Last month Mahindra announced big plans to go electric within the next five years. But the company had already set the ball rolling for making the emotional and literal transition from ICE to BEVs. And we knew one of the first e-SUVs sporting the new copper twin peaks logo was due for launch soon. That is the XUV 4OO. The BEVs due out in the next few years from M&M and the concepts (that were showcased last month) on which they will be built are all going to be on an all-new skateboard style dedicated EV platform. That INGLO platform which Mahindra talked about is not what the XUV 4OO has been built on. It is instead based on the XUV 3OO, their existing ICE SUV in the sub-compact segment, which itself was based on the SsangYong Tivoli. This then means that the XUV 4OO is an adapted platform where the ICE architecture has been modified to fit the needs of a BEV.
Of the two dedicated EV brands that Mahindra unveiled last month - XUV and BE, the XUV 4OO will be the first electric. It is not very unlike the XUV 3OO in terms of dimensions, with only the overall length being about 205mm more. But the design is different, even though many are only intelligent variations with a lot of smart packaging within the blueprint of the XUV 3OO’s design. The extra length (essentially because the XUV 4OO doesn’t need to be a sub-4-metre SUV) helps in delivering a design that is more ‘wholesome’. The tailgate is shapelier with a more layered design, and it has probably contributed to more space in the boot. The front fascia is familiar yet fresh, and it gets a lot of the new design signatures that Mahindra has endowed all its recent models with. Mahindra chief designer Pratap Bose says that they will use the soft-satin copper finish as a signature element for the accent trims on the exterior and interior of all their BEVs.
Again, smart packaging makes the front trim elements integrate seamlessly into what is essentially the XUV 3OO’s design. The key addition is the solid bonnet grille with matching geometric patterns running over into the front fender. Copper accents highlight the ‘X-shaped’ pattern and point to the fact that this is an EV. The side profile is nearly identical to the XUV 3OO, except for some of the side character trim elements and the contrast roof that my test mule XUV 4OO sported. The 16-inch alloys wheels and the Bridgestone Turanza tyres they were shod with also seemed like regular ICE options. The rear design sees the addition of a transparent housing for the tail-lamps with LED tubes. There is no tail pipe sticking out, but the rear fender sports what looks like a faux skid plate. Tailgate sports the XUV 4OO logo in copper matt metallic.
The interior of the XUV 4OO feels spacious. That’s one of my first reactions after I step in. This is one of the widest SUVs in its class, and since it is an upright design there is more headroom and legroom. In fact, Mahindra’s stats claim that there is more headroom and legroom in both the first and second rows compared to vehicles like the Hyundai Kona, MG ZS EV and the Tata Nexon. There is more room in the boot too with luggage space being 378 litres up to the parcel tray (260litres in XUV 3OO). Mahindra officials mentioned multiple times that the test mule I was driving was a production prototype and that there would be some bugs and some changes done prior to the official launch in January 2023. But here are some of the features I could experience in the cabin of the XUV 4OO.
My test mule sported a black interior theme with black leatherette seats and blue stitching. There are a few carryovers from the XUV 3OO, but the materials used are different. The satin-copper inserts and highlights liven up the cabin. The piano black centre console looks neat, though the wireless charging slot at the bottom of the centre stack was too narrow for my phone to fit. A bug that will hopefully be fixed prior to launch. The driver’s seat gets 6-way adjustments, but only manual controls. An EV needs a touchscreen to complete the formula, and the XUV 4OO gets one in its 17.8cm infotainment screen with in-built navigation and a 4-speaker music system. Connectivity options include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but only wired. The gearstick is a simple stubby joystick style unit. The instrument cluster is a mix of analog and digital. Of the two analog dials, one is for the speedo and the other displays the battery charge and discharge status with a green band indicating the most economical power range in which to drive the vehicle. Other EV statistics regarding charging status, state of charge and live battery status etc are displayed on the infotainment screen. The XUV 4OO also gets 60-plus connected car features using the company’s BlueSense Plus app. The XUV 3OO’s cabin is better equipped, so cost-cutting for the EV is apparent. Also there were a few bugs that I experienced including a whimsical power-window button.
The focus for the new EV from Mahindra is to take on the current competitors in the B and C segments. The e-powertrain has been tuned to deliver above-average performance in terms of both sheer acceleration and driving range. The XUV 4OO gets a 39.4kWh Lithium-ion battery pack (NMC chemistry). Power is delivered to the front wheels using a permanent magnet synchronous motor that generates 150PS of peak power and 310Nm of peak torque. Mahindra claims that the XUV 4OO can go to 100kmph from standstill in 8.3 seconds. That seems fair after testing the vehicle at the company’s proving track outside Chennai. But I doubt that it can do 456km on a full charge, which is its rated driving range. My guess is that real world driving range will be closer to 300-330km depending on style of driving and traffic conditions.
Charging times for the battery pack could vary from 13 hours via a 16A wall socket, to 6.5 hours from a 7.2kW AC, to just 50 minutes to get a 0-80 per cent charge via a 50kW DC fast charger. Mahindra officials say that a lot of innovation has gone into the battery pack and its construction. Starting from the IP67 water-resistance to the aluminium casing for extra protection to the multiple dissipation vents to prevent thermal events, and both cooling and heating of the pack for maintaining optimum operating temperatures, considerable new tech has been brought in for the XUV 4OO.
On the high-banked oval high-speed track it is impossible to gauge the dynamic abilities of the vehicle, but in terms of sheer acceleration and stability, the XUV 4OO is very good, all the way to its limited top speed of 150kmph. There are three drive modes to choose from — Fun, Fast and Fearless, with differences to the throttle response and regenerative braking styles. The high performance Fearless mode sends so much torque to the front wheels that there is considerable wheel spin during acceleration and understeer while cornering. But the final production version is expected to get traction control and that should bring more control. The XUV 4OO also gets a low ‘L’ mode for single pedal driving; this is a high regen mode meant to return high levels of charge to the battery. Mahindra engineers have also taken the frequency dependent damping and multi-tuneable valve with concentric land suspension set up from the new Scorpio-N and plonked it into the XUV 4OO. The ride quality was an aspect that I particularly liked in both these vehicles. It also leads to improved cornering abilities and a firm but not hard ride for the XUV 4OO.
The Mahindra XUV is likely to be priced in the ₹ 17 lakh-₹ 19 lakh price range. Mahindra will be looking to price it aggressively to take on the likes of the Tata Nexon EV Max. It may lack a few features in the cabin, but it will likely score in the refinement, performance and driving range metrics. Wait for the official launch in January 2023.