Every M&M car shares a certain DNA which is rugged, with an off-roading quality and built for hard wear and tear.
The XUV is all those, but also has a smoother edge for those who want city comfort now offered in competitor vehicles such as the MG Hector, Hyundai Creta, Volkswagen Tiguan and Tata's Harrier, says Pavan Lall.
When a manufacturer has built a car that has been tested on a special track with modern tech kitted out to spot for chinks in its developmental growth, you know that serious effort has gone into the car.
That is exactly the story with the latest SUV from the Mahindra stable -- the XUV 700 -- a car that's been getting M&M more attention since its erstwhile bestseller of yesteryear, the Scorpio.
Unequivocally, this is the best Indian car that I have been behind the wheel of in a long time and, of course, that doesn't include the Jaguar or the Land Rover. Why? There are a few reasons, to start with.
For one, the interiors don't feel like that of a truck or a commercial vehicle.
They are spiffy, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing with dashes of wood-grained veneer, leather and high-end plastics interspersed in the front, side and rear.
Even the chrome-brushed handles in matte finish evoke a BMW kind of fit and that's a good thing.
Start the car and the smooth sound of the engine is unlike any other M&M car.
Mahindra big boss Anand Mahindra has often repeated in the past that every M&M car shares a certain DNA which is rugged, with an off-roading quality and built for hard wear and tear.
In that vein, the XUV 700 goes a step further.
It is all those, but also has a smoother edge for those who want city comfort now offered in the likes of competitor vehicles such as the MG Hector, Hyundai Creta, Volkswagen Tiguan and Tata's Harrier.
Right from the nifty and unique door handles that pop open with the click of the key fob to the lane change cameras that are positioned both in front and behind the car, the 700 is out to make a sweeping statement.
Namely, that it's not leaving any stone unturned in reclaiming lost ground.
After all, Mahindra has been the big alpha dog when it comes to tapping the SUV market that has been evolving and growing in leaps and bounds.
That king of the hill position not only slipped but also saw the clear and present danger of being dethroned forever with the onslaught of top class products made by MG, Kia and more in just the last 24 months.
Once you start up the 700 with a start-stop button, its new-generation, 6-speed automatic transmission helps to smoothly push the 1,600-plus kilo five-seater into action.
On the road, it moves smoothly and with confidence although being built on a monocoque chassis, there is more rigidity.
That also means the car is a little bouncy on uneven roads in India, and can feel wobbly in the beginning but rev it up and that smooths out in due course.
Inside the car, there's no giveaway that this is a car made from the same manufacturing mindset of the early 2000s.
Auto lovers will remember that M&M would tout “frugal manufacturing” as a way to build great cars.
The fact is such philosophies must evolve with time and in this case frugal was starting to mean cheap.
Within the 700, there is no shred of frugal manufacturing. So much so that my neighbour, who sat in it, asked if it was an Acura!
That may be stretching it and her lack of awareness can be forgiven, but how the uninitiated see and perceive a new car is sometimes a far greater indication of a vehicle's chances of success than what auto pundits predict.
A case in point -- the Mahindra XUV 700 has supposedly already received 50,000 bookings worth over a billion dollars.
The challenge? To not get complacent and keep the bestsellers coming.
Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com