Unlike its competition, the Alturas G4 is powered by a smaller 2.2-litre four cylinder diesel engine (Endeavour has a bigger 3.2-litre option while the Fortuner’s diesel displaces 2.8-litre). Despite the capacity deficit, this 2198cc engines produces a healthy 178bhp and 420nm of torque which is at par with the competition. This motor is coupled to a Mercedes sourced 7-speed torque converter transmission.
When you first touch, the accelerator pedal the Alturas doesn’t come across as very peppy but once the torque converter spools up, the Alturas feels surprisingly quick. There is loads of torque past 1800rpm and unlike its rivals, this engine feel quite free revving too. The strong performance is reflected in our Vbox figures as this flagship Mahindra SUV posted some impressive times. The needle scales 100kmph in a brisk 11.06 seconds, which is not only quicker than the Fortuner (more than two seconds) but it also beats the much more powerful 3.2-litre Endeavour by half a second. Praise must also go to the 7-speed auto, which feels quick enough and makes most of the power on tap. This gearbox also is quick to downshift when you need to make a quick overtake. As a result the Alturas’s drivability times of 20-80kmph in 6.36 seconds and 40-100kmph in 8.38 seconds are much quicker than its rivals despite it having the least amount of torque.
Another plus point of this automatic transmission is the fact that when you are off-throttle the Alturas doesn’t start free-wheeling, which is the case in the Fortuner or in the Endeavour. This gives the driver that much needed engine braking in a car that already weighs more than two tonnes. It also gives a better sense of control over the vehicle especially while driving through a ghat section. Unlike its rivals the Alturas doesn’t get any drive modes - just a Manual mode for the gearbox (which also acts as Sports mode). In this mode, the engine is kept at higher revs for better performance and instant acceleration. What we really missed on the Alturas though were paddle shifters, which have been replaced with a fiddly switch on the gear lever which not only looks out of place, is also underwhelming to use.
As far as ride comfort is concerned, the Alturas G4 performs well at low speeds where the suspension does a good job of absorbing small to medium sized bumps. But typical of ladder frame SUVs, one does feel a shimmy every time this SUV goes over sharp edged potholes. Even at high speeds, this Mahindra feels lumpy over uneven tarmac and there’s pronounced up and down motion.
When it comes to handling, the Alturas behaves exactly like a heavy and tall SUV does. The steering is slow and has lot of turns lock to lock and the high centre of gravity results in body roll around corners. On the upside, when driven in an unhurried manner, it surprisingly feels manageable and most importantly, it feels safe and predictable. There is plenty of grip from the wide tyres and the brakes too offer decent bite and enough stopping power. Straight-line stability is really good as well and it rarely gets affected by crosswinds or road imperfections.
The Alturas in top variant gets 4x4 equipped with a low range gearbox. We didn’t get to try its off-road prowess, but considering the torquey engine and good clearance, it should result in a decent tool when the going gets tough and slippery.