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Mahindra XUV500 Review: 2011 Mahindra XUV500 Review: Taming The Wild

2011 Mahindra XUV500 Review: Taming The Wild

By Aditya Chatterjee; 3rd December, 2011
Introduction

2011 Mahindra XUV500 Review: Taming The Wild

Mahindra and Mahindra have travelled a long journey. They are a very strong name in agricultural equipments also. Mahindra’s were the first to step in the so called “SUV” segment by getting the Willys Jeep in India back in 1947

They were always a rugged name in automobiles. Their design was very conventional, straight lined and basic. One can understand this with the looks of MM540DP, Commander, Marshal, Major etc. They are still the top preference among rural customers.

However as they moved on, they started showing gradual change in design which was initiated from Armada. Scorpio was their major breakthrough (also it marked the beginning of their name-ending-with “O” fixation) followed by Xylo.

Mahindras had already won lots of popularity with the success of Scorpio. They wanted to be in sync with the changing time with a dominant successor of the Scorpio and had announced the development of a Global SUV, which was developed under the code name W201.

Designed by Mahindra Research Valley Chennai, the XUV500 marks the beginning of a new generation Mahindra SUVs. This XUV500 is very important for Mahindra, as firstly it is supposed to be their most advanced flagship model and secondly, it is meant to take on segment leader Toyota Innova, the Tata Aria and biggies like the Chevrolet Captiva, Toyota Fortuner etc.

The premium Mahindra XUV500 (pronounced as Five Double O) when launched on 29th September 2011, was a bomb dropped, as it was packed with fantastic features, killer looks and way lesser priced than the market speculated.

Mahindra XUV500

We decide to tame Mahindra’s latest wild beast, the XUV500, which boasts of taking inspirational cues from a cheetah and give it a fair chance to prove its mettle.

 

Exterior

The Mahindra XUV500`s looks are by far the best available at that price and more. The pouncing cheetah inspired lines that run on the XUV500 leave an impressive mark on everyone eyes it. We were virtually stocked by all who wanted a glimpse of it and were asked all sorts of questions about it.

Mahindra XUV500

Mahindra XUV500 is a sign of a very matured Mahindra. The global SUV by Mahindra proudly carries and lives the tag. However, the majority feedback that we got about the XUV500`s looks was that it seemed inspired from Mitsubishi’s Outlander, which to some extent we agree too. 

The twin barrel static bending projection headlamps give it a smart front look. Its design is no similar to any of Mahindra`s previous models. The headlight cluster also has LED stripes of parking lights. The layout of the LEDs could have been better had it been made with a flowing design and not just simple straight line design. It looks like a aftermarket fitment design.

The body coloured radiator grille follows the traditional Mahindra look. The impressive thing about the radiator grille design is, it does not fit in completely in the space between the headlamps and instead leaves some space between the grille and the bumper.

The longish looking bonnet has two lines running on it to give a bolder profile. We wished to see some air intake scoops on it to take the design a notch higher.   

Mahindra XUV500

The cheetah’s whiskers are what Mahindra uses to describe the front honey comb grille on the bumper. It’s a first kind of styling to be seen on any car in India. Some may find it odd in the beginning but then one starts developing a liking for it.

The fog lamps are barely seen thanks to the number plate holding beam that runs through the bumper which hides them.The muscular flairs on the wheel arches contribute to the fierce styling.The shoulder lines climbs its way from the front to the rear where it meets the rear wheel arch which has its profile continuing on the C-pillar. The shoulder line concludes with the tail lights. 

Another first by Mahindra is the cheetah paw styled door handles. I respect the fact that it’s a first but then paw styled door handles was not too much to write about. I felt the paw styled door handles look a tad smaller and don’t do rightful justice to the overall styling of the car.

The P 235/65 R17 tubeless radial tyres are just perfect for the all terrain drive. We enjoyed punishing the Bridgestone Duelers thoroughly on our off road terrain test track.The ORVMs are body colored. They can be electrically operated from inside and retract automatically when the vehicle is locked.The pillars are camouflaged with a shade of black to have a sans pillar effect in the side profile. 

The rear tail lamps are stretched to the rear quarter panel which looks nice when lit in dark conditions. The tail lamps have small tribal designs carved on them to be in sync with the wild theme. The tall vertically long tail lamps have three parallel rows of lighting.The spoiler like roof end houses a strip of brake lamp.

The rear glass panel is small and not too friendly while maneuvering the vehicle in reverse. It has a single wiper affixed with it. The broad profile on the tail gate which continues an arch on the rear glass panel is not too appealing but can be justified as it tries to maintain the reminiscence with the side profile. 

Mahindra XUV500

Chrome treated titles sit on the bumper line that runs through the tail end. The rear reflectors are similarly designed as the fog lamps and are located at the extreme end on the rear bumper.

The rear profile is concluded with twin exhaust pipes which gives the needed sporty look.

Mahindra XUV500 comes in 7 shades namely Satin White, Volcano Black, Amazon Green, Moondust Silver, Tuscan Red, Opulent Purple and Dolphin Grey.

 We have to give it to the Mahindra design team for coming up with something as fantastic as the XUV500. Its direct rivals are not even close to what this looks like. The XUV500 even though is an SUV; at that price it’s giving the sedans a tough fight too.

Big players like the Chevrolet Captiva and the Toyota Fortuner are facing the heat too from the XUV500. Toyota Innova`s design looks dated now, Tata Aria is a good contender in looks but still the aggression is missing. The Toyota Fortuner looks too bulky, and other SUVs lack the fierceness the XUV500 endorses. 

Interior

The fantastic fierce exterior styling has floored us completely and we were really excited to know whether the feel good feeling is continued in the interior as well. The look and the feel of it is nice however, the story is little different inside.

Mahindra XUV500

The interior of the Mahindra XUV500 comes in dual tone. The upholstery is finished in premium quality leather. As one enters in the cabin, one notices matte aluminum finish don’t to the door handles. The handbrake lever also seems to be aesthetically designed.

The guiding lights on the door are a very nice touch added along with the guiding lights affixed in the mirror. The steering wheel is a length and rake adjustable. It has controls for audio, cruise control and voice recognition.

Mahindra XUV500 boasts of a 3D cluster-in-cluster layout for instrumental panel. The twin pod clusters sports a tachmoter and a speedometer. The speedometer pod also has information on tyre pressure, ESR ON/OFF and engine temperature.

The tachometer pod has information on gear engaged, fuel left and trip meter. The digits and dials claim a 3D effect. However, the positioning of the digits especially in the speedometer is a bit too much outwards along the outer circumference of the pod. If one wishes to find the exact speed of travel, it takes little more than a stare to figure it out. The cluster-in-cluster design feels messy as it hides a majority portion of the dials.

If one observes, while driving not that we have to look at the exact speed (digits) to find it out, a look on the analog dial is sufficient which sadly is difficult in the XUV. 

Mahindra XUV500

The instrumental panel features symphony of tell tale lamps, which are placed between the twin pod cluster. Along with normal day to day functions, it shows ABS, cruise control activation, Hill Decent, Hill hold control and Start-Stop Micro hybrid display.

The Red lit fonts are not very ergonomic in display.The weirdest thing that we found was the Trip meter activation buttons. Normally, it’s a no brainer to find out the location of these buttons. The XUV500 made us search for it vigorously, which we finally spotted by not using our visual talent but by searching for it in the owner`s manual. These buttons A and B are located on the sides on the instrumental cluster, totally camouflaged with the color of the cluster. The trip buttons although didn’t work at all.

The central console has been made in water flowing design. If you can remember, we saw something really similar in our Volvo XC60 review, the floating console. In this case it was not floating.

The central console features a 6-inch LCD touchscreen infotainment system. The screen is followed by controls to toggle music, driver information, Menu for different setups including Bluetooth phone pairing, Navigation, AC controls, ESP ON/OFF switch, lounge lighting and Start-stop activation switch.

Mahindra XUV500

The central infotainment is very user friendly and has all the needed information just a finger touch away. However, the Red colored display was a total turn off. We wonder why Mahindra used Red so extensively in the display. 

The control buttons lack the sophistication and still have scope for improvement. The finishing and the feel of the same have to be improved a lot, if Mahindra wants to enter the global vehicle race.

Among lots of firsts offered by Mahindra, we also faced something for the first time. The central infotainment system got hanged very often; especially when we used the VR (voice recognition system). The VR just refused to take orders or requests from us; its favorite function was the Radio which it kept activating no matter what we asked for.

The Air Conditioner unit is very effective for the front row; however the middle row cooling is not as impressive. The small ducts for the middle row passengers situated on the B-pillars were not able to cool the cabin adequately. The rear A/C button had its own mind of working. It refused to get activated lots of times.

The front AC vents could be vertically rotated along the axis but then to direct the flow Up/Down was a difficult task as one has to poke his finger inside the vent to adjust it. A small adjustment beside the vent would have solved this issue. 

The seatings in the XUV 5OO can be adjusted in 8 different combinations. It promises of lumbar support among other comfort features. We found the seating to be very uncomfortable, especially in long journeys. The lumbar support fails to give a proper treatment. The misery continues in the rear too, where the middle row passengers are seated.

Mahindra XUV500

The middle row splits in the 60:40 ratio while the third row splits in the 50:50 ratio.

The legroom and headroom is quite well offered for the front row. The middle row faces legroom crisis with not too much to spread. Though we didn’t activate the last low of seats but it was evident that the legroom offered won’t be a surprise for us.

Mahindra team has a lot to improve in the interior fit and finish. Sadly, the interior of Mahindra XUV500 doesn’t score super figures as the exterior does. 

The central infotainment DIS (Driver information system) offers lots of different functions which include the real time mileage of the vehicle, the Tyre pressure management, Music settings like the equalizer, Navigation,  AC mode and the reverse Park assist.

A small interesting fact about the XUV500 is the units have display option US/UK. This proves that the Mahindra XUV500 will also be taking on the international automobile grounds. 

The music system of XUV500 is indeed impressive. It offers CD, MP3 along with iPod and USB connectivity. The 4 door speakers with two dashboard tweeters produce a fantastic effect. When we connected an external source through the USB the sound quality was fantastic, however same was not the case when we played music through the Bluetooth pairing, where the sound quality dropped.

Mahindra XUV500

The Tyre Pressure Management system (TPM) is a useful feature indeed. It kept on glowing throughout our review even when we periodically checked the tyre pressure on all tyres. The TPM light went On and Off irrespective of the tyre pressure.

Navigation system of the XUV500 was fantastic as it accurately guided us through the busy streets of Mumbai. 

The Rear Park Assist system (RPAS) is automatically activated at speeds lesser than 5 kmph when in reverse. It helps in maneuvering the XUV500 through tight spots. It highlights the obstructions which come in the 120cm range from the vehicle. The system displays the permissible distance along with an audio warning. One has an option of getting a camera fitted in the rear as well.

The audible buzzers will remind you of over speeding, seatbelt fastening, door open and low oil pressure. The XUV500 also boasts of a digital immobilizer.
Mahindra XUV500 is equipped with rain sensing wipers as well as light sensing headlamps. The high intensity static bending headlamps are very useful specially while maneuvering the vehicle in pitch black conditions. The rear tail gate has a camping light.

The Interactive Torque Management system monitors the needs of torque on each and every wheel and suitable provides torque to that wheel with the needed traction.The XUV500 is equipped with a Hill Hold and Hill Decent control depending on the incline or the slope. It helps the vehicle by avoiding it to roll when climbing an inclined terrain or descending on a steep slope.

The Start/Stop micro hybrid technology is a highly active system and does rounds on the Scorpio as well. It gets activated when the vehicle is engaged in Neutral and is idling for more than 2.5 seconds. The engine re-starts again as soon as you press the clutch. There is no time lag in this system and is indeed helpful in tight traffic, it does save in lots of fuel.

The Plethora of features offered by Mahindra on the XUV500 makes it a definite choice. The static bending lamps come into effect, when the steering wheel is at an angle more than 90 degrees at speeds of 5 kmph or45 degrees at 100kmph.
Just after the goggle storage compartment is a conversation mirror. This is a very innovative touch as it helps the driver and the passenger to have a proper conversation with all the rear seated passengers without changing one’s seating position.

Mahindra XUV500

The XUV500 is equipped with lounge lighting in the interiors. This sadly again is in red colour. The red colored lighting doesn’t give a pleasant look but gives a loud look. The same goes for the lounge lights on the top of the front row.Each and every passenger gets his own individual map reading lamp. The XUV500 gives lots of storage options. The front dashboard has a front utility box. It has a glossy feel and it starts the centre console flow. One can store parking tickets and other small articles in it. The front utility box also has a USB port as well.

On the centre console one can also find two cup holders followed by a central armrest utility box. The best part of the utility box is, it is divided in two sections. The upper half can keep your small and important article like on my case I had occupied it with my wallet and phone. The lower half functions as a chiller box, which can be occupied with 500ml soft drink cans. 

Just after the internal rear view mirror, there is a goggle storage compartment.The glove box on the front dashboard too has twin sections. The upper half can be used for smaller article which was presently occupied by headlamp bulbs.
There are small net pockets on each sides of the central console end.The lower half of the glove box has a laptop holder, which made it of a great utility value.The all four door panels have inserts, which cater to keeping a bottle, needed articles and also an umbrella holder. There is a magazine pocket located behind the front seat row.The middle row has cup holders integrated with the armrest.

Mahindra XUV500

The rear luggage space can be further enhanced by dropping the 3rd row of seats. It is very generous and a perfect place to put all those massive luggage bags for those long road trips. 

Performance

 The Mahindra XUV500 is powered by a 2179cc mHawk140, Direct injection diesel engine with 5th generation Variable Geometry Turbocharger (VGT). The mill is capable of producing a peak power of 140 bhp at 3750 rpm and a torque of 330 Nm at 1600 - 2800 rpm. It is powered by a 6- speed manual shift.

Mahindra XUV500

The mHawk unit is borrowed from the one presently slogging on the Mahindra Scorpio. The one used in XUV500 is a tweaked version of the same displacement engine. The one on Scorpio produces a power of 120 bhp at 4000 rpm and a torque of 290 Nm at 1800 – 2800 rpm.

We drove the W8 (Non AWD) variant of the Mahindra XUV500. To begin with the XUV500 is little sluggish when in 1st gear. It takes time for the power delivery to be executed on the wheels.Shift her to the 1st gear and give her some throttle, One notices the wheels loosing traction and generating all the squeaks but then the vehicle fails to respond quickly.

The power delivery however improves in subsequent rpms. The gear ratio is very balanced and the transmission is super smooth. In normal city driving conditions, where one needs to change gears often, the XUV500 is a treat to handle.

Mahindra XUV500

The tilt and rake adjustable power steering is very active and can make you steer at any instant. The drawback however is, the body roll felt. Try taking her through sharp turns and one would feel the body roll immensely. The body roll gives the drifting away from the turn effect. 

The model we were given for reviewing had its brake pads fried completely. We couldn’t test the brakes properly. The over enthusiastic driving of previous journalists had left a mark on the brakes as well.

The XUV500 is a confident rife on highways. Take her off the smooth tarmac and again the XUV doesn’t fail to impress you. The ABS and ESP work in perfect tandom to keep the wild beat in control.

We got a best mileage of 13 kmpl and the worst mileage of 9.5 kmpl. The worst fuel efficiency can be credited to our performance tests on the XUV500. 

We at Cartradeindia tried something new during our review on Mahindra XUV500. We asked some people who own or drive vehicles like Toyota Innova, Mahindra Scorpio, Toyota Fortuner and Tata Aria to drive and get a feel on the Mahindra XUV500.

To sum up the feedback, Toyota Innova`s drive response was rated little better then the Mahindra XUV500. However, the looks and the features offered in the Mahindra XUV500 floored everybody including a gentleman who owns a Toyota Fortuner.

The body of Mahindra XUV500 boasts of a Monocoque construction, where the vehicle body and the platform are clubbed to form a single construction assembly.

The front row seatbelts are height adjustable. The XUV500 is equipped with dual airbags for the driver as well as the front passenger along with side and curtain airbags.

Mahindra XUV500

The XUV500 is equipped with Electronic Brake Force Distribution System (EBD). This system ensures and distributes brake force on all wheels in different vehicle loading conditions. The EBD also helps in avoiding a skid by rear wheel by distributing lesser brake force on them.

It has ESP (Electronic Stability Program). The ESP detects oversteering and understeering and applies brakes on appropriate wheel to control the vehicle. Along with braking, a certain amount of engine power is compensated too to counter the movement of the vehicle.

Rollover Mitigation monitors the aggressive driving that could lead the vehicle to roll over. The Rollover Mitigation system uses the ESP to override controls and avoids accidents caused at high speeds due to roll over.

Tech specs
Technical Specifications
 Make Mahindra
 Model XUV500
Engine Type mHawk140 Direct injection diesel engine
Displacement 2179/4
Power  140bhp(103KW)@3750RPM
Torque in Nm 330NM@1600-2800RPM
Gear Box 6/M
Tyres P235/65 R17
Fuel Tank Capacity 70L
Dimensions
Ground Clearance mm 200
Turning circle radius 5.6m
Length mm 4585
Width mm 1890
Height mm 1785
wheel base mm 2700
Mileage
City 12
Highway 15
Fuel Diesel
Suspension
Front McPhesron type with anti roll bar
Rear Multi-Link type with anti-roll bar
Brakes All disc brakes
Gross vehicle weight 2450Kg
Features
Features W6 W8/W8AWD
Micro hybrid technology Yes Yes
6-Speed transmission Yes Yes
Static-bending projection headlamps with LED Parking lights Yes Yes
6" colour touchscreen infotainment display No Yes
6"Monochrome infotainment display Yes No
GPS Navigation with touchscreen and audio support No Yes
Integrated music system with CD/MP3,iPOD& USB connectivity Yes Yes
4 Door speakers with 2 tweeters on dashboard Yes Yes
DVD Player Yes Yes
DIS in built in infotainment Yes Yes
Tyre tronics No Yes
Intellipark Yes Yes
Smart rain sensing wipers Yes Yes
Intelligent rainsensing headlamps Yes Yes
Digital immobiliser Yes Yes
Digital trip and tachometer Yes Yes
Glass embedded antena Yes Yes
Safety Yes Yes
Dual airbags(driver+passanger) Yes Yes
Side and curtain airbag No Yes
ABS with EBD Yes Yes
Electronic Stability program with rollover mitigation No Yes
Hill hold and Hill descent control No Yes
Side impact beams Yes Yes
Crumble zone for crash protection Yes Yes
Competition
Specifications
Mahindra
XUV500
Tata
Aria
skoda
Yeti
Ford
Endeavour
Toyota
Innova
Variant W8 AWD Pride Elegance TDCI 4X2 VX
Cubic capacity 2179 2179 1968 2499 2494
Power in PS 140 140 140 143 102
Torque in Nm 320 320 320 330 200
Ground clearance NA 200 180 210 176
Turning circle radius 5.6M 5.6 5 - 5.4 M
Fuel Tank  in Liters 70 60 60 71 55
Seating  8
Seater
7
Seater
7
Seater
7
Seater
8
Seater
Mileage in KMPL 12 12 14 12 14
Key Features
Tubeless tyres Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ski rack Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Rear Wash and wiper Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Digital Drive Assist system Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Mobile charging point Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Flat bed seat Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Arm rest for driver and co driver Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Height adjustable driver seat Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Intellipark reverse assist Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Engine Immobiliser Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Surround cool dual AC Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Power steering Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tilt steering Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Keyless entry Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Conclusion

The latest offering from Mahindra has seriously sent shockwaves all across the automobile scenario. The heat of Mahindra XUV500 impact can be seen as major auto player, Toyota has announced its plans of developing a new Rs.10 lakh SUV and Skoda launched a 4x2 version of Yeti in the same price bracket.

Mahindra XUV500

According to the latest news report, Mahindra will commence taking new bookings on January 2012. They are already overbooked presently and trying hard to meet up with the increasing demands. 

Coming back to our stand on Mahindra XUV500, The XUV500 is definitely an achievement by Mahindra. It’s a sign of a truly international design language that future Mahindra vehicles will follow.

The XUV500 has made many who wished to go for a premium SUV change their minds and give this a serious thought. The value for money appeal of the XUV is the luring point for all. 

The looks of the XUV500 and the features offered are totally stellar. The interior fit and feel though needs to be improved a lot. This however finds justification at the price it is offered in. I don’t agree to that though, Mahindras could have kept it a little dear priced and could have come up with a more matured interior fit and finished product.

Pricing is a very tricky and a thoughtful decision these days. But then saying that, one won’t mind paying little extra for getting more out of it. The XUV500 promises to be a global SUV, so might as well make it global in every possible extent.