Mahindra’s electric ambitions for the mainstream passenger vehicle (PV) segment in India are no secret. Although electric dreams may have been overshadowed in recent years by a troika of big, loud – and diesel-guzzling – SUVs, the Mahindra EV was still right around the corner. First shown as eXUV300 at the Auto Expo in 2020, it was eventually revealed that the so-called new model would be dubbed Mahindra XUV400. And with eyes firmly on Tata Motors enjoying a T-Rex slice of the EV pie in the country, the XUV400 was unveiled with typical fanfare earlier this week on World EV Day.
With the XUV400, Mahindra confirms that it is targeting a select group of “conscious” and “enlightened” buyers of all age groups. The automaker has also continued to emphasize large SUVs and reiterates that the XUV400 is a competitor to C-segment SUVs, a segment that otherwise has Hyundai Cretas, Kia Seltos, Tata Harriers, MG Astors, Volkswagen Taiguns and Skoda Kushaq. – yes, all engine models. On paper, then, the Mahindra XUV400 is preparing for a battle against an army of rivals, although its main rivals would probably be the Tata Nexon EV Max and MG ZS EV. How does the XUV400 stand up to these options?
We were recently at Mahindra SUV Proving Tracks (MSPT) to check out the XUV400 – from the outside, inside and on the go. And while around 90 minutes isn’t enough for an exhaustive take on any car, there were a few key takeaways.
Here is a first impression of Mahindra XUV400EV:
What does the Mahindra XUV400 look like?
This is a Mahindra XUV300 with very illuminating updates on the outside to mark its electrical credentials. The differences between the XUV300 and XUV400, if and when compared to the differences between Nexon and Nexon EV, are more significant and yet it is still almost the same model at first sight and at first glance.
The front end now has a closed grille as there is no cooling requirement on an electric vehicle. The Mahindra ‘Twin Peaks’ logo in bronze finds a place right in the middle while the headlight with DRL is identical to that of the XUV300. The lower fog lamp housing is taller and has a bronze surround, but there’s no DRL here. The bumper is slightly wider for better face proportion.
From the side and rear, the XUV400 is clearly a twin of the XUV300 with identical window lines, identical 16-inch alloy wheels, the same character lines on the bodywork and the same rear bumper. The only creative update is a slight tweak to the taillight design, barely enough to make it stand out.
The main update to the XUV400, however, comes in the form of its dimensions. With no tax incentives for electric vehicles under four meters in length, Mahindra has stretched the XUV400 in almost every direction. This helps the EV in two main ways – more interior space and a slightly stronger road presence compared to the XUV300 and indeed many of the other EV models already available today.
|Dimensions of the Mahindra XUV400||The measurement|
|boot space||378 liters|
The XUV300 is a stylish SUV, just like the XUV400. But just as Nexon EV deserved expensive design updates over the Nexon, so does the XUV400 if it’s introduced as an entirely new model. For now though, it’s a new wine in a largely similar bottle.
|Mahindra XUV400: color options|
What does the Mahindra XUV400 look like inside?
The Mahindra XUV400 cabin has great positives and some very unfortunate negatives. It’s not everyday that the inside of a car has us all cheering and cursing together, but this was the day.
The Mahindra EV benefits enormously from its stretched proportions and now offers plenty of space inside. Rear passengers have impressive leg room, knee room, and even head room is quite adequate. Three in the back seat can still scramble for some personal space, but if the XUV300’s absolutely cramped boot space was a major drawback, there’s absolutely no need to plan packing processes for the XUV400. because of its generous cargo space.
Ride and ride height is quite high, and the cabin continues to have an airy feel thanks to the large windows and sunroof above. The center console has been done in a piano black finish while the black leatherette seats with blue stitching look great.
But the creativity stops here. The XUV400’s cabin can be described as equal parts bland and archaic. The central display unit on the dash is a throwback to the early days of the Ford EcoSport, along with the full button layout. The seven-inch screen itself is disappointing due to its small size and because it was in beta stage, we weren’t able to test it enough to form a more detailed opinion.
The pilot’s digital display is bright and has lots of color interaction with the data. But Mahindra, very strangely, kept the charge information remaining off. That would have been crucial in assessing that claimed 456km range on the go even if we were only going to cover a small fraction of it on the trail.
In terms of features, the XUV400 is a bit lacking, with no rear air vents, no rear charging points and no seat ventilation anywhere. Instead, Mahindra points to things like front and rear seat armrests, a six-way manual driver’s seat and a large glove box among the star-studded highlights. Good? Yes. Great? Barely.
How does the Mahindra XUV400 work?
Mahindra XUV400 packs a 39.4kWh battery at its core, which is smaller than the 40.3kWh battery inside the Nexon EV Max and the 50.3kWh battery inside the ZS EV mis from MG Motor India. But these figures alone do not determine the range of an EV which, by the way, is 456 km on the XUV400.
The actual range of the XUV400 is likely to be less than that of any EV, but as mentioned earlier, it’s unfortunate that we couldn’t get even an iota of an idea due to the battery level indicator on all test units. .
But if a fun ride without range worries is what one’s looking for, the XUV400 has plenty of that. There’s 148 hp for the plug and 310 Nm of torque on offer, and these were amply evident on the high-speed test track at the MSPT. We even tested the 0-100 km/h in 8.3 seconds and the XUV400 is not afraid to charge forward. Fearless because that’s actually the name of one of three riding modes; the others are called Fun and Fast. In Fearless mode, there’s no traction control as such, which means a lot of wheel spin. But the company is going to make traction control standard on launch models. And so that’s it. For all intents and purposes though, Fast mode – the default mode – is quite capable too with a burst of torque that kicks in when you want it too.
In fact, the XUV400 boasts ample power, exciting torque, and great stability at high speeds. Even at 150 km/h, the steering was rock-steady, which is splendid considering how light it is otherwise. And when things are slowed down considerably, it’s the same light steering that makes cornering quite easy.
There’s not much point in getting into the suspension part of the XUV400 because the test tracks can’t provide a fair assessment, but the body roll was pretty much under control during our brief run with the EV. The only thing Mahindra should work on is the NVH level of both the tires and the ambient noise filters inside the cabin.
Mahindra XUV400 Verdict:
It’s not exactly possible to give a verdict for the Mahindra XUV400 based on a short drive through a controlled track environment. But first impressions of the XUV400 are pretty decent when it comes to performance and driving credentials. But Mahindra should have done more work to improve the cabin and feature list while taking a step or two more in terms of exterior design cues.
- Great driving dynamics
- Impressive claimed range
- Large cabin space
- Banal cabin design
- Lackluster feature list
Everything will depend on the price of the XUV400 once it officially launches in January 2023. Reservations and deliveries will also begin thereafter. I hope Mahindra can surprise in terms of price, which would cover up its pain points and increase its positives. But by all indications, I’m trying to predict a ₹20 lakh price sticker.
Date of first publication: Sep 11, 2022, 4:01 PM IST