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Road Test: Mahindra Xylo E8


For long, Mahindra had been teasing the Indian populace with its Ingenio project - an MPV based on the Scorpio that was being touted to be good enough to give the likes of the Toyota Innova a run for its money. The Innova, by the way - was the spiritual successor to the Toyota Qualis - where the story actually begins.

You see, for ages Mahindra had been providing a competitive means for long distance travel in the form of its jeeps until Tata brought along the Sumo. Though crude, the Sumo caught on to the people mover mindset like a forest on fire. Toyota found a niche and brought out the Qualis - their Sumo beater, which reigned Indian roads for a long time. But the Indian market was maturing, and they needed a vehicle that could do all that the Sumo and the Qualis had been doing, but with a whole lot more style and comfort. The Innova was born and instantly every other MPV looked like it belonged to the stone-age.

 

 

For years Mahindra had been relying on the Commanders, Armadas and Boleros in its fleet to fill in that space. The Scorpio was more of a family SUV than a full-blown MPV and in a way, the onslaught of the Innova had shown the Nasik-based manufacturer what they really needed. Designers went to the drawing boards and started work on what Anand Mahindra has lovingly come to call 'the great Indian travelling machine'. Popularly code named the Ingenio, Mahindra put the vehicle through extensive tests for an extended period of time before they finally decided it was time to unleash their MPV on the Indian market. The first shocker - about a month before its launch - was the name for the MPV - Xylo. Initial reactions inspired fear about how well India would receive such a radical name but as time has progressed, Mahindra's faith in their market research team has grown firmer and the Xylo has now become a household moniker.

Looks angry, but is it?

The first time Mahindra pulled the wraps off the Xylo in January this year, simply put, it looked rather ugly to us. You could blame that on the slightly squinted head lamps or the large body coloured grille with the slight kink in the centre grooves, but fact is that the more you look at the Xylo, the more you like it. It's one of those designs that grow on you - and no, the price Mahindra is selling it at has nothing to do with the change of heart! Mahindra's designers have very cleverly managed to make the Xylo look distinctly Mahindra, yet given it a whole new identity that sets it apart from the Scorpio. With a short bonnet that gives way to the A pillars forming the start of a rather long cabin, the profile ends in an abrupt kink that is the tail gate.

 

Viewed from the side, the Xylo doesn't really appear to be too long - and it isn't. But that by no means is a compromise on space. What could have been a rather boring vehicle to look at is very cleverly livened up with flared wheel arches and muscular lines. The wheel arches themselves are in turn filled out well with 5-spoke 15-inch alloy wheels (on the higher end models) that remind you of the huge ones found on GM's Hummer SUV. The rear has been kept simple with the vertical tail lamps flanking the tail gate on either side. So while the Xylo isn't really the prettiest thing to look at, it serves its purpose of catching attention - nothing more really required from a vehicle in this segment anyway!

 

A place to spend time in

Once you've come to terms with the way the Xylo looks and finally step inside, all the confusion simply melts away as your jaw drops in awe with what Mahindra have achieved with the car's cabin. The model we tested was the top of the line E8 with black interiors and dark velvet coloured trim. Sitting on the well supported driver's seat, the view you get of the surroundings through the large glass house is phenomenal. The large steering wheel mocks the Scorpio's unit as does the instrument console. But the resemblance ends there. The dash is well laid out and the centre of the console houses a unique information system on top that displays climate, direction, speed, fuel efficiency and real time range as well as which gear the car is currently in, all at the touch of a button. The Xylo E8 also comes factory fitted with an awesome Nippon music system that has a card reader as well as USB and Aux capability built in. There are lots of small storage spaces for knick-knacks but most noteworthy is the lockable tray under the driver's seat - big enough to store a few bottles of water or you vehicle's documents if need be.

Move to the second row of captain seats (bench on the lower spec models), and the feeling of awe continues. The first thing that hits you is the amount of space in the Xylo - enough for a family full of giants. The seats themselves are adjustable fore and aft and when reclined with the seat pulled fully back, it almost turns into a flatbed with the front passenger seat laid flat as well. All passengers also get aircraft style meal trays that swivel up from the backrest of the seat in front. Dual stage adjustable arm rests ensure a fatigue free journey.

Move on to the third row of seats and you witness the true genius of the Xylo's packaging. Normally you'd expect the rear bench to seat a bunch of kids at the max with no room for adults. But step into the Xylo's third row and the amount of space it offers there is phenomenal. Up to three adults can sit with adequate comfort on the third bench - a feat that even the bigger Innova fails to accomplish. And what's more - all three rows of seats get their individual air con controls and vents. Talk about pampering your occupants!

Under the hood - downsized Scorpio?

While some expected the more powerful and modern mHawk engine from the Scorpio to make its way to the Xylo's engine bay, that is not the case. The Xylo employs a downsized version of the Scorpio's 2.6litre CRDe oil burner. Engine capacity has been downed to 2498cc to give birth to what Mahindra has christened the mEagle engine. This 4-cylinder, inline, turbocharged diesel powerplant is good for 114PS of power that peaks at 3800rpm. Torque figures are at 240Nm that is achieved between 1800-3000rpm. All that energy is transferred to the rear wheels through a 5-speed manual transmission.

 

While this configuration may seem good enough for an MPV, Mahindra also has plans of bringing in a four wheel drive system on the Xylo and judging by what they achieved with the Scorpio, maybe an automatic and micro hybrid version as well. But all that is in the future and we will bring you all the dope as and when Mahindra makes plans clear.

All the space that is liberated in the cabin is courtesy of some great packaging by the engineers at Mahindra and it all starts with the engine bay. The transverse mounted motor is packed in tight enough to be able to make the best possible use of the Xylo's wheelbase. As a result the Xylo has a longer wheelbase than the Scorpio, and ends up longer in overall length as well. While the 2.6 litre pushrod activated engine on the Scorpio did the rugged SUV a world of good, Mahindra had to work on refining it for the Xylo which they have done with the employment of lash adjustors. So the engine delivers on paper, but how good is the overall package?

Great Indian travelling machine

As you turn the key in the ignition and the big oil burner cranks to life, the first thing you notice is the vibration that seeps into the cabin. The 2.5 litre unit isn't exactly very refined as far as NVH levels go, but it isn't intolerable either. Gear ratios on the 5-speed manual transmission have been calculated to haul a load of about 7-8 passengers - so don't expect to be the first one off the white line at a traffic light GP. No, the Xylo won't be setting any acceleration records, but what it will do, and with the utmost ease, is pull away smoothly and neatly even when loaded to the brim. The revised gear ratios have done a world of good to the mEagle engine's driveability to say the least.

 

The suspension setup on the Xylo is rather simple - independent with coil springs, double wishbones and an anti roll bar up front and multi-link with coil springs at the rear. Mahindra has paid quite some attention to the Xylo's dynamic abilities and it shows - especially when compared to the Scorpio. The Xylo rolls much less and is undoubtedly more stable through corners than its SUV sibling. Part of that achievement could also be attributed to the fact that the Xylo is also shorter, wider and lighter than the Scorpio. The suspension coupled with the 15-inch wheels does a great job of ironing out bumps and grinds on the Xylo. High speed stability is great too - thanks to that long wheelbase.

We've already said that the Xylo isn't the quickest vehicle around. The 114PS engine manages to get the Xylo up to 100km/h from a standstill in all of 17.2 seconds and will go on to touch a top speed of almost 140 km/h.

Have cash, blindly buy!

Positioned between the Bolero and Scorpio SUVs from the Mahindra stables, the Xylo offers a great and cheap alternative to the Innova. While it may not have the latter's refinement and quality, it doesn't fall too short though. The Xylo's engine leaves a bit to be desired as far as NVH goes, but all in all it is pretty liveable. It will also return an awesome fuel efficiency figure of 9.75 kmpl thanks to well sorted out gear ratios and a torque band that starts low down in the rev range. And then there's the space - probably the most available on a vehicle in its segment - after all seating three adults comfortable in the third row has been a fantasy until now.

Passengers get pampered with gadgets, nifty touches and individual air conditioning. Now, if you're looking for a family vehicle and if indeed your family is big enough not to fit in a regular sedan, the Xylo is but an undisputable option. Priced at Rs6,33,800 for the base version to Rs7,82,900 for the top of the line E8 (ex-showroom Mumbai), it's a steal too! So what are you waiting for!

Recommended Variant : Xylo H8 ABS Airbag

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