M&M, which had a hit last year with the new Thar SUV, has now launched the Bolero Neo, a rebadged and updated version of the earlier TUV300. Effectively a rugged, affordable and compact multi-utility vehicle that can seat up to seven people, the Bolero Neo is powered by Mahindra’s 1.5-litre ‘mHawk’ diesel engine, which produces 100 horsepower and 260Nm of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard across all variants, while the top-end N10 version gets a 17.8cm touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity.

The Bolero Neo, which shares its chassis with the Mahindra Thar, gets a long list of safety kit that includes dual airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD), cornering brake control and ISOFIX child seat mounts. The interiors have been designed by Pininfarina (the storied Italian automotive designer and coachbuilder, which Mahindra acquired in 2015) and feature high-quality plastics and fabric upholstery. There’s tilt-adjustable steering, height-adjustable driver’s seat and the second and third row seats are foldable, which provides increased boot space when required.

‘The design, performance, and engineering enhancements in the new Bolero Neo make it a modern SUV for the fearless young India,’ says Veejay Nakra, CEO, Automotive Division, M&M Ltd. ‘The Neo’s rugged body-on-frame construction, proven mHawk diesel engine and multi-terrain technology make it suitable for rough terrain,’ adds the company’s chief of global product development, Velusamy R.

The Bolero Neo also features high-tech bits like a cruise control system, a driver information system, a voice messaging system, an electronic stop-start system that helps improve fuel efficiency, a reverse assist system for easier parking manoeuvres and even a ‘Blue Sense’ mobile app, which allows the owner to keep track of the vehicle. The 7-seater compact (sub-4m) SUV is now available across all Mahindra dealerships in the country, with an ex-showroom price of Rs 8.48 lakh for the entry-level model.

There are no other body-on-frame (which is more suitable for off-road use as compared to monocoque construction) MUVs available at this price point in India. The Neo only features rear-wheel-drive and 4WD isn’t available, but the manually-lockable differential on the top-end N10 variant should give it a bit of off-road ability. Hence, those who may be looking for a serious 7-seater workhorse that can take on bad, broken roads in its stride should definitely take a closer look at the Bolero Neo.