Mahindra XUV700: First Drive Review
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With so many segment-first features, drivetrains, seating and variant options, the XUV700 is trying to please everyone. But does it get the basics right to first get into your consideration?
If you are in the market for a new car, stats suggest you are likely looking for an SUV. But narrowing it down from there is a little difficult as there are just too many options. There are sub-4 metre SUVs, compact SUVs, 5-seater, 7-seater, petrol, diesel, manual, automatic and all-wheel-drive SUVs. And when you finally decide which one you want, you just end up with more options from different brands. Mahindra plans to put an end to this confusion with the XUV700. But how?
You see, prices for the XUV700 start from Rs 12 lakh for a variant that is fairly feature-packed, and this rivals the smaller sub-4 metre SUVs like the Sonet and Nexon. Then comes the mid 5-seater variants which are priced up to 17 lakh and will rival compact SUVs like the Creta and Seltos. Finally, the top 7-seater variant will cost up to Rs 20 lakh and will rival 7-seaters like the Safari and Alcazar. All this while packing petrol and diesel engine options with both having manual and automatic transmission options. And the diesel further gets an AWD variant! So, whichever type of SUV you want, the XUV700 has got it. Question is, can it get the basics right for you to consider buying it in the first place?
While the platform is all-new, Mahindra has decided to retain the essence of the XUV500 in the 700’s design. Paying homage to the 500 are the new headlamps where the “C” shape is maintained by the LED DRLs. However, these pack an all-LED beam and the indicators are dynamic as well. Complementing these are more LEDs in the fog lamps, which also feature cornering lights. The headlamps flow in the slats of the grille which features an aggressive design. The bonnet too gets strong creases which adds muscle to the front look for the 700. Safe to say, you won't be confusing the XUV700 with anything on the road when you see one at night.
From the side, it again retains the body lines from the 500, especially the arch over the rear wheel. However, it is subtler this time around and looks better. Talking points, though, are the flush sitting door handles which, in this top X7 variant with the option pack, are motorised. They pop out when you unlock the door. If you are eying a lower variant, don't worry because there too you will get the same flush design, but the handles will pop out when you press them. And they work so well that the motorised ones end up looking gimmicky. The AdrenoX sticker touch, on the fender, should have been much smaller as it becomes an eyesore in the overall design.
Wheels on this AX7 variant are 18-inch dual-tone diamond-cut alloys which do suit the overall design well. Speaking of which, the proportions of the XUV700 are better this time around as the length and wheelbase have been increased, the width is the same and the height is a tad less. While you won't be able to notice those changes, the overall product does look better.
Same story at the back as well where the arrow-shaped LED taillamps steal the show, especially in the dark. The overall design is also subtler and looks cleaner. And the entire boot cover is made out of fibre, not metal. This helps to get the desired shape more easily and keep the weight low.
Overall, the XUV700 has an impressive road presence. Opinions on the looks are still divided but one thing is for sure, it will be noticed.
Plush and clean. This might be the first Mahindra for which we can use these adjectives. The layout is dominated by the large infotainment panel but then the middle dash is wrapped in soft leather which feels nice to the touch. The hard plastic over it too has a good texture and the silver finish too complements the design. The steering wheel with the new Mahindra logo looks clean and the leather wrap is grippy too. Controls here, though, could have had a better tactile feel. Also, they are prone to accidental touches.
On the side, the door pads feature a faux wooden trim which does suit the cabin. It houses the Mercedes-esque powered seat controls because of which the door pads are kinked up and looks odd from the outside. The upholstery feels plush and the seats are very supportive too, with manually adjustable lumbar support. Plus, the armrests, both the centre and the door pad ones, are at the same height so you get a very comfortable cruising position. The steering further gets tilt and telescopic adjustment so that you can get into a comfortable driving position easily.
However, there are areas where the quality suffers a bit. In the centre console, the climate control switches, toggle switches and the rotary dial don't feel as well-appointed as the rest of the cabin. The auto-gear shifter too does not have lights to indicate which gear you are in. You will have to check that on the dashboard.
Before we talk about the highlight features in detail, let's have a look at all the features on offer. You get dual-zone climate control, auto headlamp and wipers, adaptive cruise control as part of the ADAS tech, large touchscreen, digital instrument cluster, wireless charger, a 12-speaker Sony sound system and a large panoramic sunroof. What you don’t get are ventilated seats, one-touch window operation for the three passengers, paddle shifters and an auto-dimming IRVM. While these feature misses won't affect the cabin experience, they seem an odd miss in such a tech loaded car.
The first major highlight is the AdrenoX powered displays. The two 10.25 inch displays have a proper tablet-like resolution. They look sharp and are fluid to use. Not just that, they are also feature-packed. The infotainment unit gets in-built navigation, wireless Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, other in-built apps like Zomato and JustDial, and even gets displays like a g-meter and a lap timer. Some of these features were not yet working and the overall system had a few bugs. However, Mahindra is still finetuning the system and has informed us that these software issues will be resolved before the SUV hits the market. There is also Alexa which works like any other car assistant, and can control vehicle functions like climate control, sunroof and music selection via voice commands. Plus, you can also pair it with your Alexa device at home, with which you can lock and unlock the car or start the AC.
You also get a very high-resolution 360-degree camera here where you can even switch to a 3D model. And this not only shows you the car model and its surroundings, but somehow shows you what's underneath the car! And inbuilt into this is a DVR or dashcam where you can record multiple views or whenever you brake hard or the emergency brake assist is activated, it records the file automatically and stores it for you.
Then comes the 12-speaker Sony sound system which sounds absolutely fantastic. The multiple 3D settings do create a positive change in sound and this has the potential to be the top in a segment that features competitors like Bose, JBL and Infinity.
The other half of the display panel is the 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster. This features different display modes which you can switch between depending on your mood, and the area in between the two digital dials can feature a host of information like audio, calls, navigation drive information, tyre pressure monitoring system and ADAS assistants. All of this can be controlled from the steering wheel.
In terms of cabin practicality, the XUV gets decently sized door pockets with a bottle and an umbrella holder. There is a wireless charging pad and another mobile slot in the centre console. The under-armrest storage is cooled and the glovebox is large and spacious. Plus, the glovebox opening and the grab handle folding is damped and adds a sophisticated touch.
Ingress to the second row can be a bit of a bother for the grandparents as the SUV is tall and there are no side steps. But once in, the seats are well cushioned and supportive. You do not feel the lack of under-thigh support and there is good legroom to stretch out. Knee and headroom too are ample and two tall passengers, one behind the other, can easily sit in the XUV700. Also, because the window line is low and the upholstery light, the cabin feels quite airy. Even better with the sunroof curtain open at night or on a rainy day.
Three people at the back should also be no problem given that the floor is flat and the cabin is wide enough. Other features you get are a reclinable backrest, AC vents, a boss mode lever to push the co-passenger seat forward, a phone holder, a Type-C USB charger, armrest with cupholders and large door pockets. The only things which could have made this experience better but are missing are window shades and ambient lights. Overall, this is a second row that will surely keep you happy and comfortable over longer journeys.
If you want a 7-seater SUV, then you will have to pick the top few variants as the base will only get the 5-seater option. The exact details as to which variant gets what seating layout will be revealed closer to the launch. To access the third row you will have to tumble and fold the second-row single seat by pulling a lever. Once in, the space for an adult is a bit tight. However, there is still a bit of knee room left for someone of my height (5 foot 7 inches) when the second row is not reclined. What you can't do here is push the second row forward as it does not slide to open more room. To get more comfortable, you will have to recline the third row. Once done, the seating position is comfortable for even an adult to spend a couple of hours in, and children will definitely not mind spending time in the seat. In terms of features you get two cupholders, your own personal AC vents with blower controls, grab handles and even speakers in the third row. Even the overall visibility is quite good with a large glass area to look out of.
While Mahindra has not given us official numbers, the space behind the third row is only good for small laptop bags or duffle bags. And if this third row is reclined all the way back you will not be able to fit an overnight suitcase there. What you can do is is fold the third row to open up a nice and large flat boot floor which will accommodate all of your large suitcases and bags for the entire family for the weekend trip. If you still want more space then you can fold even the second row flat, which will open up space for oversized items like a washing machine or table. And if you plan on going for an adventure, a mattress will fit just fine in there.
Engine and performance
Mahindra is offering two solid engines with the XUV 700. The petrol is a 2.0-litre turbocharged unit which makes 200PS and the diesel is a 2.2-litre unit which makes 450Nm of torque with the automatic. Both of these engines will be available with automatic and manual transmission options and the diesel will also be offered with an optional all-wheel-drive powertrain. On the test, we had the petrol with the 6 speed automatic and the diesel with the six-speed manual.
420Nm (MT) | 450Nm (AT)
6-speed MT / 6-speed AT
6-speed MT / 6-speed AT
The highlight of the petrol engine, while you might think is the 200PS power figure, is actually the refinement. It doesn't let any vibration or harsh sound creep into the cabin and gives you a very calm driving experience. Another highlight is its smooth power delivery because of which you get a very linear and smooth acceleration and the 200PS power figure does not feel intimidating. However, start getting generous with the throttle and the city overtakes are dispatched with ease. Even on the highway, all you have to do is press a little harder on the accelerator pedal and the XUV completes high speed overtakes just as easily.
Mahindra claimed that the 200PS petrol engine will take the XUV700 to 200kmph. We decided to put this claim to test at their own high-speed facility in Chennai and managed a speedo-indicated 193kmph with the petrol auto and 188kmph with the diesel manual. Both could have recorded higher speeds if we were allowed to use the high-speed 48 degrees banked lane, but this lane was out of bounds for our test drive unfortunately.
But even under full-throttle conditions, the performance of the petrol engine does not feel peppy or exciting. While the 200 horses are certainly there, they are focused on making your drive effortless rather than thrilling. Also as of now, there are no drive modes on offer with the petrol engines, and another thing that you will have to be careful of is the fuel efficiency. This being a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, hauling a large SUV will certainly not be as frugal as the diesel.
The automatic transmission is also focused on making your drive as effortless as possible. It keeps you in the right gear and the shifts are quick and smooth. It's only when you demand a quick downshift that it can feel a tad slow.
The diesel engine is also the one you should pick if you are mostly going to be on the highway. It gets four drive modes: Zip, Zap, Zoom and Custom. Zip is for the efficient drive, Zap increases the power and makes the steering a bit heavier. Zoom gives you all the zest the engine has to offer, so much so that the throttle inputs become a bit too sharp. So, to the extent that you can even have wheelspin coming out of corners. This is certainly the most fun mode in the XUV700. Custom allows you to individually set steering, engine, air conditioning, brakes and transmission settings according to your liking.
Just two aspects you will have to be mindful of with the diesel. First, the clutch travel is a bit long, which could be a bit of a hassle in daily long commutes; and second, that the noise of the engine does creep into the cabin, especially in the front row.
Ride and handling
The one aspect of the XUV that you will absolutely love is the comfort it offers to its occupants. This time around the XUV gets frequency selective damping like the Compass, which will keep it stable in corners and over smaller bumps while softening the damping to take on bigger speed breakers and potholes. This really shows while you are driving on our mixed road conditions. The XUV can glide over the imperfections on the road and you won't feel much of the bigger undulations as well. The rear suspension does feel a tad soft but that too settles down quickly and does not make the right feel bouncy. And all of this happens with the suspension being absolutely silent.
In terms of handling, the XUV cannot be called fun. There is some body roll in corners and it progressively starts to understeer when pushed a bit harder. Drive sensibly and it remains stable around corners. The overall dynamics work better to make your drive comfortable. Be it city roads or open highways, the XUV 700 will be a delight to drive.
Mahindra has created waves across multiple segments by announcing the prices for the XUV700. The base MX5 5-seater variant starts from Rs 12 lakh for petrol and Rs 12.5 lakh for diesel. This will rival the sub-4 metre SUVs. The variant above, the AX3 petrol 5-seater, is priced at Rs 13 lakh and the AX5 5-seater petrol variant is priced at Rs 14 lakh. These will rival the compact SUVs like Seltos and Creta. Finally, the top AX 7 7-seater variants will rival the likes of the Safari and Alcazar. With such aggressive pricing, the XUV700 certainly looks to be the next big SUV in the market.
Spending a day with the XUV 700 has made us realise just how good a family SUV it is. It has an impressive road presence, the Cabin feels premium, space is impressive, the ride is comfortable, the feature list is long and impressive and finally both the petrol and diesel engine options along with their transmissions are very capable. Yes, it could have done certain things better like a few quality issues in the cabin and the missing features. However, as soon as you bring the price into the picture these misses start feeling even smaller.
If you are in the market looking for any kind of SUV for your family, the XUV700 first gets all the basics right to then impress you with its segment-first features. It certainly deserves to be on your consideration list.