Driving the Mahindra XUV700 2.0L Turbo-Petrol AT
Turbo-petrol produces 197 BHP @ 5,000 rpm and 380 Nm @ 1,750 – 3000 rpm:
The 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine that powers the XUV700 is an all-aluminium unit shared with the Thar, but in a far higher state of tune here. It’s mated to a 6-speed torque converter automatic transmission from Aisin. This gearbox is in its third generation (the previous-gen was used in the XUV500). The same AT is deployed for the diesel engine as well.
When it comes to the driving experience, this 2.0 Petrol AT is smooth, sprightly & refined. Mahindra’s mStallion is a likeable motor. Petrol lovers, Delhi-NCR BHPians & those who don’t care about fuel-efficiency will appreciate the offering. The petrol engine is smooth & quite city-friendly. Throttle response & driveability are good and turbo-lag, if any, is masked well by the automatic transmission. In bumper-to-bumper traffic, the 2.0 petrol crawls forward (without accelerator input) at ~8 km/h. Power delivery is overall nice & linear. Your passengers will be comfortable as there is no jerkiness or sudden “turbo whoosh”. Because of the turbo-charger, even the midrange power delivery is satisfactory (with NA petrols, midrange is usually a hit or miss). Power comes in strong at ~1,800 rpm and the engine pulls well till just under 5,000 rpm, when the AT shifts up.
On the open road, the turbo-petrol’s 197 BHP means you will be doing silly speeds without even realising it! At Mahindra’s new test track, the XUV700 Petrol AT reached 150 km/h effortlessly and could easily do more. The turbo-petrol revs nicely to the redline, although it isn’t a high-rpm petrol at all. In kickdown mode, the Petrol AT shifts up at just under 5,000 rpm which is rather diesel-like. We sure wish the engine gave us at least another 1,000 – 1,200 rpm to play with, as it does in the Petrol MT variant which revs higher. The mid-range is strong and there is enough power on tap to pass traffic with ease. In terms of cruisability, the XUV700 will do 100 & 120 km/h in top gear at a relaxed ~1,600 rpm & ~2,000 rpm respectively.
The 6-speed Aisin torque-converter AT is butter-smooth in its operation, and only the slight change in engine pitch tells you when an upshift happens. When it comes to shifting speed, the transmission is not the fastest we’ve experienced, but it’s not too slow either. Response times are acceptable and we don’t see owners complaining. However, we did notice the AT gearbox getting confused in certain situations – like when driving hard with varying throttle input – but these incidents were few & far between. The Aisin gearbox does a satisfactory job for the most part. Within the city, you’ll observe the Petrol AT being more downshift-friendly than you’d expect. We reckon Mahindra has done this to prevent the rpm needle from dropping too low and to improve driveability / engine responsiveness. We personally prefer this as it leads to superior throttle response, although the FE-loving customer won’t. The AT does have manual mode…still, most owners will just let the electronics decide all the shifting in such a big SUV. Enthusiasts will miss paddle-shifters though.
The Aisin torque-converter AT is a conventional design & should prove more reliable in the longer run than the complex dual-clutch ATs offered by so many of the XUV700’s competitors.
Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH)
The 2.0 petrol engine is a refined unit overall. Even at high rpms, engine noise isn’t very intrusive. The engine works hard, yet doesn’t make you feel the same. Wind noise comes in at ~90 km/h and becomes more prominent at 120 – 130 km/h. We found road noise to be controlled; because our test conditions were limited, we will update this if our longer road-test reveals anything else.
Mileage & Fuel Economy
While Mahindra hasn’t revealed the fuel economy figures yet, a 197 BHP turbocharged petrol with an automatic transmission in a large SUV isn’t a recipe for miserly efficiency. We expect single-digit fuel economy in real-world conditions. Turbo-petrols are extremely sensitive to throttle input and if you drive hard to enjoy the 200 horses, the fuel needle will drop rapidly.
The XUV700 has a McPherson strut suspension at the front and a multi-link independent suspension at the rear. Both have a stabilizer bar, while the dampers get high-tech frequency selective damping! The XUV700’s top variant rides on 18-inch wheels with 235/60 tyres. Because our first drive was on excellent roads & Mahindra’s test track, we cannot comment on the ride quality. This will be updated post our longer test-drive. First impressions (but only that) = the ride appears to be compliant overall, with a hint of firmness. We would like to reserve our opinions for the moment.
Handling & Dynamics
Mahindra has paid attention to the dynamics of this car and it shows. The car is stable at high speeds and doesn’t feel nervous. Not even when we crossed 150 kmph on the test track. You can cruise at triple digit speeds with confidence.
The multi-link suspension at the rear is critical when it comes to handling. Body roll is controlled and quick direction changes are handled properly by ‘Big SUV’ standards. It shifts the balance in a composed manner and holds its line well through fast curves; you do feel the XUV700’s height & sheer weight of the vehicle though. It’s only when you push really hard that understeer starts coming in. The 235/60 section Apollo tyres provide good grip, but make a lot of noise when you push the car aggressively.
We drove hard on the track & the slalom section. Suffice to say, we are happy. Will add that the road manners are better than the Tata Harrier / Safari. All those safety features packed into the car will come in handy if you encounter an emergency situation. It’s just reassuring to know that the electronics have gotten your back.
The electric power steering is very light at parking speeds, which makes maneuvering this SUV easy. It weighs up nicely as you gain speed. However, like most electronic power steering units, there’s not much feel or feedback from the EPS.
The XUV700 is equipped with disc brakes at all 4 ends. They perform well in day to day driving conditions, albeit the bite is quite sharp. We would’ve liked the pedal to be a little more progressive. The car gets ‘electronic brake prefill’ which builds up pressure in the brake lines, if you sharply take your foot off the accelerator & the computers anticipate a hard braking situation.
Niggles & Problems
Most brand-new Mahindra models have some niggles or the other in their 1st / 2nd production years. Sadly, our test car faced an issue with the infotainment unit. Ideally, short-pressing the rotary knob should select the option highlighted. Instead, it kept sending the screen to “lock mode”. That is, a short press was being recognised as a long press. I tried the same thing on another XUV700 and it worked fine. Another media’s test car suffered power loss while driving. Restarting it got the power back, but also a ‘check engine’ light. Remember that this SUV has a lot of tech wizardry. Make sure you get that extended warranty pack. If you’ve fallen for the XUV700, we’d recommend buying it once the niggles of the initial batches are sorted out.
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