I went to test drive the much-awaited Mahindra XUV500 last weekend. I was quite excited, after having gone through the interactive and rather impressive website, learning about the car and imagining myself at the wheel.
The actual experience, however, began only after setting eyes on the real thing. The car appeared bigger than what I had imagined. It is a tough-looking machine and yet, pleasing to the eye. I quickly got into the back seat to check the leg room. For some reason, that is always my first move prior to test driving a vehicle…somewhat like first checking the bathroom and kitchenette when booking a hotel room.
The fully loaded W8 is literally packed with features. The car has been really well thought-out with GPS navigation, two toned interiors, laptop compartment in the dashboard, audio control on the steering wheel, parking sensors, twin exhausts, LED parking lights, distinctive car handles and a lot more. Clearly, a lot of time has been spent on the drawing board. The little things like a conversation mirror, lounge lighting, sunglass holder go a long way. It does give the customer a ‘premium’ feel at a ‘not at all premium’ price. All this seemed too good to be true.
While waiting for our turn to test drive, I sat on the driver’s seat of one of the vehicles parked in the showroom. I decided to press all the buttons and twist all the knobs that were within arm’s length. The panel looked good but was not high quality. Little things like the push button compartment above the dashboard not opening smoothly stuck with me. Inside the tough exterior, there seemed to be a ‘not so tough’ interior, which gave me an indication on where the costs had been cut. What concerned me was that there were too many things that could get rusty and require repairing.
Let’s start the engine now !
This is where the exhilaration subsided further. The moment I sat at the wheel and accelerated, I got the dreaded ‘I’m-driving-a-truck’ feeling. I could also hear the diesel engine clattering under the hood, which sounded more unpleasant than expected. To begin with, the test drive was surprisingly short. I had to coax the dealer to extend the drive and go over some speed bumps to test the suspension. When I stopped at the traffic signal and engaged the handbrake, the panel around it lifted slightly with it. That is where the test drive was over for me. At the premium features that were on offer, something had to give to justify the low price tag. Engine noise, driving experience and finishing were domains where quality was lacking (in my books).Click to view ad: Mahindra XUV500 - Teaser
Mahindra XUV’s recent advert talks about its cheetah-inspired design, which seems hard to digest. The cheetah is associated with speed. The XUV is a 2450kg vehicle with only 103kW of gross power. It is not svelte sports car. Labelling the design as tiger-like is more believable, considering its striped grill upfront and rather muscular look.