Home Cover Story Mahindra enters premium hatchback market with Verito Vibe

Mahindra enters premium hatchback market with Verito Vibe

Mahindra enters premium hatchback market with Verito Vibe

With the Verito Vibe,
Mahindra has further strengthened its presence in the passenger car space



There’s hardly any segment in
the market where Mahindra is not present. It has a certain presence in
aviation, two wheelers, passenger cars and utility vehicles, tractors and
commercial vehicles. If the presence of the company is not as strong, it is in
the passenger car segment. The company has just one compact sedan to boast of.
Not anymore. The company has launched a premium hatchback on the same platform
as the sedan. 


The platform is none other than that of the Renault Logan, which
also hosts the highly successful Duster compact SUV. Mahindra and Renault
entered into a collaboration to build the Logan at Mahindra’s Nashik plant.
Soon after, Renault-Nissan Alliance under the leadership of Carlos Ghosn set up
a greenfield plant at Chennai with the intention of building new models and
selling them under the two brands. The Logan did not quite pick up. In
2010,Mahindra and Renault parted ways. The separation agreement saw Mahindra
getting hold of the right to build and sell the Logan, and use the Renault
1.5-litre dCi diesel engine in it. During the last three years Mahindra has
treated the Logan to a facelift, removed the Renault logo and instilled its
own. It rechristened the car as Verito.

Numbers improved, and in what
is looked upon as a significant development, Mahindra has gone ahead and
introduced a premium hatchback based on the Verito/Logan platform. Called the
Verito Vibe, the hatchback marks a reverse journey in terms of engineering a
hatchback out of a sedan. Until now, manufacturers like Maruti Suzuki, Honda
and other have turned compact sedans out of hatchbacks. 


In terms of appearance, the
Verito Vibe is hard to distinguish from a Verito sedan. Except the ‘smoked’
front lights, there is no significant difference is styling. Not until the
C-pillar, where instead of a boot, the car flaunts a short overhang. Measuring
under 4 metres in length, which helps it sit in the lower tax bracket when
compared to the sedan, the sides of the car are marked by champagne coloured
alloys and ski racks on the roof. Conservatively styled, the Verito Vibe is
structured on a 2630mm wheelbase and conveys a sense of good proportionality.
The steeply raked C-pillars have LED tail lights fitted into them.

Ironically, unlike other
hatchbacks, the Verito Vibe does not get a tail gate. Instead it gets a fixed
rear glass with a swinging lid that operates to allow access to the 330-litre
storage space. While the spare wheel is conveniently located below the floor at
the rear, access to the 330-litre storage area is through the lid that is
hinged at the top. If the parcel shelf separates the storage space from the
cabin, below it is a cross member that strengthens the rear pillars. According
to Rajan Wadhera, Chief Executive – Technology, Product Development and
Sourcing, Automotive & Farm Equipment Sectors, the cross member is crucial
for retaining the rigidity and strength of the monocoque. Engineering a
tailgate would have elevated the project costs, he added. Mahindra has invested
Rs 60 crore in the project.

The lack of tailgate limiting
practicality (the rear seats do not flip forward either), what the Verito Vibe
offers, is a spacious cabin that accommodates five people in good comfort.
Three adults can sit at the rear without feeling cramped. A feat, almost no
other car in the Verito Vibe’s segment manages. The rear seat gets three
adjustable head rests. Front seats are wide but could do with more support. To
operate the 2-DIN music system or the HVAC controls requires taking eyes off
the road. Lack of adjustable steering means it takes some effort to reach a
comfortable driving position. The plastic quality of the simple and
straightforward dashboard is not very impressive. Even the stitching quality of
the seats is not of a high standard.


Powering the Verito Vibe is
the 65PS, 1.5-litre dCi Renault common-rail diesel engine. Borrowed from
Renault, this engine offers good drive-ability and is distinguished from the
fact that torque is spread over a wide rpm rather than over a small area with a
definite peak. The shorter rear overhang not having altered the handling
dynamics of the car when compared to the Verito sedan, the Verito Vibe is
equipped with McPherson struts suspension at front. The rear suspension
comprises ‘H’- section torsion beam. Riding on 185/70 R14 tyres, the car is
priced at Rs 5.63 lakh ex-showroom Mumbai for the basic trim.


A practical hatchback that can
ferry five people in good comfort, the Verito Vibe has what it takes to
succeed. The success of the car is bound to encourage Mahindra to think
advancing the launch of the next vehicle on the same platform. Whether it would
be a compact SUV or an estate is not clear yet. A third version is however in
the pipeline, and would further increase the participation of the company in
the passenger car space.

Working on an Indian product,
a compact SUV, under the Ssangyong brand for India, Mahindra is working on a
number of new, exciting products. There are about 12 of these in the pipeline,
according to Mr Wadhera, and with focus firmly on the future rather than what
is happening in the current times. Of the 12 new projects, some could be engine
projects, some others, and a few of these complete vehicle programs, with the
Verito Vibe, what Mahindra has shown, is an ability to indulge in
frugal engineering.

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