Car Tested: 2015 Mahindra Reva e2o T2
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 8,31,000/- or Rs. 6,46,000/- + Rs. 2999/- per month for 60 months (battery EMI scheme)
The Mahindra e2o is an easy car to drive and comes with a decent range of 120 kms
Goodbye Fuel, Hello Electric! – the very reason why one would want to buy Mahindra Reva e2o. When the entire world is working towards finding ways to reduce the dependency on fossil fuels, electric cars are indeed one of the steps for the same. We drove the the feature rich Mahindra Reva e2o T2 model for over 300 kms in a week. Driving this car on the busy Bangalore roads and narrow streets gave us a different experience altogether. If one wants to zip through traffic on Bangalore roads, e2o is definitely an answer. But the big question is, how practical is the Mahindra e2o for daily use? Can an electric car really work in our country?
Motor Quest: e2o gets its name from Mahindra Reva’s philosophy of a commitment towards cleaner environment. ‘e’ stands for the Energy of sun, ‘2’ stands for ‘to’ which signifies the connected technologies and ‘o’ stands for Oxygen, the essential component of life.
Exteriors – The Mahindra Reva e2o flaunts funky exteriors with a hexagonal black grille and wrap-around headlamp cluster. The halogen projector lamps are a first in the segment and provide good enough visibility at night. The wipers are like those on the Honda Civic, however, the nozzles are integrated within the arms. Thus, one would never be distracted by that spurt of water on the windshield while the wipers do their job. The car boasts of colour impregnated, scratch and dent resistant body panels. The body made up of ABS plastic makes the car light weight with a kerb weight of just 830 kgs. The light weight helps in reducing the battery consumption.
Coming to the side profile, the Mahindra e2o has one door on each side. The doors are wide enough only for an average sized adult to enter the rear section of the car. However, one will have to stoop a little low while doing so. A 6-feet tall person found it a little tough to enter the rear cabin through these doors. Mahindra is already working on a four door e2o for the future. At the rear, the e2o gets LED tail lamps. The size of the glass hatch is too small, thus, rear visibility has been a concern at times and higher dependency lies on the electronically adjustable rearview mirrors. Below the glass hatch is a plastic panel that flaunts the logo and also covers the charging point. While the battery is getting charged, the hatch can be locked, which prevents moisture/dust from entering the charging section.
The Mahindra Reva e2o comes with a ground clearance of 180 mm which is fair enough for city driving. The 13-inch alloy wheels hold 155/70 low rolling resistance tubeless tyres. The car that we reviewed turned out to be a head turner. Where ever we took the car, people did give it a nice little stare. The credit does go to the shiny pearl white body and black roof with red coloured race lines running from the front to the rear with a big number 5 painted on it giving it a sporty look. Well, this was the very car Formula E racing driver Karun Chandhok, drove while he was in Bangalore for a media session.
Interiors – As you step inside, the front seats have enough leg and head room. I personally felt Mahindra could have done better by giving enough underthigh support (I am 5-feet 4-inches tall) and after a while the seat is not really comfortable. For tall drivers, this can be a bigger concern. The seats feel a bit hard. The rear seats too offer an upright seating position with little space to relax. Perhaps, they are best for small kids who can be safely seated. The seat belts at times hurt the collar bone due to their placement. Something I would really want to understand is the placement of the accelerator and the brake pedal. These are almost placed in the position of the clutch and the brake pedal respectively in any manual car. Thus, every time I had to brake, the right foot would have to go all the way towards the left and I would end up in a cross seating position. This would be an initial problem for someone switching from a manual car to the e2o, however, we all know, practice makes a man perfect, oops, makes a man get used to it. Mahindra can perhaps give a little thought over this. The reason for the awkward placement of the pedals is the small size of the car as the wheel arch protrudes inside.
The central console gets the AC and fan speed adjustment knobs along with a 6.2-inch infotainment unit which hosts numerous features one can boast about. An application known as ‘My Car’ gives a quick demo on how to start your e2o. The touchscreen unit is also used for GPS navigation and reverse parking, something one can see only in premium segment cars. For all the music lovers like me, input options are many. One can play a DVD, use an USB or a SD card, stream music through Bluetooth, connect a music device via AUX, play through iPod or simply turn on the radio. 4 speakers and 2 tweeters of JBL make provid a decent sound experience.
The instrument cluster is an all-digital dial which provides all the essential information like the gear position (R, N, F, B), speed, total distance traveled, driving efficiency, battery charge left (SOC) and distance to empty (DTE). One can save up to two trips. On the top, there is also a message bar which gives instructions to be followed while driving the car or when there is any issue. The driver’s manual lists all the messages and the respective explanations which come handy. One issue with this digital dial is its brightness. There are only two levels for changing the brightness and the lower of the two itself is too bright and distracted me during night drives. Surrounding the dial on both sides are a set of various indicators like the seat-belt, parking brake, low/high beam, anti-theft, door open, low auxiliary battery, temperature, park position, charging, turn signal/hazard and EV warning indicator lights.
Storage is just sufficient with both the doors getting side pockets and an elastic strap that can hold a medium sized bottle. There are two cup-holders, one for the front passenger and the other for the rear passenger. However, they are too small and one can only use them to fit a car perfume can. A rectangular storage space exists right before the automatic gearbox lever which can house your shades or perhaps a small wallet. The power window buttons are placed near the handbrake.
The boot has the storage for the charging cable. Though not big, it is convenient for keeping your daily shopping bags. The spare wheel is kept in the front and comes with an easy to remove attachment. Just pull open the velcro, lift the tyre and you have it removed it! The bonnet has a fixed LED light at the centre which can come handy at night. Similar LEDs are also provided near the charging point which aids in visibility while charging the battery at night.
Performance – This two-door hatchback has a noiseless start, something that is impressive. Press the start button, authenticate by keeping the key near the button, the LEDs turn green from orange and the car has already started. Shift the gear to ‘F’ mode, gently press the accelerator pedal and you are on the move without making any noise. The power of 19 kW (25.47 HP) at 3750 RPM is sourced from a 48V maintenance free lithium-ion battery. Torque stands at 53.9 Nm between 0-3500 RPM. Initial pick up is rapid but after reaching a speed of 70 km/hr, the strain can be felt. We could attain a top speed of 88 km/hr with the winds acting in our favour. With these speeds, the car is ideal only for city driving where the speed limit itself is 60 km/hr.
The e2o has good punch for city driving but accelerate hard and the battery drains quickly
Apart from the usual ‘R’ for reverse, ‘N’ for neutral and ‘F’ for forwards mode, there is another mode called as ‘B’ for Boost mode. Leave the accelerator and shift the gear lever to B to get some additional power which can at times be helpful for overtaking. However, the efficiency gets into the low range and the battery gets drained quickly. The vehicle drives in ‘E’ mode (Economy) when the charge drops below 20%. Further when the charge drops below 10%, the car shifts to ‘L’ mode (Limp Home). Under the ‘L’ mode, the Mahindra e2o runs on power saver mode limiting the drive power. If the AC is on, it automatically turns it off leaving the blower on and you sweating. Under ideal conditions, one complete charge can give a range of 120 kms. Thus, it is safe to plan a complete trip covering 80-90 kms per charge taking into consideration the traffic and the outside temperature.
Driving Dynamics – Driving the Mahindra Reva e2o is a pleasure on city roads. With growing traffic, space has always been a constraint. However the e2o can slip through gaps easily giving tough competition to the autos in Bangalore. The hatchback gets an electric power steering which is very light and thanks to its 3.9-metre turning radius, zipping through the streets and manoeuvring through traffic cannot get easier. However, there is fair amount of body roll. Though the car hardly makes any noise on smooth roads, driving over uneven surfaces can leave you with loud bumpy sounds. The suspension feels a bit rigid.
Braking is too sharp and unless you get a hang of the brake pedal, smooth braking can become a tedious task. One of the features of the e2o is its regenerative braking system. This works well while driving down a slope. Simply leave the accelerator pedal and the battery starts regenerating. Also, similar action takes place while applying brakes. Though the regeneration does not happen on a massive scale, it is good enough for one to maintain some charge before hitting the ‘Limp Home’ mode.
Mobile App Connectivity – The e2o mobile app comes with a host of cool features that one can definitely flaunt. One can unlock the car using a smart phone using the app. While running on very low charge, for that quick extra stored charge, the ‘REVive’ option can be activated using the app. One can switch on the AC without actually getting inside the car. This comes handy when one wants the cabin temperature to cool down before entering the vehicle. One can plan their trips without running out of charge using the Trip Planner option. Another feature is the ‘Assistance’ which helps to troubleshoot problems or get road side assistance.
Charging and Range – One can charge the e2o batteries at home provided they have a 15 AMP socket. The batteries are maintenance free and need to be replaced every 5 years, costing Rs. 1.8 lakhs. The charging cable is around 15-feet in length and in case one needs a socket outside the house, Mahindra will set up a weather proof charging station free of cost. A complete charge from 0-100% takes 5 hours of time and can vary a bit depending upon the battery condition and ambient temperature. A 100% charge provides a range of 120 kms under ideal conditions but expect not more than 100 kms in normal day to day driving.
Most of the malls in Bangalore have free e2o charging units. This means, while one enjoys a movie or does some shopping, this Mahindra can get a free recharge. The parking staff at these locations are trained and I received a warm welcome every time I took the car to these stations. Mahindra Reva had also launched the Quick2Charge station which gives a 100 percent charge in just 60-minutes. This requires an additional unit in the car which is currently available only as an add-on. The officials confirmed that Quick2Charge stations are yet to come up in public places.
Verdict – The Mahindra Reva e2o is definitely the need of the hour car when we talk about depleting fossil fuels. Mahindra has done a remarkable job by integrating a lot of technology in the vehicle. However, the price which is on the higher side is one factor that could make a person think twice before buying this car. Overall, it is a feature loaded car and best for hassle free city drives with really cheap running costs (Rs. 10/- for a full charge or free charging at Mahindra charge stations, one can also set up a solar charging station but that costs upwards of Rs 1.5 lakhs). But the range of 120 kms comes across as inadequate considering the rising distances and traffic in the city. Range anxiety is another issue as using all those features on-board do deplete the battery faster than you expect, thereby making the Mahindra e2o not very practical for the daily grind. Thus this car comes across as a good second or third car for the family which is occasionally used in the city but not as a daily driver.
The Mahindra e2o isn’t very practical for daily use. We are all already tired charging up our gadgets and no one wants to be limited by range as 120 kms is hardly anything when we consider the high distances, even in the city. One needs to charge this car everyday and given the price, one can opt for an entry-level hatchback and still spend a similar amount (buying and running) in the long run.
* Zero emission
* Mobile app connectivity
* Lots of technical features
* Zero maintenance batteries
What’s Not So Cool
* Seating and pedal position
* Rear hatch visibility
* Limited battery range