2021 Mahindra XUV700: First Drive Review
- Aug 18, 2021
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The Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara is back! This name has won the tough Raid De Himalaya rally over multiple years. In this review we are going to find out how the new Grand Vitara fares as a compact SUV. But first let's see if the new car has the old car’s pedigree to wear the Grand Vitara name with pride.
Can it go off-road?
The new Grand Vitara comes with Suzuki's AllGrip technology which basically means it gets all-wheel drive with terrain modes, Snow, Sport, Auto and Lock. So, be it climbing slippery steep slopes, tackling slushy terrain and going down declines is extremely easy. The suspension also has a good amount of travel which results in good traction. The approach and departure angles too are very good for a compact SUV, and the high 210mm ground clearance means very rarely you might end up touching the underbelly.
From behind the wheel, driving off-road feels quite easy thanks to the different terrain modes one gets to play with. But, you should also remember that in terms of outright ability, it doesn't really match up to the original Vitara and the reason for that is that it doesn't get a low range gearbox.
Another small issue is the engine. The AWD variant comes only with the mild-hybrid engine with a manual transmission and the thing with this engine is that it lacks a bit of low end torque due to which you have to work this engine hard or else it tends to stall.
How does it look on the outside?
It is a well known fact that the Grand Vitara and the Toyota Hyryder are basically the same underneath, but at least on the outside they have very different appearances. Where the Toyota Hyryder looks more family oriented, the Grand Vitara, on the other hand, looks more sporty and youthful.
Upfront, the Grand Vitara looks attractive thanks to the signature three element LED DRLs, a sporty front bumper and a large front grille which is finished in gloss black. At the rear the slim LED tail lamps look really attractive and the chunky bumper does make the car look wider than it actually is.
In profile, this car looks almost identical to the Hyryder except for the different design 17-inch alloy wheels. It looks like an SUV thanks to the strong shoulder line and the squared off lines.
If you buy the Hybrid version, you get some visual differences too. You get gloss black finish for the side cladding, dark grey instead of silver for the skid plate and the roof rails are finished in silver instead of black on the mild-hybrid. Of course, you will also find a Hybrid badge at the rear.
How is it on the inside?
The first thing that you notice when you sit inside the Grand Vitara is how solid and well-put-together it feels. Even in terms of quality it is right up there with the very best in the segment apart from the MG Astor which is in a different league.
All the touchpoints of the Grand Vitara are covered in soft touch materials. You also get this soft touch panel on the dash and overall the cabin of the Grand Vitara feels premium. If you opt for the strong-hybrid variant then you also get some premium elements. You get quilted upholstery for the front seats, copper colour inserts on the dash and door panels and also the leatherette panel on the dash is finished in black instead of maroon as on the mild-hybrid.
Is it comfortable?
The front seats on the Grand Vitara are large and accommodating even for people with wide frames. You also get good lateral support which will make this car comfortable even over long journeys. The rear seat of the Grand Vitara impresses too, as you get a generous amount of knee room, good foot room, and under thigh support is decent as well. The only thing that is lacking in the rear seat is enough headroom and If you are taller than 5 foot 10, you will find it a bit tight.
What about the boot?
What is not so practical is the boot, especially in the hybrid version, since the battery pack sits under the boot floor and you don't get much in terms of boot height and as a result even smaller bags can't be stacked vertically. On a brighter note, you do get some space under the boot floor where you can store an umbrella or some footwear. There are no such issues in the mild-hybrid version. The boot is deep, well shaped and you can fit in a lot more luggage as compared to the strong-hybrid.
What about features?
In terms of features the Grand Vitara comes well loaded. You get features like automatic climate control, a nine-inch touchscreen infotainment system which is great to use. It is snappy and has a high-res screen, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a 360-degree camera and a panoramic sunroof.
If you opt for the Hybrid version of the Grand Vitara apart you get a lot more additional features which includes a head-up display, ventilated front seats, a full digital driver display, wireless phone charger and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
In terms of missing features, the Grand Vitara doesn’t get a powered driver seat and although you get a big panoramic sunroof, the thin cover lets in a lot of heat in the cabin.
How does it drive?
The Grand Vitara comes with two petrol engine options as mentioned above. The first one is a mild-hybrid which is powered by a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder engine making 103PS of power and mated to either a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox. The second one is the strong-hybrid which, overall with the electric motor and the internal combustion engine, makes 116PS of power.
Let's start off with the mild-hybrid with the six-speed automatic first. This engine and gearbox combo works well in the city. The gear shifts are smooth and the engine has linear power delivery and as a result, driving in the city feels relaxing. This engine has just about enough power if you want to overtake slow moving traffic, but ask anything more of this powertrain and you will be disappointed.
This engine lacks a bit of punch and this issue becomes even more apparent at higher speeds. Sure, this engine and gearbox cruises well because of the high gearing, but when it comes to overtaking or gaining momentum it does take its sweet time. You do get a manual mode with this gearbox, but even then this engine never feels punchy.
This is the same powertrain that does duty in the Brezza and it feels enough for that car. The Grand Vitara though is bigger, heavier, a lot more expensive and overall it feels underwhelming for a car at this price point.
If you want a peppier car to drive then our choice will definitely be the strong-hybrid. At low speeds it gives you instant acceleration which makes overtaking at low speeds easy and also it feels a lot more refined and smooth as about 60 percent of the time, at low speeds, it Is running on pure EV mode.
As a result, fuel efficiency is phenomenal. In fact on the test drive, at low speeds, it was returning in excess of 20kmpl. It cruises well on the highway too, but when it comes to high-speed overtaking you have to plan a bit as it lacks the outright punch.
Acceleration is strong till about 80kmph but post that it lacks a bit of zing. This is where rival cars with more powerful turbo-petrol engines have the advantage. It also doesn't feel sporty in any way. You also feel a bit disconnected when you push this powertrain hard, as the rise in engine RPM doesn’t exactly correlate to gain in speed.
What about ride and handling?
When it comes to ride quality, the Grand Vitara impresses. At low speeds the suspension feels pliant and refined. Yes you do get a bit side to side motion, especially over rough surfaces, but other than that there's not much to complain about.
At higher speeds the Grand Vitara comes into its own as it feels rock solid and very stable in a straight line. Ride quality too is very comfortable at high speeds as it doesn't get unsettled by bumps or undulations.
In terms of sound insulation this car does really well, except for one thing, engine noise. Both the mild-hybrid, as well as the strong-hybrid powertrains become quite vocal when worked hard and especially with the strong-hybrid’s three-cylinder motor, you also get a bit more vibrations as well.
In terms of handling, this car actually feels quite sporty. It turns eagerly into corners as it feels agile and willing. Even the steering has just the right amount of weight because of which you can actually have some fun behind the wheel of the Vitara. But, once again, the limiting factor as far as being fun to drive is concerned are the engines which aren’t particularly powerful.
When it comes to price, we expect the Grand Vitara to start below Rs 10 lakh for the base Sigma variant and top out at Rs 17 lakh (ex-showroom) for the Alpha mild-hybrid auto. The strong-hybrid version will come only in the top two variants with an expected price range of Rs 17.5 to Rs 19 lakh (ex-showroom).
The new Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara then doesn't feel sporty to drive and it is mainly down to the powertrains. The mild-hybrid overall feels underwhelming for a car at this price and although the strong-hybrid feels more peppy, it lacks the outright punch of a turbo-petrol.
Other than that, there is a lot to like about the Grand Vitara. It looks premium in and out, has a long list of features, has incredible fuel efficiency, rides and handles with confidence, has comfortable seats and is very practical. As an overall package it is solid and very likeable.
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