In the face of renewed competition, Mahindra gives the XUV a facelift, some new features, and a lot of chrome. But is that enough to capture the market once again?
It’s been four years since the Cheetah caught India by storm. It won many accolades, but like any good product, it’s time to re-jig it, improve it, and even make it a bit more posh. We are talking about India’s fastest selling SUV, the Mahindra XUV500 (that’s double O, not zero). The XUV has been a success story for Mahindra. And now it’s time to look at the future, as Mahindra has ironed out some irritants and added more features – after all, the likes of the Renault Duster are constantly eating into its market share.
The XUV has a lot more bling factor, and comes across as a metro-sexual SUV – as Mahindra has chosen to tone down its aggressive looks. With large sweptback headlamps and a re-designed nose, the big burly grille has shrunk. The twin pod headlight cluster is very striking, especially with the S-shaped LED projector strip running between the lamps. This single LED stripe replaces the bead-like LED lamps of before.
Mahindra has decided that chrome is the way to go, as is evidenced by the grille – and even the khukri-shaped fog lamps have chrome outlines. Another addition is a pseudo skid plate beneath the front lip, which does add to the visual appeal. The XUV is still muscular, with its beefy wheel arches. In profile, it remains predominantly the same as the outgoing model – except for more chrome lining the greenhouse. At the rear, barring a thick chrome bar above the number plate area, everything else seems familiar.
Step inside and you notice some substantial changes – and all for the better. We give a thumbs-up to the new black-beige interiors, replacing the black-purple combo – which was a bit of an acquired taste. The instrument cluster retains the twin pods, but now has icy blue lighting instead of red. Even the cabin ambience light is icy blue. According to Mahindra, this colour has a soothing effect. The infotainment system’s screen has grown bigger to 7-inches. This new screen has a much better touch response, and the navigation maps have been upgraded by MapmyIndia. Like a desktop, you can even personalise the wallpaper of the infotainment system. It can be controlled via your mobile phone as well, by downloading the Blue Sense app. The XUV now also comes with a rear parking camera. For better comfort, the driver’s seat comes with a new 6-way power adjuster – and again the chrome fetish strikes, with inserts around the infotainment system, steering wheel, and even the pedals!
We fired up the 2.2-litre mHawk engine, and hardly any sound was audible in the cabin. The refinement was top class. Step on the pedal, and it instantly pulls away thanks to the improved gear ratios. Barely any lag at all could be felt, and it drove more like a large sedan rather than a lumbering SUV. As we were driving the new XUV at the Mahindra plant at Chakan, Pune, we couldn’t really throw it around too much – but the initial reaction was that the stiffened suspension setup has improved the handling, as the XUV sticks to the desired line.
It also easily soaked up the little undulations that we came across. Typically, SUVs tend to wallow, but this new refreshed Mahindra stood firm – which was quite impressive. Power delivery seemed linear – and while we couldn’t exceed 120km/h due to a lack of space, it appeared planted at speed.
The new XUV is fully loaded, with features like Brake Energy Regeneration, upgraded ESP, a better feel in the cabin, loads of chrome touches inside and out, improved handling, freshly designed 17-inch alloy wheels, a sun roof, and improved fuel efficiency – from 15.1km/l to 16km/l (claimed). And so it seems that this could well be a slam-dunk for the new XUV. To be realistic, though, it certainly won’t have as easy a time as it did on debut. The market dynamics have changed, but the refreshed XUV certainly aims to live up to the new age – an age of the uncompromising Indian!
- Mahindra XUV 500
Engine: 2,179c / 16 Valves / DOHC / Variable Geometry Turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual /Front wheel drive
Power: 140bhp @ 3,750 rpm
Torque: 330Nm @ 1,600-2,800 rpm