First Drive Review: Mahindra XUV500 is all new and refreshed
Is the third generation Mahindra XUV500 living up to its name?
The XUV 500 was a watershed for Mahindra. It was the first time that India’s most well known SUV maker broke away from the tried and tested body on ladder construction and used a monocoque instead. That wasn’t the only departure however. The XUV500 also marked Mahindra’s attempt at making an SUV that would be contemporary in its design rather than being based on the boxy designs of all its other SUVs till then. The interiors were well appointed too and packed to the gills with features, including a mind boggling array of warning lamps on the instrumentation. It eventually came to a point where the company put out expensive full page ads in leading dailies requesting consumers not to book one. They couldn’t make enough! That was then, in 2011. Come 2015, an updated version called the New Age XUV500 was launched with a new grille and S shaped guide lights. Three years on, today we have another cosmetically updated version. This time it’s called the Plush XUV500.
“There is no doubt that the XUV500 was the best SUV Mahindra had made, and it got the sales registers ringing too”
The Mahindra XUV500: An urbanised Cheetah?
One of the USPs of the XUV500 was the way it looked. Blingy. Which endeared it to the Indian consumer. Its Cheetah-inspired curvy shape especially was something new for Mahindra buyers and they lapped it up. It is also something Mahindra hasn’t changed. Be it the old car with its aggressive jaw-like grille or the claw-like one with vertical chrome inserts along with S-shaped guide lights of the next facelift, or this new version with its single piece grille separated by a chrome bezel with chrome inserts in the upper half section. The guide lights now make way for LED DRLs on the top of the headlamp while there are completely new taillamps and a more prominent spoiler. Instead of the old car’s 17-inchers, the new XUV500 rides on 18-inch 10-spoke diamond cut alloys shod with 235/60 profile rubber.
“The Mahindra XUV 500’s Cheetah-inspired curvy shape was something new for Mahindra buyers and they lapped it up”
The Mahindra XUV500 gets a plethora of cosmetic changes
Given that there are no changes to the vehicle’s dimensions, the space inside the cabin is unchanged as well but this one feels more premium than what we’ve seen in the previous XUVs. That is primarily thanks to the quilted seats, the tan and black interiors, the chrome centre console surround strips and the piano black finish on the dashboard. It also gets soft touch leather on the dashboard and door panels.
On the equipment front, there is a lovely Arkamys sound system and the XUV500 also gets smart watch connectivity. Download the Mahindra Blue Sense app and you can control the audio system and climate control via the app. Everything here seems a bit more upmarket than we’ve seen in the old XUVs, except the buttons for the power windows. Those feel plasticky and are definitely an area in need of improvement.
“On the equipment front, there is a lovely Arkamys sound system and the XUV500 also gets smart watch connectivity”
But the Mahindra XUV500 also gets more power!
Besides all the cosmetic updates, the new Plush XUV500 also gets a bump in power. Thanks to a remapped ECU and the addition of an electrically actuated variable geometry turbo, the 2.2-litre mHawk diesel now develops 155bhp at 3750rpm and a peak torque of 360Nm at 1600-2800rpm over the 140bhp and 330Nm of the outgoing car. On the go, the new XUV500 does feel sprightly, which makes it a little more enjoyable to drive than before. Although we didn’t get to sample it, the petrol engine continues unchanged.
“The new XUV500 does feel sprightly, which makes it a little more enjoyable to drive than before”
Does it drive well?
The monocoque construction endows it with better dynamic capabilities than it would have, had it been a body on ladder construction. The suspension is firm too, aiding handling. Unfortunately, it takes a toll on ride quality. As long as the road surface is smooth, it’s all good but show some bad roads and the XUV500 has to slow down a bit to absorb and isolate the shocks from passengers. Not quite the plush ride quality you’d expect in an SUV.
“The XUV500 was never a bad handler, for its size and bulk, and it continues with that wonderful attribute”
The final Verdict on the Mahindra XUV500
Although the XUV500 itself was a departure from Mahindra’s tried and tested formula, it would now appear that the company’s strategy with this product continues to follow the established convention of milking the platform till the very last drop. So, there is no generation update to the XUV500. Instead this is the second facelift to an existing platform. Given that this strategy has always brought success for the company, they see no reason to mess with it and that’s fair. So the new XUV500 continues with core Mahindra attributes like ruggedness, off-road ability and the long feature list that has become an XUV500 signature but combines it with better design and a more upmarket feel. The fact that this new avatar is also more powerful is a further selling point and at Rs 16.68 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the W11 trim that we drove doesn’t seem like a bad bargain.