• Mahindra XUV400: First Drive Review

The first production electric SUV from Mahindra packs quite a punch

Mahindra seems to be betting big on electric SUVs. Last month the Indian SUV maker unveiled five new electric SUV concepts. And now it has revealed the XUV400, its first production-ready electric SUV that's set to go on sale in January next year. Based on the compact XUV300, the XUV400 enters a small yet popular segment of compact electric SUVs. In fact, its main rival, the Tata Nexon EV, is the best-selling SUV in the country by quite a margin. 

While it directly rivals the Tata Nexon EV, on paper, the XUV400 punches a segment above going up against the likes of the Hyundai Kona and MG ZS EV. Should its rivals be worried? We spent a day driving the XUV400 at the Mahindra Research valley to find out just that.

With the XUV400, Mahindra has tread a fine line in retaining the familiarity of the XUV300 while also differentiating the electric SUV from its ICE sibling. The most obvious update is the front end with the closed grilles, a signature EV move. It gets arrowhead-shaped inserts on the grille which look funky up close, but as a whole, stick out from the rest of the clean bodywork. The XUV400 is also the first production SUV to flaunt Mahindra's copper twin-peak logo reserved for its electric vehicles. It also gets copper accents on the front bumper, side skirts, tail lamp and even a copper-finished roof. 

While the projector headlamps are shared with the XUV300, unlike the ICE SUV, the LED DRLs do not extend down to the bumper. Even the tail lamp housing is similar to the XUV300 but gets three distinct horizontal LED strips. The 16-inch alloy wheels are carried over but feature the new copper twin peaks logo in the centre. 

Dimension-wise, the XUV400 features the same width and wheelbase as the XUV300 but is slightly taller and 205mm longer. As electric SUVs do not have to worry about the sub-four metre length restrictions. The increased 4.2-metre length improves boot space from the XUV300's 257 litres to 378 litres. 

While these were pre-production prototypes, the SUV did have uneven panel gaps and mismatching paints. We would give them the benefit of doubt and expect these issues to be ironed out before deliveries begin in January next year. 

Inside, the XUV400 gets an all-black interior with copper accents on the AC vents, infotainment dial and gear lever. While the dashboard design is similar to the XUV300, the quality of materials seems paired down and quite plasticky. In comparison, the Nexon EV's cabin feels upmarket and this is one key area Mahindra needs to work on. 

Even the tiny seven-inch infotainment screen and twin-pod instrument cluster with MID display are lifted from the XUV300 and fail to impress with its dated layout and grainy resolution. That said, the XUV400 gets connected technology and features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, reversing camera, driver seat height adjustability keyless entry and sunroof but miss out on wireless charging.

Mahindra has not skimped on safety, the bodyshell has been reinforced in key areas with high-strength steel and designed for better frontal impact resistance and six airbags as standard. 

The XUV400 claims to be the quickest accelerating road-going Mahindra ever. That sounds right with a 0-100kmph time of just 8.3 seconds. The performance is courtesy of a front-mounted electric motor that delivers a substantial 150PS and 310Nm. It also allows the XUV400 to reach a top speed of 150kmph.

The performance is impressive with maximum torque available from a standstill. It is quick to get to 100kmph and even keeps accelerating hard past that. We drove on Mahindra's high-speed bowl and saw the SUV top out at a speedo-indicated 160kmph. It gets three driving modes and it's not zip, zap and zoom. It is called fun, fast and fearless. These modes alter throttle response, battery regeneration levels and steering response. 

It also gets a unique lively mode that's activated by shifting the gear lever down from drive mode. In this mode, the motor controls regenerative braking essentially allowing you to drive the SUV using just the accelerator pedal. We tried out this mode at Mahindra's city simulation track and found it to be quite intuitive and useful enough to allow for driving in heavy traffic. 

The XUV400 gets a 39.4kWh battery pack. It offers a claimed range of 456km which is the best in its class. It comes with fast charging capability and with a 50kW DC charger, can charge the battery from 0-80 percent in 50 minutes. With a 7.2kWh AC wall-box charger, 0-100 percent charging will take 6.5 hours and a 3.3kW AC socket will get this done in 13 hours. 

While the XUV400's underpinnings are similar to the XUV300 but feature Frequency Dependent damping valves for better ride and handling characteristics. While we did not get the opportunity to drive the XUV400 over bad roads, it did tackle surface imperfections and speedbreakers well. While the overtly light steering wheel should be a boon in city traffic, it did little to inspire confidence during our high-speed runs. 

Our vehicles too were not fitted with ESP which will come in the production models. Without this safety feature, the SUV easily lit up its front tyres in corners every time you stepped on the throttle. To its credit, the tyres held well and kept things in check.

It gets disc brakes at all four ends and uses brake regeneration as well to decelerate depending on the brake pedal pressure. I felt the level of brake generation to be a bit too much which led to less feedback from the brake pedal and reduced initial bite.

While Mahindra had revealed its electric intent with the five SUV concepts, it comes with all guns blazing with the XUV400. It impresses with its performance, claimed range and balanced dynamics. Overall, the XUV400 is competent enough to have other EVs below the Rs 30 lakh mark sweating under the collar. Pricing remains key and if Mahindra gets it right, the XUV400 has what it takes to get on top.

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