SUV and Mahindra could well be a synonym in India. The Indian carmaker established its SUV credentials in the personal vehicle space with the Scorpio in the early 2000’s and stamped its authority with the XUV soon after. However, fresher competition from the likes of the Jeep Compass and Hyundai Creta means buyers have many more choices today than they did a decade ago. In its bid, to help push sales momentum, Mahindra is now offering an updated XUV 500, which should take the car more upmarket and become a better value too.
New chrome surrounds around the new grille give the car a more upmarket look. The grille too is bigger and its chin extends into the front bumper giving the car a more substantial look. Newer elements inside the front lamps complete the youthful appeal as well. There is a chrome strip running on the sides of the doors while the roof rail design is all new as well.
The bigger changes are reserved for the back though. The long vertical tail lamp cluster with stamping inside has been removed for a wide and more rounded unit. Part of the lamps are housed on the tail gate while the other half are on the pillar giving the car an upmarket European look. The spoiler at the back is new as well.
The new leather quilted seats in dark brown should appeal. They look luxurious and uplift the cabins mood as well. The cushioning is generous and the seats offer good relaxation as well. Most of the cabin is made from good plastic quality. But that said, some of the smaller switches on the centre console look and feel tacky and don’t have the same quality feel about them. The infotainment unit doesn’t have the best graphics either.
In terms of sheer equipment, you get all the bells and whistles. A sunroof, 6-airbags, auto headlamps, reverse camera, ESP and Android auto just to name a few. The rear occupants will enjoy the flat floor panel which makes it a good car for long distance journeys as well.
The last row of seats though doesn’t have much room and is best left for children.
Engine, performance and gearbox
The 2.2-litre diesel pumps out a meaty 156-bhp and 360Nm of torque. Mahindra has improved on the refinement of this car now. The engine starts responding from a lowly 1,700 rpm all the way to 4,000rpm making it a decent car to drive in town. The mid-range is very powerful and all you need is a little jab at the throttle to overtake on the highway as well.
The gearbox isn’t the smoothest though. You need a heavy hand to shift and the throws are rather long too. The six speed manual gearbox is helps in making this engine feel very flexible too. On the highway when you are doing 100kph the engine is spinning around 1800rpm in top gear.
Ride and handling
This isn’t a sporty SUV and never pretended to be one. But the XUV offers a nice and light steering that’s good to drive in the city. Body roll is at a minimum and the ride comfort is very good. At slower city speeds some of the bumps and potholes can enter the cabin but at faster speeds the car offers brilliant comfort.
The XUV 500 isn’t the most stylish or sophisticated SUV on sale at its price. However, it comes across as a rugged SUV that offers plenty of performance, good fuel economy and a hint of luxury.