NEW DELHI: Mahindra is in trouble for raising the bar with XUV700. The competition will be wary of the SUV and customer expectations will be sky-high.
The XUV700 promises everything in the combination you have never seen, felt or imagined in a Mahindra car before. A-DAS, all-wheel-drive, segment largest sunroof, connected tech, all-new logo and platform, name a thing and XUV700 has it. Mahindra is in trouble, for all good reasons. How do all of these come together? Read along.

Question mark:
For all those thinking about what happens to XUV500, here’s how it goes. Temporarily discontinued, Mahindra will evaluate. In my books, XUV700 just doesn’t need a sibling other than XUV300. Both 5-seater and 7-seater configurations will be available at the time of launch, and the company is working on a captain seat variant.
About the hype
The W601 platform debuts with XUV700. The ring structure integrated with the monocoque chassis, according to Mahindra engineers, is industry-leading in terms of stiffness. Also, the rear suspension independent multi-link type and Mahindra has used frequency selective dampers on both the axles.
In other words, the ride is plaint over broken, uneven, wet or slushy roads. Even during the test on off-road setup, the XUV700 munched obstacles like snacks. And the all-wheel-drive variant comes with a rear-wheel anti-lock differential (no transfer case), which in itself is a segment-first.

Does it look appealing?
This is where my chain of lyrical thoughts breaks, momentarily. The 7-slat grille diverges as you glance upwards. The chrome treatment isn’t overdone and offers a visual contrast alongside black panels. All-LED headlights with auto-booster functionality is wrapped around by double C-shaped sequential turn indicators.
The Twin Peaks logo may not become as iconic and rugged as the existing italicized M, however, Pratap Bose — design head of Mahindra Auto emphasizes on the evolution, adding, “The 3D design is futuristic. The bigger M over the M inside signifies what the company aspires to become.”
The 18-inch alloy rims get 10-spoke dual-tone detailing and the flared wheel arches subtly boost the side profile. The design of the tailgate isn’t loud either. Signature Y-shaped LED tail lamps with sequential indicators remind me of Audi, but otherwise, the squat tail (manual) with chrome-lettered branding and grey skid plate round up a silhouette that seems polished. Talking about sophistication, the pop-out door handles will divide views, and its durability can be judged only upon looking at used case scenarios.
The experiment continues:
Pull the fancy door handle and the seats unhurriedly roll back to offer greater ingress aperture. Already wowed, it took me a while to fathom the transformation Mahindra is set to undergo. XUV700 just provides a glimpse. Name a feature and Mahindra is ready to serve you in this SUV.

Size is yet to be confirmed, the one-touch sunroof (skyroof as they call it) is the largest in the segment. The single, free-standing unit on the dashboard is the home to dual 10-inch screens, and is powered by AdrenoX AI. The connected features, wireless connectivity (Android Auto and Apple CarPlay) and Alexa-based voice support run without a glitch thanks to the 6-gigabyte processor.
The designers have paid great attention to the aesthetics as well. Boss mode switch to move the front passenger seats, asymmetric perforated pattern on the off-white, leatherette fabric, cooled glove and arm boxes and Mercedes-like electric seat adjustment for driver made me quip: ‘I’m blown away. Is this a Mahindra?’ Pay a premium to enjoy creature comforts like 12-speaker Sony stereo, auto-dimming IRVMs and wireless charging. I reiterate Mahindra XUV700 is in trouble as it is keen to spoil customers with the power to pick and choose.

One for the family:
As mentioned already, the 5 and 7-seater will go on sale first, and 6-seater will follow. The middle row is 60:40 foldable with a tuck-and-roll feature to facilitate movement to the third row.
The stadium seating and not-so-acute reline for third-row make it conducive for short trips only. Expecting thigh support, much like rivals, is futile. The middle row seats are well padded, offer solid side bolstering. Travelling in the middle may look lacklustre especially after witnessing a loaded cabin.

Cut above the rest:
The AX7 trim offers 7 airbags in total, traction control, cornering vector, dynamic control, brake assist, rollover mitigation, hill hold and descent control. Wait. XUV700 on launch will be the most affordable vehicle with A-DAS technology in India.
Here’s the smart pilot features: XUV700 gets a 360-degree camera and is calibrated with radar-based tech. Part of the A-DAS suite will be adaptive cruise control, emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and departure warning and front collision warning.

Drive experience:
Power to the customer will be either a 2.2-litre mHawk diesel or a 2-litre mStallion petrol. Available in both the transmission option, we had the opportunity to drive the 6-speed automatic with both the engines.
I’ll start with the petrol. The engine simply stumped me — way better than I had expected. The 200-hp engine revv-happy, tractable and strong torque kicks in around 2,000 rpm. Floor the pedal, and the tacho needle stretches to 5,000 rpm, showing no signs of restraints. The petrol engine feels punchy, nimble and fun-to-drive. A bit of grunt lower down the revv range would have made the deal sweeter.
Diesel on the other hand is likely to be the more preferred option — as industry sales trends suggest. The 2.2-litre T-Gdi engine is power rated at 185 bhp. The 6-speed automatic puts out 450 Nm of peak torque while the manual does 420 Nm.
Power on tap is available from 1,600 rpm. First impressions indicate the diesel will be a great mile munching machine. A good slug of torque is on offer till 3,500 rpm beyond which the NVH levels tend to get deafening.

Knit pick:
Mahindra claims 200-hp petrol screams to 200 kmph (under test conditions) and the XUV700 is unperturbed. We did 175 kmph on the high-speed test track, and XUV700 dismisses digits on the speedometer like a sedan. The well-balanced dynamics are unheard of in the segment.
The steering judgment is largely accurate and darts into the corner you aim to go. That said, it doesn’t weigh up as much as you would expect it to. But it isn’t all that bad. Lighter piloting means it will be easy to handle irrespective of the physique of the driver.

Game on or game over?
Mahindra decided to use its heart over mind, has gone beyond the rule book to design an SUV that will suit a large bandwidth of customers. XUV700’s design will be subjective but the way it drives, handles and pampers will be an undisputed benchmark for a while at least. I found a definition for futuristic.
Mahindra is set to trouble others with XUV700. The initial prices are extremely competitive and demand will break the ceiling. As I speak in favour of XUV700, I hope Mahindra doesn’t face flak for delivery constraints and quality issues with its flagship.

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