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Threat from Duster and Terrano forces Mahindra to launch W4

Bertrand D'souza  | Updated: November 06, 2013, 05:54 PM IST

As far as knee jerk reactions go, there is no better example to illustrate this than the entry level version of the XUV500 dubbed the W4! Yes Mahindra has felt the heat from Nissan and Renault and how can anyone not? Both the Terrano and the Duster are brilliant for India packages which, to their manufacturer's credit, have had lesser problems to deal with compared to the XUV500. The flagship Mahindra SUV from the day it was launched has had all sorts of reliability issues and that prompted them to recently come out with a zero defect vehicle. Now with consumer interest in the Duster and the Terrano hitting the roof it was only inevitable that Mahindra respond in kind. Enter the cutthroat priced XUV500 W4.

2013 Mahindra XUV 5002013 Mahindra XUV 500

Strangely enough, what everyone still tells you is what you get. Allow me to tell you what you won't get. Almost all of it is the frilly lacy stuff, rain sensing wipers, touchscreen infotainment, GPS navigation, DVD player, tweeters on the dashboard, the tyre pressure monitoring system, intelligent light sensing headlamps and the glass embedded antenna. You also won't get the telescopic steering, automatic climate control, fog lamps, premium quality upholstery, alloy wheels, cruise control and the hundreds of lamps that lit up everything.

There is more to this. And now comes the uglier stuff. Mahindra have also taken off ESP (Electronic Stability Program), Hill Hold and Hill Descent control system. Which of course means you cannot attempt any shenanigans in the XUV anymore because, lets face it, the XUV500 without the stability control system is definitely not the most secure SUV you want to be in. The thing is that you don't realise when the ESP steps in to take charge and give you control of the vehicle and in wet and slippery conditions there are a lot of occasions ESP kicks in on the XUV500. Now you will know and you better up your driving skills.

In fact, and I may just have hit this on the head, all of those features will have taken off at least another 20-30 kilos off the XUV500. So unintentionally Mahindra may have also improved the fuel efficiency of the XUV500, not by much but it's a start for this near two and half ton behemoth.

Overall through, this is the sort of thing that Mahindra should have done ages ago. It's not too late just yet and we do believe that the XUV500 will be able to hold her own in this new three-way battle between it, the Duster and the Terrano. That's principally because even without that incredibly rich list of features being stricken off the XUV500 W4, it still has enough left behind. Santa Claus may have left the building, but there is still a lot of spillover! Without a doubt, the XUV500 W4 is still better equipped than the Terrano and the Duster.

What makes things interesting though is the fact that the XUV500 is now in a position to draw consumers away from the Scorpio. This is a new spin because Mahindra have effectively allowed the Scorpio sales to be cannibalised in order for the XUV numbers to grow.

Of course, where Mahindra did very well with the XUV500 initially was on public sentiment. Everyone wanted a stylish contemporary SUV and if it came from a domestic manufacturer credited for building utility vehicles all their lives, all the better. The XUV500 initially flew off shelves until Mahindra could no longer cater to the demand and the wait list increased. Then the Duster came in and grabbed a lot of customers away. Then the Ecosport came in and took the Dusters wait-listers away and now the Terrano comes in and whoever is looking for some premiumness is being drawn to Nissan. You see how attention was drawn away from the XUV, effectively leaving very little brand recall for the XUV500.

So is there any sense then in buying the XUV500? Honestly, if you want a stylish city runaround, sure thing. But with the features scratched off the list and very little off-road ability, there is hardly anything to look forward to in the XUV500 any longer!

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