Finally, Mahindra's automatic avatar in the new age XUV500

GREAT TO GO! A drive on this macho SUV lands a super punch, with its superior engine mated to an AT

Finally, Mahindra's automatic avatar in the new age XUV500
Homegrown auto major Mahindra & Mahindra, which is a force to reckon with in the utility vehicle segment in India for the past seven decades, has added more ammo onto itself, with the launch of the new-age XUV500 AT.

The XUV500 hit Indian roads for the first time in 2011, followed by its first major upgrade, the new age XUV500, in 2015. During all this time, the car has crossed the significant milestone of more than 1,50,000 units (domestic+exports) in sales.

However, customers and fans were very keen to see an automatic version of the super SUV, and finally, the company has put its heart and soul in making one of the finest automatic SUVs by an Indian company, by launching the XUV500 AT on December 5, 2015. Even though the SUV segment is growing rapidly in the country, there are not many players offering automatic transmission. The company has launched the SUV at the right time to further strengthen its market share in the segment The XUV500’s 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine comes with a six-speed automatic transmission (AT) with AWD (all-wheel drive) as an option. The automatic option will be available on three variants — W8 FWD and W10 FWD and AWD, and sold from an attractive price of Rs 15.65 lakh (ex-showroom Bengaluru) — for the W8 FWD variant.

The all new automatic transmission has been sourced for the first time from leading global supplier AISIN from Japan.

Rugged exterior
Hardly one can notice the difference between the manual and AT variant, except that with Automatic badge on the rear. However, the company has retained the new age XUV500 stance, which is packed with a host of hi-tech features, and bold new cheetah-inspired exterior styling.

The new front grille with chrome inserts and static bending headlamps stands out in the crowd. No doubt, the 10-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels gives the SUV a macho look.

Plush interiors
Once you get inside, you will notice the premium new black and beige interiors, and plush beige leather seats. The new electric sun roof with anti-pinch, and first-in-class logo projection lamps on ORVMs (outside rear view mirrors) further redefine the premium quotient. Six-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat, tilt telescopic steering wheel helps to drive in a convenient manner for a long drive.

One can never miss the 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with GPS and driver information system (DIS). All said and done, something that Mahindra has missed out on is the boot space, especially if you are travelling with a family, and find that there is hardly any space to keep your luggage. However, with the flexi seating option for the third and second row, the flat bed allows for ample space.

Drive on
It’s afternoon when we try our hands on the tough and elegant XUV500 AT. The driving experience rises to the next level with easy cruising on city roads, as well as on challenging terrains.

Switch on the ignition and the engine comes to life, however, with some noise. The automatic gearbox is capable of providing brisk acceleration and smooth delivery of torque across all six gears, so as to enable a relaxed and stress-free drive, even in the stop and go city traffic. It comes with a ‘creep function’ to aid in slow moving traffic.

After taking a short drive in the city, we stretched to the National Highway towards Hyderabad. Oh Boy! the gear box feels smooth and feels responsive to sudden changes in throttle input. The 2.2-litre mHawk, producing 140 bhp @ 3,750 rpm gives enough power to the SUV. The more you increase the speed, the more it effortlessly it hugs the road. We could touch the speed of 180 kmph. As expected, the AT takes little less time when compared with the manual gear variant. To touch the speed of 0-60 kmph, it took us 6.18 seconds and for 0-100 kmph in 12.38 seconds.

For adventure seekers, the AT also comes with an option of all-wheel drive (AWD). The AWD ensures that the vehicle torque is suitably distributed between the wheels to provide the best traction on rugged or slippery roads, by sensing the difference in rpm between the front and rear wheels.

Intelligent adaptation to terrains and altitudes is capable of adapting to mid- and high altitudes to enable best drivability in these conditions. The two uphill climbing modes allow the vehicle to take on slopes and ghats effortlessly. The beauty of driving the AT vehicle is, one won’t feel tired. However, one has to compromise with the jerks, and even the rear passengers can feel the gear change mode.

The company has given the manual mode option via buttons on the gear lever. However, we switched back to AT mode, as it is difficult to drive  with manual mode. The driver has to keep his left hand on the gear lever every time to shift gears, which is not so smooth.

The Mahindra XUV500 AT has six airbags (front, side and curtain) to protect all occupants. The electronic stability programme (ESP) with rollover mitigation, ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), hill hold control and hill descent control comes handy in driving. Overall, XUV500 AMT makes a good option, and is value for money.

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