The Mahindra XUV700 is a popular mid-size SUV. It has an impressive premium package with its design, features and performance. While on a work trip to Arunachal Pradesh, I spent a fair bit of time travelling in and driving an XUV700.
The model I had for the trip was the fully loaded AX7L variant with a petrol engine mated to an automatic transmission. The XUV700 has one of the most powerful engines in its segment, the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol motor producing 200hp and 380Nm. The transmission is a pretty standard 6-speed torque converter. It is smooth in regular driving conditions, but a bit slow to respond/kick down when you need urgent acceleration.
How does it drive?
Since I was driving the XUV700 primarily in the hills, I got to test the engine’s performance thoroughly with bursts of uphill acceleration. It is worth mentioning that the car had a full load with four adults and their luggage, which did no favours for the powertrain. While the turbo-petrol engine does not feel exciting, it does not disappoint with its horsepower as long as you’re in the right gear. The gearing works out at the top end by allowing the decently sized SUV to pick up pace rapidly on flat expanses. Under relaxed driving conditions, the engine feels smooth and refined. Of course, the downside is that it is thirsty with fuel, and exuberant driving might give you less than 400km from a tank.
To overcome the sluggishness of the auto box during the hairpin sections of the hills, I slotted the drive selector into manual mode and would often just leave it in 3rd gear. Ideally, it would have been nice to have paddle shifters, but they may seem a bit out of place for the majority use of an SUV like the XUV700.
How’s the handling?
The driving position of the XUV700 is quite premium and almost European. Even though it’s a large and tall car, the driver’s seat seems comfortable and ergonomic. It feels more dynamic than the average high-seat SUV. However, the lightweight steering is decidedly numb which takes away some of the confidence at higher speeds. It’s handy when manoeuvring the proportions of the XUV700 through tight spaces in the city and is less tiring on a long trip.
Then there’s the braking which felt decent with a full load and often moist tarmac. They were stress-tested thoroughly on the downhill sections and held up pretty well under reasonable application, but they do fade when you’re aggressive with the middle pedal.
Ride and comfort
In terms of the overall ride quality, the XUV700 performs fairly well. Not only does it feel comfortable in the driver’s seat, but it’s quite comfy in the second row as well. While most of the roads were pretty smooth, the XUV700 managed its body roll quite well through the curves and hairpins. A little bit of adjustment in driver input and you can manage the weight shift even better through corners.
When we did come across rough patches or stretches with no tarmac, the suspension ironed out most of the undulations. Even though it sounds painful to the car when you’d hit a small pothole at 80kmph, the passengers will barely feel it. At reasonable speeds, the ride comfort seems unshakeable. Its 2WD system does a good job of managing traction and was able to navigate the roadless patches as well as the Thars that were part of the convoy.
Overall, I’d say the XUV700 petrol-automatic is a pleasant car to drive. There’s sufficient performance on tap, an automatic gearbox that is tuned for smooth delivery, and a suspension that provides comfort in all reasonable driving circumstances.
What about the features and tech?
The XUV700 AX7 is pretty well-loaded which does help keep you comfortable over long journeys. Its leatherette upholstery and all the soft-touch materials around the cabin make for a pleasant tactile experience. The 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster works fairly well and is quite informative. Take 5 to 10 minutes to familiarise yourself with the steering mounted controls and how to navigate the digital display, and it makes life a lot easier. However, some information does get blocked from the driver’s view when making tight corners or if you like to sit really high.
There’s a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system which packs a lot of tech and functionality, but it’s a bit laggy. I didn’t spend much time figuring it out but it works well enough, and wireless Android Auto was a useful feature. The top-spec Sony sound system is pretty good too.
Then there’s the power-adjustable driver’s seat which also comes with a memory function to save your exact position. That’s important as the driver’s seat moves back to make it easier for you to get in and out of the XUV700. It’s kind of cool but I think it would be nice if Mahindra offered the choice to disable the function to be more considerate of the person sitting behind the driver. The range of seat adjustability felt sufficient to find a suitable driving position for almost any preference.
But the cabin feature that made an unexpectedly significant impact on the long journey was the panoramic sunroof. Though I’m not a fan of leaving it open for extended periods, just having the shade pulled back improves the cabin experience. The added light and the ability to look through it and at the sky takes away any possible sense of claustrophobia, even on extended journeys. In the scenic realm of Arunachal Pradesh, it was like a screen saver that you could look up at. And if your adult passenger is feeling adventurous, they can climb onto the console or their seat and stand up through it comfortably.
Other nice features on offer included the tyre pressure monitor which was handy to check after every trip through a stretch of gravel and stone. I didn’t get the chance to use any of the ADAS features so cannot comment on those but the 360-degree camera system was handy when turning around or parking in the tight areas of the hills. There was one glaring issue I faced as a user – the lack of a USB-C port in the front console. Considering most smartphones today come with Type-C cables only, it was a bit annoying and the only choice was to use the port behind the front armrest.
The pop-out door handles are cool but it’s a matter of personal preference if you like that design. I prefer the orthodox door handle where you grip up and pull as opposed to pulling on the lifted-up side of the handle. Of course, this gimmick is restricted to the very top-end AX7L along with the Sony sound system, 360-degree camera, electronic parking brake, telescopic steering adjustment and wireless phone charging.
The XUV700 AX7L petrol-automatic is a solid package that should easily be on your shortlist if you’re looking for a premium and comfortable SUV. I can’t say if it’ll function as a seven-seater, but it’s a damn good five-seater and an excellent four-seater. By using only the first and second rows, you get a lot of luggage space as well. It currently costs around Rs 26 lakh on-road and has a waiting period of well over a year. Alternatively, you can also consider the Tata Harrier, MG Hector and the Hyundai Tucson.