A Review of the New Mahendra SUV the XUV500
History of the Mahindra
Mahindra is a top SUV and Jeep manufacturer in India. It is also the main supplier of light vehicles to the Indian army, hence this manufacturer is known for making vehicles that are hardy and resilient.
Mahindra owner is a Punjabi, who set up his company way back in 1948 in Ludhiana in Punjab. There were 3 partners, the 2 Mahindra brothers and a Muslim who later migrated to Pakistan, leaving the Mahindra brothers as sole owners of the company.
The Mahindra brothers in early fifties moved to Maharashtra and began to assemble old jeeps imported from USA. They soon cannibalized and started their own products and were successful in getting the contract for jeeps from the Indian army.
In early fifties Mahindra launched their products in the civilian market and their products were well received. Mahindra’s vehicles with their 4 wheel drive trains caught the imagination of the Indian people and over the years the company brought out a string of vehicles with the Bolero and a very popular utility vehicle.
In 2013 Mahindra engineers thought hard and produced an SUV the XUV 500. This vehicle was unique as it was an SUV, yet much cheaper that it’s Japanese counterparts. It packed all the goodies available in higher end vehicles with a sun roof and was an instant hit in the Indian market. The XUV has till date sold over 150,000 vehicles and people in India have made it their first choice SUV.
The XUV 500
The XUV 500 was inspired by the Cheetah, an animal that is the epitome of wild life in India. Hence its front grill represents the claws of a Cheetah. This is a good marketing ploy and has gone down well with the public. The SUV is available in 6 variants starting from W4, to W 10, with the W 10 being the most advanced model. The engine in all variants is 2250cc Hawk Mk I engine which is locally developed by Mahindra and gives out 140 BHP and a gross torque at 330Nm @ 1600-2800 rpm.
The engine is however a little less powerful for the size of the vehicle that weighs nearly 2500 kg. Perhaps the manufacturers could have added an option of a more powerful engine. In addition the lower variant of the XUV has only 2 airbags compared to 6 for the higher variant (W10). This is a safety measure and it would have been a good idea to incorporate 6 air bags in all their models
Interiers of XUV 500
The XUV scores over its rivals with its spacious interiors. It is a 7 seater and the large boot can be converted into an additional two seats. It is thus ideal for a large family, but luggage will be a problem as after the last 2 seats are pulled up, there will be no place left and as such a luggage carrier is a necessity.
The SUV has extremely comfortable front seat, which also have special lumber support for long drives. In addition it can accommodate 5 adults in the back, though the last 2 seats are not for large boned men and women due to paucity of leg room.
The car also (only top variant W10) has an electrically operated sun roof. This can be installed in the lower variants at a cost of Rs 180,000. This is a bit steep to get the open air pleasure so important in a SUV.
Overall the inner finish is good and is a vehicle that is comfortable. It compares well with its rival the Tata Safari and Toyota Fortuner.
The Mahindra comes only with a turbo diesel engine. It gives out 140 BHP, which for a vehicle weighing 2500 kg is a little less. However within constrains the performance is good. The engine takes a shade longer to race to 100km per hour, but otherwise is responsive. The XUV however a lot of other goodies like rain sensor wipers, auto head lamps, cruise control and a computer that shows fuel in tank, mileage per KM and a taco meter.
The vehicle is engineered very well and has a smooth finish. It is available in 7 colors and has a lot of features that are available only in top end SUVs. Mahindra have had an excellent run with XUV 500, whose plus point despite limitations of power is the price. The vehicle costs between INR 16-20 lakhs and that makes it at least 20% cheaper than comparative SUVs.
In my opinion the XUV is a good buy if budget is a constraint. It performs very well, but I don't see it selling abroad as an export unless the engine is given greater power. But in India the vehicle is a runaway success and backed by excellent after sales service is worth a buy.
New automatic variant introduced
Mahindra XUV 500 had a drawback as it did not have a automatic gear box variant. This has now been rectified and Mahindra have launched a sixspeed automatic variant. The engine is still the same and gives out 140 BH, which is less than its rivals the Toyota Fortuner and Mistsubishi Pajero.
This automatic version will be launced on 5 December and fill a long felt need for people who wish to drive an automatic car. The price of the automatic version is a shade higher by a lakh of rupees, but then in my opinion it is worth the extra price for the driving comfort it gives.
Advent of Jeep-a threat
There has been a turning in the market in India and Mahindra's flagship model the XUV 500 is affected. This is because the Jeep has launched its model Compaq in India and it has cut into sales of the XUV. Mahindra is testing a new model and hopes to compete but Jeep with its international name may well send Mahindra on the backfoot