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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Mahindra XUV500 (Cheetah) W6 Review

Several years since the launch of XUV500 (pronounced Five oh-oh), I never had the chance to drive this much hyped SUV from Mahindra. It was an instant hit due to its killer looks and bookings had to be suspended and lottery system was put in place to decide who gets to own this car. However, early buyers had to experience several mechanical issues with the car and it appeared that Mahindra launched the car without adequate testing and those who went for the looks had to work as unpaid testers of the car.

I could finally check it out, courtesy Carzonrent (Myles) Bengaluru offering it on self drive.

XUV500s manufactured after March 2013 are believed to have improved build quality. When I booked XUV500 on carzonrent website, I believed it is a 2012 model (as that's what their website said in Feb, now make of the car is not shown). So I was mentally prepared to drive a car with loose brakes. But as I took command of the car I realized that it is pretty new with only 2222 kms on the odo.

Carzonrent staff didn't know where the tripmeter reset button was or that there's secondary glovebox. Even I couldn't locate the tripmeter reset button-only a day later, after referring to the manual I figured out that it is located to the right of instrument cluster box. Apparently none of the previous customers could locate it as well- both tripmeters had almost same reading as Odometer, indicating that they were hardly reset. I drove off from the garage and picked up friends. We were 7 of us with a bag or two each. I was hoping to keep the bags between the 3rd row and rear door- but this space seemed to be inadequate. It is not large enough to keep decent backpacks, only small bags would fit in here. So unless we have a roof carrier, luggage hauling will be a challenge when there're 7 people.

First 1 hour I felt the brake spongy. Drove very cautiously. Eventually my legs adapted to the car and I could drive naturally.

First Impressions
Exteriors of the XUV is much talked about and everyone has seen one. The cheetah resembling front look alone ensured thousands of bookings for the car. Tail lamps also have unique design and get Chinese like inscription. Big bold looks make it very commanding from outside. Everything about XUV5oo is new thinking. The instrument cluster, tail lamps, front facia, door handle, exterior design, hand brakes, AC vents- everything has an unconventional feel to it- something different from other cars we used to drive. Instrument cluster has more symbols than any other cars I've seen. Two concentric rings are very innovative, though to some extent inner ring that shows fuel, trip meter etc blocks the view of outer ring showing current speed. despite having these many indicators, for some info we need to refer to the digital display in the centre console. (For example, instrument cluster only shows that a door is open, while display in central console tells that boot door is open)

Driver's seat
The W6 variant only gets tilt adjustment for steering wheel while W8 gets both tilt and telescopic. W6 has driver seat height adjustment and lumbar support. Overall driver's seat is very comfortable and offers good view of the road. On the door, W6 gets all controls except auto fold mirrors.

Handbrake design is new. Gearbox has 6 gears, though I didn't feel 6th gear adding much value. It could possibly because top speed seem to have been capped at 150kmph by the rental agency. Reverse gear is like Hyundai, pull the ring, push down and to extreme left and front. Central console has a BMWish style- lots of space and boxes.
Lots of space
Handbrake and gear lever
Steering wheel gets all possible controls, including cruise control. I used it for a while, but it wasn't really exciting. Felt handicapped keeping my foot off the gas pedal.

Driving was largely fun, but unlike ford Endeavor, XUV doesn't beg you to press the gas peddle. It obeys your command if you accelerate, but doesn't show any enthusiasm to unleash its power. Endeavor, on the other hand always seemed to have some extra power on standby if you wish to speed up. After initial discomfort, the vehicle grew on me and got used to it. Its big bold exterior commands lots of respect on the road. We drove it for about 1200kms in 48 hours without any discomfort. The additional 30 degree angled headlamps that illuminate on making sharp turn is a nice feature. This and projector headlamps made night driving easy. Suspension was good and absorbed most of the impact easily without affecting passengers much. 

Ambient lighting is a nice feature, but colours don't change in instrument cluster though. Conversation mirror helps locate if all passengers are in. 

W6 doesn't get a reverse camera, but a sensor indicates the distance in cms/meters between the car and object behind. Also only W8 gets hill hold control and hill descent control.  (W8 is expensive by 2 lakh rupees compared to W6 and gets alloy wheels, telescopic adjustment, side airbags, hill hold and hill descent control, colour display, reverse camera, auto fold mirror and leather seats) W8 4WD is expensive by another lakh.

At 150 kmph I got top speed warning and couldn't accelerate much further- I think this is a limit enforced by the agency. Because of this couldn't explore the full power of 6th gear. 
Cornering was not as much as fun as Ertiga but still pretty good. I enjoyed the high speed cornering, but rear passengers experienced some body rolls and lost sleep.

key fob is similar to Ecosport's. Folds and remote operations. No Keyless entry or ignition in W6, has to do it manually.

Second and 3rd row:
Second row is designed to seat 3- gets 3 headrest- even the person sitting in middle gets comfortable seating, unlike Ertiga, because XUV500 is more wider and bigger. For the second row passengers, there's AC vent on B pillar, there're two video entertainment systems on the back of first row headrests and there's generous spacing. We used this space to keep some bags. Second row folds 60:40, windows are large and airy, while offering good view of the road as well.

No side airbags in W6. W8 gets them.

3rd row is designed to seat 2, folds 50:50 and is fairly comfortable. 3rd row passengers also get good attention- AC vents and controls, charging points, pockets and lights etc and headrests as well. 3rd row window is large enough, though not as big as first 2 rows, but it won't open.

Shortage of luggage space when fully loaded is evident. Roof top carrier is must for long haul trips with big bags
Fuel economy:
We got an average fuel economy of about 9 kmpl. For 1119 kms we drove, we spent about 7250 Rs worth of diesel, close to  123 litres, which is just about 9 kmpl.  Dashboard computer showed 10.5kmpl average, which could be true because we take car full tank and return full tank. In a 70 litre tank, couple of litre + or - is possible. Note that this economy is achieved when car is fully loaded with people and driven with AC. Claimed fuel economy for XUV500 is about 15kmpl, which you'll probably get if you drive solo without AC on a highway at about 80kmph speed.

Entertainment was good. Music system has all modern facilities including USB, Aux, blutooth and so on. W6 comes built in with Mahindra included video entertainment behind first row headrests.

Boot door open: We constantly got dashboard warning that boot door was open. We repeatedly got down and checked the door, closed it again and again, but this warning sustained for most of the journey. Probably the sensor has gone rogue, sending false signal to main computer.

Went through the owner's manual and quick reference guide- it wasn't customized for each variants, but offered lots of insights into various safety features and utilities in the car.

XUV500 W6 costs close to 14 lakhs on road. At this price, it is a good deal for a premium SUV. Offers good value for money, because of lots of features and functions. Alternate options are Tata Aria (recently refreshed) and Tata Safari Storme. Aria comes closest in terms of features and performance, but somehow Aria hasn't really clicked in the market and will have lesser resale value. Aria's ground clearance is also a bit less. Note that insurance premium alone comes to 5k per month if you buy XUV500 (or other cars in 15-16 lakh price range), EMI and other expenses separate. I am better off renting it at Rs 3000 per day on need basis. [Related: Read this before buying SUVs]

2014 Scorpio refresh is likely to inherit some features and components from XUV500.

External footrests could have been nice. But they can be added aftermarket. Similarly skyrack doesn't have gaps (like the one in Scorpio), hence one can't hold it properly.

Twin rear exhausts are nice- but all cars in the category come with that now.

Do check this post for other interesting features of XUV500 View more XUV500 photos here

Tata Safari EX 4x4 Review * Tata Aria pride 4x4 review * Aria photoshoot *

3 comments :

Cubic Zirconia White AA said...

Awesome post .i hope everybody will like your post

Darryl D'costa said...

Good Description, can imagine myself too on the driver's seat.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Darry