Objectivity can and does go out of the window with this one. Ask us, and the XUV500 is slightly overdone in places. The grille is too ‘in your face’ and mars the lines, the additional hump on the rear wheel arch is unnecessary. Someone forgot to give the boot lid some much needed character and left behind a rather small moustache of a rear number plate cover. It’s like having the best caviar in town and then lacing it with dressing that’s just past the sell-by-date.
Critical but not vital, is what some of these overdone design elements are. And I’m not alone on this one. A bunch of students from the IIT Bombay design school’s transportation cell happened to spend some time with our test car and their observations weren’t too different either. They even went as far as to say that the XUV’s design isn’t iconic enough and it would have a rather short shelf life. Isn’t that what most people said about the Mahindra Scorpio too, some nine years ago?
Design hasn’t been Mahindra’s strongest point, yet, despite all the criticism, the XUV500 is its best effort to date. From the strong headlamps to the Evoque-like floating roof and the coupé-ish beltline, the overall stance does have enough hints of a European design house’s hand; yet, under all the razzmatazz is the effort of a young man in his mid-20s, sitting in a corner at Mahindra’s design department.
But Mahindra’s World SUV is more than just its design. It’s a whole bunch of firsts for a company where a significant number of utility vehicles produced still find their genes in a World War II machine. From being the first monocoque to forcing the company to adopt several new safety and engineering technologies and even production techniques, the XUV500 is a game changer for Mahindra. And more than anything else, it’s the price tag that puts everything, from top-end versions of the Hyundai Verna/Honda City to the Toyota Fortuner in its crosshairs. As far as value goes, the XUV500 could redefine the very essence of what a premium car should stand for and offer.
It offers pretty much everything that a premium car should and then some more. Which brings us to a rather important question – does it feel and drive like a premium car? Has Mahindra made that leap into the big league or is it let down by lack of attention to detail? We’ve spent nearly 1,000 km with the XUV500 over varied terrain, driven it hard, thrown it into the deep end and can now tell you if it’s the premium car you may need. Or not.
MORE ON PAGE 2>>