In a jungle, there are animals that walk leisurely and there are other animals that pounce on their prey. One such pouncing animal is the Cheetah. It’s strong, bold, very agile and relentless in attitude. No matter what and no matter when, it makes sure to get its prey very quickly and effortlessly. The team at Mahindra & Mahindra consider their all new Mahindra XUV 500 to be the cheetah among the automobile market. On 29th September 2011, Mahindra launched their highly anticipated Mahindra XUV 500 in Pune.
There have been a lot of speculations of what the car might look like and people commenting on what a weird name it was. People even considered that their code name W201 was better than the Mahindra XUV 500, but let me tell you....when the car was unveiled; people could not stop saying the word: XUV5 Oh Ohhhh. The car is beautiful. Based on the cheetah design language, the car has a stance ready to leap ahead. The car is ready to pounce onto the Indian as well as off-shore markets. The design language is unmatched with the bold and glorious lines that trace the world’s most agile animal in action. The big and chunky wheel arches accentuate the Mahindra XUV 500’s impressive and broad stance. One of the most distinct and very aesthetic looking features is the paw-styled door handles which were never seen before. But the so called fierce and aggressive look is most noticed from the front end of the vehicle. On glance at the hood end and the jaw-like honeycomb grille would make sure that the car is relentlessly ready to pounce on anything that comes in its way.
Mahindra & Mahindra is a US$12.5 billion multinational group based in Mumbai, India – which employs more than 1,37,000 people in over 100 countries. In 2011, Mahindra also featured on the Forbes Global 2000 list, a listing of the biggest and most powerful listed companies in the world. For four years in a row, Mahindra has featured in the Forbes Asia’s Fab 50 list of the 50 best publicly traded companies in the Asia-Pacific region. Dun & Bradstreet also ranked Mahindra at No#1 in the automobile sector in its list of India’s top 500 companies. But Mahindra has never been as confident about a product launch as they had been for the Mahindra XUV 500. This is their global product for which they aspire to satisfy the customer with a completely Mahindra built product that too from a plant in India at Chakan-Pune , Maharashtra. Mahindra group invested an additional Rs 650 crore at the Chakan facility for the Mahindra XUV 500 apart from other existing infrastructure. This product is completely made in India for the global markets. Most of the parts almost 90% parts are localised and the team at Mahindra is trying to come up with 100% localisation soon.
The serious preparation for the launch is evident from the fact that prior to the launch of this brilliant looking car, Mahindra & Mahindra had built over 250 Mahindra XUV 500 prototypes for testing. All these ‘protos’ were tested for an aggregate 2.35 million kilometres with over 800 validation plans. The global SUV market currently stands at 40% where as in India it is just a subtle 15%. Mahindra wants to exploit this segment with this new product and want to grow more as an SUV brand. For your information, Mahindra also has a market share of 60% in the SUV segment in India. And since the team at Mahindra wants the nation to look more positively at the SUV segment, the automaker has shaken the industry with a price range for Mahindra XUV 500 starting as low as Rs 10.80 lakh for the base w6 variant, Rs 11.95 lakh for the w8 2wd variant and Rs 12.88 lakh for the w8 AWD variant. (Prices are ex-showroom Delhi)
The vehicle we got to drive was a top of the line W8 variant though there are not many changes in the exteriors for the base W6 variant as well. When you look at the Mahindra XUV 500 the 1st thing that comes to the mind is that this is not a regular box looking Mahindra like the Scorpio or the Bolero.
The car is well sculpted and chiselled at various angles to make it look very appealing to the eye. It’s worth mentioning here that the design team claims that the car is based on the pouncing cheetah structure. To start off from the front end, the jaw-like honeycomb grille looks magnificent as well as intimidating. It looks huge and gives the car immense presence when viewed from the front. Also a very neat design strategy is the sculpted bumper. One can see that just below the headlamps on both the ends there is a fibre structure which is deep set inside the bumper which gives it that macho and muscular look.
It is the rugged robust look in the front for which the car is said to have an aggressive cheetah like design language. There is an air dam just below the grille and above the number plate section. The car gets static bending projector headlamps which allow them to light up the curves when you turn the steering so that there never is a surprise around the corner. The headlamps also get LED parking lamps along with the high intensity projection bulbs. But then you may think there are no fog lights!!! No, no you are wrong. Look deep down into the bumper and there are nicely fit fog lights which are not that bulky looking but designed perfectly to illuminate the road under bad situations. After all this is an SUV and that too Mahindra XUV 500, you would take it at places where the roads/terrain might not be well lit. Now talking about the side profile, the most distinct and prominent design work is the chunky wheel arch. It is huge and bulky and gives a lot of character to the car. So, I may say it’s not just the wheel arch but an added muscle above the wheel arch above both the front and rear arches which make it more noticeable and help the car look strong and ready for action.
Coming to the window sills, they are done in black just like most automakers are doing it across the globe to make it look better. ORVMs have side turning indicators. The most unique feature on the exterior side is the paw-styled vertical door handles. These handles also provide better grip and also it is a Mahindra first attempt in the SUV segment to come up with such a unique design even for it is a small feature like a door handle. Also there is a roof-rail present on the car which is streamlined right from the front till the tailgate. This adds to the sporty character of the Mahindra XUV 500. Come to the rear end and the first thing you would notice is that there is added muscle just above the number plate garnish. It stands out making it look distinct from the rather boxy SUVs available in the Indian markets. Also there are racing inspired twin exhaust pipes done in chrome. Then, the icing on the cake is the tail lamp. With a paw like design inscribed inside the clear lens on the tail lamp, it looks very meaty and well of course serves the purpose of better visibility. It also has a high mount stop lamp and finally there is also a rear screen wiper with washer.
If you really want to have a feel of what the interiors of Mahindra XUV 500 have to offer there is a suggestion try to get a look inside the Mahindra XUV 500 in a dark place, and the mood lighting inside the car will blow your mind. The red lights thrown at strategic places inside the car make it an eye candy amongst its competitors.
The car has a 6 inch colour touch screen infotainment system. Along with this one gets GPS navigation with touch screen and audio support that can operate in as many as 8 regional languages, now that is impressive. Also for the GPS you get coverage of about 1.5 million kilometres off road in around 1200 cities.
The turn to turn voice guidance system can help one in locating over 5 million touch points including restaurants, ATMs, fuel pumps and Movie theatres as well. The audio system in custom built and speakers are built by Onkyo, the car has four speakers and 2 tweeters. The music system gets the new age CD/MP3/Ipod/USB connectivity and also Bluetooth connectivity. The Mahindra XUV 500 steering wheel features include voice commands, cruise and audio controls for comfort and convenience. You can also control the infotainment system without taking your hands off the steering wheel through the voice commands. The car uses blue sense technology and also allows you to access your phonebook as well as make and receive calls.
For the more intelligent drive, the Mahindra XUV 500 gets smart rain and light sensors which turn on automatically when required. The car also has a DVD playback in the infotainment system. Now let us talk about the speedo console, it is well lit and not too flashy. There are some additional features like tyre-tronics, intellipark with visual aid on the infotainment system, digital immobiliser, digital trip and tachometer. The car gets a glass embedded antenna. It has the standard tilt and telescopic steering wheel.
IF this was not enough it also has fully automatic temperature control and dual HVAC, along with Leather upholstery with centre armrest with cup holders. Driver’s seat gets lumbar support adjust and 8 way adjustable seats including height; and also the ORVMs are power adjusting and power foldable. The front row seat belts also get height adjustment. There is remote tail gate opening and the Flip-key has the remote central locking system. Reading lamps are provided on all three rows along with a power outlet for each of the three rows. The Mahindra XUV 500 is equipped with rear demister along with follow me home lights. There is an illuminated key ring and puddle lamps which make it easier to get in and out of the car under dark conditions.
The second row seats are 60:40 folding and the centre console between the passenger and the driver gets a cold storage. The glove box also has a laptop holder. The interiors are dual tone which are very elegantly crafted to sooth the minds of the occupants. There are two colour combinations namely theme of dark and theme of light as mentioned by a Mahindra official. The car has concealed lounge lighting with waterfall-style central bezel.
To conclude we can say that the interiors of the car stand up to the claim of the company saying “elegance in form, elegance in function”. The car also has chrome scuff plates on the first and second row.
ENGINE, DRIVE FEEL, SAFETY :
Mahindra is considering the Mahindra XUV 500 as a very promising product into the global markets. So the heart of the car had to be a strong competitor not just in India but also off-shore. With this in the mind the company has planted a 2.2 litre M-Hawk140, direct injection diesel engine into the Mahindra XUV 500. This is the fifth generation variable geometry turbocharger (VGT). The car produces a maximum gross power of 140bhp@3750 rpm and a very meaty 330Nm torque @2800 rpm.
The gearbox in Mahindra XUV 500 is a six-speed-synchromesh-manual. Here, Mahindra is introducing a 6-speed transaxle with All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) for the first time in India.
The VGT takes the car from 0-60kmph in a mere 5.4 seconds. Also the advanced micro hybrid technology helps conserve both fuel and the nature. The car has a dual mass flywheel which makes driving easier and comfortable during long journeys. The suspension at front is McPherson type with antiroll bar and at the rear it’s a Multi-Link type with antiroll bar. The suspensions are independent and make the ride quality very soft on bumpy rides. The car runs on P235/65 R17 tubeless radials. Both front and rear brakes are disc and calliper type. The car has ABS with EBD. It has the electronic stability program with rollover mitigation.
Interestingly, the ESP constantly monitors the movement and direction of the car, when it detects loss of control brakes are automatically applied and torque to the relevant wheel is reduced till vehicle stability is restored. Features like hill-hold and hill-descent control, doors with side impact beams and crumple zones for crash protection.
So, in the words of technical team of Mahindra the Mahindra XUV 500 is one part sanctuary and one part fortress. The car also gets dual airbags (driver and passenger) and curtain & side airbags. Besides this the Mahindra XUV 500 meets other European norms which would be coming to India by 2016 already with the launch of the Mahindra XUV 500 and this is good news for the company and for the safety of the passengers.
The suspensions also have hydraulic anti vibration mounting to make a noise free driving experience. The car claims to give a fuel efficiency of around 15.1 Kmpl as per the ARAI figures and for a car this size, this is a very respectable number. An automatic variant is on the hook for the Mahindra XUV 500 and can be expected soon.
Well, we drove the car for a short distance but came out surprisingly happy with the driving dynamics. The suspension unlike the Scorpio and Xylo are well planted and do not give you that sitting on a jelly feel. The car does not wobble on a bumpy road as much as the Scorpio. The body of the Mahindra XUV 500 is a monocoque found on all modern SUVs around the world resulting in excellent power to weight ratios and unmatched handling giving immense driving pleasure. The car had a fair amount of body roll which is not a complaint factor for a car this size. The acceleration is quick and the engine is not sluggish at all. It pulls relentlessly till redline and gear-shifting is not notchy. The steering is well weighted even at higher speeds and with the rollover mitigation and ESP and so on, the car cornered well at speeds above 80kmph as well. Braking was precise and the officials also showed us a demo of how ideal the car was under panic situations with a car planted with ABS and a non ABS version which eventually crashed onto the cardboard boxes lined up for the demo.
So, at a price starting at Rs 10.80 lakh ex showroom Delhi , the Mahindra XUV 500 apparently is going to do huge number for Mahindra and Mahindra. The car has features which its competition fails to even notice. The car looks very muscular and drives as good as a sedan. With the car priced just right and the dream of the Mahindra team to grow the SUV markets, we can surely see a shift of the sedan buyers into the SUV category as you can get a better bigger and much more beautiful package than other automakers have to offer.
So, it remains to be seen if the cheetah can mark its territory in the Indian and off-shore markets in the coming future. The car will be available in colours like Satin White, Tuscan Red, Opulent Purple, Amazon green, Moon dust silver, volcano black and dolphin grey. The bookings will open in a phased manner at Mahindra dealerships in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, and Pune from October 1st 2011. From what the company has to offer with this product, we are very positive that it will be received well by the Indian customer.
Let the Cheetah get its Prey!!