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EXCLUSIVE!: Mahindra Xylo 4x4 nearly ready

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Mahindra's Xylo MPV was always made with a 4-wheel drive system in mind. In fact, at the launch of the vehicle Mahindra made it known that the car could sport a 4wd unit as the necessary engineering had been done for its installation. And now we've got pictures of the car.

This particular example had joined the Mahindra Great Escape troupe during the recently concluded event at Khimsar in Rajasthan. Undergoing its last round of R&D tests, the vehicle crossed the finish line with nary a whimper or any trouble.

According to sources, the Xylo has been designed to be a part time 4wd system using an advanced version of the Borg & Warner system. Reports seem to suggest that it could be a real-time all-wheel drive system like the Honda CR-V, where the focus is on road grip and tackling bad roads and not specifically as a pure off-roader. However, there is no confirmation yet whether Mahindra will adopt such a system. The Xylo 4x4 would end up becoming the first MPV in the country with a 4-wheel drive system, but it remains to be seen how big a market is there for such a concept. Mahindra could also be seriously looking at the export markets such as South Africa for such a vehicle.

Meanwhile M&M is working on three SUV platforms. Sources suggest that apart from a new generation Scorpio, two more SUVs are in the pipeline. One of these is a sub 4-metre vehicle with a sub 1500cc diesel engine to help it bring in the same excise duty net as a small car. Until now, Premier's Rio is the only contender in the field but with Mahindra's entry this segment could start hotting up.

The world SUV that is to emerge from Mahindra's Chakan facility in 2011 is the third SUV in the lineup and will be priced in the range of Rs 16-18 lakh. A more powerful diesel engine and an automatic gearbox apart, the world SUV will also have automatic climate control, cruise control and ESP. Aimed at the likes of the Chevrolet Captiva and the Toyota Fortuner, this SUV would be primarily for export markets, apart from the local market with the aim of expanding the company's presence in the more developed markets such as the United States where the company is planning to begin the sale of its pickup trucks later this year.

The new Scorpio could retain its body-on-ladder format and a new petrol engine is also being developed to be fit under the bonnet of the Scorpio and the world SUV.