- New Guptamobile for South Africa
- Mahindra 4×4 has sideways seats
- Made-in-India for rugged roads
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Mahindra SA is launching a “tough and stylish TUV300” described by the automaker as “an authentic off-roader with arresting looks, a rugged chassis and a willing drivetrain” and seven seats.
Just what’s needed for the African outback yet built in India and owned in South Africa by the notorious Gupta family, close friends of our president Jacob Zuma. The company’s copywriter says the 4×4 was “inspired by the design of a battle tank” and will be available in South Africa only with a manual transmission.
Short overhangs and an elevated ground clearance proclaim the rough-road heritage while the pretty bits include chrome-framed foul-weather lights, roof rails, economical (read small, given what might be expected of the SUV) 15″ alloy wheel rims shod with “soft and low road-noise SUV tyres” – the spare mounted on the tail door.
USELESS SEAT BELT
The seven-seat concept fades a little when you realise the “other two” are small inward-facing folding items in the boot area on which the passenger sits sideways to the direction of travel interior – not a great idea should the car be in a collision. A seat belt will be useless.
The occupying human will also be incredible vulnerable in a rear-end collision seated only centimetres from the point of impact. Elsewhere are two bucket front seats and a three-across bench.
The fascia has glossy black detailing and brushed chrome-look surrounds for the conventional instruments though the steering-wheel bears audio and hands-free Bluetooth controls. The centre stack houses an infotainment system and aircon controls.
Two front crash bags, anti-lock brakes and auto door locks comprise the person protection armoury.
All this is hauled, through a five-speed manual gearbox, by an underwhelming 1.5-litre turbodiesel engine capable of 73.5kW at 3750rpm and 240Nm from 1600-2800rpm.
‘Technology items’ include static, switch-off delay on the headlights, regenerative braking and reversing radar.
Colour range is listed as orange, silver, white or red.
PRICE: R229 995, including a three-year or 100 000km warranty, a three-year or 90 000km service plan. First service at 10 000km, then intervals of 20 000km.