A common practice among automobile manufacturers is to introduce their newest and latest technology with their flagship models. It is basically a showcase to tell us what to expect in models down the hierarchy in the years to come.
Mahindra, has adopted this philosophy by introducing an AT variant for its flagship XUV500. The gearbox in question is different from the one in the Scorpio and is a new six-speed unit developed by Aisin AW for future use in both Mahindra and SsangYong models. It is available in the W8 and W10 variants but only the latter gets it as an option in the AWD specification.
It also marks Mahindra’s entry into the other side of the D-segment thanks to the price range of Rs 15.53 lakh to Rs 17.37 lakh. It is also the only proper seven-seater automatic SUV with a sub-Rs 20 lakh price, pretty much giving Mahindra a first player advantage.
The XUV500 received a major facelift in May of last year. This update saw the SUV get a revised face, a decent amount of chrome and new alloy wheels. We particularly liked the curvy LED DRLs which cut across the headlight assembly giving them a distinct look. This new AT variant does not get any major additions from the facelift, apart from some automatic badging at the rear. The XUV managed to cut an imposing figure when it was launched in 2011.This facelift with its many new elements has made the car even busier and attention-garnering in terms of looks and presence.
One of the major areas that Mahindra concentrated when they facelifted the XUV500 was the cabin. In this facelifted guise it gets airy beige and black combination but has retained the overall layout of the cabin. The touchscreen infotainment system has been reworked while the amber backlighting has been replaced a by a more modern blue which, funnily enough, makes everything just a bit more soothing to look at.
This automatic version retains the same layout but now there is a shift gate style AT setup and the left circular display of the instrument cluster has been modified to indicate the current gear. The AT also has a manual mode with the switch on the lever itself.
The cabin is a massive step forward for the Mumbai-based automaker but it still has a long way to go in terms of quality of fit and finish. Given its hefty price, we expected better build quality and more insulation in the cabin.
Mahindra has continued with its 2.2-litre four-cylinder mHawk diesel engine that produces 140bhp and 330Nm of torque. As we had said earlier, the gearbox is an all new six-speed unit developed by Aisin AW for use in future Mahindra and SsangYong models and is different from the one used in the Scorpio AT.
Shift into D-mode, ease off the brakes and you will notice that the XUV gets off the line with very little lag. Go easy on the throttle and it will change gears just under 2000rpm while a little more input will allow you to go to 2500rpm before the cogs change. Go hard on the throttle and the gearbox will change ratios at 3000rpm while hitting the 3500rpm mark even in manual mode will ensure an automatic upshift.
The manual mode can be accessed by slotting the gear lever into D-mode and then shifting it to the left. The actual changing can be done via a switch on the gear lever and while it is not the most convenient way it does work well enough when you actually need to use it.
One of the quirks we found on this AT is that when you get off the throttle, it drops the revs to below the 1600rpm mark in a bid to boost fuel efficiency which means you don’t get any engine braking consequently leading to heavier brake usage. However, you can overcome this (if the situation calls for it) by slotting into manual mode and doing the downshifts yourself. Out on the highway, you can easily cruise at 120kmph for sustained periods without much effort.
It is not a very quick gearbox and by the look of things has been tuned for relatively sedate and fuel- efficient driving. The manual gearbox has been known for notchy shifts and a hard clutch making the AT a good option for someone looking for ease of driving but wanting everything that the XUV500 has to offer.
In other respects, the XUV feels just like its manual sibling. The engine gets quite harsh past the 3000rpm mark while the tyre noise and idle clatter are quite audible, the former most so prominent at higher speeds. The steering weighs up quite decently as you go faster and ride quality is pretty decent with most bumps being absorbed with relative ease. In the bends, there is quite a bit of body roll which is a part of the deal when you drive an SUV.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||140 @ 3750|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||330 @ 2800|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||70|
|Tyre size||235 / 65 R17|
|Six-speed Automatic gearbox||Yes|
|Manual shift mode available||Yes|
|touchscreen infotainment system||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||W10 AT||SX Plus AT|
|Engine Capacity||2.2-litre four-cylinder||1.6-litre four-cylinder|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||140 @ 3750||126 @ 4000|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||330 @ 2800||265 @ 1900|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||70||60|
|Tyre size||235 / 65 R17||205/65 R16|
The AT option has expanded the XUV500 range by quite a bit and is an important addition to what is Mumbai-based automaker’s flagship model. The reduced effort that the automatic has made when it comes to driving the car is good enough that we would now recommend them as the variants to look at if you want to buy an XUV500. This is despite the extra Rs one lakh that they command over their manual counterparts.
However, the automaker needs to work on the quality of fit and finish as nowadays a lot more is expected from a vehicle priced Rs 15 lakh and above. Mahindra has also managed to get itself first-in-the-segment advantage and is currently offering the only seven-seater automatic SUV with a price that is under Rs 20 lakh. Its closest rival is the Hyundai Creta which has a lower price but is a five- seater with no AWD option.
Photo Courtesy By : Kapil Angane