ample legroom also. In fact, there are three head restraints at the rear. The front seats, too, are generous and long drives are very comfortable on the Vibe. Frankly, asking for more headroom, legroom and shoulder room from a car this size would be a crime! But there are some gripes; for instance, the centre instrumentation console sits a bit low, so in order to operate the music system or air-conditioning, one has to briefly take eyes off the road. Then, there are no steering-mounted controls. Lastly, the steering wheel is not height-adjustable, so taller people will take some getting used to the drive. Overall plastic quality, again, is not as good as you get in, say, the Hyundais or Marutis.
Under the hood of the Vibe is the same proven and fuel efficient 1.5 litre dCi diesel engine by Renault that’s been powering the Verito. Although it produces a little over 60 bhp, the engine is torquey and pulls comfortably in a linear fashion from as low as 1200 rpm, resulting in very good real-world driveability. But the engine isn’t really exciting—the Vibe goes from 0-100 kmph in about 16 seconds. Although the motor is a bit noisy, Mahindra has managed to keep the cabin well insulated from outside noise. The car handles well and the steering is not too light, which means that the car’s high speed manners are very good, but a heavy steering means parking the car takes some getting used to. But the best thing about the car is its frugality—it has an ARAI-certified fuel-efficiency of 20.8 kmpl, and a 50-litre tank means you get an amazing range of over 800 km in real-world conditions.
A starting price of R5.63 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai) for a diesel car that is spacious and practical means good value. What the Vibe lacks in modern design and looks, it kind of makes up in utility. Mahindra’s first effort at a small car is, in fact, well suited for Indian road conditions and a Mahindra badge also means low running and maintenance costs. The Vibe is for the one who wants an affordable small car that can carry five in comfort, and who doesn’t really care for something more.