There is much riding on the ‘new’ Xylo’s shoulders; Mahindra’s MUV has won a certain fan following, but sales of this utility vehicle haven’t been spectacular. With the H-Series Xylo (so called because the mHawk engine replaces the previous mEagle power unit), M&M is hoping for better numbers. It has widened the Xylo’s appeal by offering a broader spread of variants, and equipping the Xylo with many features to make it as good value as possible, while also seeking to attract the family buyer, and not just the taxi market. Has Mahindra pulled it off? We put the new Xylo to the test to find out.
Design & Engineering
It’s very difficult to mix the Xylo up with anything else on the road. The breadbox silhouette and slightly ungainly stature are unique to this vehicle. Mahindra has tried to freshen up this MUV’s looks, since it was first launched. Now there is a new front grille, new headlamps, black-coloured cladding along the lower edge of the bodywork, which wraps around the wheel arches, along the lower edges of the bodywork and the front and rear bumpers. There’s also a discreet rear spoiler now. These additions do attempt to add some drama to the Xylo’s styling, and succeed to an extent.
Under the skin, the Xylo possesses a robust ladder frame chassis, with double wishbone front suspension and a multi-link set-up at the rear. Mahindra’s engineers have worked hard at optimising the set-up, but more on this in the Ride and Handling section below. There’s also a new gearbox, which Mahindra calls 5MT320 (5MT is the number of forward gears, while 320 is the torque rating of the mHawk engine in the Scorpio). Although the Xylo H-Series uses the same mHawk engine which powers the Scorpio, the tuning is a little different. In the Xylo, the mHawk belts out 120 PS of power and 280 Nm of torque. While the power rating is the same, the torque available in the Xylo is a little less.
We drove the top-of-the-line H9 version of the new Xylo. The new Mahindra Xylo H-Series H9 comes fitted with steering-mounted audio controls, Italian leather upholstery, cruise control, dual AC, reverse parking assist, ABS, two airbags etc.
Interiors & Comfort
You need to climb into the Xylo, quite literally. Unless you’re very tall, you’ll have to use the thoughtfully-provided sidestep to enter this vehicle, either from the front or rear. This makes it a little inconvenient for elderly people, or small children, but once you’re inside this car, you have a commanding view of the road. The Xylo is available with two bench seats in the second and third rows, although you could opt for the individual captain chairs in row 2, if you like. Nevertheless, the width of the cabin and the boxy profile will allow for three people to be seated in the third row quite comfortably as well, with no compromise on headroom. Legroom is slightly less in the third row though, but still better than what you get in a Toyota Innova, for example. Comparisons with the Innova will be inevitable, considering that that is the car squarely in the Xylo’s sights.
The Xylo’s dashboard and plastics are of quite a good quality, and in fact feel nicer to the touch than some earlier Scorpios I’ve driven. The fit and finish is quite good and the rubberised buttons are nice to the touch. The H9 version has a height adjustable seat, and tilt-adjust steering wheel, so finding a good driving position was quite easy. The ergonomics of the Xylo are better than Mahindra’s own Scorpio, for example, but not quite in the league of the Toyota Innova. The Xylo also has a dead pedal to rest your left foot, but this we found to be quite narrow and ungainly, and didn’t really provide for extra comfort. If anything, the footwell felt a little cramped for my size 10 feet.
Access to the third row is by flipping the second row seats. There is a flip down arm rest with cupholders in the third row too!
Like I mentioned earlier, headroom is great in all three rows of the Xylo, and legroom is sufficient in the second row as well. The roof mounted vents for the air conditioning have an independent blower control too, allowing the rear passengers to set the blower speed to their liking, or switch it off entirely.
Performance & Handling
One mustn’t expect much when punting about in a car of the Xylo’s incredible bulk, but quite frankly this MUV is actually quite easy to drive. The same slab sided design which we criticised aesthetically is actually an ally when on the road. You can sight the corners quite easily, and the large glass-house provides very good all-round visibility.
The Xylo’s controls are pleasingly light to operate. The steering doesn’t have any feel to talk of, but goes about its task faithfully. The gearshift action is greatly improved over what the earlier Xylo had, and the gears slot positively. If anything, the box feels a little notchy, but that is acceptable.
Tyres provide good ride quality. Ground clearance is excellent as well.
Setting off in the Xylo, one is pleasantly surprised by the easy traction the mHawk engine provides. In slow-moving traffic, it is possible to merely modulate the clutch, with nary a hint of throttle, to make progress. This of course is a feature of many large-capacity diesel engines, but Mahindra’s engineers have displayed a keen understanding of the driving habits and traffic in our country, which has translated into this kind of ease of driving.
Given an open road, you can put your right foot to the floor, and the Xylo picks up steam quite admirably for a vehicle of its size and weight. It’s no scorcher, agreed, but it won’t leave you feeling embarrassed either. With 5 people aboard and a few bags in the back, the Xylo was cruising happily at an indicated 110 km/h, with enough grunt in reserve to add another 20 clicks or so merely by flexing the right foot, no downshift required.
Don’t expect a big MUV to be a ‘handler’ if you know what I mean. The Xylo has no such pretensions, but neither does it feel scary to drive. In fact, at brisk speeds on the highway, it is reasonably confidence-inspiring, and in fact feels much more secure from behind the wheel than the smaller and lighter Maruti Ertiga.
Mileage or fuel efficiency is a favourite talking point, and with Xylo, don’t expect any different. Mahindra of course, intends that the new Xylo H-Series will appeal to the private buyer as much as it does to the fleet operator, and fuel efficiency is very important. We in fact were pleasantly surprised by the Xylo H-Series’ frugal nature.
On our highway run, the Xylo managed 13.8 km/l, which is quite impressive. This was despite some slow moving traffic on occasion, idling in long queues at toll gates, and negotiating a railway crossing.
Our city run wasn’t too bad either, the Xylo managing to run for 10.1 kilometres for every litre of diesel. The fuel tank though is just 55 litres in capacity, and I feel a larger tank would be beneficial as it would give more range, meaning fewer stops at the pumps. Time is indeed money in our age, and the less you need to go to the pumps, the better, if you ask me.
Safety considerations are increasing among Indian car buyers. As the market grows and matures, more and more car buyers want increased safety features from the cars they buy. With the Xylo, Mahindra has tried to provide adequate safety features. The new Xylo is available in three variants – H4, H8 and H9. While the top-of-the-range H9 we tested has ABS and two airbags as standard, Mahindra offers the base H4 with ABS as a cost option for Rs 25,000. The H8 comes with ABS as standard, but Rs 40,000 will add two airbags, one each for the driver and front passenger. A simple safety feature, and a pet peeve of mine, is a rear wash-wipe function, which Mahindra thankfully provides on all variants, including the base H4. The H8 and H9 also get a rear defogger.
If you mantra is "Have car, will travel", the Xylo will suit you to a T.
So, how does the new Mahindra Xylo H-Series stack up? I can’t help but like it, to be honest. There are no serious flaws in this vehicle’s make-up. Being a Mahindra, it does carry with it a certain air of indestructibility. One gets the sense that the Xylo will last for a long time. Indeed, in my interactions with some fleet owners, I’ve sat in and driven examples which have clocked well over 150,000 kilometres, and still drive admirably well. The interiors are hard-wearing and don’t stain like the Innova’s do, either.
The Xylo’s good fuel efficiency is another strong aspect to consider. Diesel will only ever get more expensive, and owning a frugal car is simply good economics.
In the end, though, what truly makes the Xylo stand out, is the price. And I mean this in a nice way. The base Xylo H4 retails for Rs 9.59 lakh, on the-road, Kolkata, going up to just 12.12 lakhs for the fully-loaded H9 variant, which comes with all the bells and whistles you can expect. This is a whopping Rs 4 lakh less than the comparable Toyota Innova, money which can easily buy you another small car. In fact, the Xylo’s pricing could tempt buyers away from some smaller UVs as well, such is the value that this product offers. Of course, one may argue that the Mahindra Xylo does not have the “image” of certain other products in the same category, but that is a shallow argument.
If you have a large family, are fond of travelling together, and want a robust family vehicle, the new Mahindra Xylo H-Series is an ideal candidate.
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