A lot is riding on the XUV700,—it follows the success of XUV500 and the more recent Thar. To its makers, M&M, it’s not just a replacement to the XUV500, but an entirely different car, built on a new platform with loads of tech. A lot is new at M&M from the management to designers to a renewed focus on SUVs and even a new logo.
While the platform is all-new, Mahindra has decided to retain the essence of the XUV500 in the 700’s design. Paying homage to the 500 are the new headlamps where the “C” shape is maintained by the LED DRLs. However, these pack an all-LED beam and the indicators are dynamic as well. Complementing these are more LEDs in the fog lamps, which also feature cornering lights. The headlamps flow in the slats of the grille which features an aggressive design. The bonnet too gets strong creases which adds muscle to the front look for the 700. Safe to say, you won’t be confusing the XUV700 with anything on the road when you see one at night.
Mahindra has also loaded the car, although some of the top-end features and systems may only be available with option packs, with a huge number of systems and features including some advanced driver assist systems that run through signals received through both camera and radar stuff that, till now, is found only in cars of luxury brands. These systems include adaptive cruise control with start from stop technology, emergency braking with front collision warning, lane assist, traffic sign recognition as well as high beam assist.
The adaptive cruise control worked well on the nearly two-hour drive from Mahindra Research Valley to the Mahindra SUV Proving Tracks, and at the proving grounds, we were able to test the other features like emergency braking, lane assist, and traffic sign recognition.
Driveability at low speeds is good too; while enthusiasts may prefer a manual to extract the best power, the gearbox is not the slickest. The auto, on the other hand, is so smooth you don’t miss paddle shifters, which the XUV700 does not have. The auto would be my pick in the petrol, but it’s the opposite for the diesel. The diesel manual allows you to extract the best of the power and enjoy a spirited drive. The diesel has driving modes—named Zip, Zap and Zoom—that the petrol does not. In Zip, meant for relaxed driving, power is reduced to 155hp, whilst Zap and Zoom get the full 185hp. The only difference between the two modes is a sharper throttle response in Zoom. Once you get past the slight turbo lag the diesel engine is a delight to drive.