The following review may sound a little biased, but then you will know why soon enough. I will try my best to integrate the standard oppo-type reviews in this one as well. Also, at some points, my writing may go a little off-topic, but I will be doing that purposely, so as to make you all understand why I fell in love with this car.
Most of the pics are from google search and certain auto forums. So, full credits to whoever has the rights to those pics. I have put in pics of my own car in between as well.
However, I have always remembered cars that I love. They hold a special place in my memory. I have travelled the west pretty extensively, and through my observations and experience I realized one thing: there is a lot I have to learn.
So let's get on with how come I fell in love with this car called as Mahindra Quanto:
My family's association with Mahindra started out about 4 years back. We needed a UV which was cheap and reliable. Nothing else. There were only 2 companies to choose from then: Mahindra and Tata. For all practical purposes, this is still the scenario today. Spec by spec, the Tata was a better car in all ways, and I was hard pressed to choose the Mahindra. The Tata U.V. (utility vehicle) was a tad bit more expensive, but we could stretch if need be. The car would be driven only by our drivers, so I asked my family driver to test drive both the cars, and we will buy whichever he likes. My driver liked the Mahindra U.V., and the dealer gave us a good deal and I couldn't care less.
2 months later, and our driver crashed my primary car. I now had only the Chevrolet Spark (more popularly known as Daewoo Matiz in some parts of the world) with me, and I had to take some of our clients out to dinner. The Mahindra U.V. (which is known as Bolero Camper btw) was standing idly nearby, and I had no option but to ask my friend to ferry my clients in the spark whilst I follow them in the bolero with some of my other associates. Clearly, that was a turning point of my life. I fell in love with a second car in my life. This is how the bolero camper looks like:
It will transport you back to an entirely different era. Bare bones, basic, unsafe but honest car. Just look at the door hinge in the interior pic. It's just a small strap! Yes.. that's how basic it really is. No a/c, 4 speed manual gearbox without a synchromesh (I didn't know they still manufactured these till I drove it), brakes are only 'on paper', appalling side view mirrors, and one historical engine and suspension.
I did say love is strange. I did get a chance to drive the Tata U.V. after that, but frankly, I didn't get seduced by it's charm (yes.. it does have it's own charm.. a story for another day).
My love affair with Mahindra had started. Post this single drive, I started following all Mahindra and Tata news in the media.
2. The Present
How things change in just 4 years! The bolero U.V. had covered upwards of 120,000 miles (high by Indian standards) which were largely niggle free. However, due to certain developments, we had to buy a new car, and a 'proper' car this time; not a U.V.. We needed a diesel, since our running was on the higher side. The problem was that since this past year, the price difference between petrol and diesel had skyrocketed (petrol was pricier than diesel by INR 15-20, depending on where you live). This led to a sudden spurt in demand for diesel cars, and every auto manufacturer started levying a hefty premium for their diesel models. This meant that a lot of vehicles were out of our budget.
My requirements were simple. A car with:
- good ground clearance (4wd/AWD is not necessary)
- ability to withstand outstanding abuse from me and my drivers.
- easy aftermarket parts support.
- relatively cheap for running repairs.
I narrowed down my options (as per my requirements). The options:
a) Mahindra Bolero: The bolero sells in many different body styles here. This one was a SUV, which was rejected by my father since he wanted a change.
b) Ford Ecosport: Huge demand for this car in India (with some variants having insane waiting periods). Was available for immediate delivery for a premium (yes.. dealers are the same everywhere), and frankly I would have paid the premium too had it not been the fact that the car wouldn't survive in the hands of my drivers for even a year!
c) Tata Sumo: I have a soft spot for this car in my heart and this was my choice. It is an honest workhorse and one of the few reliable Tata's in the market today. A very decent car as well.
This time, however, I was more informed. I did my homework (read —> research on car forums, and various other websites), and was set on the Tata Sumo. Problem was... my father steadfastly refused to entertain a Tata in our home (we had the Tata Indica a couple of years back, which was sold as the City Rover in Britain.. it was a terrible experience for us). Tata cars have a perception of poor quality control in the minds of enthusiasts. Think of it as the citroen cars of 2000's. The drive-train is solid; rest is well....
That evening, my father mentioned that he liked the Quanto which he saw at the Mahindra dealership.
I had totally forgotten about this car! This car has been launched over a year back and was a market dud. Off I went to do a little more research. It satisfied all our requirements on paper at least.. so gave the green signal to my dad about the car. Next day, me and my dad pitched 2 dealers against each other and finalized the deal in 4 hours :) No test drives, no pre-delivery inspections.. nothing. Paid the amount next day, and got the car after 5 days (as per our request).
3. The Car
Now, till now, I have always associated Mahindra with tractors and U.V.'s. I have seen their vehicles and travelled in some of them extensively. So, my hopes were pretty low.
Step into the Quanto and you will realize just how much Mahindra as a car manufacturer has progressed; from a tractor and jeep maker to U.V. maker to finally a car maker.
The Quanto is actually based on the platform of Mahindra's people mover called as 'Xylo'. Here are some pics of the Xylo from googling.
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