Mahindra XUV700: The Tough Rider Goes On A Road Trip

We put the newly launched Mahindra XUV700 SUV through a 1,000km road test, and it more than excelled in every department


In the six months since its launch, the Mahindra XUV700 has established itself as an incredibly good SUV in the Rs 12-25 lakh price range. Reviews have been fulsome, and customers are queuing up, with the waiting period for the XUV 700 now stretching beyond a year. Despite the long wait, orders are still pouring in. Mahindra has received more than 1,00,000 bookings, and has only been able to deliver around 14,000 units so far. The waiting time for the range-topping XUV700 AX7 is an outlandish 84 weeks at the time of writing this article.


So what is so great about the XUV700? I recently took a 1,000km road trip from Pune to Goa and back in the top-of-the- line AX7 diesel with the luxury pack to find the answer. The length of the drive gave us a better understanding of what makes Mahindra’s latest SUV so special.
When images of the XUV700 first leaked, auto enthusiasts were not too pleased with its looks. Much of the talk was around its ‘disproportionate’ body shape. But it turned out to be a false alarm. When everyone got a chance to see the vehicle, they realised that the leaked images were taken from bad angles.



At first glance, the SUV has the feel of a refined and updated version of the XUV500. Some of the latter’s features like the oddly shaped door handles, the creases around the wheel arches, and the contours on the bodywork have disappeared in favour of a streamlined, muscular shape and pop-out door handles. The butch grille with vertical bars is integrated well with the headlamps and the DRLS.


Looks-wise, the Mahindra XUV700 might not match with some of its more expensive rivals, but it is a design that most people would appreciate for the price they are paying. Moreover, history tells us that a vehicle that is as big and imposing usually does well with Indian consumers.


Though it is a replacement for the XUV500, it feels like an entirely new vehicle. Built on a new platform, the XUV700 has a monocoque construction that makes it 80 percent stiffer than its predecessor. It is also much lighter. The engine weighs 70kg less, while changes like the more modern plastic tailgate, instead of the earlier sheet metal one, contribute considerably to lowering the weight. On the inside, there is an element of simplicity in the design of the cabin, backed by the use of high quality materials. Taking centre stage is a large slab of glass that runs the width of half the dash and housing two 10.25-inch displays, one for the touchscreen infotainment system, and the other for the instrument cluster. Below are the conventional buttons and dials for climate control and other important functions. A leather strip runs the width of the dash and on to the door pads. The cabin of the XUV700 is clearly a step above most other vehicles in the price range.


I was particularly impressed by the AdrenoX infotainment system, for its functionality and customisability. The graphics are rich, and the touchscreen is very responsive. The Sony 3D Audio system leads in its class by a long way. The 13-channel amplifier powers one sub-woofer and 12 speakers, including four in the roof lining to produce a very balanced sound.



The seats you get in the XUV700 are very comfortable, especially at the front. The driver’s seat comes with an electric seat-adjust, and it is very easy to find a driving position that suits you. We were testing the 7-seat variant, and the middle row at the rear turned out to be a great place to be, with loads of legroom, and good all-round support. The third-row seats have been designed keeping passenger comfort in mind, with adequate leg-room and plenty of light to stop you from feeling claustrophobic, even on an extended drive.


The variant I drove featured a 2.2-litre diesel engine that produces 185hp. A good amount of sound deadening in the cabin makes sure that the engine noise is barely audible inside. In fact, among diesel engines of a similar size, this might easily be the most refined.


Performance was very impressive and on the highways, it was easy to settle into a nice cruising rhythm at triple digit speeds. Paired with the 6-speed torque converter and the very impressive suspension setup, the XUV700 is a competent mile-muncher. The gearbox isn’t exactly the fastest to shift and there are no paddleshifters. However, when you have a 2-tonne SUV that easily does the 0-100kph sprint in around 10 seconds, there is very little to complain about on the performance front. That said, shifting to first gear does seem a bit too long for my liking, and does hamper you a bit when you are trying to get a move on in traffic.


The diesel vehicles also come with drive modes called Zip, Zap, and Zoom. Zip restricts power to 155hp, while Zap offers the full 185hp with dialled down throttle responses. Zoom, as you would have guessed, removes these restrictions. There is enough power on tap here to urge you to drive in one of the lower performance modes, especially during daily commute, in the interest of fuel economy.



The ride at low speed feels firm, but a bit uncomfortable. I am not a fan of lighter steering wheels, and this one felt excessively light, particularly when steering a two-tonne SUV. Things change dramatically once you push the throttle. The sprightly motor takes on a new life. At high speeds, none of its competitors can come close to the composure that the Mahindra XUV700 exhibits. Even bad, rutted roads don’t unsettle it, and you can hardly feel a thing. It feels indestructible, in the way it barrels down a terrible section of road. It is when you hit the twisties, that you find out that the Mahindra engineering team has done a fabulous job with this SUV. The XUV700 features front and rear independent setups, which use frequency selective dampers. The rear linkages also get additional control blade links. The result is a setup that affords phenomenal grip and good cornering ability, even for such a large vehicle. It does understeer at the limit, but does so progressively and predictably. T


he brakes are strong on bite and progression even at serious corner speeds. More impressively, even on the poorly surfaced sections of the road, the suspension setup was able to keep body movements in check while cornering hard. The Mahindra XUV700 has you covered if things do go wrong. Along with the 5-star Global NCAP rating, the SUV comes with a comprehensive suite of safety tech (including ADAS features), easily outdoing the competition and even cars in higher segments. The Forward Collision Warning (FCW) along with the Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) work together flawlessly, and you can even configure how early or late you want the warnings to come on. This was particularly helpful on roads with errant drivers and pedestrians, and I can attest to just how well it works. Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Keep Assist and Smart Pilot Assist take the stress out of driving on long journeys with the ability to brake autonomously when the car in front slows down, all the way to a standstill. This leaves you with only steering duties for the most part. Also present is Driver Drowsiness Detection and auto high beam assist with booster headlamps over 80kmph. ABS, ESP and seven airbags are standard.


It is then not surprising that the Mahindra XUV700 has been getting rave reviews. A perfect medley of strong basics, and a bouquet of features unlike anything on offer in the same price range makes the vehicle hard to ignore for a prospective buyer. Price definitely is a big draw. Starting at Rs 12.95 lakh and going up to Rs 23.79 lakh (ex-showroom), the XUV700 straddles a number of segments including the compact SUV, mid-size SUV segments, and knocks at the doors of the full-size SUV. At entry level spec, it offers a whole lot more than any sub-four metre compact SUVs. At the slightly higher price range, it outdoes all midsize SUVs.


While ADAS features are only available in the top-spec model, they do drive the price up a lot. But it is well worth it, in my opinion. If you are in the market for a new SUV in the sub-Rs 25 lakh price range, the XUV700 is hard to ignore.

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