If there is one SUV that has been silently selling in very good numbers right since its launch then that has to be the Mahindra Bolero. This rugged SUV has sold over 1.3 billion units since its launch and still continues to sell in good numbers. Now Mahindra wants to target the youngsters and semi urban/urban buyers and for that they have got the Bolero Neo which in short is the heavily updated and improvised version of the TUV3OO. We drive the latest Bolero in town to get you this our detailed road test review.
Food for Thought
The Bolero replaced the highly successful Armada on the SUV lineup for Mahindra in 2000. The Bolero is manufactured at Mahindra’s Chakan plant. Bolero has been highly successful in semi urban and rural places due to its ruggedness and extremely low cost of ownership. It also was the 1st car from the Mahindra lineup to feature independent suspension. Olympic Bronze medalist and 5 time World Boxing Chamipon MC Mary Kom received a Bolero in 2012. Bolero not only is the highest selling SUV of India but also is in the top 10 best selling cars in the country.
Well to start off with the Bolero New does look like the facelifted TUV3OO but then the blokes at Mahindra have got loads of changes to it make it trademark Bolero family. The body now sits 20mm lower on to the chassis and that does reduce the earlier bulky looks that the TUV had. Upfront you get the trademark Mahindra family six vertical slat chrome grille along with mesh grill, the front is stylized with the sharp muscular Bolero styled front bumper that comes with a wide air dam finished in black mesh styling. You also get round fog lamps on the edges of this beefy bumper with unpainted cladding on its lower section. The headlamps get a sharp edgy styling and come with yellow halogen bulbs along with LED DRL’s in them. The bonnet gets the trademark camshell styling along with soft character lines on it.
Coming to the sides what stands out here is the trademark Bolero fibre cladding strip that runs starting the fenders all the way till the tail lamp. The square wheel arches also get fibre cladding around them. The doors also get muscular styling just like the Bolero. You also get a highly practical step-board made of heavy duty metal which can take some good load on it. The glass area is large with blacked out window pillars. The third row glass is not fixed and can be pushed open to get in some fresh air when needed. The doors get unpainted grab type handles and also get some heavy reinforcement on them and can take some beating just like the Boleros. The Bolero Neo drives on R15 tyres mounted on silver finish multispoked alloys.
Coming to the rear here what stands out is the spare wheel cover that is in typical Bolero design and the practical metal step. You also get a body coloured spoiler along with rear wash wipe. The rear bumper also gets neat muscular styling along with stop reflectors. The tail lights are large and flushed into the body. The iconic Bolero badging placed on the boot door that opens side ways.
Mahindra owns Pininfarina design house and they used them for their design inputs on the interiors of the Bolero Neo. You can step into the cabin using the step board once inside you realize how roomy the Bolero Neo actually is. You get dualtone dashboard finished in beige and black, silver inserts around the AC vents, 7 inch touchscreen infotainment system with all the connectivity features, single zone climate control, instrument cluster with LCD MFD display in the middle, trademark Mahindrs 4-spoke steering that can be adjusted for height, MFD buttons on the steering. The 5-speed manual shifter is again the long throw Mahindra style unit. The power window control buttons are placed just behind the gear shifter in typical Mahindra styling.
Seats get beige fabric upholstery while the drivers seat gets manual height adjust. You also get foldable arm rest for both the front seats. There is tons of space available in the front seats wih loads of head, knee and shoulder room. The middle row gets two head rests and a foldable arm rest. On the 2nd row too there is tons of head room, knee room and shoulder room. Three passengers can easily sit here with a full flat floor in place extending comfort for the passenger seated in the middle. There is no AC vent for the middle row seating.
Coming to the third row, getting in is a breeze by just stepping on the metal step. You get two side facing jump seats here which can seat kids only. We tried fitting in but it was not a very comfortable place to be. Folding these two jump seats gives you the boot space which is of 384 litres.
The Bolero Neo has loads of space and also had tons of cubby holes to store things in the centre console, door pads etc. The glove box is a tad bit tiny for a SUV this size. Comfort level in the cabin is pretty neat and premium for its class.
Engine – Transmission – Off-Road
Hawk Diesel engine that makes 100PS of power and 260Nm of torque. This is a rear wheel drive SUV and the only one in its class. This engine comes mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. There is no option of an automatic transmission as of now. The Bolero Neo uses the latest generation Scorpio and the Thar’s chassis which should give you a tiny hint of its off road capability.
On the go the mHawk100 engine gives out that meaty diesel roar. Refinement levels are good while at idle too the engine roar is heard. Shift into the first gear and you notice the pretty soft clutch. Power delivery is pretty neat with loads of torque available at all speeds. The drive quality is also good and confident. The overall visibility from behind the steering is excellent and very commanding. The ride quality is on the better side while on the tarmac the Bolero Neo did some good high speeds with great confidence and grace. In the braking department the SUV gets front disc and rear drum brakes which do that job pretty nicely. The steering has good feedback and tuned on the heavier side.
The real fun or strong USP of the Bolero Neo is its off roading capability. We took it to a off road course to check it out and it just glided over the obstacles. The SUV gets this differential lock system that they call as MTT and what this does is for example if the SUV is stuck on some difficult adventurous terrain the when you press the throttle the rear wheel which has most traction kicks in with sudden torque pushing out the vehicle. We tried this unique feature and to our pleasant surprise it worked effortlessly getting us out of the tricky situation with extra ease.
The Bolero has a very strong iconic brand value and following, now with the Bolero Neo that joins the club it does is promises to offer the same iconic DNA but with more premiumness and comfort. This now becomes the most spacious and capable sub 4-meter SUV available in its class. Priced at Rs.8.48 Lakh the Mahindra Bolero Neo is just the perfect option to go for if you need a brute, spacious, go anywhere SUV that does its job with utmost ease and finesse.
Words – Ritesh Madhok
Photography – Govind Gadekar
Video – Bhushan Joshi & Govind Gadekar