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New beast for off-roading

Mahindra’s new SUV is competent, high on features, and comes at a mouth-watering launch price

autos Updated: Nov 09, 2011 02:44 IST

Mahindra’s new flagship, the XUV500, is the first Indian SUV to be built around a monocoque chassis. Lighter than a traditional SUV, it has a modern car-like independent suspension, and plenty of useable space between the long wheelbase as well.

The engine is the familiar 2.2-litre mHawk unit with a variable geometry turbocharger and makes more power and torque in the XUV though — 140bhp and 33.33 kgm of torque. Mahindra offers front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions. The Hawk engine was known for its responsiveness, strong mid-range power and refinement and there’s more of the same here. With its easy-to-use six-speed manual gearbox, cruising at three digit speeds is easy; and apart from some turbo-whistle, the engine is refined.

Composed and light
Unlike the Scorpio’s wayward high-speed manners, the XUV feels composed. Straight-line stability is good and the steering is reassuring. The XUV uses a full-time all-wheel drive system that detects wheelspin and directs torque to the wheels that have grip, making it secure around corners too. On the few rough patches, the XUV felt both pliant and comfortable. However, there is some amount of side-to-side movement, especially over uneven patches.

The styling is clearly the talking point of this SUV. The stance of the car is spot-on. But the company seems to have overdone a bit on the detailing. The nose especially has too many cuts, the wheel arches are a touch oversized and the rear is rather exaggerated. There are some appealing touches though, especially the Range Rover Evoque-like rising beltline and blacked-out pillars.

The seats are large and supportive, and cabin space is phenomenal — this makes the XUV a great car to spend long hours in. The floor is flat and the central console does not intrude into the middle passenger’s space on the second row. With seven passengers however, there’s absolutely no luggage space.

Mahindra has packed the XUV with features. Standard goodies are the reverse parking sensors, air-con vents for all three rows, Bluetooth connectivity and a touch-screen system with satellite navigation (there’s voice guidance in eight regional languages).

Autocar India
Mahindra XUV500
Price: Rs.10.8 to 11.9 lakh (FWD, ex-showroom price, Delhi)
Fuel: Diesel;
Displacement: 2,179cc
Power: 140bhp at 3,750rpm
Torque: 33.65kgm
Gearbox: 6-speed manual
Dimensions: 4,585x1,890x1,785mm
Wheel Base: 2,700mm
Wheels: 17-inch alloy, Tyres: 235/65R17
Suspension: Front — McPherson type with anti-roll bar; Rear — Multilink type with anti-roll bar, Brakes (f/r) disc/disc

Verdict
Mahindra’s XUV500 has it all. It is spacious, comfortable and attractive. But there is a bigger talking point — the shattering launch price. The base two-wheel drive W6 starts at Rs.10.8 lakh going onto Rs.11.9 lakh for top end two-wheel-drive W8. There’s only one four-wheel drive version — the top-end W8 — for Rs.12.88 lakh. However, these are introductory prices and may go up in two or three months.