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After launching the Marazzo a couple of months ago to take on the likes of new Maruti Suzuki Ertiga and fill the gap that was created when the old Toyota Innova gave way to the Innova Crysta, Mahindra is back again with another product. This time, Mahindra aims squarely at premium SUVs like the Toyota Fortuner and the Ford Endeavour with its latest offering, the Alturas G4. And armed with nine airbags and 360° surround camera, among other features it should pack a solid punch too when the Mahindra Alturas G4 is launched on November 24 at an expected starting price upwards of Rs 30 lakh.
“The Alturas sports all the design cues that are typical of SUVs in this price range, without missing out on the big selling points of being a capable off-roader and that built to last feel”
The Mahindra Alturas G4 is essentially a latest generation Ssangyong Rexton G4 (Generation 4) which has been rebadged and slightly re-engineered for the Indian market. The Rexton G4 made its global debut at the Seoul motor show last year and was showcased as the Alturas at the Auto Expo earlier this year in India. For starters, it looks nothing like the previous generation model that was sold in India. It has been completely developed and redesigned from a clean sheet. That initial sighting was promising and it evidently has left behind the rather crude and outdated styling of the previous version. The Alturas sports all the design cues that are typical of SUVs in this price range, without missing out on the big selling points of being a capable off-roader and that built to last feel. This means the styling is conventional and old school. The design team has concentrated on getting the proportions right, rather than pure flash which gives the Alturas a balanced and mature look. With its towering height and length of almost 4.9 meters, the Alturas dwarfs over most other vehicles on our roads.
The starting point for all this is an all-new ladder frame chassis developed by Ssangyong in Korea. The chassis now comes with increased torsional stiffness and reduced weight than before, thanks to the use of high tensile strength steel in its construction. It has been extensively tested in various and harsh environments and the results have been great, with the Alturas G4 conquering everything we could throw at it. While it defaults to driving the rear wheels for better economy, it can still power all four the old fashioned way via a dial. Despite being ditched by some other cars in the segment, low-range gearing remains a feature that will be on offer, adding to that old school, go-anywhere capability. The squared off rear rear and tall tyres further contribute to that feel, which gives it a proper SUV feel.
“The list of equipment is large though as it gets many first in class features including a 360 degree camera, cooled front seats and an auto opening tailgate”
The interior design is a neat job rather than something that looks overly complicated. The dashboard is made up of various elements which give you a sense of the cabin width. The center console is dominated by the massive touchscreen that is a 9.2-inch high-definition screen, which is the largest in class. It comes with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, with great quality display. Strangely though, it misses out on in built maps. The list of equipment is large though as it gets many first in class features including a 360 degree camera, cooled front seats and an auto opening tailgate. This actually works well when we had the opportunity to try it out. You simply walk up to the back of the car with the key in your pocket and the tailgate opens up, a handy feature when you have your hands full.
It’s not just the amount of kit on offer, but also the quality of material used that gives the Alturas’ cabin a top notch feel. The plastics have a soft feel to them, most surfaces have good fit and finish, while the Nappa leather generously used gives the cabin a very premium feel. All the buttons too for the various functions are well placed, falling to hand easily and they feel nice to operate. The Alturas G4 definitely has more toys on the inside than any of its immediate rivals and that’s where it will hold its advantage.
“It does lack that punch you would expect from an SUV with those figures, but power delivery is linear and smooth through the rev range”
But once you settle down in the armchair like seats, you’ll be surprised with the way it drives. The 2.2-litre diesel develops 178bhp and 420Nm of torque, which helps it gets things moving rather smoothly. Mated to a Mercedes-sourced seven-speed torque converter automatic, the Alturas makes for a relaxed cruiser. It does lack that punch you would expect from an SUV with those figures, but power delivery is linear and smooth through the rev range. The materials used for sound deadening is also good and the engine in general is pretty silent, making for a pleasant driving experience. The gear ratios too have been selected to ensure better fuel efficiency rather than outright acceleration and performance. The Alturas G4 prefers to get going in a relaxed way, rather than being hustled around.
“It irons out bumps, potholes and undulations on the road, regardless of the speed you are driving at”
That becomes more evident when you try to push it round a corner. There is a significant amount of body roll present as you would expect from a ladder frame SUV of the Alturas’ size. It’s probably for the best then that you never approach one carrying too much speed. The steering follows suit, feeling over assisted into weightlessness. It just adds to the reluctance of the Alturas G4 to change direction quickly. But these factors are compensated for by the excellent ride this latest Mahindra offers. It irons out bumps, potholes and undulations on the road, regardless of the speed you are driving at. As a long distance traveler, it should be able to just eat up the miles with the engine near silent at the legal limit and little noise entering the cabin; in my opinion it should be a great car to travel long distances in. Which is what most SUV buyers in this segment are looking to do.
Overall, it’s an SUV that ticks most of the right boxes that buyers in this segment are looking for. Sure it’s not got the sophistication of modern monocoque SUVs like the Hyundai Tucson, Skoda Kodiaq or Volkswagen Tiguan but it certainly will make a strong case for itself against the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavor. The Alturas G4 has interior quality, equipment and ride quality going for it, which should ensure that Mahindra can finally give Toyota a fight in this segment, provided they price it right. And by that I mean it should undercut its rivals (well, the Fortuner mainly) by a minimum of Rs 5 lakh, so you can plan your next big road trip with the money saved. Did I mention it even offers winter and summer driving modes on the gearbox? Mahindra Adventures’ next monastery escape to Ladakh will be an absolute joy in this new Mahindra.