This is the Alturas G4. Yes, it is a Mahindra. Yes, it does compete against the bigwigs which are the Toyota Fortuner and the Ford Endeavour. And yes, you should still consider buying one. Here are five reasons why you should, and two reasons why you may not want to.
It has presence
Let’s be honest here - we don’t buy the likes of the Fortuner and the Endeavour because these are great to drive or because they can haul a marriage party, or even take you to the moon and back. We buy them because, well, they are huge.
And in that sense, the Mahindra Alturas hits the nail on the head. Just look at it. Who could argue with its size! Add to it the high bonnet, the in-your-face grill, the pronounced edges all-round, and the Alturas aces the road presence bit as much as its competition, if not more.
Dimensionally, the Alturas measures 4850mm in length, 1960mm in width, and 1845mm in height. And that makes it longer, wider, and taller than the Fortuner. As we said, the Alturas is huge.
It’s luxurious inside
Now, one might say that size comes easy to Mahindra, because, well, it has been making utility vehicles forever. But, can it produce a cabin that matches the Alturas’ high price tag?
Well, surprise, surprise. It can! To begin with, the doors close with the sort of thud that’s very reassuring. Then the choice of colours and the design of the dash, the door trims, and the seats, leave you with the feeling of being in a warm and welcoming place.
And there’s lots of equipment on board too. There’s keyless entry and start, mood lighting, a dual-zone climate control system with rear AC vents, a sunroof, and cooled front seats with the one for the driver also being 8-way electrically adjustable. And, it has memory function as well.
The multifunctional steering, meanwhile, is adjustable for reach and rake. You get one-touch up and down functionality for all power windows, which can also be operated via the key. And the Alturas gets automatic light and wipers, follow me home headlamps, tyre pressure monitoring, powered tailgate, cruise control, and a touchscreen multimedia system complete with Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
There’s a full-colour driver information system too. It throws up info on trip settings, fuel efficiency, and distance to empty, among others. In terms of safety, it gets 9 airbags, ESP, ABS, and a 360-degree surround camera.
It’s big on space
The Alturas is large on the outside, that is clear. But, that also means it has acres of room on the inside. There’s enough head and shoulder room up front, and those large front seats do a good job of offering a comfortable and relaxing time to its occupants.
And then, when you move to the second row, there’s more space on offer in all dimensions compared to the Fortuner. And Fortuner isn’t exactly short on space either. And though the second-row seats are large, as well - and these come with a recline function for the backrest - they are positioned too close to the floor, leaving them with inadequate thigh support. As for the last row, well, we shall tackle that later in the video.
As it turns out, for all its size and spacious interiors, the Alturas actually has the smallest diesel engine in its class. It’s a 2.2-litre, four-cylinder diesel. And not surprisingly, it’s output figures are nothing to write home about. The Alturas makes a little under 180bhp of max power and 420Nm of peak torque.
But here’s the thing - the Alturas, even with the least output on paper is the quickest on the road! It is quicker to both 100kmph and 120kmph. It is also quicker in the kick-down tests, which is a reflection of the engine’s tractability and a vehicle’s ability to make quick overtakes. Plus, the engine is refined and quiet and happy to rev. And the Mercedes 7-speed gearbox feels seamless after what the competition offers.
It can go anywhere
The Alturas comes in two versions - a 4x2 automatic, and the 4x4 automatic you see here. And, this one is a proper 4x4. You get a 2High mode which only powers the rear wheels, and this is good for most situations, be it in the city or for being playful on dirt.
Then there’s the 4High wherein the power is sent to both the front and rear axle. We found this mode to be particularly handy in slushy conditions. And though we didn’t try it over sand dunes, we feel it would come really handy if we were to head to Saam in Jaisalmer.
Then there’s the 4Low. And honestly, we rarely felt the need to engage the low ratio, unless we were going up a slippery incline. And to come down the same slippery hill, there’s Hill Descent too. Ah, and yes, in case you were wondering, it has over 240mm of ground clearance.
Difficulty of ingress
The Alturas has a handsome ground clearance. And it is a body on ladder frame SUV. So, getting in and out from the SUV isn't all that easy. Let’s not consider this aftermarket floorboard, which means one has to jump in and out of the SUV. And if you decide to step in, well I am wearing loose denim. But, imagine if I were in a saree or a skirt...
Now, getting into the last row isn’t easy either. And when you get there, the fact that you sit on the floor with absolutely no knee room to speak about, just makes things worse. This is no fun.
The Alturas G4 weighs over two tonnes. It stands almost 2 metres high. And its weight doesn’t exactly sit very close to the ground. Add to it, relatively slow steering, and the Alturas isn’t the most involving SUV to drive. But, it’s not nervous or ungainly. Just not very sharp.
But, the bigger issue is the ride quality. Drive it over poor or no roads at a fairly decent pace, and the Alturas feels good. There isn’t much side to side movement, no excessive pitch or roll, and it flattens almost everything. But, on the road, and at city speeds, its ride is very busy. It’s noisy, jiggly and not very absorbent. In fact, it isn’t as uncomfortable as it is irritating. You can live with it, of course. But, it isn’t particularly pleasing.
The Mahindra Alturas G4 has road presence. It t has space, it is feature-loaded, and with a capable 4x4 system, it can take you places. It isn’t the best when it comes to ride and handling, and it’s not the easiest to get in and out of, but choose it over its two most potent competitors, and you would still be happy with your purchase.
And to address the elephant in the room, no, this isn’t an SUV that was thought, designed or engineered by Mahindra. It is, in fact, a Ssanyong Rexton. And it is sold in the developed western markets in this shape and form, and it is appreciated. And that’s another positive for the Ssangyong...er... Mahindra Alturas G4.