Mahindra Electric e2oPlus Review: Plus-Sized Smartness

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I remember the day when I first saw the Reva driving on the roads. At that time, I must have been 12 and completely confused about what exactly that rather unusual contraption was. The Reva, or the G-Wiz, as it was known in the UK, was so tiny that it seemed it could barely fit a human and a half inside. To my little self, it looked like the cute Chiaozu character from Dragonball Z. Well, all of those fascinating visuals was erased slowly in the years that followed, until the Mahindra e2o came into existence. The sole purpose of the Reva back then was to be an affordable and a compact electric car and with the new e2o, its maker tried to pump in more space, bigger range and a bit of practicality in its design.

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The Reva NXR was unveiled in 2009 at the Frankfurt Motor Show following which it was retouched with a Mahindra badge and then launched as the Mahindra e2o. The e20 electric car came in with improved specs, space and had more driving range to offer. It could squeeze in 4 passengers through its two doors. So practically speaking, moving 4 humans on a daily 50km drive and all of this while doing no harm to the environment deserved a thumbs up, but came at a price. The company also brought an electric version of the Verito but it seems that the plan didn’t work. Well, rolling out eco-friendly vehicles while the country’s capital is struggling to get the air pollution in control is a great idea but it needs to be thought through!

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After overhauling the design, structure and mechanics, Mahindra has come up with a new idea that goes by the name – Mahindra e2oPlus. The company likes to call it a City Smart car. The e2oPlus comes with added practicality, more doors and space, and costs lesser. So, how does the Plus treatment up the game for the e2o electric car? Read on to find out!

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Exterior Design

The e2oPlus not only features a new overhauled design but also happens to be the first to wear the Mahindra Electric (ME) badge. On the visual front, the sibling resemblance persists but on a closer look you can see that the stance is different. The front fascia retains the projector headlight units, windshield, hood lid, and even the wiper setup from the e2o.

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Wiper setup retained from the 2-door e2o

Coming to the differences, the front grille has been reworked and now the e2oPlus boasts Mahindra’s toothy grille, somewhat reminiscent of the one of the new Scorpio. The front bumper has been reworked with new, contemporary lines and now gets plastic inserts on both sides mimicking fog lamp housings and a small air-dam with insertions to hold a number plate.

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Coming to the sides, you instantly figure the increase in the length thanks to an extended wheelbase that now stands at 2258mm. This extension has promoted the original two door layout to a healthy four door layout. While the two-door e2o seemed somewhat incomplete due to its design, the added length makes the e2oPlus look like a complete car.

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The geometrical lines running through the doors and fenders have been smoothened and the atypical glasshouse at the rear has been converted into a practical window for the rear passenger.

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The doors are now underlined by a contrasting coloured door sill. We had the top end P8 variant with us that was bling-ed up with chrome bits that can be seen on the ORVMS and door handles. Notice the KUV inspired door mounted handles?

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The e2oPlus gets two charging ports – one being a regular setup, with the other being a fast charger.

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The rear section is neatly done and gets newly designed tail lamps with a thick plastic slat in between that features the brand name, logo and the e2oPlus badge. The e2oPlus  benefits with a contemporary boot lid unlike the glass-only set up on the e2o.

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The rear bumper has also been overhauled to complete the hatchback look. The variant we drove, features a contrasting coloured roof.

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Compared to the e2o the new Mahindra e2oPlus is longer by 310mm, wider by 61mm and taller by 15mm. The ground clearance, however, has been reduced by 10mm to enhance the dynamic ability. The hatchback rides on 14 inchers wrapped with Continental rubber. The e2oPlus tips the weighing scale at 939kg (Unladen Kerb weight) and the top end P8 weighs at 991 kgs.

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Interiors

Once you sit inside the e2oPlus, there is not much of a difference in the view as the dashboard and its elements have been borrowed from the e2o. The instrument cluster, steering wheel, air-con vents, and the centre console are just the same. BTW, the Air-con does a good jobl!

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The difference being, that the e2oPlus’ centre piece gets a new Blaupunkt infotainment system with touchscreen. This infotainment system features the My Car option that provides an overview of the vital stats of the hatchback and also serves as a display for the rear parking camera.

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The instrument panel display reads REVA on top of it and shows the speedo, trip meter, efficiency gauge, distance to empty, gear indicator, and power. All the windows and ORVMs can be electrically adjusted. Faux carbon fibre inserts are fitted on the door panels and the centre console.

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The overall material quality is decent but could have been better finished at the corners and edges. Especially, the adhesive used to put the plastic parts together is visible at most joints, which doesn’t look too nice at times.

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On the e2oPlus P2 and P4 the interior trim is offered in Vinyl and a beige dual tone treatment is offered on the P6 and the P8 variant. Apart from the driver and co-driver, this four door e2oPlus holds enough room for two adults and if the party is crowded then you can squeeze in a third one, though shutting the rear doors would be a task after that. For the front occupants, the experience is rather comfortable, even for a person who is 6 ft tall.

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The rear seats are reasonably comfy and spacious for the passengers if the count is two. Even in this compact space of the cabin, Mahindra has managed to adjoin a boot space of 135 litres. Well it’s not enough for you to carry a lot of luggage around, but enough for a couple of large sized haversacks.

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Battery and Motor

Let me take you through the numbers first – The e2oPlus we drove was equipped with a 72V Li-ion battery pack of 210 Ah capacity. It packs 23 modules and 69 cells and can be charged by a normal 16 Amp plug point. This battery powers 3 Phase AC induction Motors (P2 Long Core).

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The charging time of the battery through the regular port is a huge 9 hours whereas the 10KW 3 phase 32 AMP charger positioned on rear of the co-driver side, pumps up the battery by 95% in just 90 minutes. The battery gets a REVive option that comes handy in a time of crises when you run out of battery. It provides an extra range of 10km but the company suggests that this feature should not be used more than 5 times.

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While the P8 gets the 72V battery the P2, P4, and P6 get a downsized 48V pack that gets a different charging and Fast charging time.

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Smart App

To make the deal slightly attractive, Mahindra has offered Smart Phone app connectivity with the e2oPlus. The custom developed app shows vital statistics of the hatchback directly on the phone and also provides a handheld control over a few features.

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With thr help of this app, users can lock/unlock the car, switch on the AC, activate battery Revive feature, and also calculate the distance the vehicle can cover in its available charge.

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Performance

The standard procedure of starting the car includes authenticating the key by touching it to the start/stop button placed on the dashboard. The light on the button goes green and you are good to go. Pull the gear stick to ‘F’ and push the A-pedal and the hatchback is in action.

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As soon as the car is in motion, there is a lot of noise seeping inside the cabin from the motor and battery areas. The constant whimpering suggests that the fans are trying hard to cool down the system. As you keep driving, you get used to it and eventually learn to ignore it.

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The motors propelling the e2oPlus produce around 40 bhp at 3,500 rpm and a peak torque of 91 Nm at 2,500 rpm. These are humble numbers and the e2oPlus manages to pull it off well. The car is pretty quick off the black and your gets a decent sensation of acceleration from a standstill. The fun is somewhat spoilt owing to the dull throttle response from the motors though. It seems the e2oPlus thinks a lot before acting and it is evident from the delayed feedback that you get as you push the accelerator. It takes a moment before silently launching into motion. Part throttle is responded to much better though, and the the linear performance is assisted by the Direct Drive gearbox.

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This modest electric car has decently practical performance, though don’t expect any grin inducing surprises here. The Boost gear will definately give you a surprising start that melts down pretty quickly. The e2oPlus is meant to move people around without felling trees, and it does that job rather well. While the car is pretty nice to drive within the city, its limited top speed comes to the fore on open highways. Owing to its limited range and top speed, the e20Plus isn’t the best suited machine for the highways. Mahindra Electric, however, likes to emphasize that the hatchback takes 9.5 seconds to reach from 0 to 60 kmph mark before maxing out at a top speed of 85kmph.

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Braking duties are performed by discs up front and a drum setup at the rear and the task is executed with ease without complaints. An advanced features here is the Regenerative Braking tech that charges the battery of hatchback every time the brakes are applied, helping to recover some of the spent energy.

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The suspension is good at absorbing small bumps and undulations but you throw the hatchback on harshly uneven roads and some thuds manage to filter in. Even the cabin insulation isn’t the best with road and tyre noise managing to barge in without much resistance. The handling is pretty Go-kart-y and it’s easy to manage the e2oPlus through tight corners and jam-packed spaces. Its compact size is a blessing for the city scene and its go-green character is a cherry on top. Even with its electric motor, the e2oPlus can be a lot of fun to throw around those narrow, deserted lanes.

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Before you head to the verdict, here are more details of the Mahindra e2oPlus through images and their captions-

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Fuse box under the rear seat

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Reverse parking camera on the rear bumper

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Faux carbon fibre element on the door panel

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Toolkit pocket is placed behind the rear seat

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Storage compartment under the steering wheel accompanied by the ORVM adjustment control

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Centre console with Blaupunkt touchscreen infotainment system

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Child seat anchor points

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Projector headlights

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14 inch rims with 165/60/R14 Continental Tyres

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Its odd that Mahindra provides a 13inch spare wheel with 155/70/R13 rubber

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Recharging the battery through Fast Charging port

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Fast Charging port

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Keyfob with a removable key

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e2oPlus Smart App Remote

Verdict

Now, the golden number, Mahindra claims that the e2oPlus P8 can go upto 140km in a single charge and the P2, P4 and P6 give you 100km. So you have to spend 9 hours (through regular charging) or close to 2 hours (through fast charging) to prep up the P8 for a journey of around 140km, that of 100km for the lower variants. That range is pretty generous for smaller cities, allowing for a charging exercise after a couple of days of use. For larger cities and longer commutes too, that range is manageable, albeit with quick charging. The e2oPlus cannot practically be used for intercity or highway travel, though.

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The biggest upshot here is the low price of the four-door version, post the subsidies.  It’s quite practical for the price, and can actually be used within the city without many limitations. The low running cost is another big benefit and should amount to reasonable savings over a petrol powered commuter car.

For a price of INR 5.46 lakhs ex-Delhi, post subsidies, the base variant of the e2oPlus is reasonably priced from an ‘electric car’ perspective, though the average Joe would immediately start looking at petrol powered alternatives at that price point. Then again, those are not the people the e2oPlus is targeted at. It’s a fair price if you look at the cost of the technology and the relatively nascent stage it is in even today. The top end P8, which actually offers an above average range and is the most practical choice of the lot is rather steeply priced at INR 8.46 though.

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The e2oPlus, as the case always has been, is for the eco-conscious user who doesn’t mind sparing some extra money to satiate his conscience. And in that regard, the new Mahindra Electric offering delivers in spades.

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