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Mahindra Bolero Neo first drive test

Why should i avoid it?

  • Mediocre interior
  • Rear seat comfort is missing


Mahindra’s new Bolero Neo closes the gap that we didn’t know had to be bridged between the now defunct TUV300 and the Bolero. In essence, the Neo is clearly more MOT than the Bolero, but it’s also much higher quality than the latter and with prices between Rs. 8.48 and Rs. 9.99 lakh, a big hitter in terms of value for money . Let’s see if the iconic bolero prefix and extra features help this rugged SUV land with the loyalists and the crowd.

Front view

Interior space and comfort


In terms of how it looks and feels inside the Bolero Neo, there’s not much to discover once you’re familiar with the TUV300’s cabin. With the Neo everything stays the same, which means that the not so beautiful materials are continued with shiny hard plastics on the center console and the doors. Apart from the mediocre workmanship, there is a lot of space at the front with lots of open storage compartments between the front seats. The seats themselves are big and wide, and the lower leg support is surprisingly good too. You also get usable armrests that make long-distance driving a bit more relaxed.

Sit in the front row

So that’s the positive. Unfortunately, rear comfort is still an issue. While there is ample headroom (thanks to the tall body) and the entire cabin feels spacious from the waist up, you would want more knee room. With the front seats adjusted to my position there is some crunch in legroom even for average height adults.

Rear seats

We’re not fans of cushioning either, as it’s too tight for everyday use and the bench itself is flat and not properly contoured like most other cars. Two passengers can be seated on the rear jump seats, but due to the lack of legroom they can hardly be used when both sides of the jump seats are occupied. It’s also worth noting that the latter also don’t get seat belts due to the confronting layout.

Sit in the third row

Engine and power

Front left three quarters

With its more interesting mechanics, the Bolero Neo offers a pretty unique driving experience compared to the compact crossovers around the Rs 10 Lakh range. In fact, it uses Mahindra’s Gen 3 chassis, which underpins the new Thar and the proven mHawk 1493cc diesel engine with 100 hp and 260 Nm. We come to the chassis setup in terms of driving and driving behavior.

Front right three quarters

Starting with the engine, it delivers 24 hp / 50 Nm more than the Bolero, although both are essentially the same. So the Neo has decent traction on paper, making for a surprisingly nifty driving experience as long as you can hit city speeds. This motor rotates smoothly to around 2,500 RPM after you can hear some diesel rattle. As for the actual ride, performance is effortless at low to medium speeds and the steerability is strong – you get every 260Nm of traction between 1750rpm and 2250rpm, so the midrange of this motor is particularly powerful. Be it in the city or on the highway (up to speeds of 100 km / h or so), the torque build-up is meaty and the Neo never feels like it is struggling.

Right side view

The 5-speed manual transmission impresses with its light, albeit slightly spongy, switching action. The clutch is also lightweight and easy to modulate, so newbies can drive from a standstill without stalling or hopping that rugged SUV. The only downside to this gearbox, frankly, is the long excursions that would tire the driver on long journeys.

Ride and handling

Right behind three quarters

This is an area where the Neo has made a lot of strides over the regular old bolero. In terms of setup, it runs an independent double wishbone front and multi-link rear coil setup. The Bolero, on the other hand, uses a relatively functional setup that includes an independent front but leaf springs in the rear. As for ride quality, there is always a certain amount of dip and rebound on undulating surfaces. However, if you keep the Neo below the speed limit, there is no doubt about the incredibly comfortable ride no matter how rough the road surface gets. It’s lithe but predictable, and like the Scorpio, manages to choke off almost anything that gets in its way. The side movements typical of a ladder frame construction are of course still there, but overall the Neo is unstoppable and you feel like you’re rolling over layers of huge, fluffy pillows, even when the street is littered with potholes.

The steering is light but slow and the handling is overall okay. The Bolero Neo reacts sluggishly to your inputs and its high center of gravity naturally spoils the sport if you throw it through a few corners.

Front right three quarters

Features and equipment

Music system

The premium N10 spec you see here offers a good mix of usable features, but it’s not remarkably full. You get a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, cruise control, eco mode, start-stop function, tilt adjustment for the steering, height adjustment for the driver’s seat, armrests in the front and middle rows, electrically adjustable ORVM, front and rear-wheel drive window lifters , Rear wiper and keyless entry. For safety there are double airbags, ABS and static bending headlights. There’s also an N10 option that will soon be available with a locking rear differential to give it some off-road capability, despite being a rear-wheel drive vehicle only.


Front view

You have to give it to Mahindra in order for the Bolero Neo to be that close to the regular bolero. At Rs 8.48 lakh ex-showroom, the entry-level Neo is not only cheaper, but also better equipped and more refined than the basic bolero, which sells for Rs 8.63 lakh. The premium N10 spec is nearly Rs 40,000 more than the B6 (O) Bolero, but it undoubtedly offers better value with its longer list of features and more sophisticated mechanics. On the flip side, it’s not the finest vehicle to buy for the price – the interior is sub-par and the comfort in the second row leaves a lot to be desired. However, if you are looking for a rugged yet easy to drive SUV that can handle bad roads with ease, the Bolero Neo is your best bet. It’s just an ideal middle ground for buyers looking for a lifestyle vehicle on a budget and with the Bolero badge. it might just be able to attract a lot of people looking for something else in the bracket under Rs 10 lakh.

Images by Kaustubh Gandhi

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