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    2018 Mahindra XUV500 W11 Diesel manual First Drive Review

    Authors Image

    Venkat Desirazu

    Mahindra XUV500 Exterior

    What is it?


     Why I would buy it: Presence and updated engine 
    Why I would avoid it: Refinement and quality of plastics

    Mahindra has updated the XUV500 for 2018. Now dubbed the ‘Plush new XUV500’ it’s a major change for the car since the facelifted version was launched in 2015. This model year change sees the Indian automaker’s flagship vehicle get cosmetic updates on the outside, inside as well as under the hood for the first time.

    The first thing that catches your eye is the large chrome grille. The cheetah inspired slashes on the outgoing model have given way to a more contemporary bling heavy six-slat unit. The grille also gets chrome surrounds that complement chrome inserts in the fog lamp housing. It may seem a bit excessive, but the large swathes of chrome do well to raise the premium factor of the car. In fact, they add even more presence to an already large face.

    In profile, the XUV500 remains unchanged but on this top-of-the-line W11 variant that we drove, you get new 18-inch diamond cut alloy wheels, two-tone roof rails and a black cladding that runs around the car. Oh and did we add that there’s chrome inserts here too…

    The rear has a got a significant boost in terms of appearance and the biggest change here is related to the tail lamps. The units are wrap around and despite being larger than the light package on the outgoing model, it does look compact and fits snugly into the design package. The tailgate has changed too and gets a muscular ridge above the number plate holder.  

    One could say that these changes are a way for Mahindra to update the XUV500 and bring to fore what is expected in the segment, but not so much that the essence of the car has been lost while updating it. 

    How is it on the inside?

    The update theme for the XUV500 has been carried over onto the inside too. The dimensions, space, feature list and storage options have all been carried over unchanged from the outgoing model, which is not a bad thing at all as the XUV was quite well known for all of these.

    What’s new, however, is the way Mahindra has updated the individual elements of the cabin. In this new top-of-the-line W11 variant, parts of the dashboard and all the arm rests have been covered in faux leather while the centre console gets a piano black finish for that added glossy effect.

    The highlight of this update is, of course, the tan leather quilted upholstery. It looks premium, and since all the seats of the XUV are already quite large, it becomes quite inviting for you to want to step into the cabin.

    What’s not changed though are the quality of plastics on many of the places in the cabin. They feel hardwearing with rough surfaces indicative of something that would be offered on cars in a lower price range. Given how quality in the segment has jumped significantly even since the launch of the facelift in 2015, it’s time Mahindra raises their game in this regard.  

    How does it drive?

    The XUV500’s main and possibly better known power source is of course the 2.2-litre mHawk four-cylinder diesel. It’s been uprated from 140bhp and 330Nm to 155bhp and 360Nm and can be had with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic.

    On our short stint with the car at Mahindra’s test track, we could tell that the bump in power and torque has made a noticeable difference to the way the XUV500 behaves. You get off the line faster and have to put in less effort when you need to make a quick overtake. The addition of a new eVGT (electric variable geometry turbocharger) to reduce turbo lag at the lower end of things is one of the main factors that has helped the increase in performance. 

    There’s also a good mid-range which has boosted the car’s cruising ability. In the real world, this means you should be able to knock off the kilometres out on the highway without affecting the fuel efficiency or your pace.

    That being said, the refinement from the 2.2-litre motor is still below par of what is expected in cars in this part of the market these days. It’s quite audible even at idle and fills the cabin with a gravelly rattle as you begin to up the pace. You can also get the XUV500 with petrol power. It’s 2.2-litre four-cylinder engine also producing 140bhp/320Nm and is offered only with a six-speed automatic.

    Why should I buy one?

    The XUV500 has always been big on presence, features and the new additions bring it on par with what is expected in the segment. The bump in output is a welcome addition and in the real world, it’s expected improve the experience of going wherever you need to go without too much of a fuss.
    However, the XUV500 as an overall package is starting to show its age especially when you look at it against the newer crop of cars in the segment like the Hexa, Compass and Tucson. The car is in need of a generation change and this would really help boost its numbers.

    Where does it fit in?

    The Mahindra XUV500’s biggest rival is the Tata Hexa but it also takes on certain lower spec variants of the Jeep Compass and Hyundai Tucson. Among sedans, the Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra and the Skoda Octavia are also strong contenders.

    Photos: Kaustubh Gandhi

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