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The new Mahindra XYLO definitive pictorial review - pricing, features, drive, accessories, detailed and honest opinions!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

/ by Srikanth Eswaran

12:15pm. Sireesh Auto, Rupena Agrahara, Mahindra showroom. Me and my friend. Prebooked test drive. Even before I could have a full look at the XYLO, the test drive car was already waiting. No wasting time, jumped into it and started off on my drive. What I bring below is a detailed review of everything about this car. But before that thanks to Venkatesh @ Sireesh, for enabling this review for all of you.

Looks

Looks are subjective always. Whats looking good to me may not look good to you. The Xylo is Wide, Tall, and bulky, even bigger looking in proportion and actual size to the Scorpio. The tyres look pretty puny for a vehicle of this size. Well agreed this is not the most modern looking car of all, but as I said, I dont see a car from the outside much. What is important to me is the inside. I observed so many things in this car, that I am not sure how to put them in the review, but let me do my best here!

The front of the XYLO pretty much is close to scorpio, but the headlamp cluster is much more lengthier and less round. Its an odd proportion, but I like it for how it is. The front fender looks slightly out of place and does not fit snugly with the bumper. Its more like a rake attached to the XYLO :). The side mirrors are quite wide and nice. The engine compartment is tight, and many things are neatly laid out within it. Its amazing to see how many parts are fitting into a place like this on the XYLO. Well done to M & M on this front. The rear lamp cluster looks more like a bottle of Appy (the famous apple fizz drink), and it sure seems a bit funny whenever you cast your eyes on it. It is worthwhile noting here that the boot door opens sideways and not bottom to top as is in the case of Scorpio. The lower end version comes with standard tubeless tyres, 15 inchers with lots of rubber width, while the higher end version comes with alloys as a fitting from the company itself. Whether they are durable or not is another question to be answered in the long run.

Interiors

Lets look further onto the interiors. This has always been M & M's strong point, and the XYLO is no exception. But mistakes could always happen and as you read this section you will notice how some small things have been goofed up with in the interiors. The dashboard comes with black and aluminium finish in the center or beige and aluminium, I prefer the former though its available only in the high end model. The top end model comes with split A/C, a DDAS (now common, have I not heard this name before somewhere?) - according to Mahindra, its called digital display assist system! Maruti must file for infringement on using a similar name! Whatever that is, the central information console is pretty cool and it provides information as the speed, gear you are in, the distance you can go before you empty your tank (approximate calculations of course) and other such information. Its a shame that the XYLO does not sport a climate control even on the top end version.

The whole central part of the dashboard looks like a big watermelon in shape. The inbuilt stereo has AUX + USB support with four speakers and a woofer (and maybe tweeters which I did not notice or observe). The backlighting is cool and things are easy to operate and read on the music player. However the volume distorts the music beyond level 15. So this is not the best in class system one would say. But level 15 itself is pretty loud and clear and I dont see many people go beyond this for normal use, unless you want to get deaf sooner! Having said that the central aluminium finish is ok to me, but it may not be so with others who may not like it. The steering is chunky but does not feel as good as that of the Scorpio. The real comparison of this car is being done with Toyota Innova, another MUV which is on the costlier side. But M&M has carefully propositioned this car as a sedan-killer, and not an Innova killer, since they seem to realize their own drawbacks in this car, which I shall speak about shortly.

Drawbacks in the interiors

I never usually keep a section for this in my reviews and tend to mention it in the Interiors section itself, but the XYLO needed some special attention to these possible mistakes or goof ups and I wanted to point them out in a section separately for you to take note. So here goes! Firstly there are two armrests in the front seats. One for the driver and one for the copassenger. While this is fine, the way it has been designed in the Xylo is that while the armrest is activated, the driver cannot plug the seatbelt into its slot. This is really absurd. M&M has given parcel trays (or for that matter, lunch trays if you may want to call them) for people to eat sitting on each seat. This is perhaps laudable for long trips when this necessity occurs, but the quality of the trays seems really pathetic. It looks and feels extremely plasticky to use. This is not just limited to the food tray, but also to the door lock. I could not imagine that the door lock was feeling a bit out of quality on such a car. After having seen and felt the Scorpio locks for a long time now, this was certainly not expected out of M&M for the Xylo.

The vanity mirror for the copassenger is next. Fine one can understand that ladies have to be pleased to all levels, but giving two lights next to the vanity mirror is a bit of overdoing that. I have never imagined what gain I can have out of having such lights, when I have powerful cabin lights! The uneven placement of the second 12V socket at the back struck me when I sat behind. The place was already dirty and it shows how much the passengers can kick this area over and over again. Next are the cup holders to the front near the dashboard. These are more half cup holders with open ended borders to the left and right. This according to me is a risk as the cup contents could easily fall onto the carpet. Having said that the cup holders themselves only would serve small cups and not big ones. I was struggling to find the bottle holder in this car. The guy at the back opened the storage behind the handbrake and I noticed there were two cupholders as part of the lid, and the rest of the area was for the bottle!! So if I wanted to keep a bottle, the lid of this bottle storage area must always be opened, which is ridiculous! Its more like a design flaw than anything else. M&M, this was not expected of you in your urgency to bring us a sedan killer. The other thing I noticed was the child lock on the doors. This looked like a lollipop stick pointing out of the door to be fiddled with! Quite amusing.

Drive and performance

Even if you were disgusted or happy about anything and everything a car has to offer, the drive and performance would make your opinions swing either for or against a car. And this by far to me is the most important thing in a car that makes me give either more or less points to it. So lets see my drive experience with the Xylo right away. I took a small drive about half a kilometer that involved two U-turns, merging with main roads, and sufficient braking and acceleration. My friend took a 2km drive which also involved speeding, and road humps. While I talk about the drive, I shall also mention some other things which are part of interiors of the car.

It was a really hot winter afternoon (a misnomer isnt it? but thats how the city is!) and I was definitely expecting the A/C to calm me down sufficiently. This is a strong point in Scorpio and tends to be so with the Xylo too. The vents are neatly located both in front and rear and the rear ones are ceiling mounted and not near the foot as in some other cars! Thanks M&M for this. It feels just fine. The last row A/c does not have any controls, while the middle row sports a dial to set speeds of the A/C cooling fan. At my seating position the power windows felt a bit inaccessible, but for people who are even more closer to the steering, perhaps this would then become a pain (I am trying to clandestinely tell you that I am a tall guy :) ).

Firstly I tried getting into the drivers seat and the immediate feeling I got is I was about to get onto a truck (lorry as in indian english). This seating is really high, and this also provides a real tall stance to this car. But ingress/egress is not easy, and old people will definitely suffer to make it into the car. Secondly switching between rear two rows is quite a pain as the gap could be a bit less for bulky people. Somehow after I managed to get into the drivers seat, I felt that the seat in Xylo was much better than Scorpio itself. It hugs you from all sides literally and is more cushiony than the bigger brother. The meter console is quite simplistic with white dials and black fonts, but nothing elegant. The view of the road is awesome and it feels like you are sitting quite high up there! This car could have been called Xy-high instead of Xy-lo :)

Ok now for the drive. I cranked the engine on, and felt the engine vibrating within the car. Its fine with me, not too noisy but not too quiet. The gear stick is easy to use, but is shaped rather oddly rectangularly. And since I am used to round gear shifts all this while, the sedan killer did give me something funny and unique in this department. The gear operation is smooth, and is much better than the Scorpio. I slowly nudged the gear to ONE, and expected a surge forward, but nothing. No big deal. After driving the swift for 20000 kms, such an expecation was only natural from me. I had to press the accelerator pedal hard and the car slowly started moving forward. But the speeds I can go at in each gear is pretty limited and since the speedo was disconnected it prevented me from knowing what speed I was at. The brakes were real hard and when I did break near the signals, the entire car shook sideways. This clearly indicated the body roll problem has been overlooked in the Xylo too. Must I now conclude that M&M does not know how to solve this problem? Or that this is a problem in all tall SUV/s - MUV/s? But whatever it is, this behaviour of the car is irritating and causes unwanted problems at high speeds. I have sat in a Scorpio for a 1000km journey into TamilNadu long back, and by the time we returned to Bangalore everyone was complaining of neck and back ache.

The seats of the Xylo might address this to some extent, but the body roll is extremely high even at speeds below 50kmph. This only means that at higher speeds, one could deem this car to be unstable to a high degree. I am not technical enough to speak about what tests have been conducted regarding this aspect, but I can talk about my experience when I have sat in this car. To sum up - I could not hold a small camera steady enough for a shot of the dashboard when this Xylo was being driven on a rather straight stretch of road at progressively increasing speed. Each time my friend hit the brake pedal, my heart was in my mouth. I was violently shaken, and thrown about in the middle seat. I changed to the last row on my way back and the problem of throwing around seemed to be compounded. If there is one reason I WILL NOT buy this car, it is this body roll. And given the fact this occurs at lower speeds, my disinterest in this vehicle grows further since it then wont be fit even for city use in some way or the other.For a 2.6 litre m-eagle engine, this car lacks grunt or does not give the feeling of good pick up within. The feedback to the driver is too low and I was not sure that the car responded as I had indicated it to with the accel pedal and the steering.

Seating luxury and other stuff

One thing commendable about the Xylo is the seating. The seating is spacious, all the way upto and including the last row. When folded, the last row paves way for a huge really huge boot space where you can stack all the items in your house :) The lights in the ceiling are spot on, and well designed for maximum impact. The sunglass holder, vanity mirror, armrests in every row are all very good thinking. However I am still wondering why the cup holders in the armrests are in pink or purple colours, they looked kiddish to me and slightly out of place with the overall black theme of the inside!

There is also a butterfly latch to the rear window, which makes it a bit airy when the aircon is not in use. Toyota, you have some things to learn from M&M in this regard and hopefully in the next version of Innova, you wont fry us alive in the rear seat. The rear parking assist is a nice touch in the top end version and it shows you the safe parking area alert in the mirror portion. We tested it and it was fine. Please be advised though that objects of height lesser than that of reverse parking camera located at rear would not be identified!

Pricing, safety (??), final opinion and future options

In short the pricing with options:

E2 - low end 7,55,263 OTR
E4 - with dual ac, rear wiper, coloured bumpers, etc 8,08,350 OTR
E6 - Electric side view mirror adjust, audio system, parking assist, arm rests, lumbar supports, all lamps 8,82,672 OTR
E6 - with ski racks 8,88,570 OTR
E8 - the ultimate, with alloys, DDAS 9,26,321 OTR

Ok, all this pricing is tempting enough. But heck what about safety? NO ABS, NO AIRBAGS? M&M are you kidding us? Why must we take a car that does not provide any safety standards? Then it wont be a sedan killer, it could also be a people killer in the long run if not driven properly. Personally I would love side airbags, considering the amount of body roll this car gives me! :) They also plan to launch a 4x4 version of this car. I cant imagine what that vehicle will feel like. If you read this review M&M, please get your product right before launching the 4x4 version.

My opinion: 50-50

Bad for body roll, safety, and driving experience for both driver and passengers, good for features inside the car, space, height and road stance. So I am undecided. It might fit the taxi segment a lot, but without safety, its a far cry that this vehicle will sell in huge numbers. If I were you and I had 9-odd lakhs, I would still go for the Innova for its stability, strong feel and more than comfortable ride.But if you have a large family, today there is no other MUV in the 6-8 lacs segment other than Xylo. Its definitely a good start for M&M but if they reduce the body roll and give a more definitively comfortable ride with safety options, then this car is an ideal one. I feel this car will sell initially on the hype, and the sales if not on a decline trend will remain stable without an increasing trend down the line. As usual one can expect M&M to get feedback from their first set of scapegoats before they launch a new and improved Sedan Killer - Xylo the second, without the quirks of the first! This car is neither a sedan killer, nor a Scorpio or Innova killer at the moment!

Enjoy the Xylo!

YOUR COMMENTS ARE VALUABLE FOR THIS POST, AS I HAVE TAKE CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF MY TIME TO TEST DRIVE THIS CAR AND BRING THIS REVIEW TO YOU! PLEASE USE THE COMMENTS SECTION AND TELL ME WHAT YOU FEEL!

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