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Mahindra Quanto: Practical and efficient

India Infoline News Service | Mumbai | October 18, 2012 17:27 IST

Even following the launch, it was hard to fathom the kind of engineering that would have gone into cutting the Xylo into a sub-4 metre, seven-seater version called the Quanto.

Ever since Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) announced that it intends to launch a mini-Xylo with seven seats, many doubted whether the company could live up to its claims. Even the sneak peeks that one got of the mini-Xylos while being extensively tested on Indian roads made one wonder how M&M planned to fit in seven seats in less than 4 metre of length. Even following the launch, it was hard to fathom the kind of engineering that would have gone into cutting the Xylo into a sub-4 metre, seven-seater version called the Quanto. But M&M has managed to come out with a product that delivers on the promise of getting seven seats into the compact dimensions. And in the process, it has opened up a whole new segment for auto buyers.


On the back of the super success of the XUV 500, M&M decided that it needed a product for yet another fast-growing market in India besides UVs — the hatchback segment. But, it has attacked the hatchback segment with a compact UV in the Quanto. The successful launch of the Maruti Ertiga has shown that there is a market for small seven-seaters in India. It is a market that was waiting to be created. And now a second product has been put into the fray by M&M.


Design, interiors and quality

While the Ertiga borrowed liberally from a few of the Maruti models, the Quanto is essentially built on the Xylo platform. Look at it from the front, and one is reminded of the old Xylo, but with a shorter snout. One would have thought that with the Xylo having undergone a facelift, the Quanto would have the same features. But M&M, in their infinite wisdom, has kept the old genes at work here.


Design, interiors and quality

While the Ertiga borrowed liberally from a few of the Maruti models, the Quanto is essentially built on the Xylo platform. Look at it from the front, and one is reminded of the old Xylo, but with a shorter snout. One would have thought that with the Xylo having undergone a facelift, the Quanto would have the same features. But M&M, in their infinite wisdom, has kept the old genes at work here.


The Quanto may not be much of a looker upfront. But from the front three-quarter or the rear three-quarter, one can appreciate the looks a little better. From the side, the Quanto looks like a beefed-up Wagon R. To embellish the rather bland doors, M&M has provided for anti-scratch strips. There is an attached running board on both sides to help easy ingress and egress.


The Quanto is very much a Xylo all the way to the C-pillar. After that you start to really appreciate the re-engineering that has gone into fitting into the sub-4 metre category, to avail excise duty benefit. The small spaces between the C-pillar and D-pillar are more like quarter glasses. These can be opened a tad, not unlike the Premier Padminis of old to let in air for the rear passengers.


Source: Mahindra


Enhancing the tall boy design are the new tail lamps that are placed higher up. The space above the tail lamps is clad in black plastic strips along the D-pillar and it helps mask its mass. The tail gate opens to the side, is adorned with the rather stylish brand/model name and comes with a mounted spare wheel, adding to a slightly macho appeal to the Quanto and serving as a reminder that despite its short stature, the lineage should not be forgotten. The stepney cover is interesting – covers the wheel, while saving on material too, and hence cost.


A small foot-step is provided below the bumper for entering the rear compartment. This is where I loved the re-engineering that has gone in. Inside the so-called boot space, you get two side-facing jump seats to make it a seven-seater. While my kids loved it and preferred to spend most of the test drive routine playing in the back, the space is good for medium-sized adults too. Although the jump seats do not come equipped with seatbelts, adults can spend a decent amount of time there. While I agree that the space is cramped, for the kind of vehicle that has been designed, the Quanto can carry off that role pretty effectively. Once you fold and hold back the jump seats with the thin Velcro strips, the luggage space goes up a lot more.


Slide behind the steering wheel and you are hit with a deep sense of déjà vu. The dash, controls and front seats are pretty much from the Xylo. The Quanto is offered in four trims – C2, C4, C6 and C8 (the Xylo comes with E2, E4, E6 and E8). The difference is that when the Xylo was launched, even its E8 version didn’t offer airbags or ABS as a separate option (let alone as standard). But the C8 version of the Quanto offers twin airbags and ABS as standard. The digital display is also the same and offers multiple information tidbits, but it also gives you a digital speedo.


The steering wheel though is borrowed from the Scorpio, but is just the right size, is fabulous to grip, and can be adjusted for rake. The fit and finish on the dash seem reasonable and I just loved the circular door handles on the inside. It is in other areas where the plastic quality is tacky and well, worse than plasticky. The storage area below the driver’s seat can be useful but had sharp bits of plastic jutting out that was sharp enough to hurt. On top of that, the storage tray refused to come out like an obstinate child, and one had to use a lot of force to get it out. The cubicle to carry your glares feels pretty cheap as does the interior of the glove compartment. One can go on, but I guess these are the areas where M&M has compromised to keep the final price under control.


The driver and passenger seats feel comfortable but are shod in fabric, even for the E8 version that I drove. One should not expect plushness out of these seats as they are not meant for any upmarket experience but for the more practical nature of the target segment. Another aspect that is jarring is the choice of colour for the fabric – something that seems more hinterland and less urban. The driver’s seat can be adjusted for angle, and lumbar support, as well as for height. The height adjustment lever (another example of poor plastic) has only two levels – there is no in-between. And to bring up the seat, one has to get off and then flick the lever. Both the front seats have been provided with a foldable armrest. But the driver’s armrest is an impediment while slotting into gears two and four, and also the reverse gear. I would have preferred a smaller box to rest my elbow, a la the XUV 5oo.


Source: Mahindra


The second row has pretty good leg room, but the back is more upright, thanks to the presence of the two jump seats at the back, and feels a lot like a bench. Even with the front seats pushed back completely, the leg room is adequate. The cushioning is much lesser than what one is used to in other vehicles, and once again, cost cutting comes to the fore. There was no provision of a central arm-rest even in the C8 that I test-drove. But there are two foldable trays at the back of the two front seats for passengers to keep their food trays or papers while travelling. So what does the third passenger get?


All three rows get a 12V point for charging of laptops, and there is plenty of space provided to hold bottles, knick knacks, magazines, etc. But it is indeed surprising that even in the C8 version, one does not get AC vents for the second row. While the overall cooling is very good in the Quanto, despite its large glass area, it gets stuffy as the temperature soars. And for those sitting on the jump seats, the only solace is the fact that the tiny quarter glasses can be tilted open to let some air in and remove the stuffiness somewhat. 


Visibility from the driver's seat is good, especially after getting used to the invisible snout. The seating position is high and the glass area is huge giving a greenhouse effect. The front seats, though comfortable, could have done with an extra bit of under thigh support. The foot well is pretty spacious and those who are looking for extended periods of highway driving will surely appreciate the inclusion of a dead pedal. The audio system is pretty basic.


There are small features borrowed from the XUV like the needles trawling the entire gauge when the key is inserted into its place, and the small puddle lamp at the door to enable people to see at night. Then there is the ubiquitous micro-hybrid system. The start-stop system’s on/off button is placed between the centre AC vents. While the micro-hybrid switches off effortlessly, it refused to start at times when the clutch was pressed, and I had to revert to the good old system of twisting the ignition.


Engine, ride and performance

It is not just the sub-4 metre length, but also what is under the hood that allows M&M to claim excise duty benefits for the Quanto. The new mCR100 oil burner is derived from the 2.2 litre mHawk that does duty under the Xylo’s hood. Just that like the chopped chassis, the engine has been chopped too. A cylinder has been taken out of the 2.2 litre four-pot motor, and has been made into a 1.5 litre three-pot. The new twin scroll turbo common-rail diesel engine produces 100 bhp and 24.5 kgm of peak torque.


Source: Mahindra


Turn on the ignition with a very flat key (standard electronic lock-unlock, and a vehicle locator button), and one is slightly taken aback by the relative silence instead of a clatter. In fact while idling, one would feel that it is a normal four-pot at work. Put the engine to work and it get quieter as one progresses through the gears. It smoothly moves off the line and in fact from a standing stop can easily be lifted in second gear. While the progress is steady, it is not as strong as the 100 bhp motor would have you believe. There is a noticeable easing off of power above 3500 rpm (it peaks at 3750 rpm), and if one keeps going higher the noise levels increase. But while cruising under 3000 rpm, one doesn’t hear much of a noise.


As I moved off the line time and again, I could hear a very audible turbo whiz, which was disconcerting at the beginning. While I got used to it later on, it is something that was commented by everyone who sat in the Quanto with me. The engine starts to pull as early as 1500 rpm, but there is a noticeable turbo lag. Anything lower than 1500 rpm and the engine protests fairly violently and that filters in through the vibrations in the clutch pedal and gear knob. But once you get used to the engine character, one can easily play between the clutch and accelerator to keep the Quanto in a peppy state. In the fifth gear, one can drop to sub-40 kmph speeds and the motor will continue to chug along. Keep the Quanto in the right gear at the right speed and it rewards you with the kind of pace that will surprise you. But it has not been built to compete in drag races.


NVH levels have been kept under check very well in the Quanto and M&M needs to be commended for the same. The gear knob is easy on the hands while the long throw is easy to shift. But the clutch is on the heavier side and gave my thigh muscles a thorough workout in bumper to bumper traffic. Brakes feel sure in city conditions, though a bit spongy. And when I needed to brake suddenly on the highways trying to egg the Quanto to give me better performance, the ABS kicked in late; just a bit, but enough to have my heart in my mouth every time that I did those tricks on the Uran-Karnala stretch and later along the Palm Beach Road.


Under panic braking situations, this could be a problem that a Quanto owner will have to face, or will have to keep his speed on the right side of the 3-figure mark. Probably that’s why the Quanto comes equipped with an alarm that double beeps five times each time that your speed crosses the 100 kmph mark. A reminder that this is a people mover and not a drag racer!


Despite a ground clearance of 180 mm (lower than the Ertiga’s at 185 mm) and a tall-boy design, M&M has managed to make the Quanto handle better. What it gets is 205/65 R15 tyres as opposed to the R16 tyres in the Xylo, thus reducing the ground clearance a bit. Dampers have been incorporated at the rear while the rest of the suspension has been kept the same as the Xylo. With these deft design changes, the Quanto handles neatly and there is ample grip on offer.


But with a tall-boy design and a body-on-chassis frame, the Quanto is not a corner craver; there is a fair amount of body roll. Negotiating a fast corner with a glint in the eye is better done when there are no passengers, lest you get abused (by your fellow passengers) freely. That said, even when I was all alone and was getting into a sweeping corner, my right foot automatically came off the accelerator as I wasn’t confident of the Quanto taking the corner at speeds in excess of 120 kmph without the mini-Xylo executing a Fosbury Flop on me!


The sub-4 metre length of the Quanto comes in handy within the city. Manoeuvring in narrow roads, taking tight U-turns and slotting into wafer thin parking slots felt like a breeze, thanks to the 5.4 metre turning radius (Swift has a 5.2 metre turning radius). I loved the twin rear parking sensors that ensured that reversing wasn’t a tough ask. While a brief glance at the ORVMs was always handy, the LED indicators on the rear view mirror ensure that you can watch your backside that much more carefully.


On city roads and at city speeds, one can get a pretty decent ride quality. But as the speed moves higher, one can easily wear the sailor’s hat from the Xylo commercial since the ride starts to resemble the rough seas – the soft-sprung suspension gets very bumpy and there is lot of vertical movement due to road undulations.


Verdict

Kitna deti hai?” or “How much mileage does it give?” is a quintessential question borrowed from Maruti. Despite its bulky looks, the Quanto excels. While I couldn’t do a very accurate check, rough back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that the 1.5 litre three-pot gave me roughly about 14.5 kmpl. Given the fact that this Quanto was getting abused with either a heavy right foot or being pushed into potholes, or crawling at the lower gears in the city, it was quite a performance.


The Quanto can do everything that a hatchback does, and then some more, something that other hatches can only dream about. Come to think of it, the Quanto doesn't even ask for more parking space! But at the same time, it reminds us constantly that we are behind the wheel of a fairly large car. You'll see it in the looks, you'll feel it in its high seating position and you will notice it even in the stepney at the back. It has plenty of rough edges in terms of fit-and-finish, and is also low on the refinement section as far as the powertrain is concerned. But it is nimble to drive within the city.


It has been a decade since M&M launched the Scorpio, redefining its image. Since then, it has introduced a slew of UVs (including the best-selling XUV), improving the Bolero and now launching the Ssangyong Rexton. The Quanto is a big step into the small world of hatchbacks for M&M and is aimed at improving volumes for the Xylo platform. Whatever M&M may say, the Quanto is clearly aimed to target the tier-2, 3, 4 cities and beyond – it can be seen in the overall fit-and-finish on the inside, and the performance of the powertrain too. While the urban customer will surely look at it, it is the semi-urban and rural markets that would provide the numbers.


I give the Quanto a big thumbs up for combining practicality, engineering, pricing and derring-do into the Indian auto market. The initial booking numbers look good – the Quanto can go the distance.


Quanto – specifications

Engine mCR100, Direct injection diesel engine, in-line, 3 cylinder
Cubic Capacity 1493 cc
Max Gross Power 100 Bhp @ 3750 rpm
Max Gross Torque 240 Nm @1600-2000 rpm
Gear Box 5-speed manual
Seating 7
Ground Clearance 180 mm
Tyres 205/65 R15, Radial Tubeless
Steering Tilt
Suspension
Front Independent Coil Springs, Double Wishbone, with Anti-roll Bar
Rear Five-link, Coil Springs
Brakes
Front Ventilated Disc
Rear Drum
Fuel Tank Capacity 55 litres
Turning Circle Radius 5.4 m
Gross Vehicle Weight 1640 kg
Boot Volume 690 litres (with seats folded)
Vehicle Dimensions  
Wheelbase, mm 2760
Overall width, mm 1850
Overall length, mm 3985
Overall height, mm 1880
Price Ex-showroom Mumbai
C2 Rs 6.7 lakh
C4 Rs 7.3 lakh
C6 Rs 7.9 lakh
C8 Rs 8.5 lakh
Source: Mahindra








 

 
 
 
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