Since the very inception, Mahindra & Mahindra has carved out a niche for themselves has a manufacturer of reliable diesel UVs and SUVs with vehicles like the Bolero, Scorpio and most recently the XUV 500 forming important pillars in Mahindra’s product portfolio. And somewhere along the way, around six years ago, when the joint venture entity Mahindra-Renault launched the Logan in the Indian market, Mahindra forayed into the entry-level sedan segment. Later of course, the marriage between Mahindra and Renault ended and the Logan, rechristened as the Verito found shelter in Mahindra’s stable. But the hatchback segment is one pie where the company didn’t dip its fingers into until a month ago when they launched the Verito Vibe.
Call it a hatchback, notchback, compact car or by whatever name that you desire, but the long and short of it is that the Mahindra Verito Vibe is a sub-4 metre version of the company's Verito sedan with a chopped and redesigned rear. Mahindra claims that the Verito Vibe will compete both with the diesel hatchbacks and the entry level compact sedan which make the likes of Maruti Suzuki Swift, Nissan Micra, Chevrolet Sail U-VA and Ford Figo, Hyundai i20 diesel hatchbacks and the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire its competitors. The Verito Vibe’s sub 4-metre length and 1,461 cc diesel engine means that it will also be eligible for the excise cut similar to the rest of the aforementioned pack.
The Mahindra Verito Vibe is offered in three variants, all diesel – base D2, mid-range D4 and top-of-the-line D6. The D2 is priced at Rs 5.79 lakh, the D4 comes for Rs 6.06 lakh and the D6 will set you back by Rs 6.67 lakh. All prices are ex-showroom, Kolkata. Mahindra is not offering the Vibe with a petrol motor for the simple reason that it does not have access to a petrol engine under 1.2-litre in capacity, which means that it cannot claim the 4 percent excise relaxation under the 'small car' norms as prescribed by the government.
The Mahindra Verito Vibe will be available in seven colours - Diamond White, Mist Silver, Fiery Black, Toreador Red, Java Brown, Dolphin Grey and Aqua Rush. The Vibe will come with a 3-year/1 lakh kilometre warranty.
We took the new Verito Vibe for a spin around town for an exhaustive road test. Read the our Mahindra Verito Vibe review and road test report to find out how it fared.
Design & Engineering
Lay your eyes on the Mahindra Verito Vibe head on and you wouldn’t be able to tell between the Vibe and its sedan stable-mate, the Verito. It has the same boxy appearance up front. The Verito Vibe is practically the very same car as the Verito sedan up till the C-pillar. But where the Verito ends and the Vibe begin is in fact from the C-pillar rearwards. The rear windscreen slopes back heavily and is flanked on either side by two vertically stacked tail lamps. And although the rear design when observed as a separate unit looks quite interesting, however, I find very less synergy in design when the rear of the new Verito Vibe is seen as part of a whole. To me it almost looks as if the rear of the car has been taken from somewhere else and just plastered to the rear of a chopped Verito sedan. Quite obviously, Mahindra has kept the exterior of the car till the C-pillar unchanged to cut costs, but that really doesn’t help the product aesthetically.
The Mahindra Verito Vibe has been kept under 4 metres (3,991 mm) in length to ensure that the car qualifies for the excise cuts. The Verito Vibe’s suspension consists of McPherson-type struts with a wishbone at the front with H-section torsion beam at the rear. The suspension set-up is tuned to near perfection to ensure plush ride quality with almost negligible jerks being transported inside the cabin. But one can feel some amount of body roll in the bends, given the raised ground clearance and ride height. Braking is prompt with discs at the front and drums at the rear. The engine is not too noisy and road noise is quite well contained.
Interiors & Comfort
The Mahindra Verito Vibe’s doors open nice and wide and its slightly tall stance means extremely easy ingress and egress. Spaciousness and practicality which are the USP of the Verito sedan remain unchanged in the Vibe notchback. There is loads of space up front and even heavily-built adults will fit comfortably. The rear seating too is very comfortable and, thanks to the car’s width, seating three adults abreast shouldn’t be a problem.
The dashboard in the Mahindra Verito Vibe is a combination of light grey and black which looks pretty good. The instrument cluster is neatly laid out and one can also find glossy carbon fibre bits and chromed dials which add a premium touch to the Vibe. Plastic quality is decent and there is an overall improvement over the erstwhile Logan. This is something that we had noticed while reviewing the new Verito as well.
The Verito Vibe is actually a notchback rather than a hatchback. The tooling costs and requisite engineering costs are lower as a result.
The Vibe comes with a 330 litre boot which is awesome by hatchback standards. Did you know that the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire only has a 316 litre boot? That is 14 litres less than the Verito Vibe's. Verito Vibe’s boot space provides you with ample space for your short weekend trips. However, the rear seat of the Vibe doesn’t flip forward which means that there is no extra space for luggage if the requirement ever arises. The small boot access also will make loading big bags a hassle and the high load lip doesn’t make the job any easier.
The top-end D6 trim that we tested came with front and rear power windows, remote central locking and a 2 DIN music system with CD/MP3 player, tuner, auxiliary input and USB slot. However there is no Bluetooth as one would generally expect on the top trim. The Verito Vibe D6 variant also comes equipped with a defogger which otherwise is absent on the D2 and D4, but no rear wash and wiper. This is an obvious cost cutting measure but again I fail to understand why a top-end trim at this price point wouldn’t have a wash and wiper which is essential on a fastback bodystyle in our weather conditions.
Performance & Handling
The 1,461 cc diesel engine under the bonnet of the Verito Vibe is the same tried and tested K9 diesel engine from erstwhile partner Renault. This engine is widely used across a number of cars from the Renault and Nissan stables, not just in India but across the world. It is a versatile engine and one which is also powers the Verito sedan in the same state of tune.
The engine produces 65 PS of maximum power at 4000 rpm and 160 Nm of peak torque at 2000 rpm. The engine is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox which is pretty smooth and has short throws which helps in city driving conditions. Shift quality in the Verito Vibe is quite light, lighter than what we've experienced in the Verito sedan, or the erstwhile Logan. On quizzing Mahindra engineers, they acknowledge that the mechnical linkages were modified slightly on account of customer feedback to address this issue. This is a positive example of a company striving to make its products, and does add some lustre to this review of the new Verito Vibe.
The Verito Vibe's Drivability for a diesel is among the best you will find in the Indian car market. The Renault K9 engine has always been known for its linear power delivery and this one is no different. The Mahindra Verito Vibe will happily pick up speed in any gear from as little as 1500 rpm and there is power right up till around 3500 rpm after which the car tends to run out of steam. There's really no point in revving this engine hard, instead simply shifting up around the 3,000 rpm mark will see the Vibe motoring smartly. The gear ratios are well matched to the weight of the Verito Vibe (kerb weight is 15kg more than the Verito), and even with five people in the car and with the AC running, we didn’t feel it to lack power.
The Mahindra Verito Vibe boasts of plush ride quality. Even on occasions when you drive it over potholes and bumps, the Vibe with sail through with relative ease, ensuring that none of that filters into the cabin. The ride quality is also aided by the wider and taller 185 / 70 R14 tyres. But mind you, the Verito Vibe is no sports car. So if you tend to get a little too adventurous around the bends, you are bound to feel quite a bit of body roll. Apart from this small bit, the ride seems sorted, and is indeed one of the key USPs of this car.
The steering provides a reasonable degree of feel and feedback. Grip levels and braking stability are very good in the Verito Vibe as well, although the taller suspension has led to some dive at the front end under heavy braking.
Don't miss the Renault badging on the engine cover.
Although the Mahindra Verito Vibe is powered by the same Renault 1.5 DCi CRDi diesel engine, however, the ARAI ratified fuel efficiency of the Verito Vibe is marginally less at 20.8kmpl when compared to its sedan sibling Verito which claims 21.03 kmpl. And although 20.8kmpl itself is a pretty impressive claim, but nonetheless we couldn’t do a real world test on the Verito Vibe. However, the diesel powerplant is frugal and expecting about 12-13 kmpl within the city wouldn’t prove too ambitious, which is what we've experienced with the Verito sedan.
Today, safety is an important issue for car makers and buyers alike. So let’s review what Mahindra has on offer to make the Verito Vibe a safer car to ride. For starters, features like an engine immobiliser, collapsible steering column, front disc brakes, child proof rear door locks and prismatic day-night inside rear view mirror come as standard across all variants (identical to the Verito sedan). But that is not all. If you happen to drive the top-of-the-line D6 variant like the one we road-tested, then you would also get the driver airbag and ABS with EBD.
Let’s face it. Styling is definitely not the Vibe’s greatest strength, but if one is prepared to look beyond aesthetics, there are lists of good things too. The Vibe boasts of a spacious interior, a 330 litre boot which is great when compared to other hatchbacks, decent driving dynamics, plush ride quality and a frugal diesel motor. It does come across as a good first effort by Mahindra to foray into the hatchback segment. But I’m afraid that just might not be enough to lure the customers into the showroom. Although the pricing at Rs 5.79 lakh (ex-showroom Kolkata) for the base D2 trim is competitive, considering the Maruti Suzuki Swift base diesel is priced at Rs 5.89 lakh and the Hyundai i20 base diesel comes with a price tag of Rs 6.07 lakh.
However, people today want more from their beyond mere practicality. For starters, everyone wants to drive a stylish looking car and the Vibe doesn’t make the cut. And for Rs 6.67 lakh for the top-end D6 trim, one would ideally expect the car to come equipped with Bluetooth compatible music system and rear wash and wiper. Plus given the sort of market share and popularity that its strongest rivals – the Maruti Suzuki Swift and the Swift Dzire presently enjoy, I don’t see the Vibe doing anything much to unsettle them. If anything, it might steal sales away from the Verito sedan, which is the case according to some of the company's dealers.