Is the XUV700 just a facelifted XUV500 or is it a completely new breed in the vast range of SUVs available today? Rajesh Karkera takes the latest offering from the Mahindra stable for a spin to find out.
Photographs and video: Hitesh Harisinghani and Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com in Chennai.
August 15, 2020, was the freedom drive of the much anticipated all-new Mahindra Thar.
Year 2021, on Independence Day, Mahindra & Mahindra declared war on the SUV segment by revealing the price of its most elusive offering — the XUV700 (pronounced ‘7 double O’).
But the SUV was not the only one that was launched by M&M on August 15.
They also inaugurated their state-of-the-art Mahindra SUV Proving Track (MSPT) in Chennai which is built over 454 acres of land by L&T and designed by IDIADA (Institut d’Investigació Aplicada de l’Automòbil – Institute for Applied Automotive Research).
It is here that we got to drive the XUV700 before the world and to experience what it was capable of.
Is the XUV700 just a facelifted XUV500 or is it a completely new breed in the vast range of SUVs available today?
The automotive world was already blown away when the prices of the base and the mid variant of the XUV700 manual trims were revealed.
The variants on offer are the MX Series and AX (Adrenox) Series.
The AX Series has three sub-variants AX3, AX5 and the range-topping AX7. Prices of the AX7 and the automatic versions across variants will be revealed in the near future.
See the vehicle from the front and you can’t miss the huge vertical six-slat chrome front grille housing the new Mahindra Logo, designed by Pratab Bose, executive vice president and chief design officer, Mahindra and Mahindra.
Then there is the C-shaped LED DRLs which house the floating turn indicators in between. All the front lights are LEDs.
The wheels on our test cars — both diesel and petrol variants — which were the top end AX7 series, were 18 inches.
The lower variants will all have 17-inch wheels
Since Mahindra has still not revealed all, there is suspense over which variants will get what features.
But there certainly will be an optional pack, which will include features like immersive 3D sound by Sony, electrically-deployed smart door handles, 360 surround view, blind view monitoring, electronic park brake and wireless charging.
Coming to the interiors, the XUV700 has one of Mahindra’s most good looking and pleasing interiors.
Although we will miss the Alturas G4 which had one of the best looking interiors in the M&M portfolio.
Open the door of the XUV700 and the first thing that happens is that the driver’s seat automatically slides backwards to make space for you to enter with ease.
Shut the door and the seat gets back to your set driving position!
Seen mostly in high-end luxury cars, the driver’s seat gets three memory settings and the controls are on the door.
And this is just one of the many segment firsts that M&M has introduced with the XUV700.
The next thing that blows you away in the AdrenoX series is the large seamless dual infotainment screen which looks like a single display from the centre console to the MID cluster.
And believe it, there are not 5 or 10 but 60+ connected apps and several built-in apps in this cockpit.
For example, we could order food from Zomato while driving using this feature.
This is also the first Indian vehicle with built-in Alexa functionality enabling hands-free access to entertainment, information, and vehicle controls.
Alexa voice assistant works for vehicle controls even in an offline mode.
The MX series, which will be the base variant, will not get this screen.
It will get a conventional 7-inch instrument cluster and an 8-inch infotainment system.
As you settle down, you start noticing the easy on the eye leatherette upholstery and the huge sunroof.
Mahindra has named it ‘Skyroof’ and according to them it is the largest in its segment.
But if you ask me, I feel the Tata Harrier has a bigger sunroof.
The middle row is spacious and there is a plenty of legroom. The almost flat floor adds to the spaciousness.
However, this 2nd row doesn’t slide back and front. This seems like a loss, as it’s not every time that one will be using the 3rd row of seats.
Talking of the third row, it can definitely accommodate 2 adults, but not for a long journey.
Maybe one adult can slouch there. The third row is best for young kids. Personally, I would go with the 5-seater and use the large boot that comes with it.
There are just too many features to be said in words. Watch the first drive video below as we explore some more…
The XUV700 also comes with driver drowsiness detection which nudges the driver in case he is feeling drowsy.
Auto booster headlamps which switch on automatically when the vehicle exceeds 80km/h at night and auto high beam assist is available even at disabled mode, which makes driving that much safer.
Another unique function in the XUV700 is the personalised safety alert which alerts the driver if he exceeds a set speed.
It can be programmed to sound out in the voice of a loved one.
XUV700’s safety standard is excellent as it offers not 6, but 7 airbags!
These include airbags for knee support for the driver, plus the side curtain airbags go all the way to the third row. This again is a segment first.
Talking about segment firsts, one of the proud engineers who worked on the XUV700 told us about a feature that was not written anywhere — the four cameras that are in the car.
Keep recording and storing the video in a 32GB SD card which is secured under the dash on the passenger side.
This video is overwritten every 12 hours. A very useful feature in case of emergencies.
Look at Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com blissfully unaware of being recorded by the XUV700.
This 360-degree camera amazed us with its crisp quality.
And the blind spot monitoring that comes up on the MID when you switch on the turn indicators is certainly a welcome add-on.
Drive the car and half the time, if you have the driver’s assistance features on, the car will keep nudging and informing you when you are getting too close to someone on the road.
When you cross a speed indicator it reads it and gives you a display indication on the MID telling you what speed is allowed in that area, and also sometimes applies short spurts of brakes to keep you safe.
Do check out the video above to see some of the features along with the ADAS which again is a segment first in this car! And by far one of the best features.
The XUV700 will be offered in amazingly refined engines in both diesel and petrol.
The powerful 2-litre Turbo GDi mStallion petrol engine spools out 380 Nm of torque between 1750 and 3000 rpm and develops 200 PS at 5000 rpm.
The 2.2-litre Commonrail Turbo Diesel mHawk engine, which is known for its torque, will be available in two tunes — a 185 PS version with 420 Nm of torque in the manual and 450 Nm of torque in the automatic.
The diesel also gets a 155 PS variant with 360 Nm of torque in the manual transmission.
So as far as engine options go, the XUV700 clearly has a wide range.
As for the fuel economy, the numbers are not out yet.
But we believe, after driving the XUV700 for a day, the diesel manual will deliver around 17kmpl and the petrol auto will surely give you 15kmpl.
Drive with a light foot and you will surely derive more from this gentle beast which does not fail to get a smile on your face as you sit behind the wheel.
Bookings for the XUV700 will most probably commence during the festive season. No fixed dates are out yet.
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