• Ishaan Bharadwaj

Why XUV700 is the greatest petrol powered family SUV under 20 lakhs?

The Mahindra XUV700 has brought a storm in the Indian automotive industry. The queue outside Mahindra dealership looks longer than that in front of Domino's Pizza on Diwali. Everyone wants a piece of this cake Mahindra has brought to the party and they're running out of the pieces they can share. That is how good the XUV700 is!



But off late the petrol-powered XUV700 has gained unwanted popularity of being very thirsty. I have the XUV700 in its properly loaded AX7-L variant powered by the petrol motor with us for some days and I've been yearning to break the myth on if it really is that thirsty. Engine


This XUV700 is kitted with a 2.0 L mStallion 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with direct injection which produces 197 bhp of max power at 5000 rpm and 380 Nm of max torque at a pretty low 1750 rpm. This power figure is a little higher than what we get on some German 2.0 L turbo-charged petrol engine combos too which is quite commendable, to be honest. Where this engine greatly shines is in the performance figures, I tested the 0-60 kmph clicking at 4.6 seconds and a 100 kmph coming in at 9.76 seconds, which is pretty fast for this big 7 seater SUV with a 4-cylinder motor. The 6-speed automatic transmission plays a vital role in putting down the power to the ground with shorter gear ratios in the first 3 gears, a step taller 4th gear and higher ratios on gears 5 and 6.



The higher ratios in the overdrive gears do help extract greater fuel economy which I will talk about later in this story. The XUV700 is primarily a front-wheel driven SUV, we do have an AWD option coming up for the customers getting delivered sometime in the middle of this year, but that is for the diesel-engined models only for now. When you open up the hood, the packaging of every nook and creak in the engine bay is done in a very clean way, reminding you of cars from Volvo, which does have an extremely minimalist engine bay.

What is it like to drive?

The first impression of the XUV from the driver's perspective is how intimidating yet easy it is to drive. The steering is electro-hydraulic but it does feel overly servoed at lower speeds, which is fine if you're cutting through traffic but great when parking this heavy car in tight lanes, luckily, the feedback does weigh up as you gain speed which does help you keep a steady stance at triple-digit speeds.



The petrol-engined XUV700, unfortunately, does not get the Zip, Zap and Zoom drive modes, which the diesel-powered car gets. This is to attract buyers towards considering diesel-powered XUV700 more. But with a 197 bhp motor doesn't feel like it needs the drive modes much since from the word go it is a solid performance-oriented setup. The pull in the first two gears is generous and it does touch a 100 kmph in under 10 seconds, which is quite brilliant for the mass this car is carrying in the direction of acceleration.


What also helps greatly in making this car an even irresistible package is the suspension setup, as standard, the XUV700 gets MacPhearson struts with Koni FSD dampers, thicker anti-roll bar in the front and the rear in addition to the multi-link layout with control arms which really make a difference when you're cruising through some really bad patches of road, FAST! There is a negligible amount of roll and pitch with the setup which does help in keeping a steady pace while you're climbing up a mountain. We did try carrying 6 people in the car and the suspension really doesn't give up on keeping the car in a sane position while cornering negligibly hard.


Will it go off-road?


Well, to be honest, I wasn't too hardcore in

the route I approached for off-roading. But to be honest, it was quite a pleasant experience driving through some mad ruts, medium-sized boulders, rocks and craters around the leopard trail's offroad route to the top of the hill.


The wheel articulation is more cross-over like than proper SUV like, with the traction control making sure that the power supply remains in a sane state while trailing up the slippery path. Also, with the optimum torque output at 1750 rpm in this petrol motor, it is much easier to crawl up the terrain in the first and second gears without feeling very strained.



The better part of it all is that the XUV feels and looks brilliant doing all the rough stuff. Not even once in the entire trail did I feel that the car was giving up unless we attacked some massive craters where even the proper 4x4 like the Mahindra Thar had a tough time.

Can I throw a drunk friend in the third-row seat?

If your friend is at max 5 feet 8 inches tall, which I am, it shouldn't be an issue. Anyone even an inch taller than my height is going to start rubbing either their hair or knees to the roofline and seat back of the middle row respectively. I was a little disappointed to see that the middle rows can only recline and cannot be moved a little forward to liberate more legroom for the third-row passengers.



Because honestly, in the higher seat position that I drive with, with my relatively smaller body, the legroom in the second row becomes substantial which makes me feel sorry for any adult who volunteers to not show their face in the first two rows and enjoy the view from the back. There are a few useful cubby spaces around to keep your stuff and your mobile phone plus there are AC vents too with separate controllers for fan speed. The utility of the third-row seat also means that there would be no space to keep larger bags in the boot and you will have to end up investing in a flamboyant looking Thule roof box, which will make the XUV700 look pretty 'BADASS' in my opinion.

Can a Petrol Powered, 7 seater SUV be Fuel Efficient?

It has been quite appalling to see that a lot of people who have tested the fuel economy of the XUV700 with the petrol motor have been disappointed by the single-digit numbers showing up on the instrument's screen. I was going through some interactions on common forums and general conversations over drinks about how bad is the fuel economy really and, it was later in the year when I found the culprit. Regular Fuel !!!


In a high compression engine, such as the turbocharged mStallion unit in the XUV700, with low octane fuel, the air and fuel mixture can get hot enough during compression to ignite the fuel before the spark plugs fire. This pre-detonation results in a knocking noise and poor performance. In extreme cases, it could cause damage. To prevent this, higher octane fuel is used to boost the ignition temperature of the fuel. This higher octane fuel also helps in improving compression ratio slightly and increase the thermal efficiency of the engine which in turn helps enhance the fuel economy greatly, besides supporting the engine to perform optimally. During my drive on the highway on a cold winter morning where I did not use the air conditioning, I was getting an overall fuel efficiency of 20 km/L. This was achieved using IOCL's XP100 (RON 100 Petrol) which currently is available in all major metropolitan cities.

My emphasis is on educating the readers on why regular fuel (which is 89 - 91 Octane) to a turbocharged petrol engine is like feeding bad quality / fake whey protein to a bodybuilder. It will never help the body achieve its optimum performance and efficiency. Any fuel quality from 95 Octane and above will indeed help a high compression engine like the mStallion with a turbocharger perform superlatively.

Interiors

The XUV700 indeed has one of the greatest interior designs in the country. Everything is logically laid out, great to touch and hold. There are softer surfaces all around the cabin, leather on the dashboard, steering, seats and door cards on this top of the line AX7-Luxury Pack version which do make it feel very opulent indeed.



The seats are very ergonomic and comfortable over long drives, the side bolsters and taller backrest helps all sizes of humans to find comfort on a day to day drives.


The Visteon supplied 10.25-inch touch screen system (similar to the one in Mercedes Benz GLE and GLS) has crisper graphics, great tactile feedback and is very easy to navigate through once you're used to it. The Sony Surround sound system is one of the most incredible setups you can get in any car south of 50 lakh.


Verdict



The petrol-powered XUV700 delivers what it presents on paper and some more. If the buyer is aware of what fuel to use to make it perform optimally this then is the best petrol-powered family SUV to pick today, period. It can shame a lot of sedans in a drag race, can take you places without a hiccup and Mahindra's massive after-sales service network with substantially lower running costs mean that owning an XUV700 is never a hassle.


The base variant, AX3 with a manual transmission starts at 17.3 lakh (ex-showroom) which gives you access to the mighty turbocharged petrol motor. But in my opinion, the top of line AX7-Luxury Pack with the automatic gearbox although priced at 22 lakh (ex-showroom) is the best variant to save up for. It gets you everything and doesn't leave a space where you miss anything you might need a luxury SUV.






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