanto comes equipped with a twin stage turbocharger, a first for an Indian engine and amongst the first for a small displacement engine.

As a result, the Quanto feels sprightly and accelerates to 80 km/h without much of a fuss, after which it begins to struggle. Though we managed to drive it only for a few kilometers, the stretch was good enough for the Quanto to exhibit its strengths and weaknesses. While the engine is extremely responsive in the lower range of the power band, the output starts tapering soon afterwards. At the top-end of the power band, there is little or no progress at all. So, the city drive is as good as it gets for a Utility Vehicle while the out of city drives are sure to be a boring affair. Refinement is good and we were taken by surprise, knowing that it is a 3-cylinder unit. But the engine isn't rev happy though and growls and moans when pushed hard.

The gear lever is angled awkwardly and the shifts don't fall in place easily, similar to the Xylo. Mahindra definitely needs to work on its transmissions to make gear-shifting a smoother affair. One thing that Indians are going to love in the Quanto is its high seating position that offers excellent view of the road ahead. Bumps and potholes filter into the cabin, but the Quanto doesn't get unsettled over rough patches. But, this holds true only upto a certain speed. Come three digit speeds and the Quanto shows its true colors, the disproportionate height wrecking havoc with it's dynamics. Body roll is more pronounced and you just don't get enough confidence to change lanes, let alone corner hard. But then, Quanto is not targeted at people who expect road-hugging handling, isn't it?


* Engine Type: mCR100, In-line, Common-rail Turbo Diesel
* No of Cylinders: 3
* Displacement: 1493 cc
* Maximum Power: 100 bhp @ 3700 RPM
* Maximum Torque: 240 Nm @ 1600-2800 RPM
* Transmission Type: 5-speed MT
* Tires: 205/65 R15
* Brakes: Disc (Front), Drum (Rear)


* Spacious interiors (first & second rows)
* Value for money
* Widespread after-sales service

* Availability of third row seats


* Cramped third row seats
* Lack of top-end grunt
* Ride and Handling


Mahindra has perfectly understood what Indians expect out of a compact SUV - a high seating position for a commanding view of the road ahead, high ground clearance to withstand the infamous potholes on our roads, a frugal engine that delivers great fuel-efficiency, spacious interiors for five passengers, provision to accommodate two additional passengers occasionally, lots of features and a not-so-expensive price tag. They have delivered all these in the Quanto. While doing so, they have also sadly ignored a whole lot of things that a select few of us love - good looks, a powerful engine, balanced ride, confidence-inspiring handling, off-roading capabilities and good fit and finish. Yes, majority of Indians might give a damn about these, but the Quanto would have been much better with all these traits added in.

Whatever it is, the Quanto is going to sell a lot for its strengths and that is ultimately what Mahindra wants.


  1. Mahindra could have done without the jump seats. The crash safety of the third row is a serious question mark.

    1. Exactly our thoughts, we would have been happy too without those jump seats.

  2. Then please remove the seats after you buy it. Problem solved...

    1. Good suggestion, but the market isn't only about us, isn't it?

  3. Front Look is good and I think 3rd row seat is not required and it affects the mini (SUV) look at back. If they re-design the back view with little curvy, then its nice and efficient Product by MAHINDRA. Regards, karthik.

    1. We think the entire car needs a redesign. The front looks too similar to the Xylo and the rear doesn't gel all that well with the front (though it looks quite good when viewed independently). But the market has responded quite well and the Quanto is doing brisk business for Mahindra.