XUV 5OO: The best just got better!

The plush new Mahindra XUV 5OO has been launched at 15.5 lakhs (ex-India)

Back when the XUV made its debut in September 2011, it created a storm and literally killed the “storme” (Read: Tata Safari). There was a lottery system to book the car, getting the delivery was a different story altogether.  The Indian consumer exactly knew what they wanted. A stylish, reliable, powerful, tech-loaded, frugal 7-seater was much needed and the XUV 5OO answered all the queries, with a smile, Cheetah’s smile.

The XUV 5OO enjoyed the monopoly for quite a long time and many buyers found it as the best alternative to low-slung D-segment cars. Nothing lasts long. Soon, the other manufacturers realised the potential of this segment. Hyundai launched the Creta, Tata bought in a superb VFM proposition in the form of Hexa and the “Compass” pointed in the right direction! This dented the sales of XUV, drastically. Mahindra had to keep up the pace and after multiple test mules, they decided to launch the Plush new XUV 5OO before its too late.

DSC_0062

The road test review is composed after driving my previous-gen XUV 5OO W10 for 60,000 km which includes a road trip from Bangalore to Ladakh.

IMG_9412

Say hello to the plush new XUV 5OO:DSC_0026

Likes:

+ Vastly improved over the previous-gen XUV in “almost” every aspect: Ride quality, Power, Dashboard textures etc in a new sporty avatar

+ Still remains the most VFM SUV this side of INR 30 lakhs. Compass is cramped, HEXA has its fair share of service niggles and the Crysta over-priced

+ Since its inception in September 2011, it remains the most feature-loaded car in its segment. Electric sunroof, cruise control, 7” infotainment, leather seats. Name it and you have it

+ The safest SUV in its segment with a 4 star Euro NCAP rating. 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, ESP, all 4 disc brakes. Locally built XUV is exported to South Africa & Australia

+ Acres of space in the first two rows. The absence of a transmission tunnel is an icing on the cake. Front seats are simply the best-in-class

+ 2.2 mHawk is a gem of an engine. It finally gets the much-deserved bhp numbers at 155 bhp. This coupled with the new torque figure of 360 nm and AWD is enough to quench your wanderlust

Dislikes:

–  Mahindra has seriously missed out on upgrading the ICE to a better one. The marginal upgrade seems nowhere as close to the Harman-Kardon music system of the Tata Hexa

– The absence of 2nd row sliding seats means you cannot afford to spend a long time in the 3rd row, A missed opportunity, again

– Almost-zero luggage space with all 3 rows up. You can hardly squeeze in a laptop bag & a couple of umbrellas

– The test car, an automatic deserves better gear ratios. The 1st gear is too long. Although it comes nowhere close to the conventional 6-speed Manual, things are pretty composed in the manual mode of the AMT

– Although the brakes have improved since the first gen, even with the all-4 discs, it’s just not perfect.

How does it look?

DSC_0058

The most significant change is in the front grille, which gets chrome-studded embossments. While the headlamps are quite similar to the previous model.  The headlamp unit sees minor tweaks and the good-old S-shaped LED DRL has made way for a contemporary horizontal strip, and the chrome in the fog lamp housing has been reshaped, for the good & the rest of the front fascia unchanged. The alloy wheels are the best addition to the facelift. They make the XUV look sportier, especially in the dark colours like red and black.

DSC_0030

With this facelift, it’s the rear that’s received the biggest change. It’s a love-it-or-hate-it affair. It’s got a slightly fresh tailgate, new tail-lamps and a new roof spoiler, all of which gives the XUV500 a bolder stance. However, it looks like Mahindra has gone a bit overboard in the design department of the rear. At least, they could have omitted the awkwardly-placed reflectors below the taillamp.

The tail lamps look a little disproportionate. Would any day prefer the previous-gen tail-lamps over these:DSC_0033

It looks more MPV’ish from this angle. Thanks to the striking alloys that play a crucial role in making this look like an SUV.DSC_0042

A closer look at the superb 18-inch alloy wheels. The black cladding around the wheel arches helps in making the XUV look sportier:DSC_0037

W5, W7, W9 and W11: DSC_0044

The side profile remains almost the same. Notice the chrome strip running around the bottom of the doors: DSC_0051

Looks the best from this angle: DSC_0053

The front grille goes well with the lighter shades like silver and white. However, it would look too bold in the darker shades:DSC_0062

Headlamps lack the stylish DRL of the previous gen. Also, the chrome lining for the fog lamp housing is slightly changed. A welcome move: DSC_0065

The DRL though neatly integrated, could have been more stylish:DSC_0109

Sunroof remains the same. The competition lacks it and this makes a huge difference: DSC_0103

ORVM with integrated blinkers:DSC_0110

A closer look at the chrome studded grille:DSC_0112

Night shot of the low beam+DRL. It’s too vanilla IMO:DSC_0114

Parking sensors come in handy in tight spots. Also, notice the chrome-tipped exhaust: DSC_0178

Live young, live free:DSC_0182

Too bold to handle. Could have been a tad more subtle. Vertical taillamps look better than horizontal ones for an SUV. And now, we have the triangular tail-lamps. Interesting! DSC_0186

Just keep the key fob in your pocket and press this black button to unlock the door. M&M Could have hidden the keyhole, looks too visible and it won’t be used 99% of the time: DSC_0189[1]

What’s on the inside?

DSC_0082

On the inside, Mahindra has made a few changes with new quilted tan leather upholstery for the seats. The upper portion of the dashboard is now covered in black leather while the rest is black plastic. The central console that houses buttons and controls for the infotainment, A/C and other functions now has a piano black finish. This does look quite nice, but it’s heavily prone to dust and fingerprints.

The steering is carried over from the previous model. it still feels great to hold with thumb contours coming-in handy. The steering mounted controls are easy to use as well. However, the quality of buttons could have been improved(something like the Hyundai’s maybe) Plastics on the dash and door sills now have a nice, soft feel to them, and there are faux-leather inserts with contrasting stitching on the dashboard top.

Another change has come to the infotainment system, which is now Arkamys tuned but the sound quality is still poor! I wonder why is M&M not focussing on the ICE even after 7 years. The Blue Sense Android and iOS app connects to the infotainment system and allows you to control functions like the A/C, audio and also displays vehicular info, like the tyre pressures and fuel level. Mahindra has even added smartwatch capabilities that allow compatible smartwatches, normally connected to a user’s phone, to display the same information on the dial while also allowing you similar control over aircon and audio sources.

The fundamental problem with the ICE is the power output of the factory-fitted head unit. No matter how good your after-market speakers are, you just cannot squeeze out the best sound output. I have changed the stock speakers in my W10 to Infinity components with a 4-channel Rockford amp but still, due to the poor quality of output from the head unit, the sound quality is still not the best.

While the seats look very nice, their fitting is not that great. It is not as comfortable as the previous gen. The diamond shaped blocks tend to complicate things:DSC_0188[1]

The headrests offer a healthy range of adjustment: DSC_0077

Electric seat adjustment. Had to replace this seat in my XUV due to malfunctioning of the switch. Hope M&M has improvised on the quality of the switches across the car:DSC_0116

Auto tranny! You do get the Manual mode to quench your thirst for some true driving pleasure. Also, the 12v power socket in the backdrop has been replaced by the USB output. I would have loved if the Start/stop switch was shifted on the right side of the driver. Kids may fiddle with it when the car is in motion(experienced it):DSC_0089

The instrument cluster remains exactly the same. Probably the design engineers at M&M thought why fix something that isn’t broken?DSC_0096

A big, big welcome change! gone are those amateur artistic textures on the dashboard. Its now covered in faux-leather. Would have loved a softer surface. Probably in the next facelift? Maybe.DSC_0098

The sunroof remains the same. I really wish M&M has worked on improving the quality of the metal frame around the sunroof. I have had numerous visits to the service centre to get that sorted! DSC_0100

Dead pedal is adequately sized. I just love the aluminium-finished pedals. Small yet significant thing. The OEM floor mats are easily prone to get soiled. You must get the 3D mats the day you buy this car: DSC_0117

I wish I could construct a soccer field here. Acres of space! DSC_0070

The ingress/egress is quite easy for senior citizens, unlike the Toyota Fortuner, phew!!DSC_0076

Make someone sit in the last row for a day and you have a new enemy for life. Perks of constructing a soccer field in the second row: DSC_0078

The front seats are slightly scooped out. This means more legroom to the rear passengers. Also, the seats have net for storage:DSC_0193[1]

Makes you feel like a king!DSC_0192[1]

How does it Drive?

The XUV500 never lacked in terms of performance, but Mahindra has given the latest iteration a bump in power. The 2.2-litre diesel engine now makes 155hp and 360Nm of torque – an increase of 15 bhp and 30 Nm over the previous version. Overall, the drive quality gets better and other minor changes like tweaked suspension have made the car a bit more responsive.

The variable geometry turbocharger is now electronically controlled, whereas the earlier one was vacuum controlled. The engine’s response comes in around 1,400rpm and builds nicely from 1,800rpm. This engine pulls very strongly until 3,800rpm, beyond which progress is slow.

The diesel engine equipped Mahindra XUV500 is available with either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic. Our test vehicle came equipped with the latter and the Aisin-sourced automatic transmission is quick to respond, especially when it comes to kick-down acceleration at higher speeds. The Mahindra XUV500 automatic delivered ~9 kmpl in the city and ~11 kmpl on the highway. That’s pretty decent figure for an SUV weighing this size.

Should you buy one? 

IMG_20180711_160545-01.jpeg

Would you buy a car in 2018 which was born in 2011 and has undergone 2 facelifts? Plenty of reasons to do so!

The refreshed Mahindra XUV500 makes a lot of sense and is a proper facelift, making it look and feel fresh. What this 2018 update gives you are a more luxurious experience on the inside and an even better performance. The Mahindra XUV500 may not match the European levels of sophistication, but the never-ending list of features and ability to seat seven makes it an appealing proposition.

Also, its backed by the superb service connectivity of Mahindra. Although my W10 had its shares of niggles, I am spellbound by the after-sales service from the home-grown manufacturer. It’s leaps ahead of the horror story of some German automakers.

20180729051200This is that one car that you would never regret spending your 20 big ones on!

  • Its tech-loaded, 7-seater, safe(at least on paper), has enough grunt to keep you smiling all day on your Himalayan expedition, extensive service network, rides better, also you get a massive 70 litres fuel tank!
  • Jeep Compass: Seriously cramped at the rear, not a true-blue off-roader, sparse service network and its a 5 seater! Wait for the trailhawk version which is expected shortly
  • Toyota Innova Crysta: Better on the reliability front(I have seen Innova’s clock 5 lakh km without any issues) but it misses out on the Wow! factor of the XUV. Also, its expensive for what it offers. Equipment list can’t come close
  • Hyundai Creta: I’ll leave that for another day!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s