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Mahindra XUV700 Ownership Review
Feeling the Rush
Feeling the Rush
With the Ford Endeavour inching closer to the 100k Kms milestone in a shade above 5 years of fuss free ownership, it was time to give it some rest (read as time to change it from daily driver to secondary car). Also, the Hexa (our secondary car for highways) found a new home and thus began the quest for changing the daily driver with a renewed interest.
Key considerations in the order of preference are listed below:
i. Should be new and body type should be SUV only.
ii. 7 seats for travelling with family are a must.
iii. Comfort was a key criterion.
iv. Should be a model which doesn’t go off sale anytime soon (i.e. new generation model from a stable company).
v. Value for money.
Before the Hexa was sold, there was quite a deep thought to the idea of replacing the Endeavour instead of Hexa and even compromising on the 7 seats in favour of a German. This meant briefly considering the BMW X3 and X5. While I couldn’t get to sample the X5 on the road before dropping the idea altogether, the X3 left a distinct impression straight on the heart. It is worth mentioning that the showroom experience at BMW Dehradun was exemplary and despite our lukewarm interest they even arranged a test drive at home some 70 kms away. But the sale of Hexa and house renovation meant X3 had to be put on sideline.
At the BMW Dehradun Showroom
Re-calibrating the mind and reducing the budget cap, we considered the following vehicles in the order seen:
A. Tata Safari XZA+ (Adventure): Psuedo SUV’s were never on my mind but there was nothing else available in that price bracket except for the Thar. Got to drive the XZA+ and after driving the Endeavour, the steering felt quite cumbersome – that was the first thing to be noticed, rather to be registered as a major con in my mind. The ride was a bit stiff in the city (an area where the Hexa excelled) but with slightly more speed it was just amazing with the suspension also working quietly. The reduced body roll on the highway was a major boon (the latter actually a major sway factor in favour of the monocoque design). The Adventure edition parked in the yard was shown – the tan interior with blackened exterior suited our choice the most.
B. Jeep Meridian: With the phone advertising Meridian name every now and then when searching for SUVs all thanks to Jeep’s aggressive marketing, it was time to make the call and visit the Jeep showroom. The subtle design of the exterior and the overall layout as well as rich materials used on the interior made sure that it was sort of the right choice till the things moved to the back seat and the 3rd row. I was waiting for the test drive vehicle to come back to the showroom when I thought of trying out all the seats and as things progressed from 2nd to 3rd row, it was out of mind even before going for the drive with getting in and out being a cumbersome experience & there being no headroom in the 3rd row. However I did go for the drive and the Fiat 2.0 Engine with gearbox is pretty responsive, to the extent the drivetrain along with sharp handling reminded me of the X3 drive. But spending more money for a compromise for 3rd row seating even for kids was not on my list.
C. Toyota Innova Crysta: With the high-headedness of Toyota dealers experienced in the past, we still thought of attempting once more for the test drive of the BS6 Innova Crysta. The day we were planning for the test drive came the news of pulling the plug on Diesel and it’s cover-up story. It was a no brainer to drop the idea then & there itself as suddenly absurd premiums came into the picture.
D. MG Gloster: It was briefly considered but found it too big to be a daily driver while driving in the city. Also, the re-juggled variants meant AWD / 4x4 was no longer available in the middle variant and the top variant was a far stretch. But in it’s own, the acres of space and plush interior with decent ride quality left a good impression.
E. Hyundai Alcazar: Under powered feeling coupled with low seating / roof in the 3rd row meant it was out of contention very soon into the test drive.
F. Mahindra Scorpio N: The so much hoopla created by the media all thanks to the unbelievable number of bookings happening in minutes and not on solely on product merits meant it was fair to assess the self proclaimed ‘Big Daddy’. Requested the showroom staff to move one of their new vehicles to make space for the Endeavour and parked it next to the Scorpio N – the ‘Big Daddy’ image got shattered big time and I was surprised to see even other potential buyers checking them out together. The test drive vehicle was the top of the line Z8L variant with 4Xplor. Having owned multiple Scorpio’s from it’s launch in 2002 till 2011 (Gear drive DI, Chain drive DI 4WD, 2.6 CRDe, 2.2 CRDe Automatic), it was undoubtedly a big step ahead from that platform. The Ford ‘benchmarked’ (read copied) bits including the all important Watt’s link rear suspension and ‘4Xplor’ modes made there presence felt. The body roll was considerably reduced over the Scorpio but was not in the league of the Endeavour even after all the ‘benchmarking’. Also the suspension was firmer than even my pre-facelift Endeavour and is certainly no match for the facelift Endeavour with the revised suspension. The long wave bounce on the highway was never settled and there was considerably more body roll compared to the Endeavour. Off-the-road on an under construction road (Dirt track for Tractors), the firm suspension meant being tossed around and just to re-affirm the drive experience took the Endeavour on the test-drive loop immediately after this test drive which was much better in the overall experience.
Also, the lack of space in the 3rd row with there being no split folding option compromising the flexibility of having 6 people with all the luggage after folding one half of the 3rd row were major cons for me.
Compromising on comfort just for the added peace of mind offered by the 4x4 hardware was not on my wishlist.
G. Mahindra XUV7OO: Started with the 3rd row of the display vehicle and found it to be second to Safari in terms of space. The first test drive vehicle was a Petrol AT and the refinement along with the performance left a lasting impression. This is the drivetrain combo to go for the most comfortable experience. The NVH were non-existent in this combo and the effortless performance it delivers leaves a huge grin. But a look at the trip meter post the test drive loop which I had reset in the starting meant it was not going to be easy on the wallet with high yearly running.
The ride and handling were somewhere in between the Endeavour and the Safari and it suddenly became a serious contender. The light steering and features which were loaded to the grills (barring some glaring omissions) meant it was getting bonus points over the Safari.
Although a chalk & cheese comparison, took the XUV7OO to the same dirt track as the Scorpio N and it handled the course with much more composure without much tossing around. It was time to sample the Diesel.
While the noise of the Diesel Engine is quite controlled both outside and inside the cabin, the vibrations at idle and around 2000 RPM mark (especially just before the 2nd to 3rd Upshift) which creep into the cabin (especially along the center line, specifically in the front and rear armrest) with a slight droning noise mar the experience. Also, while both the Scorpio N and XUV7OO share the same engine, the higher state of tune in the latter is pretty evident in terms of performance to the extent that the XUV7OO Diesel felt comparable to 3.2L Endeavour in terms of driveability.