Words: Dr Javeid Khan; Photos: Dr Neeraj Sheth
Car tested: 2012 Mahindra XUV500
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 15,13,925/- (W8 AWD)
Mahindra has been developing the XUV500 since almost 4 years and the test mules have been spotted every now and then. Known as the W201 before the official named was finalized, the XUV500 has been developed by Mahindra engineers alone without any inputs from SsangYong (Mahindra had not bought out SsangYong at that time). The XUV500 also happens to be the first global product from Mahindra’s stable and will be exported to South Africa, Western Europe and the SAARC countries. We take the Mahindra XUV500 for a spin around Mahindra’s Test Track and find out if it is indeed global material.
Exteriors – One glance at this muscular SUV and you will be pleasantly surprised. When the Mahindra XUV500 was unveiled the night before the drive, I was taken aback with the designing and styling. The best we have seen from Mahindra and the global DNA is imminent. The designing is based on the Cheetah. The prowess and the external styling blend well into the Cheetah theme.
The front is aggressive and muscular with bulging wheel arches giving the SUV a muscular and authoritative stance. Headlamp assembly looks appealing and makes the car look premium with projector headlamps and daytime running LED lights. Between the headlamps lies a large honeycomb grille, which has a wider range of flexibility than i would have liked.
The XUV500 looks similar to the Mitsubishi Outlander from the side profile, more specifically from the rear with the bump above the real wheel arch. The Cheetah theme is followed on the sides in the form of paw shaped door handles. Side indicators are integrated with the external rear view mirrors. The large wheel arches make the tyres look a wee bit small.
The rear windshield may look small from the outside but does its job adequately. The tail lamps looks stunning and nicely blend into the side. There are paw shaped etchings on the cluster, making it looks classy. Body coloured parking sensors are seen on the rear bumper and reflectors are placed much below. There is a plastic panel which acts as a transition from the rear windshield to the side glass. Twin exhausts look good too.
Interiors – Interiors are miles ahead of the Scorpio and Xylo especially in the fit and finish department and even the quality of plastics used is better. Having said that, I did find the buttons on the center console a little flimsy and few other tid bits here and there but that can be pardoned as this SUV offers tremendous value at this price point. Two tone beige and brown dash looks nice but the brown part doesn’t look as good in comparison to the beige. Seating arrangement is 2 – 3 – 2 and this is the only configuration available. Front seats of the Mahindra XUV500 are comfortable and the leather upholstery gives a premium feel to the interiors. Back support is great with adjustable lumbar support for both the front seats.
The middle row is generously spacious as seen, bear in mind that the front seats are adjusted to a six footers driving position. If your driver is of average height, expect much better legroom. I was comfortable seated in the middle row of the Mahindra XUV500 with decent amount of back and under thigh support. Charging point has been provided at the back end of the central armrest. Notice that the middle passenger gets a head restraint. Storage space is ample in the door pockets and ac vents are provided on the B pillar. I would consider the XUV to be a 5 seater with a capability to seat the occasional 2 adults or ideally more suited to seat a couple of kids. The last row gets ac fan speed dial on the right side and power outlet as been provided as well.
With the last row upright, there is virtually no boot space. This further strengthens my claim to treat this SUV like a 5-seater.
Fold up the last row of seats and you get a decent boot on disposal. Need more space? Fold up the middle row as well and you have abundant space on hand.
A comfortably wide foot well with adequate spacing between pedals. Dead pedal is provided.
The Mahindra XUV500 has a circle within circle instrument cluster which not only looks great but occupies less space on the dashboard. Chrome surrounds look great and the display shows the warning lights for every possible thing on the car.
The infotainment system has a responsive touch screen interface. The Audio system has decent sound quality with four speakers and two tweeters which are place on the dashboard. Audio controls are present on the steering wheel with USB and Aux input. Besides the Audio, this touchscreen interface also gives information on fuel efficiency and distance to empty.
Tyretronics gives you information on the tyre presures of all the tyres including the spare. Any shift from the normal will warn the driver. The spare tyre pressure is monitored by virtue of a remote sensor.
Reverse park assist gives you visual and audio inputs enabling to park without straining your neck. Reverse parking camera is not part of the standard equipment and is offered as an accessory but all internal wiring for the camera has been done.
The XUV500 is also equipped with automatic headlamps and rain sensing wipers.
Mahindra has partnered with map my India to load the XUV 500 with a Satellite navigation interface. New maps can be loaded with the help of the usb input on top as shown.
Electromagnetic fuel filler works with a touch of a button. In case of an emergency, when this stops functioning, there is a manual override in the last row, directly behind the fuel filler.
Facing the front passenger is a double glove box with a laptop holder.
A very thoughtful feature is the conversation mirror. The driver can see all the passengers in the car through this mirror without having to turn back while driving. Really impressive.
The central armrest contains a chiller compartment and keeps your drinks chilled for long time.
The steering feels good to hold and has controls for audio, phone and cruise control.
The rear washer fluid has a separate bottle at the left side of the rear and can be opened as shown.
The spare wheel sits underneath. Notice the Multi-link independent suspension.
On the Move – Get behind the wheel and once you are away, the engine note manages to creep into the cabin as the revs increase. There is no tire noise though, even at high speeds. On the outside, the engine is not very loud but I hoped for better insulation inside the cabin.
The Mahindra XUV500 is loaded with features and hence makes a very attractive buy at this price point. You get Rollover Mitigation, Hill Descent Control, Hill Hold, 6 Airbags, ESP etc. It also gets the Micro Hybrid feature. Micro hybrid technology is not used to drive the vehicle but only helps to start/stop the vehicle, provided that the gear is in neutral and the clutch is fully pressed, that too only if the engine has reached the optimum operating temperature and the battery has adequate charge. So basically when you are idling at a signal, you can use this (provided all the above parameters are met) and contribute to the environment.
Ride, Handling and Braking – The ride quality was pretty complaint with all the 3 rows with the McPherson Struts upfront and Multi-link Independent Suspension at the rear but we were driving on tarmac and I wouldn’t want to give any verdict on the ride quality since we had a very brief stint with the car, that too on a well surfaced test track.
The biggest evolution comes in the handling department. The Scorpio and the Xylo are nervous when it comes handling and their highway manners can make the best of drivers skip a beat. The roller coaster effect does not inspire any confidence either. All this has changed in the XUV500. The monocoque chassis is light and the SUV takes corners with confidence. Bodyroll is still there but is minimal and the XUV 500 does tend to understeer a bit, but the ESP ensures you are always pointed in the right direction. I did a run around the track with ESP off and one with ESP on and the difference was obvious. The steering also feels responsive and weighs up nicely as the speed goes up.
Equipped with all four disc brakes the XUV 500 brakes with confidence. I slammed on the brakes at 100 kmph and the SUV stopped without much sideways movement. A big leap as compared to the Xylo and Scorpio. The tyres offer decent grip but tend to squeal around sharp corners.
Performance – Powered by a 2179cc mHawk engine, the Mahindra XUV500 churns 140 BHP at 3750 RPM and a torque of 330 Nm between 1600 – 2800 RPM. The VGT kicks in at about 1500 rpm and from there the XUV accelerates effortlessly to the red-line. The engine noise gets more and more audible as the needles moves towards the rev limiter but you cant complain as far as the performance goes. We did not get a chance to check out the real world fuel efficiency but the XUV500 has a class leading ARAI certified mileage of 15.1 kmpl. I hit a speed of 120 and the acceleration was effortless with 6 gears on hand. The gearbox was a bit notchy however.
Conclusion – The XUV500 delivers exceptional value at this price and though this is only the introductory price, the features offered by Mahindra are usually seen in cars much higher in pricing. The global DNA is very much there and its only a matter of time before the automatic variant comes out. Though some interior bits are not upto the mark, this is the best vehicle from Mahindra and is a big leap forward in the design and handling department. There is no way you can go wrong with the XUV500.
* Design and Styling
* Better Road Manners
* Safety Features
Whats Not So Cool
* Interior Switches Flimsy
* NVH (Engine Sound)
Mahindra XUV500 Specifications –
* Engine: 2179 cc, mHawk 140, Direct Injection Diesel Engine with 5th Generation VGT
* Power: 140 Bhp @ 3750 rpm
* Torque: 330 Nm @ 1600 – 2800 rpm
* Transmission: 6 Speed Manual
* Fuel Consumption: 15.1 (ARAI)
* Fuel Type: Diesel
* Suspension: Mcpherson Struts (Front), Multi-link Independent Suspension (Rear)
* Tires: 235/65/17 Tubeless Radials
* Brakes: All 4 Disc Brakes
* Safety: ABS, EBD, 6 SRS Airbags, ESP with Rollover Mitigation, Hill Descent Control, Hill Hold,
Mahindra XUV500 Dimensions –
* Overall length x width x height: 4585 mm X 1890 mm X 1785 mm
* Wheelbase: 2700 mm
* Turning Radius: 5.6 m
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 70 liters
* Gross Weight: 2450 kgs