If someone were to ask me if India has finally caught up with the rest of the world in terms of our car building skills, this is what I would show them. The XUV700 is not just the best Mahindra till date but is up there with the global cars in terms of space, performance, features, tech, dynamics, safety etc. But if you factor in our taxes and then consider the base model pricing, then it’s better than anything the world market can come up with!
The name may be confusing to some, but the XUV 700 is actually the next-gen XUV500 with a lot of improvements and a lot more tech built into it. The styling is an evolution of the XUV500 and it looks a lot better in the flesh than in the pics. The lines are cleaner, the multi-layer rear wheel arches are gone and the horizontal cheetah paw door handles make way for flush fitting ones that are more aerodynamic. But certain elements like the grille and C shaped headlamps could do with a more minimalist design. This is the first car to have the new Mahindra SUV logo that sits well in the diverging grille. The car has a muscular look at the front and flows well to the rear with a notable rise at the C pillar. The rear looks good with the plastic tail gate’s multiple creases and all. The wheels are 18 inch but they don’t show their size with those arches. The door handles may look like a novelty item at first, but they are fiddly to use in anything but the top spec models. You have to manually push it to pop and then pull it to open the door. It gets worse in the base models where you have to take out the remote key and unlock the car first.
Step inside and the XUV700 gets more appealing. The dashboard is a clean design with a big horizontal tablet style unit making up the top part. It comprises of two 10.25 inch screens – one for the driver info and the other for the infotainment. The display clarity is good, the layouts and colours are fantastic and it is incredibly customizable. There are several functions built into it, most of which can put some very expensive cars to shame. There is the usual Apple Car Play and Android Auto, Alexa, local apps like Just Dial, Zomato and lots of radar-based driving features such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Auto Emergency Braking, Lane Departure warning etc. It also has a 12 speaker Sony audio system hooked on it that sounds incredible. On the downside, the software needs a bit more refining as there are illogically laid out menus and sometimes and an entire sub menu dedicated to just one function. Mahindra said they would have this fixed before it goes into production.
The rest of the dashboard is well made, with decent ergonomics and everything feeling well put together. The steering wheel is nice to hold and despite the car being so big, it feels cozy at the front. Plastic quality is average, with the leather covered trim lifting the quality feel and the wood trim on the door pads bringing it down. The switches for the driver seat controls are on this trim, in Mercedes fashion. The two zone aircon controls are from the XUV500 and there is an array of toggle buttons for essential functions. The front seats are the right size, has the perfect cushioning and side bolster support. It also has a function where it slides back for easy entry/exit and adjusts itself back to the last position when you close the door – like on a German car. The middle row seats are another XUV highlight and this one has good room and a perfectly reclining backrest. The seat is wide and support is good. The third row seats are accessed by tumbling the middle seat forward and is best suited for children. There is very little boot space with all three rows in place and it is sensible to buy the five seater variant or keep the third row seats folded down unless you really need them.
The XUV700 comes with either a 2.0 litre petrol and 2.2 litre diesel option, both of which can be had with a 6 speed manual or torque convertor automatic. The 2.0litre turbo petrol is the same M Stallion engine we first saw in the petrol Thar, but instead of making 150bhp, it produces a staggering 197bhp here. It is easily the fastest car in its class clocking 0-100kmph in 9.3 seconds and petrolheads will love it. Power comes in about 1500rpm and it pulls well till just under 5000rpm. It is smooth and quite torquey and when paired with the 6-speed automatic, quite easy to drive. The downside is, with nearly two tonnes of car around it, it’s not very fuel efficient.
The 2.2 litre M Hawk diesel is a pretty decent allrounder as well. It is very refined for a diesel and with 185bhp, it is still fast too. The diesel manual does 0-100kmph in around 10.1 seconds. There are three power modes – Zip, Zap and Zoom which sounds like they were designed by a six-year-old. There is noticeable difference in each with Zip cutting down power to 155bhp, the Zap giving you the full 185 bhp and Zoom giving you better throttle responses along with it. The gearshifts in the manual are not all that slick, but it is perfectly short geared to drive around in town.
The XUV700 has seen a lot of work go into its suspension. It has frequency selective dampers (much like in the Jeep Compass) which give a smooth ride at slow speeds while remaining stiff for good handling. The steering feel is decent, it changes direction and grips well for a big SUV. The highspeed stability was great when we drove it near its 200kmph top speed at the Mahindra test track. The ride quality isn’t perfect, but is way better than it was in the XUV500. The ADAS systems seem to work well in the XUV700 with adaptive cruise control being the most notable addition. It lets you maintain a fixed distance from the car in front so when it slows down and stops, you do the same and when it speeds up you speed up. This is particularly handy in stop and go traffic conditions.
The XUV700 is an SUV with lots of features, acres of space, advanced driver aids, competent engines, good ride and handling packed into it. There are automatics for those who want it and it even has an all-wheel drive equipped variant on offer. The base model pricing was quite interesting when Mahindra announced they will start around the 12 lakh rupee mark. While the diesel base model diesel is a 155bhp detuned version, the petrol manual is still the full spec four cylinder with 200bhp and 200kmph top speed. To give you and idea of its value proposition, most SUVs in that price range are the sub four metre compacts with tiny 3 cylinder turbo-petrols making about 120bhp max. Goes on to show how overpriced other manufacturer’s cars are but this Mahindra will certainly make them rethink their pricing.
Pic Courtesy: google/ images are subject to copyright