Mahindra has released the first official photographs and tech specs of its new 7-seater SUV, the XUV700. The 700 now sits at the top of Mahindra’s XUV line-up and will take on the likes of the Tata Safari. The XUV500 – which has been phased out for now – is expected to return in a new avatar two years down the line and will compete with smaller, less expensive SUVs.

The XUV700 styling is somewhat similar to the outgoing XUV500, but with significant changes at the front and back, with different headlamp/taillamp treatment. The XUV500 lineage is clearly recognisable in the new styling, but the Mahindra designers have done enough to give it a fresh new look. The interiors have been given a comprehensive update, with higher-quality materials having been used for a more sophisticated look and feel, along with heavily updated tech for connectivity and infotainment.

For the XUV700, Mahindra has used dual 10.25-inch colour screens, which serve as the instrument panel and infotainment touchscreen. This large, twin-screen setup looks impressive and, according to Mahindra, provides an ‘immersive sci-fi experience.’ For the 700’s infotainment system, Mahindra tied up with global heavyweights like Visteon, Bosch and Sony and the company’s new ‘AdrenoX’ tech platform offers a range of useful built-in apps as well as more than 60 connect apps that can be used via a smartphone.

Under its expansive hood, the XUV700 offers a choice of powerful and efficient petrol and diesel engines. Buyers can choose between turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol that produces 200bhp and 380Nm of torque, and a 2.2-litre common-rail turbodiesel that makes 185bhp and 450Nm of torque. Both engines are available with a choice of 6-speed manual or automatic transmissions. You also get four driving modes with selected diesel-engine variants, which alter performance and steering response on demand.

The XUV700 rides on 17-inch alloy wheels (18-inchers on the top-end variant) and features all-independent suspension; McPherson strut setup at the front and a multi-link setup at the back, with stabiliser bars at both ends. The suspension has been optimised and fine-tuned for ride comfort, without compromising on handling abilities, and an all-wheel-drive (AWD) variant is also available for those who intend to go off-roading.

Mahindra has also gone all-out on the safety front and the XUV700 gets seven airbags, along with front and side crash sensors for reliable airbag deployment. There are anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and even an advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), which provides forward collision warnings in case of an impending impact. The system can even automatically activate the vehicle’s autonomous emergency brakes (AEB) if the driver fails to respond to safety alerts.

Additionally, there are other safety-related functions, including lane departure warning, lane keep assist, high beam assist, adaptive cruise control and even driver drowsiness detection. ‘The XUV700 marks the start of a new journey for Mahindra, where we want to be building world-class SUVs by not just pushing the boundaries but redefining them altogether,’ says Velusamy R, Chief of Global Product Development, Automotive Division, M&M Ltd. ‘The XUV700 features an all-new platform, new powertrain options and a host of segment-first technologies [and] it comes with the latest safety technologies like ADAS and safety airbags,’ he adds.

Mahindra’s new SUV proving grounds

On a separate note, though one that underlines just how serious Mahindra is in terms of SUV research and development, the company recently inaugurated its first SUV proving grounds, situated near Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu. Designed by the IDIADA (‘Institut d’Investigació Aplicada de l’Automòbil,’ which is based in Spain) and built of 454 acres of land, the MSPT (Mahindra SUV Proving Track) will house Mahindra’s 4×4 Centre of Excellence, where the company’s engineers will undertake development activities for M&M’s future vehicles. Next year, the track will also be opened up for Mahindra’s customers, allowing experience a specially curated off-roading driving experience.

Clearly, then, Mahindra is on a roll with its new-age SUVs, which are designed to provide world-class levels of dynamic performance. Prices for the new XUV700 range will be announced later this year, closer to the actual launch, but it sure looks like M&M could have the competition very worried indeed.