The Mahindra e2o Plus is one of the only three electric cars you can buy in India right now and with ex-showroom prices north of Rs 8 lakh, it is safe to say that it’s unlikely to be more than a niche.
Having launched the e2o and the e-Verito, Mahindra has now rolled out the e2o Plus. With four doors (two more than the e2o) and a thoroughly modern design (as against the dated e-Verito), the e2o Plus is perhaps the most ‘complete’ electric vehicle you can buy. But is it any good as a comfortable and efficient daily driver?
Whereas the standard e2o is bit of an oddball and looks like nothing else in the market, the longer e2o Plus is a lot better proportioned. There is certainly a buzz about this four door model and first impressions are positive. Make no mistake; it’s not beautiful however it does have a modern and somewhat animated look that is more akin to EVs than your humdrum hatchbacks. Most of the front-end and the front doors come from the e2o but from thereon it’s all different – the Plus gains a pair of full-size doors with KUV100-like handles, vertically-stacked LED taillights and a proper rear hatch. It may look taller than its IC engine powered alternatives however the e2o Plus is shorter and much narrower.
Those looking forward to find minimalistic yet space-age interiors (like the ones in Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe) are in for some disappointment as the e2o Plus’ cabin is fairly basic and straightforward. The all-black dashboard and the three-spoke steering wheel are taken off the e2o, so is the fully digital instrument cluster. As a result, there are several hard plastics and trim inserts that betray the e2o Plus’ price tag. The circular AC controls are also fiddly to use and could have offered a more tactile feel. That said, it’s not all bad in here. The touchscreen infotainment system for instance offers high-res display and a ton of features including navigation and smartphone connectivity. Likewise, the fully digital single pod instrument cluster shows all the necessary bit of info like battery range and efficiency, gear indicator, DTE and dual trip meters.
Up front, the dual tone seats are comfortable and supportive although they struggle to keep the occupants snug even in slow speed corners. The legroom is more than adequate thanks to the slim, upright dashboard but we suspect tall drivers would struggle with the short seat squab. Now even though it’s got a flat rear bench, the e2o Plus is a strict four seater. That aside, it impresses big time when it comes to legroom and overall sense of space at the back, for two people that is. Thanks to a compact motor compartment and extended wheelbase the legroom is enormous though again seat comfort and under thigh support is just about average. On the plus side, that deep kink in the rear window line adds a great deal of airiness to the cabin. What’s also worth noting is that there is virtually no wheel arch intrusion into the boot however at just 135litres the boot itself is too small even for picking up groceries.
All electric cars can be recharged from a regular household outlet and the e2o Plus is no different. It’s charging drill appears sound – you get up, unplug your fully charged e2o from the wall, drive to work where you may plug it back in and then you are all set for the drive home. It’s that easy. Now given that majority of people’s commute within the city is less than 50km and the fact that the e2o Plus can realistically drive up to 120km (with AC and music system on), it is safe to say you could even skip a day or two of recharging. Speaking of which, Mahindra claims this car can be fully charged in nine hours from a regular 16Amp charger whereas a quick charge from 0-95 per cent (through a higher output charger) takes just 90mins.
Unfortunately, our first drive was limited around the hotel property we were put up in. Even so, we did find a couple of long straights and a badly paved stretch of tarmac to put the e2o Plus to test. As it turns out, it is more than potent to quickly get up to city speeds and cruises at 70kmph without a problem. With a 0-60kmph acceleration time of around 9.5 seconds it’s never going to win any drag races however the e2o Plus doesn’t come across as that slow once on the move, thanks to the instant torque delivery from the 30kW/91Nm electric motor. The serenity when accelerating though is something that can take a while to get used to. Barring the natural and rather exciting electric whirr, the e2o is super quiet. You would probably never be relaxed in Bombay traffic, but this is as close as you would get, that is until you hit a pothole. Like the two door model, the Plus is stiffly sprung and tends to crash and bash over bumps. If anything, the lack of drivetrain noise amplifies the clunky suspension even more.
Seamless acceleration is courtesy of a direct drive automatic transmission with two forward ratios though the gear lever itself is quite stiff and clunky to use. The brakes too provide odd feedback and require a healthy shove when shedding speed – they do offer regenerative tech though which captures braking energy and recharges the battery as you press on the pedal.
|Max. Power (kw@rpm)||30kW @ 3500rpm|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||91Nm @2500rpm|
|Gears||Direct Drive with 2 ratios|
|Tyre size||165/60 R14|
|Touchscreen audio system||Yes|
|Foldable rear seat||Yes|
|Lithium ion batteries||Yes|
The biggest hurdle for the e2o Plus or any electric car for that matter, is our charging infrastructure. The ultimate future foreseen when this car was getting conceived is just isn't here. As a matter of fact, it’s nowhere in sight – there is no network of public charging stations at all. Also, the idea of charging EVs overnight is a far more difficult task than you would imagine given that a sizeable chunk of urban dwellers have only got on-street parking. The e2o Plus, then, may be the most ‘complete’ electric vehicle you can buy in India right now, however, it cannot be your only vehicle, at least not until we have a feasible charging infrastructure in place.