Mahindra XUV 500 : Road Test
Structure and Build:
This is no Mahindra from the past and in fact a virtual techno tour de force from any of our indigenous car makers. Developing a monocoque is no mean feat, especially when you have to do it for the first time and that too while remaining constantly steadfast to core values of ruggedness and almost go-anywhere capability. Developing the monocoque into one which is not just cavernous but also structurally stiff and has the crumple zones designed into it from the outset means it is also capable enough of passing the Euro NCAP crash tests with flying colours.
Just as with the Xylo, the overall design and engineering called for an optimized track to wheelbase relationship and this was one of the big takeaways for Mahindra from the Xylo. The engineers devised their monocoque and grafted their suspension hard points in such a manner that the car not only got the right footprint for a stable ride but also that it didn’t compromise on handling or unnecessarily shifting the centre of gravity away from the ground. The XUV500 is built on a 2700mm wheelbase with track at both ends measuring a uniform 1600mm.
What one has to contend and appreciate with all this is the fact that the car makes do with a very generous 200mm of ground clearance which given its near flat floor and multi-link suspension set-up at the rear is absolutely impressive. The multi link independent suspension at the rear incorporated coil over shock absorbers while up front the independent suspension is by means of gas charged MacPherson struts. The XUV500 sits and rolls on stylish 7J 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped with R235/65-R17 rubber.
Structure is one thing but getting everything in the right order is another because just having a stiff structure and throwing it a set of mediocre aggregates will not give the desired results when it comes to dynamic ability and the Mahindra engineers have gone the whole hog. Steering gear is by rack and pinion with hydraulic assist while retardation is by means of a disc brake set up all around, the ones up front having a twin caliper config while those at the rear made do with a single pot detail. If that’s not all, the XUV500 also comes stocked to the gills with ABS and EBD, there is ESP with hill hold and hill descent control plus also tyre pressure monitoring system as standard. It is a vehicle where the typical skimping on detail and equipment has been cut out marking a very welcome new outlook to delivering well equipped cars to the Indian market as standard fare. I am sure this sort of an approach will go a long way in upgrading people to seek technologically proficient and safer vehicles from all OEMs.
Instrumentation Americana seems to be the theme for the XUV500’s tell-all cluster. Styled like one of the mean muscular Pontiac Firebirds of the 1970s, the twin round instruments pack in the speedo (calibrated to 220km/h) and the fuel gauge on the left while the one of the right has the rev counter lined up all the way to 7000rpm with the smaller central dial having telltales for temperature and oil. The central console is business personified yet has a good feel to it. The large sized switches plus the rotary controls knobs make access and usage very simple. The steering wheel is a nice meaty affair and very sporty in its design and feel. A large central pad dominates the senses and the two tiny side stalks also provide the base for the multi-function switches for phone and audio volume on the left along with cruise control settings on the right.
The digital touch screen is also very user friendly. The chromed strips and that large chromed rotary knob for the audio system and that polished top cover of the dashboard makes for an irritating reflection in the windshield which can get a bit disconcerting for the driver.