When the XUV500 was launched about a decade back, it was a game-changer of sorts both for Mahindra as well as for the market, as it was super aggressively priced and had features and equipment well over what was expected of a vehicle of its class and pricing. It was also the company’s first monocoque SUV, as well as having a transverse engine-front wheel drive layout. However, over the past few years, it has been showing its age and we had all been expecting a next-generation XUV500 and that was what Mahindra was also working on. But the next generation 500 turned out to be so far ahead of the game that Mahindra decided to up the ante and name it the XUV700, leaving space for a new car between the 300 and the 700.
The 700 continues to be a 7-seater as well and will come in two distinct lines, the MX and the AdrenoX series. While the MX will be a plain vanilla offering, filling up the space currently vacated by the 500, with an old diesel engine and bereft of any of the class-leading features but still with small screens for both infotainment and instrument panel, it is the AdrenoX series that we drove and that we will be talking about here.
The car has remnants of the 500 design language but is a much more mature design if one overlooks the front and the rear, which are both designed with the intent of making a strong statement, one that may not be pleasing to all but will appeal to a big enough audience. The car has a broad stance and inspires a lot more confidence than most of the Mahindra designs of yore and some of the highlights include flush door handles that are electrically deployed in some of the top variants.
Powering the AdrenoX series are two brand new aluminum engines, a 2.2-litre diesel, and 2.0-litre petrol, both turbocharged with direct injection. While the diesel is quite smooth to drive and comes with different ECU maps to switch between three drive modes Zip, Zap, and Zoom, it is the petrol engine car that was more surprising and, coming from Mahindra, is a big step forward.
Both the engines are available with manual and automatic gearboxes and there will be an option of having all-wheel drive as well. The chassis itself has been made with liberal use of high tensile steel to enhance torsional rigidity and reduce weight, as well as ensure safety and adequate impact absorption. Added to that is a multiple link rear suspension with frequency-selective dampers and a stabilizer bar and Mahindra has the makings of a very dynamically capable SUV.
Mahindra has also loaded the car, although some of the top-end features and systems may only be available with option packs, with a huge number of systems and features including some advanced driver assist systems that run through signals received through both camera and radar stuff that, till now, is found only in cars of luxury brands. These systems include adaptive cruise control with start from stop technology, emergency braking with front collision warning, lane assist, traffic sign recognition as well as high beam assist. The adaptive cruise control worked well on the nearly two-hour drive from Mahindra Research Valley to the Mahindra SUV Proving Tracks, and at the proving grounds, we were able to test the other features like emergency braking, lane assist, and traffic sign recognition.
Then there is Adrenox itself the heart of the connected car with Alexa built-in. While many manufacturers are now providing connected car technology, having Alexa in the car means that you can connect to your pre-existing Alexa network and also have familiar commands and skills, though not everything that you can do with an Alexa at home, you can do so with the Mahindra on the Alexa app on the XUV700. But it is already another step forward. Adrenox also features and offers immersive 3D sound from a system specially developed by Sony. What I also liked was the wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto that Adrenox also provides, in addition to over 60 in-built apps that the system will feature by the time it goes into production.
The interiors are high-end on the top of the line cars with two 10.25in displays for the instrument panel and the other for the infotainment system. The panoramic sunroof brightens up the light shade of the upholstery and the air-con air is doubly cleaned through both a HEPA filter and UV radiation. For the safety-conscious, apart from a revamped chassis and the many driver aids already mentioned, including surround view and turn-indicator cameras, as well as 7 airbags, there is also drowsiness detection, especially useful for those who do long trips or are chauffeur driven.
There is plenty of knee room in the second row, which is also comfortable, and the seats offer good under-thigh support as well, even for people of above-average height. The third row can be used for adults, though it is ideal for children or shorter people there will also be the option of buying the XUV700 as a five-seater.
With the two production series of XUV700s, Mahindra aims to take on both the 5-seater as well as the 7-seater SUV markets, and that is a very wide range of vehicles that the new SUV will have to contend with and hence the two very distinct positioning, two different sets of powertrains and experiences with the MX series being powered by the older mHawk engines not as powerful nor as high tech as on the AdrenoX.
The 2.0-litre petrol engine churns out an impressive 200bhp of max power and 380Nm of peak torque, but the best thing about it is not the numbers on paper. But it is smooth and very responsive, power delivery is quite linear with high torque even at the higher rpm levels of the normal driving range. It works well with the 6-speed auto, though for fun it would be best to experience it with a manual gearbox. The car feels alive and agile, something that is very difficult to find in Mahindra vehicles of yore. Dynamics are well-sorted and while there is no floaty feel at one end of the spectrum, without much body roll and drama, high-speed stability is also impressive. Here I may as well stick my neck out and claim that, along with the 300, the 700 would be the most dynamically sorted of Mahindra vehicles.
The 2.2-litre diesel-engined car feels so much more sluggish than the petrol engine despite this new all-aluminum engine having an impressive max power output of 185bhp as well as peak torque of 450Nm on the version with an automatic gearbox. The diesel engine may not be as thrilling to drive as its petrol sibling, but it retains the essential dynamics. On the other hand, the drive modes do add a lot of zip to the drive experience and, from what I am being told by the Mahindra engineers, there is a significant reduction in fuel consumption if you choose the sedate way of driving, and that should be good enough for the daily commutes.
Overall, the vehicle is well put together and though there may be some small issues like those of ergonomics or of the software acting up, Mahindra has enough time to iron out those glitches before the car goes on sale, possibly later this month.
Not only is the XUV700 a giant leap ahead for Mahindra, but it is also a big step forward for the Indian automotive industry as high tech currently reserved for the special few is now becoming the domain of a much larger audience. The car itself is better than anything Mahindra has ever done before in terms of powertrains, vehicle dynamics as well the sheer amount of technology that has gone into making the SUV. With aggressive pricing and a very wide range of options on offer across the widest of price brackets, Mahindra has ticked all the boxes and then some more. Whether all this will be transformed into a pleasant ownership experience over a period of time, though, remains to be seen. What I can say though is that the XUV700 has shifted the goalposts and if the production cars live up to their promise, then Mahindra has another winner on its hands.
2.0-litre turbo petrol/ 2.2-litre turbo diesel
Fuel Tank Capacity
Wheelbase (mm) 2,750
LxWxH (mm) 4,695×1,890×1,755
Price: Rs 11.99 lakh to Rs 16.49 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)