The interiors of the XUV500 are the place to be, it is a great proposition for all the moolah that you spend on it. The first two rows are spacious and the bells and whistles that come loaded with it are mostly found on vehicles that are a segment higher.
The interiors of XUV500 are designed ergonomically and a lot of features are added by incorporating a lot of buttons, without adding too many buttons. The XUV500 comes embellished with various bells and whistles, which are mostly available on cars that are a segment higher. Touch-screen, satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, climate control and six airbags are to name a few. Even the quality of plastics on the XUV500 is decent, though there are some bits that could have been better.
Space in sufficient in the first two rows, when you consider the head room and the leg room. The third row is a bit cramped for knee room, whereas the head room is still decent. The leather seats are also well strengthened with ample of support for your thighs. To our dismay, there is no space in the boot, unless the third row of seats has been folded.
The Mahindra XUV500 comes in two trim levels, one is the W6 and the other is the W8. The W8 is the top of the line model and comes loaded with all the frills. The W6 is the base model, yet it gets loads of goodies like 6-inch monochrome display with in-dash music system that plays music through its four-speakers, rain sensing wipers, automatic headlamps, dual airbags, ABS, all disc brakes, electrically adjustable ORVMs, multi-functional steering and cruise control. This is indeed a long list, and the product is good proposition for all the money you pay.
The W8 model on the other hand has these features and all gets an addition of 6-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, six airbags, ESP and hill descent control, alloy wheels, telescopic steering, DVD player and tyre-pressure monitoring system. This is the only vehicle that is available in this price with so many features.
It is only the interiors of the Duster that failed to appeal us. The plastic quality isn’t up to the mark, even though the fit and finish is decent. The space in the Duster is just phenomenal, with large and supportive seats.
The interior quality on the Duster is decent. It isn’t phenomenal for its price, but it is good enough. The overall fit and finish of the plastics is good, but it is the feel that doesn’t impress. Even the inside has been designed ergonomically. The black and beige interiors look good and feel premium, as most of the Indians consider beige to be superior over black or grey.
There is loads of space in the front row and the Duster doesn’t feel cramped. The seating is a bit low, but the view is good as the overall visibility of the car is good. The support offered by the seats is good for the back and the thigh. Move into the second row and there will be no disappointment with the space for your knee and head. The space is immense and so is the thigh support. Even the boot is large for 4 people’s luggage. The Duster comes with a dealer fitment option of two additional seats forming the third row.
The Duster comes in three variants, RxE, RxL and RxZ. The latter two come with option packs as well. The RxE is the base model and it comes with basic features like black interiors, keyless entry, power windows. It misses out on airbags and also on ABS.
The RxL is the mid-model and it gets additional features like rear defogger and wiper, front fog lamps, trendy beige fabric seats, the centre console becomes glossy black instead of the charcoal black, electrically adjustable ORVMs, integrated music system with four speakers and USB connectivity, on board computer, glove box lamp and reading lamps being the major upgrades.
The RxZ is the top of the line version and it comes fully loaded with various bells and whistles like dual airbags, ABS, reverse parking sensor, driver seat reminder, body coloured door mirrors with satin, rear AC blower, leather wrapped steering wheel. These are the major add-ons, except for those that were already mentioned in the RxL.
The 2.2-litre mHawk mill on the XUV500 is a tried and tested product, with high levels of refinement. There isn’t much of turbo lag and the gear ratios are also well spread out. It is the shifts on the transmission and the play of the clutch pedal that we aren’t in favour of.
XUV500 comes plonked with the 2.2-litre mHawk engine that also powers the Scorpio and the Xylo. Here however, the power has been bumped up to 140bhp and an extra cog has been added. The XUV500 churns out 140bhp at 3750rpm and produces a torque of 330Nm between 1600 to 2800rpm. Engine refinement levels are good, albeit it does get a bit loud as the revs climb up. The engine is peppy and is responsive to the throttle movement.
The XUV500 is drivable even when lugged into a higher cog, but things shape up better once past the 1900rpm mark. One needs to downshift for quick overtaking, and the sixth gear is a boon for cruising on the highway. The simple stick shift on the XUV500 feels notchy and even the travel of the clutch pedal is a lot. So, driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic can get painful. The XUV500 was the first vehicle in its segment to get a 6-speed manual transmission. As per the ARAI cycle, the XUV500 returns a fuel economy of 15.1kmpl.
With the Duster being a compact SUV, most of the buyers will prefer the 85bhp 1.5litre diesel engine. This engine has good drivability and sufficient torque to potter around in the city. There is no turbo lag either and it does make its case for a good buy.
The Duster comes with a 1.6-litre petrol engine that produces 102bhp of power at 5850rpm and a torque of 145Nm at 3750rpm. This is a four-cylinder that earlier powered the Logan. It comes mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. The NVH levels are fairly refined and the engine isn’t noisy. The power delivery is linear and the shifts on the box are also good. For quick overtaking one has to downshift as the power is most available in the higher rev range. The ARAI mileage for the petrol version of the Duster is 13.4kmpl.
Duster comes with two power ratings in the diesel variant. One is 85bhp and the other is 108bhp. The 84bhp is available on the RxE and RxL trim levels. This is the same engine that powers the Nissan Sunny as well. The NVH (noise vibration and harshness) levels on the diesel Duster are quiet low and Renault has done a fabulous job on reducing the clatter. This version of the Duster produces 84 bhp at 3750rpm of power and 200Nm of torque at 1900rpm. The power delivery is good enough and the engine is fairly drivable even when in the city. Overtaking in the city is easy and most of the time a downshift is required. The 5-speed transmission is good enough and the shifts are positive. The ARAI claimed fuel efficiency of the 84bhp Duster is 20.64kmpl.
The 108bhp of the Duster is available only with RxL and RxZ trim levels. This engine produces 108bhp of power at 3900rpm and a maximum torque of 248Nm at an engine speed of 2250rpm. The refinement level of the engine is the same, as the lower powered diesel engine, and there is no clatter drama. Once you pass 1800rpm, there is sufficient power to lug around the town. For better utilization of power, this engine comes mated to a 6-speed manual box than a 5-speed that powers the de-tuned version of this K9K engine. The shifts on this 6-speed manual box are also smooth and positive. However, there is a drop in fuel economy by ARAI standards to 19.1kmpl. On the highway, the sixth-gear will help to increase the fuel efficiency.
The ride of the XUV500 is well sorted and smooth like a premium SUV. The handling isn’t something you can boast about, but it isn’t bad either. There is some amount of body roll, but this taken care by the ESP in the W8 model.
XUV500 being a monocoque has driving dynamics than the older ladder on frame chassis. Being a monocoque, it has independent suspension. The front gets the McPherson type with anti-roll bar, while the multilink type with anti-roll bar springs the rear.
The ride suppleness of this vehicle is good and the suspension does a fair job of ironing out most of the jolts and rebounds on uneven roads. It crashes through potholes with a muted thud. The ride is smooth and well composed. The occupants aren’t jittered around.
Having softer springs and being taller, the XUV500 has some amount of bodyroll. The front-wheel drive version also has massive understeer, when pushed around the bends. However if you have the W8 model, then the ESP takes care of it. The all-wheel drive version is more fun to drive than the front-wheel drive as it doesn’t lose out traction.
The Duster excels in the ride and handling department. It doesn’t just have a well sorted ride, but even the handling is good for its size and ground clearance. So, the Duster is makes a strong case for itself.
The Duster is based on the Logan platform and so it gets independent McPherson strut with coil springs & anti-roll bar at its front and torsion beam axle with coil springs & anti-roll bar at its rear. The ride of the Duster is fairly supple. All the road shocks are absorbed by the utility vehicle and the occupants get a smooth ride. The ride is similar even at higher speeds.
The handling of the Duster is similar to that of a sedan. It can be chucked around corners and its chassis responds well. Despite the high ground clearance the handling characteristics of the Duster are good. The steering wheel also is light at low speeds and weighs up well as the vehicle gathers speed.