Mahindra XUV400 EV: First Drive Review
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Mahindra's first electric SUV boasts a very heavy spec sheet. We drive it at their test track to figure out how much of that weight it can carry in the real world.
EV aspirants have been looking forward to the XUV400 ever since it debuted as the eXUV300 at the 2020 Auto Expo. More than two years later, it's finally here but the wait isn't over just yet. You see, the EV will be launched in January 2023, and deliveries will only begin later that month. So you have a lot of time to comprehend whether to put your money on it or not. We are here to help you make a decision. On paper, the XUV400 shows Mahindra’s electric vehicle capabilities as they extract more range from a smaller battery pack than the Nexon EV Max. But that engineering comes at a cost, and naturally, to balance it out, there has been a heavy cut in features. Is the compromise worth it?
From afar, the XUV400 will look just like the XUV300. Not even a XUV300 facelift, just the standard SUV. And that, we believe, takes away the special ‘new car feel’ from it. However, as you get closer, it starts to become obvious that you are looking at the electric cousin.
For starters, Mahindra has decided to use copper as its color to signify the EV, owing to the extensive use of copper in electrical wiring. The new Mahindra Logo and all the accents on the face are finished in copper, which look quite striking. The headlights are projector units and LED DRLs as well, but the fog lamps are missing.
From the side, the biggest change has been the increase in length. Because EVs don’t fall under the sub 4-metre tax haven, Mahindra could make it 4200mm long offering better boot space and more room to accommodate the battery pack. In size, the XUV400 now rivals cars from a higher price segment, like the Hyundai Kona EV and MG ZS EV. The 16-inch dual-tone alloy wheels also feature the copper moniker and the roof is finished in copper as well.
At the back, the tailgate now looks more muscular and the tail lamps get LED elements which help the car stand out at night. Overall, the XUV400 is a muscular looking SUV but the design now feels dated.
The XUV400 sports an all-black interior with blue stitching, which is a direct opposite to the white one seen on the XUV300. And along with contrast copper finishers on the AC vents and dials, the cabin does look premium. Another highlight of the cabin is the build quality. Everything from the dashboard to the centre console feels solid and is well put together. If you are okay with the old-school layout, then the cabin feels very premium.
Cabin practicality has also been taken care of. Large door pockets, cup holders and a large armrest storage keep the driver’s belongings with ease. The passenger also gets an open slot on the dashboard and a decent size glovebox. However, charging options are scarce. The front only gets one 12V and one USB port. For a modern-day car, a Type-C and a wireless charger are a must.
When it comes to features as well, the XUV400 is very much still in 2020. The manual AC, 7-inch infotainment, 4-speaker sound system and analog instrument cluster are a let-down. And while you have automatic headlights and wipers, a sunroof and steering-mounted controls, missing features like ventilated seats, auto day/night IRVM and automatic climate control keep you wanting more.
The same featureless experience carries to the rear seats as well. There are no AC vents, no charging option and not even a 12V socket or proper seat-back pockets. However, the XUV400 redeems itself by offering a generous amount of space. The boot floor is not much higher than the regular XUV300 and hence you don't sit knees-up. The seats are comfortable and offer good knee and headroom and the width is more than enough for three people to sit at the back. If space is what you want after, the XUV400 will impress you.
At the core of the XUV400, is a Global NCAP 5-star crash safety rated platform. Safety features include six airbags, ABS with EBD, ESP, all-wheel disc brakes and more. The battery itself is IP67 rated and has been tested in extreme weather conditions as well.
With its added length, the boot space stands at 378 litres. Compared to the 257 litres of space in the XUV300, this is a welcome addition. Large suitcases will fit easily and you can also stack them one over the other. However, Mahindra still won't offer you a parcel tray. Another good thing is that the spare wheel is tucked under the boot floor, a rarity in case of EVs.
Motor And Performance
This is one department where the XUV400 is really impressive. The electric motor produces 150PS and 310Nm, enabling a claimed 0-100kmph time of 8.3 seconds, making it one of the quickest Indian-made cars. In fact, this acceleration is the best you can get under Rs 20 lakh, period. Be it off the line or acceleration for overtakes, the XUV400 pulls ahead with a purpose and keeps going till the limited top speed of 160kmph.
But it's not just a hooligan. You get three drive modes - Fun, Fast and Fearless. The Fearless mode is where all the excitement is. The Fun mode is ideal for relaxed city drives and the acceleration is smooth and in control. Fast makes it faster while retaining the smooth drive experience. The top speed is also capped at about 90kmph for Fun and 130kmph for Fast, making Fast the ideal mode for highway duties.
This effortless performance certainly makes the XUV400 a delight to drive no matter what mood you are in. It is complemented with good cabin insulation and the motor and road noise barely intrudes into the cabin. Also, the XUV400 offers a ‘L’ drive mode which is supposed to be a single paddle mode. However, the brake energy recuperation there is weak, and deceleration is also slow, which makes it less practical inside the city. We hope Mahindra crank up the regen to make it more useful.
Range And Charging
The XUV400’s 39.4kWh battery delivers a claimed travel range of up to 456km. With this, the expected real world range falls somewhere between 370-400km, which is quite impressive. With a 50KW DC fast charger it can go from 0-80 percent in approximately 50 minutes. A 7.2kW wallbox AC fast-charger can top up the XUV400 in 6.5 hours, while a 3.3kW manages this in 13 hours. The last option is a portable charger that can be plugged into any 16A domestic power outlet.
Ride and Handling
Given that the XUV will be primarily used in the city, Mahindra has worked on making it comfortable. This includes giving it an all-new suspension at the back with frequency selective damping as seen on the XUV700 and the Scorpio-N. With this, it manages the weight of the batteries better and yet remains comfortable over city-specific obstacles like speed breakers and potholes – at least the ones we had on the Mahindra test track.
The XUV400 can be a lot of fun with its quick acceleration coupled with the grip and bite from the tyres. The steering is on the lighter side but that helps make tight turns easily and will be useful in the city. It does weight up with quicker drive modes, but still is more city-oriented than being outright sporty.
There are two aspects to the Mahindra XUV400 EV. First is Electric, the other is vehicle. As an EV, it is brilliant. The performance is adaptable and it can be a hoot, or a commuter, at the touch of a button. Add the 456km claimed range and the charging options to this, and you have a very competent electric car.
However, it does need some work when it comes to being a family car. Starting with features: it needs a heavy dose of premium and some price-essential features in the cabin, both in the front and at the back. The dash looks dated and it misses the charm of being an all-new car. But if you can look past this, the quality of the cabin feels premium and there is a tonne of space and practicality in the mix as well.
With an expected price of Rs 17 - 20 lakh, the XUV400 is a very promising electric car and is for someone who is looking for an exciting electric car and doesn't mind the missing features and dated cabin experience.