Mahindra and Mahindra has launched its first global SUV, the XUV500 in a glittering ceremony in Pune, home to its newest baby.
Two versions of the vehicle will be available, the W6 and W8 in both two-wheel and four-wheel drive.
The W8 has been priced at Rs 11.95 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi while the W6 has been priced at Rs 10.8 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi for the two-wheel drive versions. The price of the XUV500 W8 AWD version is Rs 12.88 lakh ex Delhi.
The XUV500 is available in both two and four-wheel drive versions with a 6-speed manual and automatic gearbox. It's powered by a 2.2-litre, common-rail diesel engine and the block is identical to the one found on the Scorpio mHawk. It has an ARAI certified fuel efficiency of 15.1 kpl, the second most fuel-efficient vehicle in Mahindra's passenger SUV portfolio after the Bolero.
It produces approximately 140 bhp of power and nearly 33 kgm of peak torque, taking it into the same power and performance class as the Skoda Yeti and Tata Aria 4x4 and 4x2 versions.
The XUV500 also has some unique features such as a full touch integrated audio system, hill-descent control, airbags, ABS, ESP and blower controls for the third row.
The premium SUV comes shod with 235/65 R17 Bridgestone Dueler HT tyres.
Produced in Mahindra's Rs 2500 crore plant at Chakan, the total investment behind the project has been Rs 650 crore, not including the investments that have already been made in the 2.2-litre motor and transmission. The car has been tested over 2.35 mn kilometers, with over 250 prototypes being built.
If this is going to be Mahindra & Mahindra's first world-class product, well, it certainly looks the part. The only negative we see - of course we have not driven it yet - is its cumbersome and awkward name. Four years in the making and this is the name they could come up with!
The XUV 500 is a good-looking SUV, no doubt about that, and importantly it's the first monocoque construction SUV from Mahindra. It looks contemporary, has a whole host of unique styling cues that make it stand apart. For instance, the pronounced wheel arches and blacked-out pillars giving it that impression of a floating roof could be influenced by the smashing Range Rover Evoque. Which is not a bad thing at all! The door handles are placed vertically and are compact. The wheel arches affect the waistline by protruding into the glass house - it is a design signature. There seems to be an excess of plastic honeycomb throughout the front end and it looks slightly Korean as well. Okay, again it's not a bad thing as even the Koreans are looking good these days. The vehicle has been extensively crash-tested, even to meet Europe's tough pedestrian safety norms.
The muscular look of the XUV is so prominent that it makes the 235/65 R17 Bridgestones look small. The alloy wheel design seems tame in comparison to the rest of the car. The XUV can look the part in any international city and that is one of the biggest compliments its external styling can get. The LEDs on the headlamps are judiciously used - it could have been a bit excessive, but thankfully the designers have stayed on the right side. The external rear view mirrors are electronically adjustable and foldable and have indicator lights mounted on them.
Inside, the XUV seems pretty loaded. We don't know what are the different variants that will be available, but this one, which is badged the W8, is fully loaded. There are SRS Airbag signs littered around. The leather seats are plush. The steering wheel has controls on it and it will feature ABS with EBD and ESP as well.
The interior design is the biggest jump for a Mahindra product. It actually is ergonomic! All the controls are correctly placed and they look neat too. The central console is smart and uncluttered while the digital display is the best designed one I have seen - it's better than that you'd find in a Mercedes-Benz or a Volkswagen. It's a touch screen too. The steering wheel is of the right dimensions and bit gawky in design compared to the rest of the car. The instrument display is again terrific - the speedo and tacho dials are large and beautifully lit while two circular digital displays spout the rest of the information. This is the best feature of the insides of the car. It is classy, and overall, the interiors are way beyond what I expected from a Mahindra product. It has a chilled glovebox and the door pockets are large enough to hold a one-litre bottle. The grain pattern is a bit cheesy like what you'd have seen in the first-gen Hyundai i10 and that's perhaps the only negative I can think of. The seven-seater has adequate space for the middle row and the last row seems a bit cramped.
The engine is badged the MHawk 140 which perhaps signifies its intentions. The manual gearbox has a dogleg reverse. Hmm... But what is the most important thing about this SUV is that it is front-wheel drive. If I am not mistaken, this is the first Mahindra product (not including the Verito) that is front wheel driven. Of course it will come with an all-wheel drive version as well. What took me by surprise is that the engine was idling and I could barely hear it. Now that is a good thing, especially for a big burly SUV with international ambitions. It comes with hill descent and ascent control, while a new six-speed transaxle for a 3-stage four-wheel drive system is a first for an Indian OEM.
The first impression is that the XUV500 seems to be the culmination of a no-holds-barred project. It certainly does look like Mahindra & Mahindra have made a do or die attempt to make an SUV that is at par with its contemporaries anywhere in the world. At this moment, it is easy to say that for an inhouse attempt by an Indian manufacturer, this is a great leap. But as the wise man said, the world is flat. There is nothing that stops you from making a world class product, and it is clear that nothing has stopped Mahindra & Mahindra from doing it.
What remains is that the XUV 500 needs to be driven. And we'll be doing just that soon...
WATCH THIS SPACE FOR PRICES TOMORROW!