Anything Mahindra is jeep. Not because it was Mahindra that first brought and popularized the Willys jeep in India but it was Mahindra that made it a part of Indian culture.
So now, when the original Jeep comes from the US, Mahindra will have to summon all its resources and goodwill it has acquired over the decades to retain its edge in the market.
Jeep vs Jeep
When the Jeep was introduced in India, Mahindra had nothing to worry. While the ubiquitous Thar was available for less than Rs 10 lakh, the Jeep Wrangler came with a price tag of R 60 lakh, grossly overpriced for Indian standards mainly owing to its high CBU import duty.
But when Jeep India rolled out its first locally manufactured Compass, the prices came down well within the price band of Mahindra flagship XUV500.
When Mahindra targeted the premium market with its first monocoque SUV in 2011, it was a daring move for any Indian automaker. But XUV500 was a runaway hit. Designed in-house at Mahindra’s research facility in Chennai, the XUV500 set new benchmarks in style, performance, technology and safety features.
It is now part of auto history how this vehicle single-handedly demolished D-segment sedans in India due to a mix of sharp pricing, feature rich interiors and Indians’ love for SUVs.
Its USPs were plenty. It was feature rich, it turns heads, has acres of space, is well-engineered, had services centers across the country and above all had an affordable price tag. Moreover, since it is a Mahindra, you could even hand over the vehicle to roadside mechanic in case of an emergency.
The game changer
Today, XUV 500 is the flagship product of Mahindra and the first choice for many who are looking for a tough looking SUV within the Rs 10-20 lakh bracket.
For Mahindra, which had tied up with Ford and Renault to build a world-class car, it was also the fruition of its long-standing dream. The XUV 500 was Mahindra's first monocoque SUV instead of its body-on-frame chassis. It was more sophisticated than a Scorpio, was car-like to drive, had a balanced ride and handling package, offroading capabilities and good build quality.
The design of the Mahindra XUV500 is based on the fastest animal on land, the cheetah. The stylish black accents bring alive the animal's unmistakable tear ducts. The bonnet mimics its strong and slender shoulders, body lines resemble a pouncing cheetah, and door handles are paw styled.
The bulge in the beltline of the rear wheel arches even resembles folded hind legs of the wild beast!
W9-The new variant
Mahindra has added a new variant to its XUV500 line-up, the high-spec W9, to take on its rivals. The W9 slots below the top-spec W10 and shares it mechanical components with it.
It gets most of the features of the top-spec W10, including electric sunroof with anti-pinch, reverse camera with dynamic assist, 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Android Auto, emergency call, static bending headlamps, dual airbags, ABS with EBD, ESP with rollover mitigation, push button start, passive keyless entry and tyre-tronics.
No price increase
Mahindra has not increased the price for W9. The manual transmission is priced at Rs 15.50 lakh and automatic at Rs 16.58 lakh (ex-showroom). The manual transmission costs about Rs 1.2 lakh less than the top-spec W10 manual with rear-wheel-drive, while the W10 AT is about Rs 1.14 lakh dearer than the W9 AT.
Refined and powerful
The XUV500 is powered by a 2.2-liter diesel engine with 140bhp and 330Nm. Fix the eight-way adjustable seat to your comfort and start the engine. It's quiet for a diesel engine. The turbo-charged engine has very minimal turbo lag. NVH levels are also well controlled. The powerful MHawk engine is very refined and pretty much like a petrol. It has become a little more frugal too, with 15kmpl mileage.
With the new variant, Mahindra has upped the game, and the W9 will surely help XUV500 take on its rival likes the Jeep Compass, Hyundai Creta, and Tata Hexa.