Flush Door Handles In The Mahindra XUV700: What Are They, And Which Other Cars In India Have Them?
Once found on sports cars and supercars, flush door handles have now made an entry into the mass market with the new XUV700
The new Mahindra XUV700 SUV has debuted a novel feature that we had never seen before in the segment -- flush-fitting door handles! Now, as a car buyer, you might be wondering what the fuss is about. But consider this -- what’s your first point of contact with your own car every morning? Before you slide into the seat or grip the steering wheel, you either pull or lift up a door handle. And that makes a difference.
Flush door handles differ from the conventional lift and pull-type handles in that they sit flush with the bodywork of the car, and are sometimes nearly invisible. This might help reduce aerodynamic drag slightly, but the real reason carmakers equip some of their cars with this feature is aesthetics. Flush door handles can make any car look more futuristic and concept car-like. Check out the way these door handles rise from the bodywork when the car is unlocked:
There are two types of flush door handles -- electronically operated pop-out handles as you see in the video above and fully mechanical ones like the Tesla Model 3’s handles. We’ve seen flush-fitting door handles in numerous supercars such as the Porsche 911, Jaguar F-Type, Aston Martin DB11, Lamborghini Huracan and even the upcoming Audi e-tron GT. But this feature is no longer the reserve of ultra-expensive sports and luxury cars. Find out which cars get this feature in India in our list below, arranged by ex-showroom price:
Mahindra XUV700 (starts at Rs 11.99 lakh to Rs 14.99 lakh): This mid-size SUV leaves rivals such as the Hyundai Alcazar and Tata Safari far behind with its active safety and advanced driver assistance features. Lower-spec variants get mechanical flush door handles, while the higher trim levels are equipped with popout handles. Read our review here.
Range Rover Evoque (around Rs 70 lakh): The Evoque’s flush door handles quietly pop out every time you unlock the car. Once you’re inside, a tech-laden interior meets the eye -- a large 10-inch infotainment screen sits in the centre of the dashboard, above the touch-sensitive air conditioning and climate control panel. The 2021 Evoque also gets an optional Clearsight rearview camera integrated into the interior rearview mirror. It's a highly capable off-roader with all-wheel-drive and Terrain Response 2, which automatically selects the driving mode for the surface that you’re driving on.
Range Rover Velar (around Rs 82 lakh): This luxury SUV’s pop-out flush door handles are similar to the Evoque’s. It rivals the Mercedes-Benz GLE, Porsche Macan, Jaguar F-Pace and BMW X5. But although its rivals are sportier and the lower-priced Evoque has similar features, the Velar is a prettier SUV with a larger 748-litre boot. Its all-wheel-drive system comes with Terrain Response 2 along with All Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) that helps you maintain a steady crawling speed while descending in slippery conditions such as mud, wet grass, ice, dirt roads or even snow.
Tesla Model 3 (expected price Rs 60 lakh): Tesla’s debut car in India, the Model 3 sedan, has uncomplicated mechanical flush door handles that are easy and light to use. It is expected to be packed with features, as we’ve discussed in this recent story. The only bummer is the price that’s expected to be around Rs 60 lakh for this completely built unit (CBU) import.
Jaguar I-Pace (around Rs 1.2 crore): The I-Pace electric vehicle (EV) gets its automatic pop-out flush door handles from its Range Rover cousins. But it has a distinct electric drivetrain with enough power and torque to propel it from 0-100kmph in just 4.8 seconds! That’s despite being a 2,200kg heavy SUV with a 90kWh battery pack. It may be heavy, but the I-Pace stays true to the Jaguar driving DNA, with Adaptive Dynamics, air suspension, and torque vectoring.
Mercedes-Benz S-Class (starts at around Rs 2.2 crore): The 2021 S-Class finally debuts flush door handles to this top-shelf model line. Its pop-out handles are lined with chrome and don’t make much of an effort to be concealed in the bodywork when retracted. When you step inside the new S-Class, you’re greeted by a minimalistic cabin with a portrait-style 12.8-inch infotainment screen and a wide panoramic 12.3-inch driver’s display. A full list of the new S-Class’ features can be found in our launch story.
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Pros and Cons of Flush Door Handles
While most cars now offer touchscreen infotainment systems and digital driver’s displays, flush-fitting door handles still have an air of exclusivity about them. We agree that they enhance the visual appeal of a well-designed modern car.
The aero gains from this type of door handle are negligible, and the automated pop-out mechanism often adds to the R & D and manufacturing costs of the car. For most car buyers looking for a value-for-money, appliance-like commuter car, flush door handles aren’t worth the added costs and complexity.
There is no doubt that retracting flush door handles look good on a car, but they are electrically operated components that can occasionally be less reliable than plain mechanical door handles (flush or otherwise).
In 2019, a Tesla Model S caught fire after it was crashed into a tree in Florida. The driver of the car couldn’t be rescued because emergency workers were unable to figure out how to open the car’s doors. The car itself was programmed to unlock all its doors and extrude the door handles after an accident, but the system malfunctioned. Tesla has an online guide for emergency workers that instructs breaking open one of the doors’ windows in such a case and unlocking the door using the inside door handle. But since this technology is relatively new, the rescue workers were likely not acquainted with Tesla’s guide, and couldn’t save the driver in time to save his life.
Although mechanical flush door handles haven’t caused an issue yet, it must be noted that in a high-stress situation such as a car accident, the responders might not know how to react to malfunctioning door locks and handles. Carmakers are constantly working on making flush door handles more reliable, so we are likely to see improvements in the technology in the coming years. Until then, we advise reading through the user’s manual of your car to see how the doors can be unlocked or opened in an emergency.
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