2021 Mahindra Bolero Neo evaluation, test drive

Saumil Shah

We have mentioned time and time again that the old Mahindra TUV300 is a reliable and more modern alternative to the respectable Mahindra Bolero. Now, more than a year after being off the shelf after BS6, TUV300 is back, however, this time it was launched in the form of Mahindra Bolero Neo.

Why do you want to carry out rebranding activities? The answer is simple-the trustworthy Bolero has proven its courage in its nearly two decades of existence, and this sturdy and durable main horse still keeps Mahindra’s sales rankings bright, especially because it is deep in the hinterland. The pure brand equity that everyone enjoys. Mahindra hopes to capitalize on the success of the Bolero brand and now turn Bolero Neo into the next sales hero.

But do not think that this is the only reason for the name change. TUV has always been a good reason to wear the Bolero badge. Although we have said this before, you will see it in this review if you are also involved.

Does Neo look like Bolero?

Bolero Neo continues the boxy shape of TUV300, but the changes in 2021 are not just superficial. The entire body shell is further lowered to the trapezoidal frame chassis in order to reduce the overall ride height by 20 mm and the engine cover is 40 mm lower than before. Although a quick comparison of the specifications of TUV300 and Bolero Neo on paper looks the same, personally, Bolero Neo looks shorter and the gap on the wheel arches is significantly smaller. Mahindra claims that its ground clearance has not changed.

Its overall ride height has been reduced by 20 mm, and it now looks shorter.

However, this design may be the only area where Neo and Bolero are disconnected. Although Bolero appears sturdy and upright, Neo looks more stylish and stylish. Mahindra has therefore added certain elements, such as the toothed front grille, some slanted cutouts on the front bumper and round fog lights to give it some similarities to Bolero. An obvious Bolero design element is the black shoulder bag, which is as long as Bolero Neo, and is clearly called the “bull pusher” by some Bolero owners. This black cladding also helps to break the Neo’s visual height. Its side profile with black B-pillar and C-pillar, smaller wheel arch clearance and better overall posture, is now more palatable. The 15-inch wheels are designed differently, although they look too small compared to the height of the car. At the rear, the taillights have restored the red tint (these used transparent lenses in the 2019 TUV300 facelift), and retained the roof spoiler and the unpainted rear parking sensor. The X-shaped spare tire cover has also been retained, but now it proudly shows off the Bolero badge.

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The black stripe called the “bull push hand” is a typical Bolero design feature.

Is the interior like Bolero?

Thankfully, they are not. What is immediately noticeable is that it is easier to enter the cabin due to the reduced ride height. Once in, you will notice that Bolero Neo follows the cabin design and layout of the TUV300. Although its design and the materials used are very practical, it still feels far away compared to the rudimentary cabin of the standard Bolero. Unlike its appearance, the interior does not have design features similar to Bolero, which is not a bad thing.

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The design and layout of the two-tone dashboard looks more modern than the old Bolero.

The simple design of the dashboard continues to adopt a beige and black two-tone theme, and is equipped with a 7-inch touch screen. Compared with the 2019 facelift, the seat uses a new fabric material. The latter uses a quilted artificial leather interior. The only outstanding omission in the equipment list is the reversing camera equipped in the 2019 car. In addition to these, Neo still has chair-like front seats with bench cushions and separate armrests. You will appreciate its superior seating position and bright and airy cabin. The rear seats are also very flat and can easily accommodate three people side by side. However, the seat cushioning is stronger than the standard Bolero, but its tilt angle is similar, and there is even a center armrest for comfort; the latter is stronger than the Bolero unit Much. Knee and legroom are not as spacious as the headroom provided, which is done deliberately to accommodate the side jump seat at the rear.

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Although the seat itself can easily accommodate three passengers, the cushion in the second row is hard.

When it comes to jumping seats, adults of medium build will find that there is limited shoulder space and head space is also precious. Due to lack of space, two passengers sitting opposite each other will have to sit in an eccentric position with their feet and knees staggered. There are butterfly windows for ventilation, and there is a seat pocket for storing mobile phones and other items. There are no seat belts to hold the occupants in place, and in the event of a collision, this is not the place or location where they should be seated; so it is best to fold them up and use this area to transport 384 liters of cargo.

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The adult space on the jumping seat is tight. It is best to keep the seat folded to carry 384 liters of cargo.

What equipment does Bolero Neo provide?

The N10 variant (top specification) is equipped with ABS and other packages, with EBD and corner brake control, dual airbags, 7-inch touch screen, remote key entry, electric rearview mirror adjustment, parking sensor, rear wiper and washer, and cruise control, As a prominent feature. A variant of N10 (O) will be introduced later, it will also be equipped with a mechanical locking differential (more on that later), which makes Bolero Neo more capable on dangerous terrain.

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A touch screen was obtained, but Mahindra removed a reversing camera.

Even the top specifications miss several important functions that we associate with modern cars, such as automatic climate control, power folding rearview mirrors, auto dimming of inner rearview mirrors, projector headlights, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, although these may not be those that will appeal to its target audience. A key feature that should not be overlooked is the reversing camera, which is available in the 2019 TUV300.

How does Bolero Neo drive?

Under the hood is a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder diesel engine, shared with Bolero, but at a higher 100 horsepower; the conventional Bolero can produce 75 horsepower. What’s new is its electronically controlled variable geometry turbocharger. Therefore, the maximum torque has been increased to 260Nm, which is 20Nm more than the TUV300 which also has the same engine. Compared with TUV’s 1,200rpm range, the maximum torque range spreads from 1,750-2,250rpm to more than 500rpm. So, will this affect driving performance? Absolutely not!

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Thanks to the new eVGT, the torque of the 1.5-liter engine has increased by 20Nm compared to before

This engine is undoubtedly one of the best three-cylinder diesel engines available, and it feels smooth, refined and almost vibration-free. Its performance is concentrated on the low end, coupled with a shorter transmission ratio, it feels quite sensitive to percussion. The power transmission is linear. It can be easily pulled out of the idle RPM. As long as you are not driving in a hurry, you can drive slowly at a lower speed and a higher gear. You seldom will this motor speed more than 3,500 rpm, because there is not much available in terms of power. If you adjust it to a maximum of about 4,500 rpm, it will not sound rough or rough. This 1.5-liter engine stays in the comfort zone at a maximum speed of 100 km/h, beyond which you will be out of breath. Those who often travel on highways or mountains full of passengers will need more traction. Its five-speed manual gearbox is smooth even if the stroke is a bit long, and its light clutch makes driving a breeze. Although not available at the time of release, automatic options may be introduced in the future.

When things got tough, Bolero Neo started to shine. Unfortunately now, Mahindra only allows the media to drive cars on their Pune test track, but they did prepare a small patch for rough roads. On this track, Neo’s eyelids went through without blinking, and even this sight would make other SUVs cringe. It uses Mahindra’s 3road The first generation of body frame structure and its sturdy nail-like suspension components are designed to withstand blows. The new Mechanical Locking Differential (MLD) also allows Neo to relax in harsh road conditions.

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Although the body roll still exists, it is much smaller than the TUV300.

MLD works in low traction or sticky situations, when it detects that one of the rear wheels is spinning faster than the other rear wheel (the differential speed difference between the two wheels is 100 rpm), thereby locking the wheels and therefore The greater traction when transmitting power to the wheels enhances Neo’s overall road grip at low and crawling speeds. Despite the power of the system, the metal clanging sound of the MLD when it locks the rotating wheels may surprise the driver, at least in the initial stages. Although this Eaton MLD has always been provided as an accessory for TUV300 and Scorpio, it is now provided as a standard for the N10 (O) variant.

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The new mechanical locking differential injects greater confidence when traversing dangerous terrain.

In several corners of the Mahindra test track, it is obvious that although the body roll still exists, the body roll is smaller than before due to the lowered center of gravity and the redesigned suspension.

Should I buy Bolero Neo or Bolero?

To be honest, Mahindra Bolero Neo’s body frame structure, seven-seat capacity and rear-wheel drive layout make it in a market segment of its own, which is very different from the complex compact SUVs sold. Therefore, although this Mahindra is unlikely to attract ordinary urban family car buyers, it is an extremely attractive case for buyers looking for a rock-solid, ubiquitous modern car.

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Yes, its styling may not be as sturdy and durable as the old car, but underneath it is definitely, plus the optional mechanical locking differential (MLD), which is further enhanced by injecting greater confidence when crossing dangerous terrain It’s the ability to go anywhere. There are better overall improvements and many modern features, all of which provide strong support for Bolero Neo. Then comes the pricing. Although the MLD-equipped version has not yet been launched, the asking price of Neo ranges from 848 to 99.9 million rupees, which is almost the same as Bolero’s price range of 863 to 961,000 rupees, so it is excellent value for money.

This is the best iteration of TUV so far, and it is certainly worth wearing the Bolero badge. The only question now is whether its target audience also thinks so.

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