Whilst going to the location that Mahindra had allotted to us for testing their brand new Mahindra XUV500, it was but obvious that they have come a long way from their Armada days. Enroute, I was always plagued by the thing as to why did they code-name their SUV as W201? Is it pointing to something closer to Mercedes? Remember Mercedes used to have this same code name for their E-series sedan. I hadn’t seen the Mahindra XUV500 on its launch and this was the first time that I was actually seeing this SUV. First impressions, the XUV looks somewhat similar to the Renault Koleos. Is it that Mahindra managed to grab some design cues from the French during their infamous Logan joint venture? Quite possible. On second thoughts, cheetah inspired styling is what Mahindra says that it has got for this SUV. I would second that, however, the Cheetah thing looks far too much artificial. Read on to know all what I have got to say about this all new SUV from Mahindra, the Mahindra XUV500, in this review.
Check on Road Price
As discussed before, the XUV’s styling cues are all derived from the likes of Koleos and this means that this one doesn’t look offensive. Infact, its all aggression, however all plastic inserts. There are a tad too many cuts on the grille and creases to it. There is a plastic net covering all the creases. The Mahindra saber tooth logo is what the grille tries to mimic. The projector head lamps along with the LED linings look great. Mind you, these aren’t the daytime LEDs and would work only when one presses a switch in the instrument console. The fog lamps seem to be half peeping from underneath the bonnet. The wheel arches are flared ones, keeping in mind the general theme of this vehicle. The door handles are a new thing for Mahindra, however, how they stand up to the test of time, remains to be seen.17 inch alloy wheels with the 235/65R17 configuration is what this SUV boasts of in all the variants. The roof is a floating one with a sharply tapered rear end. The blackened out effect can be seen in almost all the pillars of this SUV thus making it look sporty from all the angles. At the posterior of this vehicle, there is not much flash, as can be seen at the front. The twin tail pipes do lend some muscle and the rear glass is way too small, almost the same as the Evoque. Peer closely into the tail lamps and one can notice the crystalline elements embedded in the glass.
As radical as they are, the interiors also are very different from any other Mahindra vehicle. Infact, the textures used for the fabric are also very different than the other Mahindra SUVs. Surprisingly, this SUV doesn’t require one to climb into it. The floorboard doesn’t seem too strong though and would start creaking if a heavyweight actually climbed on it. Once inside, the seats are pretty much comfortable. However, moving the driver’s seat to accommodate a larger driver would result in the middle row passenger to lose out on leg space. The middle row passengers as also the rear seat ones are pampered with air volume control systems. The third row is entirely cramped and would fit kids for a fair part of a long journey. For the geeks, Mahindra have endowed the interiors with 12V sockets for all three rows and there are bottle holders for even the last row passengers. For the central console, there is a V shaped design theme. The glovebox is large and accommodating while there is also a lid atop the dashboard which is lined with soft touch materials and has good storage capacity. The driver’s arm rest is adjustable and below it is a cool box for keeping all the drinks cool. The door pockets are also generously endowed and can fit in maps and magazines easily. The steering wheel gets audio controls as also voice activated dialing feature. The instrument console wouldn’t look out of place in a high end car. It is very trendy and shows which gear the car is driven in plus the moment one inserts the key, there are lakhs of tell tale lights coming up. The XUV is loaded with features like tyretronics, GPS navigation, touchscreen audio system, rear parking sensors and many other stuff. The boot space in this one is laughable and almost all the vehicles at Mahindra’s show rooms had their last seats flipped forward. There are dozens of puddle lamps and reading lamps all over the place. Plus there are two sunglass holders and also an auto dimming conversation mirror. Moreover, the power windows have a one touch down operation to them while the wing mirrors are electrically controlled.
Handling and ride quality
Apart from the looks, Mahindra have spent a great deal of time in fine tuning the handling as also ride quality of the Mahindra XUV500. The suspension was fine tuned by Lotus Engineering and needless to say, they have done a fine thing with the handling aspect. The ride quality, is absorbent on normal roads, however show it some dirt track and the calm poise of the SUV is all lost. I got to test the hill ascent system and it works perfectly fine. Couldn’t test the cruise control system though since there was no nice stretch of road wherein the system would come into picture. I have heard as also read some negative things about the electronics in Mahindra vehicles not standing the test of time; however, I would reserve my comments until further comments come in about the same from you readers. The noise insulation under the hood seems to be insufficient since there is a lot of engine noise permeating inside the cabin. However, the road noise was perfectly isolated. The steering wheel is a chunky unit and features adjustments for both rake and reach. It is also quite linear but somewhere down the line loses the plot. The AWD system would be put to test later on in a rigorous 4 wheel drive system test. However, knowing Mahindra, its bound to be a proven unit. Mahindra could have put in a better sounding horn as the current one is too meek to disperse jaywalkers.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
140 Bhp of power and 330 Nm of torque is what the 2.2 liter motor develops from under the hood. As of now, there is only a 6 speed gearbox which is manual in nature. A 6 speed auto box would make its debut sometime next year. The power plant initially seemed lazy but then the turbo wakes up lazily and then plants a wide grin on the face of the driver. It did to me. 0-100 kmph came up somewhere close to 13.6 seconds and this SUV is capable of hitting 150 plus on the open highway. The 6 speed box is placed a tad too away from the driver. It however does have a positive shifting action and the clutch is also lighter than the one in the Scorpio. Brakes deserve a special mention here since they are very powerful units and aligned with ABS, traction control and even EBD, make for a good unit. As far as safety is concerned, this can be termed as one of the safest SUVs this side of Rs 13 lakhs. It has got 6 airbags with high impact protection crash testing already done on it. The ARAI certified fuel efficiency is 15.1 kmpl falls short of some others in its class. The MicroHybrid technology works well and its interval has been lessened now to 2.5 seconds. The first guinea pig for this technology was the Bolero, then the Scorpio and now the Mahindra XUV500. Reverse parking sensors are available on this one; however I would have preferred a reverse camera here.
The Mahindra XUV500 in India is an important product for Mahindra. This SUV was under wraps for more than 2 years and now its unveiling has led to a coup of sorts. The looks match upto everything Mahindra hasn’t been associated with while the interiors are at an all new level than the competition. The build quality is very solid barring a few itsy bitsy bits. The engine is a tried and trusted product plus it has got good claims of fuel efficiency as well. Mahindra have tried to satisfy both the enthusiasts as also the normal SUV buying public. The XUV is sure to steal some of the sales of the Scorpio as well. When I am penning this down, news has come in that the XUV’s waiting periods have extended from 6 weeks to almost 5 months. Current production capacity for the XUV stands at 1500 units each month and Mahindra dealers are working overtime to take all the bookings that are coming their way. This type of buzz was created when the Xylo was also launched and whether it would be sustained over the coming time remains to be seen. The XUV 500 is available in three variants and the top end W8 with AWD is the one that I got to drive. The Mahindra XUV500 price in India starts from a very cool Rs 10.85 lakhs while the top end model comes in at Rs 12.88 lakhs. All these prices are ex-show room, Pune.