Why would I buy it?
8 / 10
- Road presence
- Drivetrain options
- Driving dynamics
- Unique feel-good features
Why would I avoid it?
- AX7 ‘T’ trim misses out on some crucial feel-good features
- Low speed ride
- Last row ingress / egress
8 / 10
The price of the variant we have reviewed here isn’t out. But from the prices revealed for the MX series, as well as the AX3 and AX5 trims, Mahindra is clearly elevating the value co-efficient with the new XUV700. And if it follows the same rule book for this near top-spec, seven seater, diesel manual version, this should make for a very good buy indeed! And we say that because, be it features, space, comfort, safety, or even performance, the XUV manages to deliver on all fronts with aplomb.
Engine and Performance
8 / 10
Zip is for the city, and it offers a slightly muted throttle response and a very light to-twirl steering. Zoom is for those looking for a little more sportiness. Expectedly, the steering weighs up and the throttle response becomes more immediate with this selection. Zap, meanwhile is your in-between mode, which we didn’t spend a lot of time in.
The engine in question here is the 2.2-litre, four cylinder diesel. It uses an aluminium construction, makes near 185bhp, and develops an impressive 420Nm of peak torque. It also weighs under 200kg. On the road, it’s endearing to say the least. The way it carries the near 1700kg XUV700 is remarkable. It never seems to struggle no matter what the rpm. You floor it, it goes. And when it nears the 2000rpm mark, with the turbo spinning like a top in hyperdrive, it transforms the XUV into a hard charging bull. The 100kmph mark comes and goes in no time. Overtakes are as easy as flicking on a switch. And it takes restraint on one’s part to keep things within the speed limits.
Thankfully, we were at Mahindra’s new proving ground which allowed us to hit 160kmph without us wanting or needing to. It just came up, effortlessly. It’s the not the quietest engine out there though. Not so much up to 2,000rpm, but post that, one can both hear and feel that typical grainy character of a diesel engine. There’s also a hint of drivetrain lash every time one goes on and off the throttle. Neither is bothersome; it's just a little out of character for such a plush machine. The six-speed manual works well. The clutch is light and progressive. The gearshifts also slot-in well. And even though we won’t call the shift quality or throw sporty, it doesn’t get in the way of driving quickly either. I also like the fact that one can easily heel and toe on downshifts; that too without needing to stay on the throttle longer which is so typical of diesels to get them to rev up. It responds closer to a petrol than a diesel here. And, that’s fantastic.
Ride and Handling
7.5 / 10
The XUV700 impresses with its balance of ride and handling as well. The ride is plaint, absorbent, and mostly flat at anything over 60kmph. It’s only at slow speeds that it can be a bother. The handling though - especially for the weight and size and height of the XUV - is one of the best in its class. Helped, no doubt, by its stiffer body shell, and the most sophisticated suspension setup for an SUV this side of the Rs 20 lakh mark.
The XUV’s suspension - MacPherson struts with FSD dampers and thicker anti-roll bar at the front, and a multi-link layout with control arms and an anti-roll bar at the rear - gives the 700 better control and absorption characteristics especially over bumps at speed. It rides over smaller undulations, changes in road surfaces, and even over mildly broken roads with the authority that it owns it all. It doesn’t rock side to side, it doesn’t thump its occupants, and it never feels loose or unsettled. At slower speeds though, over pronounced or sharp bumps and potholes, it does tend to sound and feel a bit crashy. Not harsh enough to make you cringe, but enough to feel unpleasant.
The handling of the Mahindra XUV700 though was a pleasant surprise. With its quick steering rack, stiff body shell, and the reactive and well-judged suspension setup, it feels smaller and lighter on the move than it is. So, be it making a lane change, turning into a corner, or flooring it through a flowing corner, it never felt heavy or cumbersome or uncomfortable. Yes, it tends to roll if you throw it hard around a tight corner. And if done with enough abandon, it will understeer as well. But again, nothing alarming, nothing scary, just basic physics at play. We did get around this issue in no time though; by slowing down a fraction.
Interior Space and Comfort
8 / 10
The XUV700 is no small car. And that has a positive rub on its insides too. It’s easily more spacious than the Hyundai Alcazar and almost as roomy as the Tata Safari, if not roomier. Even in terms of comfort - seating, NVH, ease of driving, and of course ride comfort - the XUV does manage to tick the right boxes. There’s enough elbow room at the front for two passengers; seating three at the back is a breeze; and though the last row isn’t exactly very comfortable to be in, it works alright in a pinch. However, the second row doesn’t slide, so one can’t play with the available room in the last row. And, getting in and out of the last row in the XUV is a chore.
In terms of seating comfort, the second row seats are generous, cushy, and comfortable. But these could do with a bit more thigh support. The front seats though are lovely. These are large and supportive, and in this T trim, these are adjustable for nearly everything. We spent a good few hours in the front seat shooting and driving the XUV, and we remained comfy throughout. We would have liked a better driving position though, which I believe is possible to achieve on the AX7 ‘L’ trim because it gets reach adjustment for its steering. Sadly, no such luck on the T trim. Further adding to the comfort co-efficient 0f the XUV is its quiet cabin. At city speeds you can barely hear anything inside - be it engine, wind, or tyre noise. It’s only when the diesel is pushing past 2,500rpm that the noise starts to seep in. As for the wind noise, you will hear it post 140kmph! So yes, a well-insulated cabin, no question.
Features and Equipment
8.5 / 10
The XUV700 sets new benchmarks when it comes to features in its class. It has nearly every comfort and convenience feature offered by its competitors. But additionally, it offers a range of feel-good features missing on the likes of the Alcazar, Safari, and Hector Plus. It’s also the only SUV in its class to offer ADAS, seven airbags, and in fact, dual zone climate control. Our T trim, gets the ‘courtesy entry’ feature as well, which we love. It pushes the driver’s seat back a bit every time you turn off the car to make getting in and out easier. The seat themselves are electrically adjustable and have memory function. This is all very ‘luxury car’ stuff.
Additionally, the XUV gets driver drowsiness alert, a huge voice activated sunroof, and there’s also the one piece multi-media-cum-driver information display. The latter gets a whole set of apps and connectivity options and built-in Alexa. Now, we couldn’t test it on this drive, but we will have more info on it once we drive the car again. We did however test out the suite of ADAS tech on offer. It includes radar and camera based adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and automatic braking. And it all works reasonably well too. Even in our surroundings. But yes, one will need time to adjust and accept it. For those who can’t, you can always turn them off!
8 / 10
The XUV700 is Mahindra’s most ambitious, most advanced, and from what we have seen and experienced, it is soon to be its most sought after product as well. However, unlike last time (read the introduction of the XUV500) Mahindra is re-entering this space with some successful and capable competition already in the fray. But, in our book, Mahindra has given the XUV all the right tools to deal with that. The MX series will draw in prospects from a segment lower.
The AX series will pull and tug at buyers in the five to seven seater Rs 15-18 lakh SUV space. And it will do it all based on its design, its range of features, its safety co-efficient, its newness, and as it turns out - its engine and driving dynamics! And, of course, its lucrative pricing.
Pictures by Kapil Angane