Until now, the Mahindra Xylo was an instant hit after its launch a year ago. And for good reason. It provides acres of space and three comfortable rows of seats. It has a decent ride and comes with a torquey engine. But above all, it is well equipped and priced.
The Tata Sumo Grande isn’t a new car to us. Space and practicality were always its strong points. But it was let down by average performance, scary dynamics and poor interiors. Now Tata has tried to address all these deficiencies with the Sumo Grande Mark II. But can it match the might of the hugely practical Mahindra?
On the outside, there’s not much to distinguish the Grande Mark II from the older car. You get a bit of chrome on the grille, indicators on rearview mirrors and a chrome-lined rub strip on the doors. These changes make Grande’s chiselled styling even better.
There are changes to the insides too. Climb into the high-set driver’s seat and you get a commanding view of the front. Even blind spots are few thanks to the slim windscreen pillars. The plastics are softer with the matt-black centre console feeling a notch up. The inside door handles and power window buttons feel better than the earlier version. But sadly, the glovebox and the dash-mounted speakers have nasty panel gaps. Even the plastics in some places are hard and iffy.
Even after a year of its launch, the Xylo still looks radical and the styling is hard to digest. The tall stance and SUV-like boxy proportions make it look like a cross between an SUV and MPV.
The exteriors theme is carried onto the interiors as well. Step into the Xylo’s comfortable driver’s seat and you’re greeted by a spacious cabin. Despite the all-black interiors it feels airy, thanks to the large glass area.
The Xylo’s dashboard is curvy and youthful. You sit at a good height and all the controls fall to hand easily. The front seats are supportive and the adjustable handrest is a nice touch.
The gear lever, too, is well placed, but the golf club-like design of the gear knob is odd to hold. The air vents aren’t good at directing flow, and there are other niggles such as the cheap door handles. Interior quality in both cars is about average, but the Xylo feels better finished.
Looks and comfort
The squarish design of the Grande translates in a very spacious cabin. The front seats are very roomy and comfortable but the Xylo’s front seats are a wee bit better. You get armrests up front in the Grande but they are not adjustable so they can’t be used while driving as the gear lever is difficult to reach.
The Grande’s middle row is very spacious with loads of shoulder-, leg- and headroom. The seat is wide as well, which makes for comfortable seating for three people. The middle seats have good underthigh support and can be reclined. However, unlike in the Xylo, you don’t have the option of two bucket or ‘captain’ seats for the middle row.
The Grande’s third row of seats is really comfortable. There is enough shoulder room for two full-sized adults, decent legroom, the backrest is at a good angle and there’s also good headroom. The only grouse is that the headrests aren’t adjustable and the partition in the seat leaves out the possibility of seating a third person.
With the third row up in the Grande, there’s hardly any space left in the boot. But once folded, you get decent room. The third row can be removed completely and with the second row folded you get a flat bed.
The Xylo was designed to offer massive space inside and that’s obvious. The front seats are the most comfortable with good support; even the adjustable hand rest is well designed. You get seat height adjust too, but it’s a spring-loaded design which requires you to lift your body off the seat to raise it. The captain seats in the second row offer similar levels of comfort as those in the front. A neat feature is the manner in which the front and second row seats combine to make an airline-style flat bed.
The Xylo’s third row, too, is good but not as comfortable as the Grande’s, which has better head- and shoulder room. The Xylo gets adjustable headrests but eventually loses out with a more upright seatback angle and less underthigh support in the third row. The Xylo’s boot space is similar to the Grande’s but the seat cannot be removed completely, which limits its capacity.
These big MPVs are meant to be used with all seats occupied, and it is crucial that the engine needs to have enough pulling power and good fuel efficiency.
The Grande Mark II’s engine is the same 2.2-litre diesel as in the previous model and puts out the same 118 bhp of power. But for better driveability, Tata has used shorter gear ratios that improve overall performance considerably.
The engine feels more eager than before and you can drive this big MPV without the need to change gears all the time. Even with a full load, it doesn’t feel underpowered. There is a fair bit of initial turbo-lag or lack of response but it is not as prominent as before and the engine pulls from low rpm effortlessly. The motor feels relaxed at three-digit speeds too.
In terms of outright performance, the Mark II takes 17.04 sec to reach 100 kph, which is a 0.68 sec improvement over the previous model. However, despite the considerable improvements, the 2.2 Dicor motor cannot match the Xylo’s bigger 2.5-litre motor for sheer grunt.
Compared to the Grande, the Xylo has a spring in its step and is much more responsive and eager, which makes it very driveable and a boon in city traffic. Where the Grande’s unit starts feeling strained, the Xylo’s engine feels relaxed and eager. Zero to 100 kph comes up in 14.75 sec and it touches a top speed of 161 kph. For an MPV, the Xylo is quite quick, beating even the Innova in a sprint.
On the highway, the Xylo manages to cruise more effortlessly; overtaking is easier in the Mahindra thanks to the punchy engine. The Grande feels very relaxed in fifth gear but overtaking requires judicious use of the gearbox.
In terms of refinement, the Xylo again has an upper hand. The Grande is slightly quieter at idle than the Xylo, but as you accelerate, the Grande’s unit feels gruff till 2000 rpm after which it smoothens out. In comparison, the Xylo’s engine is quieter and only gets noisy near the rev limit. The Xylo’s cabin seems to be better insulated too with fewer vibrations filtering through, making it a quieter place to spend time in.
The biggest improvement in the Grande Mark II over the old car is in the ride and handling department. The Grande is much more predictable around the corners and it takes more than the odd bump to unsettle it.
The tall MPV still has a fair amount of body roll and sways quite a bit through corners but you get a good sense of control. The steering feel, though better than before, still doesn’t give the feedback we would like and is quite vague with lots of play around the straight- ahead position.
However, the Grande gives a lot more confidence than the older car. The ride is now very settled over most surfaces, and at low speeds the pliant suspension absorbs most bumps with aplomb. Even when speeds rise, it stays settled and straightline stability is impressive. This makes the Grande a very comfortable highway cruiser.
The Xylo’s suspension is tuned more towards the softer side. So at low speeds it matches the Grande’s ride. However, at higher speeds it has a tendency to bob up and down through dips and doesn’t feel as stable as the Grande.
The Xylo’s steering feels light at low speed, which is good for city traffic, but doesn’t weight up as speeds rise. It still feels a touch over-assisted at higher speeds, which doesn’t inspire too much confidence while cornering.
The Mahindra Xylo E8 retails for Rs 8.32 lakh (which is substantially higher than a similarly specced Grande), but comes loaded with lots of equipment. You get the option of airbags and ABS, which is missing on the Grande. It even comes with extra features like multi-function display, backlit vanity mirror and trip computer.
Mahindra offers a standard warranty of two years, limited to 50,000 km. This can be extended by another two years and 50,000 km for Rs 12,000. The Xylo is more fuel efficient than the Grande but that doesn’t offset the considerable price gap between the two MPVs.
The Tata Grande Mark II GX can be yours for Rs 7.66 lakh. Equipment levels are quite similar to the Xylo E8 but you don’t get some extra goodies like a trip computer, ABS and twin airbags, which don’t even come as options on the Tata MPV.
Tata offers a more comprehensive warranty package compared to the Mahindra. You get a warranty of two years or 75,000 km as standard. This can be extended upto four years or 1,50,000 km by paying an nominal amount of Rs 6,500.