Every once in a while, there comes a vehicle that shatters all the norms established by the existing key players in its respective segment. Calling that vehicle, a breath of fresh air would be an understatement. Revolutionary? Now that is more like it! They sway away from ritualised operations and give the phrase ‘carving a niche for themselves’ a new meaning. Talking about the current Indian automotive scenario, the only vehicle that fits the above-stated description like a tailor-made glove is the upcoming Mahindra XUV700. The spiritual successor of the XUV500 has garnered so much hype that even people with minuscule bank balances are waiting for it as if they are going to buy it right after Mahindra makes an official announcement. It reminds us of the previous decade when Mahindra first launched the XUV500 in our market. The question is, can Mahindra recreate the magic of the 2011 XUV500 with the upcoming XUV700?
Mahindra’s two-wheeler arm has suffered at the hands of poor marketing game but when it comes to its rugged SUVs, the situation is stark opposite. When the XUV500 first stepped into the game back in 2011, the reach of social media networks was very limited. Nevertheless, the pre-launch and launch strategy created so much hype that the first-ever print ad for it, released within 10 days of launch, said, “XUV500 is out, sold out! Thank you for the overwhelming response”. Mahindra’s sole aim was to build such a hype around this sports utility vehicle that it goes on to become one of the most sought-after vehicles in the market and looking at the waiting period that the XUV500 commanded at that time, their strategy sure as hell worked!
Mahindra’s approach regarding the XUV700 is somewhat similar in this regard. Rolling out frequent teasers has become one of the most efficient ways to garner hype. Mahindra has shown absolute relentlessness in hyping up the arrival of the XUV700. Every teaser that the homegrown carmaker has dropped so far, has managed to make its rivals shiver with terror. We are going to stick our neck out to say that the upcoming XUV700 that will officially mark its debut this week, is THE most hotly anticipated car of recent times.
The phrase ‘Looks might be subjective’ had no relevance in the case of XUV500. When it marked its debut in style, other manufacturers were following a plane jane design philosophy but the XUV500 absolutely thwarted that regime with its radical design. Metaphorically, Mahindra called the XUV500 a Cheetah and their juxtaposition worked so well that you can legit visualise the inspirations they derived from the fastest land animal on the planet.
Be it the jaw-like front grille, pouncing cheetah-inspired body lines or paw-styled door handles, the resemblance was uncanny! To make the whole package sportier and aggressive, they also included elements like twin exhausts and neatly styled alloy wheels.
Although the XUV700 won’t be as radical when it comes to looks because a decade has passed since the XUV500 marked its debut and the XUV700 is more of an evolution of the original XUV’s design rather than a revolution. The Indian audience’s response when the XUV700 was first leaked might have been a bit lukewarm but when we first saw it prowling on the streets without any camouflage, the opinions changed drastically. The front features the clear view LED headlights with DRLs which were recently teased. While the rear will get arrowhead LED taillights that look tastefully done in flesh. Going by that spy video, it is going to command a strong road presence. However, wouldn’t it have been a bit cool if Mahindra sort of drew similarities with another wild animal in the case of XUV700?
Mahindra plonked in its 2179cc mHawk Direct Injection Diesel engine in the XUV500 when it was first unleashed in the market. The diesel powertrain put down 140HP @ 3750 rpm and 330 NM @ 1600-2800 rpm on the ground, making it one of the most powerful SUVs in available in its price bracket. It did justify its ‘Cheetah’ inspired credentials to some extent. It punched well above its weight. Even though the mHawk powertrain was virtually the same powertrain the powered the affairs in the Scorpio, the wizards at Mahindra managed to summon a few more horses and some more twist force from the same mill.
We already knew that the XUV700 is going to borrow its powertrains from the new Thar but the details that have surfaced confirm that Mahindra has managed to squeeze out even more ponies from the said powertrains. Let us get down to the numbers right away. How does 200HP from the new ‘mStallion’ 2.0-litre turbo petrol mill sound? If the XUV700 will indeed manage to touch the magic figure, it would instil a riot in its segment and other manufacturers will be left with no choice other than to go back to the drawing board. In the XUV700, this petrol mill will be mated to either a six-speed manual gearbox or an Aisin-sourced six-speed torque converter automatic. To put things into perspective, the Alcazar’s 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated petrol puts down 159HP and MG Hector Plus’ 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine dishes out 143HP. The Tata Safari, however, still misses out on a petrol engine.
Talking about the diesel-burner, the XUV700 will utilize a slightly tuned up version of Mahindra’s trusty 2.2-litre mHawk diesel engine. In the Thar, the same engine puts down around 130HP but in the XUV700, the maximum power output is expected to reach around 185HP! Needless to say, it being a diesel burner, it will have more torque on offer as well. The XU700 diesel is considerably more powerful than the Hyundai Alcazar, with its 115hp, 1.5-litre diesel and also than the Hector Plus and the Safari, which use the same 170hp 2.0-litre diesel engine sourced from Fiat.
Implying cost-cutting measures in the safety department is something Mahindra has always refrained from doing. Their focus on safety got even more pronounced with the XUV500. It had disc brakes all around which was still considered a novelty that time around. After all, a car is only good if it drops anchors faster than it picks up speed, right? Moreover, it was offered with 6 airbags, ESP with rollover mitigation, ABS with EBD, Hill Hold and Hill Descent Control.
All these combined together, made it one of the safest SUVs in the market at that time. Hell, even the 2011 Toyota Fortuner, which used to exist in a segment above, was only offered with two airbags at that time.
The XUV700 will carry forward the lineage by introducing first-in-segment ADAS or Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. ADAS is basically used for active vehicular safety features based on cameras and sensors. There are different levels with the higher ones getting auto-pilot mode. The XUV700 is expected to get level 1 autonomous tech like the MG Gloster, which is the most affordable car with the feature in India. So far, Mahindra has confirmed the following ADAS features: Auto-booster headlamps, personalized safety alerts, driver drowsiness detection.
It is also expected to get 6 airbags, ESP with rollover mitigation, ABS with EBD, Hill Hold and Hill Descent Control.
One of the major highlights of the XUV500 was its two-tone interiors highlighted by leather seats all around. Even by today’s standards, it would still be a nice place to munch miles with ease. Mahindra made sure to load it up to the brim, without cutting any corners in the build quality.
It had steering mounted controls with tilt and telescopic function, cruise control, controls to activate voice commands, ‘lounge lighting’, cool box, laptop holder in the glove box, twin-pod instrument cluster, 8-way adjustable leather seats with lumbar support, two-tone interiors, in-built navigation, tyre pressure monitoring system, reverse parking assist system and not to forget, a first-in-class 6-inch LCD touchscreen. Such gizmos, at that point of time and in a not so premium segment made the XUV500 an irresistible package.
When Mahindra first made it official that they are developing a successor to the XUV500 dubbed as XUV700, their statement read ‘ Built on a global platform with expert partners offering first-in-class features with Sci-fi tech’. We knew right at that moment that the homegrown carmaker won’t leave ANY stone unturned in making it the most feature-loaded offering in its segment. Although, the detailed feature list is yet to be revealed, going by the teaser images, the dashboard of the XUV700 will feature two HD screens side by side.
The screen on the right will be the instrument cluster with drive-related information and the on the left will be the infotainment system. The infotainment system will feature an AdrenoX system and interface. It will feature Amazon Alexa voice commands which will perform functions such as climate control, opening and closing of the panoramic sunroof and other infotainment related voice commands. It will also feature an inbuilt e-Sim which would be used for connected apps and real-time weather updates.
The XUV700 will also feature drive modes namely Zip, Zap and Zoom which would be equivalent to Eco, Comfort and Sports mode. There will also be a custom mode where the driver can set the different parameters according to his/her needs. The teaser also shows a Sony 3D music system with roof-mounted speakers. The speakers will have an extensive equalizer and sound settings to cater to everyone’s music taste. If that doesn’t sound enough to you, wait for 14th August when Mahindra will officially unwrap the XUV700 and we are pretty sure, there’s more to it than we already know!
What kind of impact can we expect?
If we look at the numbers, the XUV500 created a category in itself. It sold more than double the sales of all the premium sedan brands put together in its price band. The sales of all premium sedans put together (with brands such as Altis, Cruze, Civic and Elantra) in a similar price range dropped by 29 per cent from 4,118 (October 2010 to September 2011) to 2,934 (October 2011 to September 2012) after the XUV500 launch. Further, the XUV500 dominated the HSUV segment with a 56 per cent market share in 2012-13!
Going by the absolutely bonkers response that the all-new Thar has received too, we can expect Mahindra to repeat the history with its XUV700 as well. If the XUV500 was Mozart, the XUV700 could very well become the Beethoven of this day and age.