The Mahindra Bolero is a reliable workhorse for both the company and its customers. There are few vehicles that have enjoyed this level of loyalty and have managed to retain customers both in the hinterland and in the cities. But Mahindra has failed to replicate this success with many other SUVs, including the TUV 300 and Korean clones. The original Bolero was clearly not discarded in favor of a radically new vehicle. Instead, the TUV300 was redesigned and renamed the “Bolero Neo”. Both vehicles will now coexist, and the Neo now has several Bolero design signatures.
The TUV300 was supposed to attract a city audience. But his focus on people’s movers, his overly upright and elevated stance, and his positioning is a bit of a mismatch over the rest of the segment, didn’t help him win more customers. It is now returning in its form BS 6 (Bharat Stage 6 show) and with a new name. The Bolero Neo is still almost a TUV300 in its boxy but powerful SUV design character. Many body panels remain unchanged, although those that have been replaced make it look slightly more metrosexual. The first body is lowered by 20 mm without affecting the ground clearance. The bonnet line has also been lowered in an attempt to make the design more aerodynamic to look at. Borrowing some design lines from the original Boler, the Neo gets a black side trim that runs parallel to the shoulder crease. The headlights and front grille are new with a fresh combination of elements. The front fender is brand new, has a large airbag and a mix of diagonal, sharply crumpled parts for a more robust look. The shell-style cover plate, chrome grille and round fog lamps (the TUV300 had square ones) refer to the original Bolero.
The new Bolero Neo is still built on the third generation of the Mahindra case with the case that also made up the interior of the TUV300. The lowering of the top hat makes the side profile more comfortable, and the small 15-inch rims are the only element that weakens the image. The rear design of the Bolero Neo is almost identical to the TUV 300, with the exception of a new X-shaped spare wheel cover placed in front of the side doors. Open the opening, and what you’ll get is a narrow luggage space if folding side-facing seats are fitted, or a wider and higher storage space of about 380 liters when the jump seats are tied.
Big changes in the Bolero Neu compared to the TUV300 are in the cabin. Mahindra highlights the fact that the instrument panel and other cabin elements were designed by Italian design house Pininfarina. It seems more comfortable to look at and symmetrical in appearance. The two-tone dash-colored theme and layering removes any doubt as to whether there are hangovers from the past focused on utilitarianism. The grip seems to be good, although there are rough corners and joints. But the finish still lacks the finesse that many other sub-compact SUVs have. The reason is probably the choice of hard plastic for dashboard panels. Door panels and their elements are much better to look at in a similar way, and even the touch and touch is improved.
The fabric upholstery in my test mule felt good and provided firm cushioning and support. Although the jerks themselves weren’t too generous, he felt comfortable even after about five hours behind the wheel. The rear bench offers decent support for the thighs, although the construction seems to be simplified. The driver’s seat is now height-adjustable, which allows me to mark one box on my complaint list.
What remains one of my objections is Mahindra’s persistence with side-facing jumping seats. A car manufacturer of its stature cannot be considered to offer these products as factory equipment. It should also not be called a Bolero Neo seven-seater (which is also in its brochure) when there are no safety restrictions for passengers on those seats.
All in all, the Bolero Neo’s cabin is cleaner and contains a combination of equipment elements that give it a more modern look. The 17.8 cm infotainment touchscreen and instrument panel offer a combination of controls and driving information. There is now cruise control with controls on the steering wheel. Voice messaging and connectivity based on the Blue Sense mobile app are also new. But Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are still missing. The Bolero Neo air conditioner is great; it cooled me down pleasantly during the all-day test drive. It’s an under-4-meter SUV with rear seats, so the space in the middle is narrower than in some competing models.
The Bolero Neo gets a 3-cylinder mHawk100 diesel engine paired with a 5-speed manual transmission. This device was used in the TUV300 and the original Boler. In the Bolero Neo, the 1,493 cc engine uses turbo variable geometry to create 100bhp of peak power and a good 260Nm of torque; it all feeds on the rear wheels; through the mechanical locking differential (MLD available only in variant N10 (O) with upper decoration).
For the 3-cylinder, the unit is quite refined. Its performance on the road seems to have an urban bias, with a lot of torque at the lower end of the rev range. Top power reaches 3,750 rpm, and with idling set to around 1,000 rpm, you’ll need to significantly increase your speed before the engine reaches the red line at 5,000 rpm. Short ratios and a rather lavish level of torque help the Bolero Neo progress quickly. Slight accelerations are slow, although they run out of breath when the needle goes into 3-digit speeds. The clutch was light, and the narrow rev range meant fewer shifts even on crowded roads. The transmission still needs to be improved. The shift quality is rubber and the gear rod is too high. The suspension mounted in the Bolero Neo still gives the vehicle a strong off-road driving character. Like the new Thar, the Bolero Neo offers good ride quality on a stretch of pure blackboard. On broken asphalt, it runs through some of the worst sections, and while there is no sense of fragility, lower passenger insulation and body rolling make for a worse ride compared to some competitors in the segment.
In its attempt to streamline features for the Bolero Neo, Mahindra dropped several and added others to keep prices competitive. One interesting feature will be the MLD which is part of the multi-terrain technology that Mahindra has introduced in the Bolero Neo. In the absence of an expensive, fully developed all-wheel drive system, MLD is an affordable but effective alternative. The differential detects the rear wheel slipping and sends torque to the other. It may not be the most commonly used feature, but some of the missing ones would be. For example, mirrors cannot be folded electrically, although adjustments are possible. Reversing sensors are available, although a camera is missing.
But it’s good to see part of the focus on safety to ensure you get two airbags for driver and front passenger, ABS with EBD and cornering brake control, and so on. The Bolero Neo is a much better alternative to the TUV300. It brings Bolero design and features into a more modern urban package. Prices start from .4 8.48 lakh, ex-salon.