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Old 13th October 2011, 22:49   #1
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Default Mahindra XUV500 : Test Drive & Review

The Mahindra XUV5OO has been launched in India at a price of 10.80 - 12.88 Lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you’ll like:

• A well-engineered, contemporary SUV at a value-for-money price
• Acres of space on the 1st & 2nd seat rows
• Competent engine delivers fantastic urban driveability, as well as fast highway performance
• Mature ride quality & balanced handling. Body roll is minimal too
• Loaded to the gills with technology, equipment & gizmos
• Safety kit includes 6 airbags, ESP with rollover mitigation, ABS + EBD and all-wheel disc brakes

What you won’t:

• Absolutely no luggage capacity with all the seats in place
• Cramped 3rd row of seats is best suited to children only. Maximum of 5 adults onboard
• Overdone front-end design is a hit or miss. Should have been toned down
• Apprehensions over niggles with a complex Mahindra SUV. Especially the electronics
• Mahindra's un-premium after-sales service experience
• Automatic transmission missing from the options list. Premium customers love ATs

NOTE: Click any picture to open a larger higher-resolution version in a new window.
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Old 13th October 2011, 22:51   #2
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Default Re: Mahindra XUV5OO : Test Drive & Review



Game-Changer : Completely changing the way that something is done, thought about, or made (Macmillan).

Remember GTO's thread on 20 lakh rupee game-changers (Link (The 20 lakh rupee Game-Changers!))? Well, you are reading the review of an SUV that will rewrite the rules of the sub-15 lakh rupee segment. Mahindra is to utility vehicles what Maruti is to hatchbacks. The Indian company eats up over 2/3rds of the MUV & SUV segment; the Bolero closed September 2011 with 10,000 units sold, while the Scorpio is the best selling SUV in India (monthly sales tally of 4,100 in the current calendar year). Equally, it is important to recall that the Xylo hasn't really managed to dent the Toyota Innova’s sales and its market performance can best be termed as average. Having owned 3 Scorpios and an Innova, you could say that I know a thing or two about 10 lakh rupee utility vehicles. The problem with upgrading from the million rupee SUV is that, the next upgrade costs 2 million! There were no realistic options for the customer who desired a balanced diesel SUV for Rs. 15 lakh, as the Endeavour, Fortuner, Pajero & Captiva all cost over Rs. 20 lakh on the road. There is a sizable chunk of buyers in the 12 – 15 lakh bracket looking out for an SUV. One half of these potential buyers end up buying the top trim Vento, Honda City, Verna, Scorpio or Safari and save a fair fraction for the next upgrade. The second half stretches their budget and snaps up the Laura, Cruze or Altis with trim levels suiting their respective pockets. Enter the Mahindra XUV5OO.

This SUV, and Mahindra's first monocoque at that, was developed on a budget of Rs. 650 crore. The Chakan (Pune) factory has an initial production capacity of 2,000 units a month, which can be increased to 4,000 (if required) within a quarter. Mahindra says that 20% of the production will be allocated for exports at all times, although initially, priority will be given to domestic demand. Knocked down units of the XUV5OO will also be assembled at the Ssangyong facility in Korea. In the first phase of marketing, the XUV5OO would be made available only in tier I cities, i.e. Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Pune. These 5 cities have already accounted for 8,000+ customer bookings. No surprise as the XUV5OO - atleast on paper - makes SUVS like the Endeavour, Yeti, Fortuner and even the Aria look terribly overpriced.

The extreme front-end design will surely lead to polarized opinions. I, for one, don’t dislike it, but someone like GTO just couldn't digest it. Admittedly, the front does grow on you after spending some time with the vehicle, while 8 / 10 people who saw the XUV in person actually liked the face. To add, the seemingly high quality headlamps with their LED bulbs have a desirable effect. The side & rear profiles are far more neutral, and it appears that Mahindra’s design team has taken its cues from the Mitsubishi Montero & Outlander. In a segment where size really matters (just ask Skoda Yeti), and styling can be a deal breaker, the XUV5OO has decent street presence. Comparing its dimensions to the Scorpio, the XUV is about 3 inches wider, 6 inches longer and a wheelbase that's an inch longer. The interest in this SUV is unlike any other from the Team-BHP official review fleet. I noticed the thread grow from a 100 odd pages to a stretched 175 in less than a week from its launch. Everywhere we went, people came up to check the XUV out. Some rural folk even outdid their urban counterparts by coming down the wrong side of the road to get a closer glimpse of this well-contoured SUV. A trendy neighbor of GTO, after checking out the XUV5OO for 10 minutes, exclaimed how gorgeous she thought the front end was (much to GTO's surprise). Owners of hatchbacks, sedans, MUVs, SUVs and even Skoda Superbs & Merc E Class’ walked up to check the car out (much to our annoyance during the photoshoot BTW). In our time spent with the vehicle, a total of 75 different individuals came up to the XUV, and most of them were interested in a test-drive. We told them to look out for the Team-BHP review . Another attribute that immediately strikes you is that Mahindra have managed a top notch paint job, far superior than on its other cars. The body panel fitment is surprisingly tight too, with consistent gaps for the most part.

Mahindra XUV500 : Test Drive & Review-specs.jpg

Because of the overall package, I not only expect the XUV5OO to win its own share of SUV potentials, but the aggressive pricing strategy would ensure its presence on the options list of many a C+ segment sedan customer too. On the negative side, Mahindra has missed an opportunity by not launching an Automatic variant; for one, the superb pricing allows enough room for a well-priced automatic XUV5OO. Second, a majority of 15 lakh rupee customers prefer automatics. In fact, many interested folk who walked up to check out the XUV5OO asked us if it has an automatic variant on offer. Over to you, Mahindra. And please don’t offer an AT for the sake of it. The Scorpio AT feels like the engine <-> gearbox jugaad has been done in a backyard. Only a proper AT will do for such a contemporary package.

One concern that most of us have is on the ability of Mahindra workshops to handle such a complex vehicle. The XUV5OO is loaded with technology that Mahindra service personnel would have absolutely no experience with. The maintenance approach to such a car will be far different that that of a Scorpio or Bolero. I am also hoping that XUV5OO customers get preferential service, in much the same way as Tata Aria owners do.



Love-me-or-hate-me facial design. Admittedly, opinions from those who viewed the XUV5OO in person were a lot more positive than those basing opinions on pictures. GTO finds the front repulsive:








Side profile wears an obvious Outlander influence. Huge door windows lead to airy interiors:


LED lights are very attention-grabbing. They are not DRLs (daytime running lamps) though. Projectors look fabulous. Headlamp cornering function is effective and useful. Auto-headlamps are standard across the range:


Puddle-lamps; one of the two on each door (other picture in the last post):


Chunky wheel arch clearly lifted from the Mitsubishi Montero. Front fenders aren't made of metal. Rather, an ABS / FRP type of material has been used here. Use of these materials helps in keeping the kerb weight low:


Proudly displayed on the windscreen of every XUV5OO:


Twin-stem wiper, on the passenger side, for a better sweep of the large windscreen:


Funky "paw" door handles work perfectly well. Keyhole looks terribly out of place:


Practical wing mirrors offer a superb field of view:


Bridgestone Dueler HT 235/65 R17 tyres mounted on 5 spoke alloy wheels. Tyres squeal all the time & at the smallest opportunity. Disc brakes on all four corners. The other OEM tyre is the JK Elanzo:


Layered tail-lamp design:


Unique motif engraved onto the rear tail-lamp:


Ample 200 mm of ground clearance. Spare wheel will not be easy to remove. Meaty looking exhaust tips:


Expect to see a lot of XUVs with roof carriers or Thule boxes. Why? Simply because there is no space to carry any luggage, with the last row of seats in place:


Drive them back to back. You will find it hard to believe that they are manufactured by the same company; the XUV5OO is a giant leap ahead for Mahindra. That's my Scorpio BTW:

Last edited by GTO : 13th October 2011 at 23:34. Reason: Adding comparo sheet
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Old 13th October 2011, 22:52   #3
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Default Re: Mahindra XUV5OO : Test Drive & Review

Interiors don't feel like that of a Mahindra vehicle. And I mean it in a good way. Black & plum is the other interior shade. Click here to know more about the different exterior + interior combinations:


First thing you notice about the XUV5OO is that the cabin is a “walk in”, and not a “climb in”! GTO's Mom greatly appreciated this. It's immediately obvious that the interiors are a huge step ahead for Mahindra & quite unlike anything we have seen from the brand before; no, they aren’t perfect, and neither does the quality come close to that of sedans from the same price band (e.g. Civic & Altis). Though the interior is lacking in quality at certain spots, keep the price in mind (9 lakh rupees cheaper than a Fortuner) and you will be satisfied. If Scorpio and Safari interiors are a 5 / 10, this one is a 7.5 (if not an 8). Thanks to the gizmos, including the touchscreen infotainment system, the initial "wow" factor is very much present. The overall design is neutral for the most part and, unlike the exterior front-end look, will be accepted by the masses. Part quality is satisfactory in most areas, and cheap / flimsy in some. The feature list includes everything that more expensive cars offer, and then some. This, combined with the generous space (front & middle seat rows), will keep XUV owners happy. There are many feel-good touches too. Example : the door pads wear soft-touch material like in the Skodas. The steering mounted buttons give out a prominent click when used, and feel more durable than the ones on the top-end Scorpio. Most of the front storage compartments have a generous application of felt lining. Also evident is a lot of European influence. For example, most lids open in a slow-motion manner when released, as do the spring-loaded grab handles when going back to standby position. Switch on the headlamps and you’ll see the instruments dim in a gradual style. The heavily bolstered front seats wouldn't be out of place in a German car. Investigate the interiors with a fine-toothed comb though, and you will see some areas where fit & finish leave a lot to be desired. The USB / AUX compartment lid feels rather light & flimsy, as do the ones for the glovebox and center storage compartment. These remind you that you are sitting in a Mahindra. The extremely glossy faux wood finish looks cheesy, and leads to pathetic windscreen reflection at all times (see picture below). The tacky chocolate brown colour (on various interior plastic panels) wasn’t to our taste, and neither were the one too many surface textures used on the interior parts. Start counting the different types of textures and you’ll probably end up at number 20.

In a nutshell, I would term the interior quality as "very acceptable" though not necessarily "premium".

The generous greenhouse deserves a special mention here. The extra large windows make the interiors feel airy and allow a lot of light inside. The driver sits high and has a commanding, uninterrupted view of the road ahead. Lateral visibility is superb as well; however, rearward visibility is pathetic, with the situation only worsening as the 3rd row of seats gets filled up. The interior rear view mirror is useless too; I was primarily using the wing mirrors while driving. The heavily bolstered front seats offer superb support, including over long drives. The range of the steering tilt adjustment is very limited; for instance, GTO couldn’t set the wheel to go as low as he usually prefers. On the other hand, the steering reach and driver’s seat height adjustment have a wide range. Overall ergonomics are surprisingly good, and Mahindra have gotten their first attempt at a premium vehicle absolutely right. All controls are logically placed right where you expect them to be, and there is no area of complaint here (unlike in all other Mahindra UVs). The indicator stalks too are positioned within a finger's reach from the steering wheel. However, the leather-covered driver armrest hardly serves the purpose. It barely has an inch of adjustment range and simply doesn’t extend out enough to prove useful. Despite being basic to look at, and neither incorporated too well, I find the ones in my Scorpio to be way more usable. Those who like a view of the bonnet will be pleased, you can see a lot of it after cranking the height adjuster up. GTO adds that, in his driving position, the door was too close for comfort (to his right leg). You usually need strong arms for Mahindras and the XUV is no different in certain areas. For instance, adjusting the telescopic steering or releasing the hand brake (from full lock position) requires a lot of effort. The seat compound is very firm. While a good part of the market prefers soft seats, these firm seats offer better support over long drives. The seat design & cushioning are clearly inspired by high-end European cars. The manual lumbar support (on both front seats) has a fairly good range of support too.

Middle row passengers have access to acres of space; you could sit behind a 6+ footer and still stretch your legs. The back support is really nice, albeit under-thigh support is strictly average. The front seats are placed on the higher side, thus releasing a generous amount of foot-room for 2nd row passengers. The middle row seat is recline-adjustable as well, and you can set it at a really relaxed angle. The center & door armrests are properly positioned, while the neck restraints / headrests are perfectly contoured for you to rest your head on. The wide seat can easily accommodate 3. Things aren't too bad for the 5th passenger (3rd on the middle row) either. The center console doesn’t interfere with his knees, and the floor is completely F-L-A-T. However, back support (provided by the underside of the center armrest) is rock hard, and the overall seating position cannot be compared to what the other passengers will enjoy.

Access to the last row of seats requires acrobatic skills; there is no way your Mother will ever agree to sit on the 3rd row. Unfortunately, the middle-row doesn’t slide fore & aft, thus legroom on the 3rd row of seats is severely limited. It’s only the kids or short adults who will be able to travel for a long-distance here. And if middle-row passengers have reclined their seat-back angle, things only get worse. The seat is placed so low that your knees will point toward the sky. A 5’10” passenger will have only a centimeter of headroom from the roof. The seat back is way too upright as well. GTO says he wouldn’t last on the 3rd row for more than 15 minutes. The two saving graces are the nice adjustable head-rests, and the fact that both of the 3rd row passengers get their own air-con vent, a cup-holder and storage net. If you plan to only use the 3rd row of seats for children, then you won’t be complaining. However, if you need to transport 7 adults in comfort, look at MUVs like the Xylo or Innova.

Absence of floor rails for the second row is a serious oversight on Mahindra’s part as it would have given XUV5OO owners the flexibility of balancing 2nd / 3rd row space as per occasion or need.

The XUV5OO is loaded with storage cubicles. All 4 door pockets can hold 1 liter bottles. The pockets on the front doors even get a magazine holding elastic band, as well as a (small) umbrella holder. However, the rear door pockets are too narrow and aren't as user-friendly. Each of the front seats have neat looking, netted back pockets. There are cup-holders galore for everyone and his dog in here. The center storage box (driver armrest) has two levels of storage; the upper gets dedicated coin holder slots, while the lower has a cooling function. The main dashboard glovebox is smaller than its lid would have you believe. I found the upper glovebox to be far more useful for the daily items. Honestly, there is so much storage in here that you could actually forget where you kept that odd item. On the negative side, and a large one at that, there is zero luggage space with all three seat rows up. Inevitably, a good number of XUVs will wear roof-top carriers or Thule boxes. With the 3rd row down though, the XUV can swallow holiday / airport luggage.

The air-conditioning system will blow you away. For a car of this size, and with the massive glass area, the climate control chills the interiors in no time. Even the 2nd & 3rd row passengers end up frozen. The blower had a wide six speed range, but gets noisy beyond the third level. The ICE (In Car Entertainment) System plays just about all of the newer formats, and the sound quality with lots of tweaking for bass can be passed off as acceptable at best. We have elaborated on the infotainment system in the next post.

Apart from the above, the worrying areas for Mahindra were already showing up on our test vehicle. I have always maintained that Mahindra mechanicals are just as reliable as they can get, but the electronics have been Mahindra’s universal weak point, right down to the basic stuff. Even on our test car, the electronics were acting funny from time to time. Once, after switching the ESP off, we couldn’t figure out how to switch it back on. Ditto for the hill descent control. On another occasion, the rear air-con button refused to activate air-conditioning at the back. Strangely, after a while (that included engine switch off and restart), these controls were back to normal. Mahindra better sort these things out ASAP, remember how Scorpio VLX owners always complain of their sensors going bust? Another typical Mahindra weakness is that our 1,000 kms run XUV5OO was already making squeaks and creaks from the tail-gate and rear door area. The sounds weren’t audible when I was sitting on the front seats, but they were prominent on the middle row, and really loud on the third row. This is not something that will go down easily with the 15 lakh rupee customer I spoke of earlier.

Chunky steering wheel is great to hold:


Awful reflection from the glossy center console. Very distracting for the driver. At noon, the sun is badly reflected on the windscreen too:


Stylish meter arrangement. Here, the needles are doing a full sweep (each time the ignition is turned on), just as superbike consoles do. Revv-counter marked optimistically (for a diesel) to 7,000 rpm. Temperature gauge gets progressive blue / red lights:


6 speed gearbox. 1st & 2nd ratios are notchy to engage, the others are fine:


Awesome front seats feel European-car like:


Cruise & voice control buttons on the RHS of the steering wheel. Audio controls on the steering LHS:


Thick & busy. Stalks don't feel high quality:


Conversation mirror; you don't need to turn around to see your passengers:


Driver armrest is useless and doesn't extend forward as much as I'd like. Handbrake design is a straight lift from the Honda Civic:


Clutch pedal rests at a higher position than the brake. Dead pedal is nicely angled, but it just about cut the mustard for me at shoe size 8. Would surely feel like an excuse for a dead pedal for anyone with a larger foot size:


Door panels get a generous helping of soft-touch material. Notice the large door-pull handle. Speakers are placed too high for optimal sound quality:


Air-conditioner will freeze you to your bones, it is unbelievably effective, including at the back! Rotary controls look & feel classy. ECON button switches the compressor off (blower mode). Rear air-con button activates vents for the 2nd & 3rd row of seats:


Pathetic rearward visibility with all headrests (and passengers) in place:


Compartmentalised main glovebox is smaller than its large lid would have you believe. Space for visiting cards, and even a tablet (but not a laptop as Mahindra claims). Notice the light at the top:


I found the upper glove compartment to be far more useful:


Center glove-box has two compartments. Pictured here is the upper section with dedicated coin holders. The quality inside isn't impressive at all...


...while the lower compartment is cooled. Even if you switch the cooling function off, some amount of cold air filters through anyways:


Nifty net pockets in both of the front foot wells:


Illuminated passenger-side vanity mirror. The missus will be pleased. Light comes on automatically, upon sliding the mirror open:


Lounge lights are activated via a button next to the start / stop control. Feels like a nightclub in here. I find the door handles to be incredibly stylish:


Flippy key, yes, though too long & basic. Cheap plastic quality. Tail-gate release button provided:


Acres of space for 2nd row passengers. You will have room to spare, even with a 6+ footer in the driver's seat. Notice the flat floor (no transmission hump). Seat is wide enough to accommodate 3:


Air-con vents, placed on the B-Pillars, have air-volume control as well:


Good back support, under-thigh support only average. The neck restraints are perfectly positioned:


3rd row of seats is strictly for kids, or 5 footer adults only:


Each of the 3rd row occupants gets an air-con vent, netted pocket and a bottle holder. Also notice the air-con blower knob:


Don't let the wife see this *before* buying an XUV. Zero space for any luggage with the last row in place. Compare that to the Aria which can easily hold 3 – 4 medium sized bags:


Last row folded away:


And middle-row too:

Last edited by GTO : 19th October 2011 at 10:07. Reason: Minor correction
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Old 13th October 2011, 22:53   #4
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Default Re: Mahindra XUV5OO : Test Drive & Review

The Infotainment System:

A look at the infotainment system controls:


The infotainment manual is 1/2 as thick as the owner's manual (that covers the rest of the SUV)


Touchscreen display is responsive. Several options on the home screen include video (DVD too), phone and navigation. The system is a piece of cake to use, especially with the home and back buttons. Note how the climate control mode is displayed at the bottom right:


Very thoughtful arrangement. The outside temperature is shown on the top left, and your climate control setting inside an XUV5OO figure:


Reverse parking assistance also tells you the distance between the XUV and the nearest object:


GPS powered by MapmyIndia, and new routes can be updated via USB. Multiple viewing options available (top view & drive-along view). Reads out driving directions with an adjustable volume level. It was pretty quick to get a fix on the location:


Average fuel efficiency & distance-to-empty shown here. You can also view vehicle alerts (warnings) and if a service is due, via the LHS Menu:


Pressure displayed for all 5 tyres, including the spare!


XUV5OO is also equipped with voice commands for the audio & cruise control:


The 6" display screen will give you a confirmation whenever the "Auto-Wiper" & "Auto-Headlamp" functions are activated:


Currently streaming music from a bluetooth phone. It was a breeze to set up. You can pair upto 6 bluetooth devices:


Despite so many preset equalizer settings, the infotainment system doesn't impress in its core area of purpose : That is, playing music!! Sound quality is below average by million-rupee-car standards. The bass is too weak, and the treble too cheap:


Reverse camera available as an optional accessory:


USB & Aux-in ports are placed right ahead of the gear lever. Enough space for you to tuck in your iPod too. Console design from Mercedes:


Infotainment system remote control:
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Old 13th October 2011, 22:54   #5
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Default Re: Mahindra XUV5OO : Test Drive & Review

Tightly packed engine bay. Amaron supplies the OEM battery (far better than Exide IMHO). Hydraulic bonnet lift is sorely missed in the XUV5OO. Due to the unavailability of the AWD, we tested the FWD variant. A blessing in disguise as the FWD is more relevant to the market and will account for an overwhelming majority of sales:


Seen here are the controls for the start-stop system, ESP OFF and the hill descent (extreme left):


Gear indicator showing what ratio is currently engaged. Not like the smart system of the Hyundai's that actually recommends, in real-time, the correct gear:


The XUV5OO is powered by the same motor under the hood of my Scorpio. Running in a higher state of tune, this 2.2L common-rail diesel churns out 140 BHP (@ 3,750 rpm) and 330 Nm of peak torque (starting from 1,600 rpm itself). The engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, the additional ratio no doubt leading to a better spread of power (Full discussion (6th Gear for a car ! Need, Criteria, Advantages & Disadvantages)). This is also the first Mahindra with a transverse (east-west) layout engine, typical of most front wheel drive cars.

Start driving, and you wonder if Mahindra pulled a fast one on you by calling the engine turbo-charged. There is very minimal turbo lag! You can drop the engine to a mere 1,200 rpm, floor the accelerator and the powerplant still pulls the XUV along without any hesitation whatsoever. Urban driveability is astoundingly good. No surprise as the XUV5OO makes 20 BHP over the Scorpio, has 6 gears to use that power and is 60 odd kilos lighter. The distinctly short first and second gear ratios are a boon for city commuting, and you will rarely need to downshift for that gap opening up in traffic.

There is a nice, strong tug from the engine past 1,800 rpm and it stays right till the redline. Power delivery is linear in nature, and there is no sudden whoosh at any point. The engine is free revving by diesel standards, and spins clean all the way to 4,200 rpm. Keep the pedal grounded and it will touch 4,800 rpm, but the motor feels very strained at that level. Best for you to work the torque and upshift no later than 4,000 rpm, even when in a hurry. In a pedal to the metal style of driving, you will hear wheel spin when shifting from 1st to 2nd. Hitting 150 – 160 kph is absolutely effortless, with the XUV easily & frequently hitting the 1.5 ton mark on the open road. The real icing on the cake is that, at 150 odd kph, you still have 2 more gears to go. Acceleration stays strong until 170 kph, after which progress is slow (to an indicated 190ish kph). Note that this speed is neither safe nor recommended on public roads. Our testing included access to Mahindra's test facilities.

Watch out for torque steer from the front wheels, especially when you are overtaking, or in the middle of a corner. Torque steer is easy to replicate (on a Mahindra??!!) and will take getting used to. The XUV5OO can make for a very relaxed, long-distance cruiser. At a 100 kph in 6th gear, the engine is lazily ticking over @ 1,800 odd rpm. And at 120 kph, the 2.2L unit is spinning @ 2,200 odd rpm. The 6th gear is a great tool for expressway touring and improves the fuel tank range too.

The clutch isn’t too heavy, but it isn't effortless to use either. Whoever drove the XUV5OO had some sort of complaint with the clutch pedal. GTO found the pedal throw to be way too long, while Rehaan wasn't comfortable with the pedal ergonomics (his left foot hurt after driving in traffic for 15 minutes). I did not find much amiss only because I have gotten used to such unpleasantness with my Scorpio, but premium segment movers will complain. Also, in a very crude way, if you press the clutch fully and turn the steering wheel, you will feel the steering rack rotate against your left foot. The gearbox has fairly long throws (not as bad as the Innova though) and isn't one that I'd call slick. The 1st & 2nd ratios are notchy to engage, though things do get better with the other 4 ratios. Remember to firmly engage 1st gear, else it will return to neutral position. What’s remarkable is how well insulated the XUV5OO is from exterior sounds. The insulation is mind-bogglingly good and you will be hard-pressed to hear any traffic noise, I would say it’s suppressed to a 90% level. Get this, wind noise is barely perceptible at regular expressway speeds. Over the photoshoot, GTO had to literally shout (from outside the vehicle) at the top of his voice for me (inside the vehicle) to hear him. On the other hand, the engine makes a metallic buzzy sound that is typical of chain-driven engines. The buzz is very prominent right from 1,500 rpm onward and continues all the way up to the farthest shift point. We cross checked with three vehicles at the Mahindra facility, and the level of sound was identical across them. The XUV5OO is equipped with a dual mass flywheel, and we can confirm that vibrations are very well controlled.

The XUV5OO is equipped with a start/stop function that will kick in only when the gear-lever is resting in neutral position for 2.5 seconds. The automatic start/stop feature aims to maximise fuel efficiency by switching the engine off during long periods of idle. We preferred to keep the feature turned off as the engine off / restart procedure is not seamless, and we really needed a powerful air-con on the hot testing day. GTO terms this feature as useless.

The suspension is brilliantly tuned and is the new benchmark in the SUV segment. Such a level of ride <-> handling balance is only possible with a monocoque design. Those with a body-on-frame construction (from the Scorpio to the Fortuner) don't even come close in terms of on-road behaviour. There is an underlying firmness at city speeds, but the ride quality is never uncomfortable, and feels very mature all through. As the speedometer needle climbs, the XUV5OO stays flat, including at expressway speeds or over unevenly paved Indian highways. At speed, you don’t even need to slow down; the XUV5OO can simply demolish the worst of craters in its path. Comfort levels are fabulous even on the middle row seat, and there is none of the excessive vertical movement / bounciness that we have experienced in most other UVs. Whether its regular driving or long distance touring, the XUV5OO is far more comfortable than the alternatives (including the Fortuner, Endeavour, Aria etc.).

The lower center of gravity, monocoque construction and wide stance greatly contribute to the XUV's handling capability. Body roll is extremely well controlled and, by SUV standards, this Mahindra feels very composed when cornering. The same corner + speed combination that would have inspired a topple-over feeling in my Scorpio feels effortless in the XUV5OO. In controlled private road conditions (i.e. the Mahindra test track), I pushed the XUV through corners, even forcing the car into a drift, yet there was zilch nervousness. And in an emergency situation, the ESP could prove to be a life-saver. Straight-line stability is of tall order too, with the XUV feeling rock solid at 150 kph (6th gear clipping @ 2,800 rpm). Those used to Scorpio, Safari & Fortuner are in for a pleasant surprise. In summary, I would term the XUV5OO's dynamics as safe, sure-footed and predictable in behaviour. The steering is neither too light nor too heavy within the city. As speeds build up, it weighs in sufficiently well. No, the steering is not rock hard on the expressway (as GTO prefers), yet it's not nervous or light either. What I especially liked was that the steering gives you a decent amount of feedback. The small turning radius (5.6 meters) makes this SUV fairly maneuverable in the city.

Handling broken roads is hard-coded into Mahindra's DNA. We took the XUV5OO off the Amby Valley road onto some really broken patches with large stones et all (for our photoshoot). The terrain was dismissed off without complaint, thanks to the 200 mm of ground clearance. In fact, there was one particular time when we were getting off the road, onto the rough patch, and GTO was dead sure that the front bumper or her underbody is going to scrape. Nope, GTO was wrong. Still, the front overhang and low placement of the fog lamps should be kept in mind on "no road" conditions. Also remember that a monocoque will never be as robust for rough road usage as a typical body-on-frame build.

The braking capability is strong, what with all-wheel-disc brakes and a host of electronic aids. Standing hard on the pedal from speed brings the XUV5OO to a halt in a straight line. However, the brake pedal itself feels wooden and provides no real feedback. The pedal seems out of sync from the rest of the braking package. Even the degree of nose dive under braking is rather high at not-so-high speeds. As mentioned earlier, we don't think too much of the OEM Bridgestone Duelers and found them squealing way too much.

One Mahindra that is built for the expressway. Can cruise at high speed all day long:
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Old 13th October 2011, 22:55   #6
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Other Points:

• Pronounced as XUV5OO (as in the alphabet “O”). Thus it’s five double oh and NOT five hundred. You will notice that most other Mahindra cars - Verito, Bolero, Xylo and Scorpio - all end with an “o”.

• Thanks to BHPian Mannubhai for sharing this. Mahindra appears to be making an effort in streamlining the delivery processes, and giving customers a realistic picture of the waiting period. Click here to view Mannubhai's delivery status in Mahindra's online system.

• Even the Aria is a phenomenal product from an Indian manufacturer. Yet, Mahindra’s brilliance is in building & selling a premium SUV with a value-for-money price tag. The Aria is simply too overpriced.

• Scoop pictures of the XUV5OO regularly showed up on Team-BHP. Also, we were the first to show you the XUV’s interiors over a year back (Link (New Mahindra SUV for 2011 - Pics on Pg. 109 *UPDATE* XUV500 launched at 10.8 lakhs)).

• The AWD variant should be available in a couple of months, and we'll test it then. Note that the AWD is still a soft-roader SUV and not really meant for off-roading. Best for slush, muck and the like. Mahindra seems to agree, the XUV5OO is equipped with pure on-road tyres.

• Each time that you start the vehicle, a Mahindra Rise audio-visual plays for a couple of seconds on the center information screen.

• It looks like Mahindra engineers shortlisted the most popular features of competitors, and then came back to include everything in the XUV. This SUV is loaded with every feature you can think of (well, nearly), and how. A sun-roof is conspicuous by its absence on the fully loaded XUV5OO. Hope it's eventually offered on the AWD variant.

• GTO insists that a different radiator grill & simpler bumper can greatly improve the front-end design (for those who don't like the extreme touches). If you aren't keen on modifications, buy your XUV5OO in black or grey. A dark colour will greatly conceal the fuzzy touches.

• The mirrors fold in automatically when you lock the vehicle. Unfortunately, the wing mirrors smooch the exterior door panels on closed position, resulting in a creaking sound at the time of impact. And yes, the doors auto-lock once you get driving too.

• You will frequently mistake the seat height adjustment lever for that of the seat recline, thanks to the former's unusual positioning.

• Good to see a manufacturer experimenting with colours; exterior colour options include a purple and a dark military green.

• The fantastic pricing will inevitably lead to overlap between the XUV5OO and the top-end Scorpio. Also, your neighbourhood used car dealer just dropped the prices on the Pajeros & Endeavours from his inventory.

• There is a provision made for a parcel tray, though our test car wasn't equipped with one. Should be offered as an accessory.

• Because the XUV5OO is made in Maharashtra, it's one of those vehicles that is cheaper in Mumbai & Pune than Delhi (Delhi usually has the lowest prices).

• Only the driver’s window gets “one-touch-down” function. Considering that the XUV5OO has all the bells & whistles, I wish they’d given one-touch up / down on ALL 4 windows.

• The large door-pull handles are very useful. You’ll need them as the doors require a firm pull to shut properly, after they have been fully opened. Not an exercise for the frail arms.

• I guess the aggressive looking face in your rear-view mirror can get quite intimidating; most cars automatically moved out of the fast lane when we closed in on them (on the expressway).

• I’ve sat on the 3rd row of my Innova from Bandra to Mahabaleshwar, without complaint or a single rest stop. Impossible in the XUV5OO.

• Also remember that the 3rd row of seats is placed behind the axle. The ride isn’t as plush as it is for 1st & 2nd row passengers on the highway.

• Know how the gear lever shakes like a wild horse in the Scorpio & Innova, on engine start up / shut down? It doesn’t in the XUV5OO.

• The rear air-con blower can freeze you, but it makes quite a lot of noise at level “3”. Best to keep it at “2” or below.

• Mahindra have clearly prioritised space for the middle-row over that for the 3rd row (and the boot area). Problem is, this choice should have been given to XUV5OO owners with a sliding 2nd row bench.

• All buttons are illuminated, including those on the steering and the power window controls.

• Sit behind a driver of medium height and you’ll have access to Skoda-Superb-like legroom.

• The front end looks very substantial at night, thanks in no small part to the flashy head light arrangement.

• ARAI certified mileage of 15.1 kpl. Fuel tank capacity of 70 liters will give a good touring range.

• Driver seat has a long, long fore & aft adjustment range.

• Even Audiophiles wouldn’t want to lose the touchscreen display. The best option to improve sound quality is via the amplifier + speaker route.

• 12v mobile charging points for all three seat rows.

• Thanks to GTO for accompanying me on this test-drive, shooting the pictures and his comments.

• On a lighter note, here's a hilarious spoof of Hitler's reaction on the XUV500:

Last edited by GTO : 8th November 2011 at 11:57. Reason: Adding link to hilarious spoof video. Watch it :)
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Old 13th October 2011, 22:58   #7
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The Smaller yet significant things:

You'll feel like Diwali all through the year:


A look at the 2nd puddle lamp (over and above the one below the wing mirror):


Lumbar support (both front seats) has a decent adjustment range. Works as intended:


Each XUV5OO occupant gets a roof-mounted lamp:


Sunvisor extender. You can use it on the side window, but not on the windscreen:


Fuzzy air-con vents function perfectly okay:


Mahindra & Tata usually hide the rubbish where you can't see it (Sample Manza link). However, with the XUV, it's tidy & organised even in spots you wouldn't otherwise see:


Friendly Moderator Rehaan was determined to get some legroom out of the last row. Here is the solution he came up with:


Lounge lighting on the meter console at night:


Front seats get beefed up thigh support. MB-Tex like material has been used:


Both front seats get netted back pockets. Always come in handy:


The boot light. Can be used as a camping lamp with the tail-gate open:


USB port to update the navigation maps from time to time. Notice the felt-lining inside. The lid & release button for this compartment feel so flimsy that most XUV5OO owners will be hunting for a replacement in 3 months:


Both the cup-holders are of a different size. Can come in handy if you want to sip from a coke can:


Front door pockets get a magazine / newspaper holder, a dedicated umbrella compartment and of course, the ubiquitous 1 liter bottle holder:


Air-con vents placed below the front seat & directed toward the 2nd row passenger's feet:


If the electronic fuel lid release ever goes bad, the XUV has a manual backup ready for use:


Side airbags. XUV5OO comes with strict instructions - Do NOT install seat-covers:


There are 2 levers to flip the 2nd row seat away (for access to the 3rd row). One on the side (when 3rd row passengers are getting in), and another behind when they want to get out:


50:50 split on the last row of seats:


While the middle row gets a 60:40 splitting seat:


Rear wash gets all of 4 spray jets. Washer fluid reservoir is replenished from the boot area:

Last edited by GTO : 12th January 2012 at 14:50. Reason: Small correction
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Old 13th October 2011, 23:02   #8
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Game-changer indeed! Rarely does a vehicle come along that will rewrite the rules, and impact not only the segment it competes in, but also the segment right below & right above. The market has responded & competitors are watching closely. Overbooked, despite an opening in only 5 cities.

I didn't:

- Expect the XUV5OO to be so well priced
- Expect the SUV itself to be so damn competent & contemporary. It is an all-rounder!

The XUV is a quantum leap ahead for Mahindra. After driving your Scorpio and the XUV5OO back to back, I couldn't help but smile at the progress Mahindra has made in 10 years (Scorpio was launched in '02). My best buddy - BHPian NSX - was thinking of a Laura. One drive and he is sold on the XUV. Great power, superb ride & handling balance, spacious interiors (for 5), a phenomenal long-distance cruiser and yes, an equipment list that will blow you away. Frankly, the XUV5OO makes nearly all other SUVs (and many MUVs) look overpriced.

I've no real complaints with the interior quality....remember the price. Sure, it has negatives in terms of 3rd row space / luggage room. If you want to carry 7 adult occupants, this isn't the UV for you. To me, it more than makes up with that kinda space for the 1st & 2nd rows. But what I'm really concerned about, and hope that Mahindra delivers upon, is the long-term reliability (electronics especially) and a super after-sales experience. Most 15 lakh rupee customers are upgrading from, and used to, 10 lakh rupee Hondas & Hyundais. They won't tolerate any hassles. Mahindra would do well to make free pickup and drop-off mandatory for every XUV5OO sold. The lesser the number of XUV customers that visit a Mahindra workshop, the better

Thanks for the review & effort, Manson! Rating your review a well-deserved 5 stars.

P.S. : As a diehard Fortuner lover, and someone who termed the Fortuner as "the best 20 lakh SUV", I have to admit : The XUV owns the T! The only advantages that the Fortuner has are reliability (that's a biggie), offroad capability and better 3rd row / luggage space. In all other areas, the XUV is far superior...be it ride quality, handling, interiors (not finish, but overall package), equipment and price. A nearly 10 lakh premium is a lot of money for an SUV with rear drum brakes and a stiff ride.

Last edited by GTO : 13th October 2011 at 23:24.
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Old 13th October 2011, 23:09   #9
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Thank you for the review. Great as usual.
One real downside to the XUV 500 is its current unavailability in all cities. IMO it has insane potential in regions above Delhi. A perfect car for bad roads in Himachal and the streets of Punjab!
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Old 13th October 2011, 23:19   #10
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Thanks manson for the really comprehensive review. I really doubt whether the vehicle will age well. One thing is certain, its a definite game changer!
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Old 13th October 2011, 23:19   #11
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Excellent review!

This might be a bit offtopic ,but now I have started feeling that finally in the form of all-Indian, Aria and the XUV , we have cars that are (very nearly) fit for India's Head of State to travel in!
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Old 13th October 2011, 23:20   #12
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Thank you so much for the much awaited review. Excellent work as usual.
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Old 13th October 2011, 23:33   #13
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Thanks for the great review. Would help a lot of fellow bhpians in making their mind about xuv
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Old 13th October 2011, 23:35   #14
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Default Re: Mahindra XUV5OO : Test Drive & Review

Hello manson,

Any idea what the service intervals are for the XUV5OO?

Cheers,
Vikram
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Old 13th October 2011, 23:40   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by comfortablynumb View Post
Hello manson,

Any idea what the service intervals are for the XUV5OO?

Cheers,
Vikram
The exact intervals would be indicated in the owner's manual. However, I expect the XUV to have identical service intervals as the Scorpio, i.e. 5,000 kms because the XUV uses the same 2.2 MHawk motor in a different tune.
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