Best Mahindra Bolero Neo Review and Test Drive

Mahindra Bolero Neo: Can Bolero’s brand equity be tapped by this TUV300 rebranded?

We have repeatedly mentioned that the Mahindra TUV300, a former Mahindra Bolero, was a more modern and credible alternative to the venerable Mahindra Bolero.

After being on the shelves for more than a year after BS6, the TUV300 has returned. However, it is now the Mahindra Bolero Neo.

You may be asking why the rebranding exercise? You may be asking why the rebranding exercise?

Mahindra Bolero Neo
Mahindra Bolero Neo

Simply because Bolero, Mahindra’s trusted workhorse, has been around for nearly two decades and continues to keep Mahindra’s sales records lit up.

This is due to its brand equity deep in the hinterland. Mahindra hopes to capitalize on the Bolero brand’s success and make the Bolero Neo its next sales hero.

This is not the reason why the name was changed. TUV has always made a strong case for the Bolero badge, and although we’ve already said it before, you’ll see the same in this review.

Is the Neo a Bolero-like model?

Bolero Neo continues the TUV300’s boxy styling, however, the 2021 changes are more than skin deep.

To lower the overall ride height, the entire body shell has been moved further onto the ladder frame chassis. The bonnet is now 40mm lower than it was before.

Although the spec sheets of the Bolero Neo and the TUV300 appear identical, in real life, the Bolero Neo is much more spacious, with a noticeably smaller gap between its wheel arches. Mahindra claims there has been no increase in its ground clearance.

However, the design is where the Bolero and the Neo have the most in common. The Bolero looks rugged and ungainly, but the Neo is more elegant and sleeker.

Mahindra has added elements such as the toothy front grille and sloping cuts to the bumper, along with the round fog lights to give it a resemblance to the Bolero.

Bolero Neo owners have referred to the black shoulder cladding as “cattle pushers”, a distinctive Bolero design element.

The Neo’s visual height is broken by the black cladding. It has a more appealing side profile now, with its blacked-out C-pillars and smaller wheel arch gaps.

Although the 15-inch wheels are different, they look a little too small in comparison to their height.

The rear tail lamps have regained their red tint (these were made clear-lens with the 2019 TUV300 facelift), while the roof spoiler and unpainted rear parking sensors are still intact.

It also has the X-shaped spare wheel cover, but now it proudly sports a Bolero badge.

Do the interiors look like a Bolero?

They are not, thankfully. The Bolero Neo is easier to get into than the TUV300. It is more utilitarian than the Bolero’s basic cabin.

The inside is not as striking as the Bolero’s exterior, but it does have some design elements that are similar.

The dashboard is cleanly designed and features a beige-black dual-tone theme. It also houses a 7-inch touchscreen. The 2019 model came with quilted leatherette upholstery.

The 2019 car was equipped with a reversing camera. The Neo’s front seats are still chair-like with individual armrests and long seat squabs.

The Neo’s spacious seating position and the bright, airy cabin will be appreciated. The rear bench is also flat, and can easily hold three people.

However, the cushioning in the Bolero is firmer, but the recline angle is the same and the center armrest is for comfort. This unit is much stronger than the Bolero.

The knee and legroom offered aren’t quite as generous as the headroom. This is intentional to allow for side-facing jump seats.

Jump seats are not for average-sized adults. There is very little shoulder space and limited headroom.

Due to the limited space, two people sitting next to each other will need to be seated off-center. They will also have to stagger their feet and knees.

You can store your phone or other small items in the seat pocket. There are also butterfly windows that allow for ventilation.

The seat belts are not required to keep the occupants in their seats. In the event of a collision, it is not the right place or position to be seated.

What equipment is the Bolero Neo capable of?

The N10 variant (top-spec), features ABS with corner braking control and EBD, dual airbags, and a 7-inch touchscreen.

Remote-key entry, remote-key adjustment, parking sensors, and rear wiper and washer are some of the most prominent features.

The N10 (O), variant will follow. It will have a mechanical locking differential (more details in a moment), making the Bolero Neo more capable on treacherous terrain.

Even the highest-spec model misses some important features we have come to associate with modern cars, such as automatic climate control and electric folding mirrors.

Auto-dimming inside mirrors, projector headlamps, and Android Auto are all part of the standard, but they might not be the ones that would appeal to its intended audience.

A reversing camera was a key feature that should not have been omitted in 2019 TUV300.

What is the Bolero Neo’s driving style?

Under its bonnet sits a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder diesel motor. It is the same engine as the Bolero but with a higher power output of 100hp.

The regular Bolero produces 75hp. The electronic controlled variable geometry turbocharger is new. This means that max torque has been increased to 260Nm.

This is 20Nm more than the TUV300, which had the same engine. The TUV’s 1,200rpm range is surpassed by the max torque band of just 500rpm.

It spans from 1,750-2.250rpm. Does this affect your driveability? No!

It is one of the most refined three-cylinder diesel engines on the market. The engine feels almost effortless.

The engine’s power is concentrated at the lower end, and it responds well to taps. It has a linear power delivery and can pull at idle RPMs with little effort.

You can also use higher gears at lower revs if you don’t drive in a hurry. This motor is very efficient and will not rev beyond 3,500rpm.

It doesn’t sound sloppy or grotesque if you rev it to the maximum speed of 4,500rpm. The 1.5-liter can stay within its comfort zone for up to 100kph.

Anything beyond that, it will run out of breath. People who frequently travel with passengers and a large load on hills or expressways will need more pulling power.

The five-speed manual gearbox with five speeds is very smooth, even though the throws can be a little long. It also has a light clutch that makes driving easy.

An automatic option may be available in the future, even though it is not yet available at launch.

When the going gets difficult, the Bolero Neo shines. Mahindra did not allow the media to drive the cars on their Pune test track, but they had a rough road patch.

The Neo dominated the track without any problems, and it was so impressive that other SUVs might be a little hesitant to drive the vehicle.

The Neo uses Mahindra’s third-generation body-on-frame construction. It also has tough-as-nails suspension components that are designed to withstand a beating.

The Neo is also able to handle adverse road conditions thanks to the new mechanical locking differential.

When one of the MLD’s rear wheels spins faster than the other (100 rpm differential speed between the two wheels), the MLD locks the wheels.

This transfers power to the wheel with more grip, increasing the Neo’s road grip at crawling and low speeds.

The MLD’s metallic clanging sound that locks the spinning wheel could surprise drivers, even though it is a highly capable system.

The Eaton MLD was previously available as an optional add-on to the Scorpio and TUV300, but it is now standard on the N10 O variant.

It was evident that body roll is still present at Mahindra’s test track. However, it is less than it was before because of the lower center of gravity and a reworked suspension.

Which Bolero Neo should I choose?

The Mahindra Bolero Neo’s body-on-frame construction, seven-seat capacity, and rear-wheel-drive layout place it in a different segment than the other compact SUVs.

The Mahindra Bolero Neo is not likely to be a popular choice for urban families, but it can make a compelling case for those who are looking for a rugged, go-anywhere, people-mover with modernity.

Although its exterior styling doesn’t scream ruggedness as much as the older cars, underneath it is.

The optional mechanical locking differential (MLD), which enhances the Bolero Neo’s go-anywhere capability, infusing greater confidence when traversing difficult terrains, further enhances the car’s go-anywhere capabilities.

Bolero Neo is also more refined and has a number of modern features that make it a compelling choice. The pricing is also important.

While the Bolero Neo has yet to launch, the Neo’s price ranges between Rs 8.48 and 9.99 lakh. This is almost the same price as Bolero’s range of Rs 8.63-9.61 crore. It offers a much better value offering.

This is the most recent iteration of TUV and one that deserves to be adorned with the Bolero badge. It remains to be seen if its target audience agrees.

Can Bolero’s brand equity be tapped by this TUV300 rebranded?

We have repeatedly mentioned that the Mahindra TUV300, a former Mahindra Bolero, was a more modern and credible alternative to the venerable Mahindra Bolero.

After being on the shelves for more than a year after BS6, the TUV300 has returned. However, it is now the Mahindra Bolero Neo.

You may be asking why the rebranding exercise? You may be asking why the rebranding exercise?

Simply because Bolero, Mahindra’s trusted workhorse, has been around for nearly two decades and continues to keep Mahindra’s sales records lit up.

This is due to its brand equity deep in the hinterland. Mahindra hopes to capitalise on the Bolero brand’s success and make the Bolero Neo its next sales hero.

This is not the reason why the name was changed. TUV has always made a strong case for the Bolero badge, and although we’ve already said it before, you’ll see the same in this review.

Is the Neo a Bolero-like model?

Bolero Neo continues the TUV300’s boxy styling, however, the 2021 changes are more than skin deep.

To lower the overall ride height, the entire body shell has been moved further onto the ladder frame chassis. The bonnet is now 40mm lower than it was before.

Although the spec sheets of the Bolero Neo and the TUV300 appear identical, in real life, the Bolero Neo is much more spacious, with a noticeably smaller gap between its wheel arches. Mahindra claims there has been no increase in its ground clearance.

However, the design is where the Bolero and the Neo have the most in common. The Bolero looks rugged and ungainly, but the Neo is more elegant and sleeker.

Mahindra has added elements such as the toothy front grille and sloping cuts to the bumper, along with the round fog lights to give it a resemblance to the Bolero.

Bolero Neo owners have referred to the black shoulder cladding as “cattle pushers”, a distinctive Bolero design element.

The Neo’s visual height is broken by the black cladding. It has a more appealing side profile now, with its blacked-out C-pillars and smaller wheel arch gaps.

Although the 15-inch wheels are different, they look a little too small in comparison to their height.

The rear tail lamps have regained their red tint (these were made clear-lens with the 2019 TUV300 facelift), while the roof spoiler and unpainted rear parking sensors are still intact.

It also has the X-shaped spare wheel cover, but now it proudly sports a Bolero badge.

Do the interiors look like a Bolero?

They are not, thankfully. The Bolero Neo is easier to get into than the TUV300. It is more utilitarian than the Bolero’s basic cabin.

Mahindra Bolero Neo
Mahindra Bolero Neo

The inside is not as striking as the Bolero’s exterior, but it does have some design elements that are similar.

The dashboard is cleanly designed and features a beige-black dual-tone theme. It also houses a 7-inch touchscreen.

The 2019 model came with quilted leatherette upholstery. The 2019 car was equipped with a reversing camera. The Neo’s front seats are still chair-like with individual armrests and long seat squabs.

The Neo’s spacious seating position and the bright, airy cabin will be appreciated. The rear bench is also flat, and can easily hold three people.

However, the cushioning in the Bolero is firmer, but the recline angle is the same and the center armrest is for comfort. This unit is much stronger than the Bolero.

The knee and legroom offered aren’t quite as generous as the headroom. This is intentional to allow for side-facing jump seats.

Jump seats are not for average-sized adults. There is very little shoulder space and limited headroom. Due to the limited space, two people sitting next to each other will need to be seated off-center.

They will also have to stagger their feet and knees. You can store your phone or other small items in the seat pocket.

There are also butterfly windows that allow for ventilation. The seat belts are not required to keep the occupants in their seats.

In the event of a collision, it is not the right place or position to be seated.

What equipment is the Bolero Neo capable of?

The N10 variant (top-spec), features ABS with corner braking control and EBD, dual airbags, and a 7-inch touchscreen.

Remote-key entry, remote-key adjustment, parking sensors, and rear wiper and washer are some of the most prominent features.

The N10 (O), variant will follow. It will have a mechanical locking differential (more details in a moment), making the Bolero Neo more capable on treacherous terrain.

Even the highest-spec model misses some important features we have come to associate with modern cars, such as automatic climate control and electric folding mirrors.

Auto-dimming inside mirrors, projector headlamps, and Android Auto are all part of the standard, but they might not be the ones that would appeal to its intended audience.

A reversing camera was a key feature that should not have been omitted in 2019 TUV300.

What is the Bolero Neo’s driving style?

Under its bonnet sits a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder diesel motor. It is the same engine as the Bolero but with a higher power output of 100hp. The regular Bolero produces 75hp.

The electronic controlled variable geometry turbocharger is new. This means that max torque has been increased to 260Nm.

This is 20Nm more than the TUV300, which had the same engine. The TUV’s 1,200rpm range is surpassed by the max torque band of just 500rpm.

It spans from 1,750-2.250rpm. Does this affect your driveability? No!

It is one of the most refined three-cylinder diesel engines on the market. The engine feels almost effortless.

The engine’s power is concentrated at the lower end, and it responds well to taps. It has a linear power delivery and can pull at idle RPMs with little effort.

You can also use higher gears at lower revs if you don’t drive in a hurry. This motor is very efficient and will not rev beyond 3,500rpm.

It doesn’t sound sloppy or grotesque if you rev it to the maximum speed of 4,500rpm. The 1.5-liter can stay within its comfort zone for up to 100kph.

Anything beyond that, it will run out of breath. People who frequently travel with passengers and a large load on hills or expressways will need more pulling power.

The five-speed manual gearbox with five speeds is very smooth, even though the throws can be a little long. It also has a light clutch that makes driving easy.

An automatic option may be available in the future, even though it is not yet available at launch.

When the going gets difficult, the Bolero Neo shines. Mahindra did not allow the media to drive the cars on their Pune test track, but they had a rough road patch.

The Neo dominated the track without any problems, and it was so impressive that other SUVs might be a little hesitant to drive the vehicle.

The Neo uses Mahindra’s third-generation body-on-frame construction. It also has tough-as-nails suspension components that are designed to withstand a beating.

The Neo is also able to handle adverse road conditions thanks to the new mechanical locking differential.

When one of the MLD’s rear wheels spins faster than the other (100 rpm differential speed between the two wheels), the MLD locks the wheels.

This transfers power to the wheel with more grip, increasing the Neo’s road grip at crawling and low speeds.

The MLD’s metallic clanging sound that locks the spinning wheel could surprise drivers, even though it is a highly capable system.

The Eaton MLD was previously available as an optional add-on to the Scorpio and TUV300, but it is now standard on the N10 O variant.

It was evident that body roll is still present at Mahindra’s test track. However, it is less than it was before because of the lower center of gravity and a reworked suspension.

Which Bolero Neo should I choose?

The Mahindra Bolero Neo’s body-on-frame construction, seven-seat capacity, and rear-wheel-drive layout place it in a different segment than the other compact SUVs.

The Mahindra Bolero Neo is not likely to be a popular choice for urban families, but it can make a compelling case for those who are looking for a rugged, go-anywhere, people-mover with modernity.

Although its exterior styling doesn’t scream ruggedness as much as the older cars, underneath it is.

The optional mechanical locking differential (MLD), which enhances the Bolero Neo’s go-anywhere capability, infusing greater confidence when traversing difficult terrains, further enhances the car’s go-anywhere capabilities.

Bolero Neo is also more refined and has a number of modern features that make it a compelling choice.

The pricing is also important. While the Bolero Neo has yet to launch, the Neo’s price ranges between Rs 8.48 and 9.99 lakh. This is almost the same price as Bolero’s range of Rs 8.63-9.61 crore. It offers a much better value offering.

This is the most recent iteration of TUV and one that deserves to be adorned with the Bolero badge. It remains to be seen if its target audience agrees.

Also Read: 2021 Audi S5 Sportback

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