By : RACHNA TYAGI
A visit to MRV (Mahindra Research Valley) and to the brand new MSPT (Mahindra SUV Proving Track), in Tamil Nadu’s Kanchipuram district, is enough to give you a glimpse into the future of all things Automotive at Mahindra. While MRV (125 acres inside Mahindra City) has been built with an investment of INR 6.5 billion and has around 3,500 engineers working tirelessly on R&D in 32 laboratories, developing new vehicles for the Mahindra Group, the newly inaugurated MSPT (Mahindra SUV Proving Track), built over 454 acres of land by L&T and designed by IDIADA, (Institut d’Investigació Aplicada de l’Automòbil - Institute for Applied Automotive Research), with its state-of-the-art facilities, happens to be the largest track owned by any OEM in India. We, recently, spent an entire day on the track there with their latest offering, the Mahindra XUV700, and boy, was it fun!
We began our day by driving the XUV700 Diesel, Manual Transmission (MT) AX7 T variant. We also got our hands on the Petrol, MT, later in the day. (More on that later). Though the 55 km drive from MRV to MSPT didn’t really give us sufficient time to completely figure out everything in terms of the tech onboard especially via its spectacular Sci-Fi AdrenoX platform, it did give us a fairly good idea about how convenient life can be thanks to the array of apps and features that the SUV comes loaded with, the levels of quality, fit and finish, as well as a feel of the SUV’s plush interiors.
Ask us about our impressions of the exteriors and all we’ll say is that we’ve been bowled over. The XUV700 is a big SUV and we mean really big! It’s big enough to easily swallow up a person of average Indian height – around 5’6 – with enough room to spare.
Look at it from outside and you’ll agree that it has tremendous road presence what with the 10-spoke diamond cut alloys adding a dash of flair to the handsome SUV’s looks.
The XUV700’s black grille with vertical chrome lines along with Mahindra’s brand-new logo that sits in between is striking. The headlights with LED DRLs stand out on account of their large size but in no way do they look disproportionate to the big SUV. We like the way they have been neatly integrated into the front bumper with a small part flowing out into the fenders on the side. A great design and engineering feat, that. The fog lamps in black casings have been integrated below the headlamps into the lower part of the bumper and they play the part of looking menacing enough on this SUV. The bonnet’s crease lines have been kept to a bare minimum and that’s a good thing, in our books, because it adds a sense of vast expanse to the big hood. The side profile of the XUV700 looks gorgeous, especially when viewed from certain angles and more so on the ‘Dazzling Silver’ colour SUV that we had for the day.
The beautifully scooped out surfaces allow for great aerodynamics and the rear wheel haunches add to the XUV700’s sporty looks. We also loved the clean way in which the ‘Invisible Smart Door Handles’ have been incorporated into the doors without taking away from the design and which we felt were super easy to use. At the rear, the boot lid gets quite a few cuts and creases in terms of design. However, the most striking design element, at the rear, are the arrow-shaped LED taillamps that have been beautifully integrated into the boot lid with a part of it that flows out to sit just below the D pillar. There is also a beautiful spoiler that has been tastefully designed which gets a dual-tone effect, part black and part body colour.
The skyroof is a large one and takes up most of the space atop the XUV700.
Inside the XUV700, is a world of comfort. The first thing that greets you are the calming ivory-coloured seats. The choice of the ivory-coloured leatherette upholstery gives the cabin a very spacious feel. The seats are wide enough to accommodate our Asian body types and offer excellent back and underthigh support. In fact, the seats are so good that you’ll almost feel as if you’re seated on your favourite leather chair back at your home or in your office.
You can easily adjust the height of your seat as well as the recline angle according to your desired preference electrically through a switch, located conveniently on the door pad, that powers the 6-way electrically adjustable seat that comes with memory function.
Though our Diesel MT only came with the tilt function for the steering; we were informed that other variants do get the telescopic function as well.
The air-con vents are well-sized and the air throw is good inside the cabin and despite the large glass area that the SUV boasts, we did not experience any cooling issues in the spacious cabin of the XUV700 despite Chennai’s sweltering heat. The middle row seats offer enough leg, shoulder and headroom and come with an arm rest as well as other creature comforts to make your journey even more comfortable. Tip the middle row seats forward and you can easily get to the third-row seats. While these aren’t the most comfortable seats, they are very much usable, especially for short trips and by the young kids in the Family.
Additionally, these seats get their own charging sockets so that the occupants behind have enough juice to keep their mobile devices charged and plugged in during those drives. The best part about the XUV700’s cabin though is the AdrenoX platform system with its twin 10.25 screens which display all the information you may need and includes wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. This is the result of a global collaboration between Mahindra, Visteon, Bosch, Sony and Amazon that make driving the XUV700 extra special. Also, there is the Built-in Alexa functionality that enables hands-free access to a host of fun things such as entertainment and other important things such as useful information as well as vehicle controls. Alexa voice assistant provides support even in the offline mode.
The XUV700 comes with Sony speakers which perform err… just like Sony speakers do. However, it must be mentioned that it is still work in progress.
Under the bonnet of the XUV700 that we were driving was Mahindra’s 2.2-liter Commonrail Turbo-Diesel mHawk engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and the best place to experience its full potential we thought was on the new MSPT with its 20 purpose-built tracks. However, much to our dismay, for safety reasons, the speed limit on that day was capped at 120 kmph for us, and we weren’t allowed use of the fourth lane, the fastest lane on the track, with a 43.7-degree parabolic banking. But that wasn’t going to stop us on this beautiful track. We drove on the arrow straight stretches with 0% longitudinal slope. We also had a lot of fun testing the XUV700 on the circular dynamic platform spanning 250 meters in diameter, which is meant for Vehicle dynamics development and evaluation. In fact, we spent quite a lot of time with our XUV700 here burning rubber and screeching tyres.
The SUV offered great overall visibility and the dedicated dead pedal only made things even more comfortable for us.
Next, we experienced the City simulation track that simulated public road durability with narrow lanes also built in which added to the fun of maneuvering the XUV700.
There was the Highway durability track, which we decided to skip on account of getting enough highway driving in our daily lives and instead experienced other tracks such as the accelerated test track with rumbler strip.
We also drove over quite a few makeshift bridges that were constructed specifically for the purpose of getting a better understanding of the capabilities of the XUV700.
We have to say that our SUV which came shod with 18’ Apollo tyres performed remarkably well on the uneven road surfaces despite all the undulations and other impediments laid out in front of the track.
In fact, the ride was incredibly super smooth and we’d be lying if we said that we experienced even the slightest bit of discomfort inside.
During all of this driving, we only wished that the headrests for the third-row occupants were slightly smaller in size as they obstructed the rear view slightly when they were pulled all the way up, however, sliding them back took care of that niggle thereby offering us an unobstructive view.
We tried out the XUV700’s three modes by driving it inside and outside MSPT in the Zip, Zap and Zoom mode and were extremely impressed with the performance in all the three modes. The only small niggle was some NVH but then that was mostly the wind noise as it happened to be a very windy day.
In terms of safety, the XUV700 is a robust vehicle that comes with ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) which includes Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Brakes (AEB) which uses both camera and radar FCW to warn of the likelihood of a collision and if it does not detect any input from you, the AEB system goes on to automatically apply the brakes. We were also happy to note that the ADAS system’s other features such as Lane Departure Warning, and Lane Keep Assist, besides others like Adaptive cruise Control, Smart Pilot Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition and High Beam Assist truly elevated the driving experience of the XUV700. Our variant, got side airbags and it must be mentioned that Mahindra has also introduced the seventh airbag on the XUV700 which offers knee protection and that is truly remarkable. Also, the curtain airbags on the SUV extend all the way upto the third row which speaks volumes about the care that the SUV manufacturers have taken to ensure that all the occupants are safe in the unfortunate event of an accident. The fact that the XUV700 also comes with a plethora of safety features gave us the peace of mind and the confidence to really go all out and try out all kinds of tricky maneuvers at MSPT which we wouldn’t possibly dare do on our city roads in our day-to-day driving. The MSPT gave us a brilliant understanding of the real-world capabilities of the XUV700 and we’re mighty glad we got to experience this track the way we did.
Psst! Later in the afternoon, we got our hands on the XUV700’s extremely refined 2.0-liter Turbo GDi mStallion gasoline engine, also mated to a 6-speed MT and managed a couple of mind numbingly fast laps with Mahindra’s in-house expert seated with us, on their fastest track! Having driven on a few other tracks before, I’ll say this, the thrill and excitement of driving on the newly constructed MSPT just catapulted me into the stratosphere. Easily one of the finest test tracks out there with all the modern facilities, it speaks volumes about Indian OEM, Mahindra, and its commitment to building the best vehicles for the world from India.
And if you’re in the market for a seven-seater SUV, let’s just say that the competition just got decimated with the arrival of the Mahindra XUV700’s unbelievable pricetag! Starting at INR 11.99 lakh, this SUV is one of the best handling SUVs out there offering great driving pleasure at both high as well as low speeds. Besides, it comes with a host of safety features and has a bunch of really cool tech onboard. With all of this on offer, you’ll be hard pressed to find an SUV that matches the XUV700 in all departments.
As for us, driving the Indian manufactured Mahindra XUV700 at MSPT on India’s 75th Independence Day just made us so proud of all that the OEM has managed to accomplish. Definitely a day that will be etched in our memories forever.