The Mahindra XUV500 is a resounding success for the Indian manufacturer. While there were many skeptics doubting if a tractor maker could sell a INR 15 lakh SUV, the initial lot of bookings Mahindra received put an end to all skepticism. However, shortly after the initial lot of customers got their cars, word was out that the XUV still had some teething issues which needed solving. So, is the 2014 XUV500 niggle free?
Mahindra has made no change to the exteriors of the XUV. The “cheetah-inspired” styling, though overdone, finds favor among many buyers even more than two years after its launch.
Just like the outside, we find no changes to the interiors of the XUV. Without a question of doubt, the interiors of the XUV are the best fitted to any Mahindra vehicle yet. However, Mahindra still has a lot to do when it comes to sprucing up the interiors of the car. Build quality in comparison to say an Innova feels flimsy, while other bits like the unnecessarily supportive leather seats are completely unnecessary (the leather is not of good quality and only adds to the occupant’s perspiration).
Engine and Gearbox:
Power for the XUV comes from a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine outputting 140 PS and 320 Nm of torque. This motor scores highly on power, torque and refinement. Vibration is non-existent as is turbolag.
Mahindra’s expertise in diesel engines clearly shows in this unit. However, there are a few issues we found troublesome on the XUV. Go flat out in first and second gear and you can feel the XUV torque steer to the left. There were times where we had to hold on to the steering wheel more firmly than necessary in order to avoid this.
The clutch on the XUV is surprisingly light, though the clutch travel could have been reduced considerably. The gearbox can only be described as average, as slotting first required more force than necessary.
Overall though, the engine in the XUV500 is one of its better highlights.
Ride and Handling:
The softly sprung XUV takes well to potholes and uneven road adulation. The downside to this is that the highway manners of the XUV are a bit disconcerting. The steering is overly light while massive body roll is obviously present. The XUV500 is better driven in a safe and sedate manner.
The XUV's second row scores high on legroom and width. However, had Mahindra paid attention to detail, in this case being the seats, the overall comfort factor would have increased considerably. It's not that the XUV is an uncomfortable car, but there is certainly room for improvement.
The brakes on our test car were a bit disappointing. Braking effect was noticeable only in the last few millimeters of brake travel, and even with ABS, the XUV locked up a couple of times. We found it surprising that the XUV came with front and rear disc brakes with ABS, as the way in which it came to a stop felt more like it had worn out drum brakes on all wheels. Mahindra definitely needs to improve the brakes on the XUV in order to call it a global product.
The XUV proves to be an economical SUV. Driving in city traffic (where the start/stop system kicked in regularly to reduce consumption) saw the XUV return 9.5 km/l, while cruising on the highway in 6th gear comfortably saw 13 km/l.
Thanks to the introduction of the W4 variant, the XUV range starts at INR 10.79 lakhs and extends up to INR 14.64 lakhs for the top-end AWD model. Our test car was the W8 2WD which costs INR 13.6 lakhs. [Note: All prices are ex-Showroom, New Delhi.]
A reverse camera is sorely missed on the XUV, and would do a world of difference while parking. Mahindra would do well by offering an automatic transmission as well, given that the XUV500 AT is available in Algeria already.
The XUV sells because of the value it offers. It sports seven seats, a spacious second row of seats, a good feature list and a strong engine for the asking price of INR 13.6 lakhs (ex-Showroom, New Delhi). On the downside, the XUV’s cabin quality feels a bit cheap and the brakes leave a lot to be desired. For its price, the XUV is still a compelling buy even with the above mentioned issues thanks to the sheer value and size:price ratio it offers.
Test Car Issues:
The 13,000 km test car had a few issues of its own. The left-hand side headlight would work only on high-beam, while the rear end of the car had few of its plastics rattling.