A lot of you might be looking at the pictures and thinking that this is the TUV300 facelift. Well, Mahindra doesn’t call it the TUV300 anymore and instead has rebadged it as the Bolero Neo. The Bolero Neo is a modern alternative to the trusty old Bolero which is also the best selling SUV in India. The Bolero Neo is for those who want the trusted Bolero brand but in a modern package. So does is the Bolero Neo worthy of the Bolero nameplate or just a TUV300 underneath? Let’s find out.
The front fascia is what makes the Bolero more premium than the original Bolero. Mahindra has added many signature elements which makes it a Bolero like the two vertical creases on the bonnet and more importantly the grille with 6 vertical slats. The wrap-around lamps get LED DRLs and also a static bending function. The honeycomb mesh grille with the skid plate on the lower end of the bumper finishes off the sophisticated yet brawny front end of the Bolero Neo. The side of the Bolero Neo is what will remind you of the TUV300.
Mahindra has made some changes such as new plastic cladding and 15-inch alloy wheels. The rear is again unmistakably similar to the TUV300 with a spare wheel taking up most of the rear. The steel spare wheel cover has Bolero branding on it and it is flanked by two halogen taillamps. Open the tailgate and you will see two jump seats which will essentially make it a 7 seater. The boot space stands at 385 litres which is as much as other SUVs in its class.
Before getting in, one should note that the Bolero Neo is meant to be a rugged and practical SUV that does not prioritize a huge feature list and high-quality interiors. Climb into the car with the help of the footstep and you will again see a familiarity with the TUV300 in the interiors. The first thing you notice in the front after sitting on the comfortable seats is the all-new instrument cluster.
You sit high up and visibility around is great thanks to the huge glass area. The instrument cluster is carried from other Mahindra’s like the Thar and is quite informative. The 7-inch touchscreen takes up most of the centre stage and it comes with Mahindra’s BlueSense app which comes with a lot of features. Storage spaces are decent as well with a recessed dash, big cupholders and decently-sized glovebox. Some of the highlights of the features are height adjustment for driver seat, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, ISOFIX child mounts, electric ORVMS and cruise control.
The safety features are dual airbags with ABS and EBD. All in all, the features and the interiors are good when you compare it to the bare bones Bolero. The rear seats of the Bolero Neo are wide and can seat three abreast easily. Headroom and knee room are decent with the only issue being that you might find your shin brushing against the front seats.
The Bolero Neo is powered by a familiar 1.5 litre 3 cylinder diesel engine which is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. The engine produces 100hp and 260nm of torque. The torque is up by 20nm and the difference is immediate. The engine is a typical Mahindra mHawk unit that is very tractable and delivers and is very tractable in the lower rev range. The engine doesn’t feel like a 3 cylinder unit until 2,600rpm but the moment you pass by it you hear the 3 cylinder thrum.
The power delivery starts to build up after 1,300rpm and stays strong till 4,00rpm after which it fades away. The engine is not at its best when revved hard and it is suited more towards relaxed driving. The insulation is decent as well with no complaints. In terms of fuel efficiency, one should expect around 18kpl with a light foot. The gearbox has long throws and a very slight hint of being notchy. The gear ratios are closely spaced and one shouldn’t expect class-leading acceleration figures from the SUV.
The steering has some play at the dead centre and the high centre of gravity can be felt while driving. The body roll is also quite evident and it doesn’t feel well connected while you’re on the corners. The suspension has been tuned more towards comfort considering its application. The suspension can be felt working hard when driven over bad roads and speed breakers and this is where the suspension shines.
The Bolero Neo also gets an option of mechanically locking differential which helps it get out of tricky situations. All in all, the Bolero Neo is not made for enthusiasts with its slow engine, dead steering and high centre of gravity. The SUV is more suited towards comfort, low speed tractability and rough road ability which it does very well.
The Bolero Neo is an SUV for those who want a spacious, rugged and a comfortable no nonsense SUV. It may fall short in front of other modern compact SUVs but the Bolero Neo cannot be compared to them. It does what it is made to and it does present itself as a more modern and sophisticated Bolero with all the traits of the original one.