Why would I buy it?
- Engine performance
Why would I avoid it?
- Third row accommodation
- Low speed ride
Engine and Performance
The all-new Mahindra XUV700 will be available in both petrol and diesel engine options with either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic. The 2-litre petrol is quite strong making 200bhp of power and 380Nm of torque. The 2.2-litre diesel engine, meanwhile, will be available in two tunes - an 185bhp version with 420Nm for the manual and 450Nm for the automatic and also a 155bhp version with 360Nm for the entry-level versions. What we have here is the top-of-the-line diesel automatic version with 185bhp tune and first impressions are really good. This engine has a smooth idle and vibrations are little to none. It's only when you get up to speed that you'll hear a little more noise than you'd like while accelerating.
Even so it's not that annoying diesel clatter and actually the engine is quite refined. Overall NVH levels are among the best in class if not the best. The other good thing about this engine is that it delivers punchy performance right from the word go. You get nearly 450Nm of pulling power from as low as 1750 revs and this peak torque stays flat till 2800rpm which is the ideal operation range under normal driving conditions. The XUV700, then, has more than enough grunt and it shows when you push it. Performance is strong all the way till 4,000rpm and the XUV will keep pulling hard well past triple digit speeds.
What compliments this strong engine so well is the six speed automatic gearbox. Sure it's no dual clutch unit and the gearshifts aren't lightning fast but for driving around town and covering long distances on the highways it does the job. It goes up and down the gears smoothly, doesn't hesitate in bumper to bumper traffic as you go and off throttle. Overall it's a great comfort oriented gearbox that does it's job beautifully.
Ride and Handling
Coming to the ride and handling, the front suspension on it is a typical McPherson strut but with it you get special dampers from Koni which can adjust the frequency of damping force as per the load and road conditions. The rear suspension, meanwhile, is a multi-link system that also gets the same dampers. The end result is a ride quality that's most impressive when you are at speed. The XUV's high speed manners are commendable with good body control and stability. You sit planted over long undulations and it's not twitchy in anyway.
The steering, although a touch too light at low speeds, weighs up nicely as you up the pace and inspires confidence to carry on cruising at highway speeds. If there's something we don't like here it's the low speed ride. Although not uncomfortable by any means, it just doesn't have the same level of cushiness as something like the Safari as it goes about it's business of absorbing bumps and other road imperfections. You tend to hear the suspension working more often than not and that affects the overall comfort levels.
Comfort, Convenience and Features
The top-spec AX7 variant that we have tested here has everything one would expect in terms of features and connectivity tech. You get a 10.25 inch infotainment screen and next to it another 10.25 inch screen for the instrument console, wireless phone mirroring, dual zone climate control, LED headlights, sequential turn indicators, leather everywhere, electrically adjustable driver’s seat and a panoramic sunroof. The XUV700 also gets many segment-first features such as pop out door handles, seven airbags including one for the driver’s knees, in-built Alexa voice commands and a surround sound system from Sony.
The highlight though is the fact that Mahindra has introduced ADAS systems at this price point. Yes, the XUV700 gets advanced driver focused safety systems such as Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive cruise Control, Traffic Sign Recognition and High Beam Assist. There is some stuff missing on this car though. For example, the steering column is adjustable for rake only and it’s also missing ventilated seats and front parking sensors. Then the there’s the lack of paddle shifters which is something we feel should have been here given the performance on offer.
This being a technology-focused cabin, of course, you get a full suite of connectivity tech. Here Mahindra is using what it calls AdrenoX which uses AI to make life behind the wheel that little bit easier, especially when you have so many features that you can control. Basically the system works around Alexa’s functionality, the dual digital screens and the Sony sound system to control pretty much all the entertainment features and the car’s functions. Now some might argue that this car looks a little too familiar from the outside and yes, we agree there are a few elements that remind us of the XUV500 but the interior is a giant leap forward both in terms of design and finish. It’s smart, it’s modern, it’s well put together and overall it’s just a nice place to spend time in.
In terms of rear seat space, there is a lot of knee room and head room and because this cabin is mostly all white, the overall ambience is actually superb. It’s just that the seat base isn’t as long as we would have liked and because of that under thigh support is a little lacking. Things aren’t any better in the third row. First of all, the process of getting into the third row isn’t exactly effortless and once you are in here you will realize that the third row accommodation is best reserved for a quick trip to your local restaurant or hang out spot.
You can see that it’s extremely tight and there is hardly any seat comfort on offer and so just like the Alcazar, the XUV700 barely makes it as a five plus two. In fact, in this segment it’s the Safari that has the most usable third row so that’s something to consider if you are looking for a seven seater vehicle. We had high hopes from this cabin for quality and finish also and we are happy to report that for the most part, the XUV700 delivers on both. Fit and finish is there and we like how well the buffed chrome elements go with the gloss black materials. We also like how there are softly padded materials everywhere you touch. So it all comes together really for the XUV and the build quality here is worth appreciating. We just wish there was more under thigh support and a little more room in the third row. That would have made this cabin so much more usable.
The XUV700’s design is not simply an update over the XUV500 but an entirely new look, elements of which we will probably see in future models from Mahindra. Things like this new logo that will be used specifically for their SUV range. Mahindra has revealed that this new visual identity will make its way to the rest of the SUVs in a phased manner. As for the actual design, yes, there are certain design cues that will remind you of the XUV500. For instance, the way the headlights sink from the edge and point towards the number plate area and the vertical slats on the front grille. However, there is also a lot of new stuff like the smartly designed bumper, the new logo and the LED headlamps giving the XUV700 its own identity.
Move to the side and you will come across some more familiar details it’s just that they have all been refined and brought up to date for the XUV700. The overall profile may look similar to the five double ooh but there have been plenty of changes that make the design coherent. First of all you have pop out door handles which fit flush when locked, giving the doors a really clean look. Then there are the wheel arches which are nowhere as pronounced as the ones on the 500. The less prominent wheel haunches on the seven double ooh lead us to the massive wraparound taillights which taper towards the centre. The number plate housing is still mounted on the lift gate while the rear bumper features a thick, contrasting silver bash plate to give it some character.
Now we weren’t really expecting a price reveal at this point but Mahindra threw a pleasant surprise by announcing prices for four variants at the time of the unveiling. The base MX five-seater petrol manual will cost you Rs 11.99 lakh whereas the equivalent diesel will set you back at least Rs 12.49 lakh. Moving up the range, the AX3 petrol manual is priced at Rs 13.99 lakh and the AX5 comes in at Rs 14.99 lakh. This frankly makes the XUV700 great value, however, we will have to see if such competitive pricing reflects on the higher spec versions, especially the range topping AX7 series with the options pack. Now as you may have figured by now, it is a mighty impressive product on so many counts. It’s got the power, the road presence, the features and at last, an interior that can rival the best in the segment. Mahindra really has gone all-out with the XUV and it shows.
Better still, the 2.2-litre diesel engine and the 6-speed auto is a lovely combination that can give you the thrills when you are in the mood and be frugal the rest of the time. But coming to the most important question, does the XUV700 have enough to make a name for itself in a segment which has heavy hitters like the Safari and the Alcazar? Going by what we have seen and experienced so far, the XUV700 is looking extremely promising though we will have a much clearer picture once Mahindra announces prices for the rest of the variants but again, looking at the prices of the five-seater manual variants so far, the XUV700 is likely to be the value champ at the premium end of the market as well.
Pictures by Kapil Angane