MAHINDRA XUV700
Overdrive|September 2021
Mahindra’s incredible price announcement for the XUV700 left everyone spellbound, we now tell you how it’s like to drive
BERTRAND D'SOUZA

When a glass drops, you hear it shatter. When you drop metal, you hear a din. But on the day of Mahindra’s XUV700 price announcement (on August 15th), all you could hear was silence and four letter expletives mouthed out silently before the resonance of hands coming together! Boom! In spectacular fashion, the incredible pricing for the XUV700 left everyone spellbound.

At the outset, Mahindra has priced the XUV700 in a band that makes it irresistible. It begins at Rs 11.99 lakh for the base variant. The mid variant, which has almost everything you’d need, is priced at Rs 14.9 lakh (all prices for the 5-seat variants), the XUV700 is set to be a winner. It sets the cat amongst the pigeons, and the question most asked from here on out would be why SUVs like the Alcazar and the Hector are priced as high as they are. It would even draw comparisons to the Creta, the Seltos, the Kushaq, and even the Taigun! Because any way you look at it, none have the kind of feature set, nor the space and presence of the XUV700!

A NEW PLATFORM

The XUV700 sits on a new platform, which is largely a significant evolution of the XUV500 platform which will underpin not just the 700, but a few more of the 23 vehicles Mahindra intends to get out in the market by 2026. It is a front wheel driven platform, but also makes provision for all-wheel drive drivetrains. In the XUV700 the intent was to improve stability, ride quality and give it the dynamics that would offset its high centre of gravity and inherent roll and pitch.

What I do like is that visibly the XUV700 does not look much larger than the XUV500. A close look at the dimensions in fact will show you as much. The XUV700 is just a little over 100mm longer than the XUV500, they share the same width but the former is shorter now at 1,755mm. The wheelbase has also increased by 50mm which provides more room within the cabin as the axles now sit further apart. Ground clearance still stays an impressive 200mm. The interesting bit is that Mahindra have also worked significantly on weight reduction, keeping kerb weight to just 1,620kg. That is almost a 100 odd kilos lighter than the XUV500 which brings significant gains in ride, dynamics and even efficiency and performance!

To achieve this Mahindra employed a ring structure chassis design which centres the strength and rigidity around key circular areas in the frame, reducing body flex. Additional high strength steels and ultra-high strength steels brought in much needed rigidity and torsional stiffness. The engineers then further added in a multi-link independent rear suspension setup, with frequency selective dampers (FSD) all around, something you don’t get at all in this segment of vehicle. It is expensive equipment, but brings in quicker responses and improved control to the XUV700.

And finally they added in all-wheel drive, using a BorgWarner transfer case to deliver torque to all four wheels at the click of a button. This is not an on demand system, you have to select all-wheel drive, and when it’s switched off, power is shifted back to the front wheels. Torque split between front and rear wheels is 60:40 with the bias towards the front, and this isn’t variable, its stays like that throughout. While this does give it some moderate off-road abilities, you should exercise caution before assuming you could also do all that you will soon see on social media channels. Too many will get caught out and you might not get what you expected. Instead where you should use the AWD system is in the twisties, in slippery conditions during the monsoons or winter breaks into the lower reaches of the Himalayas, or hard packed dirt trails without any serious obstacles to surmount. In these conditions the AWD system will give you the confidence you’d like to have to enjoy the XUV700.

On the ride comfort front, the XUV700 feels firm. On the road, driving the XUV700 from Mahindra’s research valley to their new proving ground further outside the city limits, the XUV700 felt taut and rich. It has a fairly European style of ride, solid without crashing into surface aberrations and comfortable enough to make any journey tireless. You can further attribute the ride quality to the 235/60 18-inch tyres on the AX7 variant we were driving. However there would be minor depreciation on the lower variants that would come with the 17-inch wheels and tyres with a 235/65 section.

The multi-link setup with the FSDs also help isolate and damp shocks at each wheel, so you don’t get the jumpiness at the rear while the front also stays well connected with the road. There is an acceptable amount of body roll, while pitch under hard braking is strictly kept under check unlike previous generation of Mahindra SUVs. The steering has also been worked on, though in urban areas I’d have liked to see a little more weight. It feels very light within the city, which most consumers would enjoy, though at highways speeds it weighs up significantly to keep things positive.

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