2019 Mahindra Alturas G4 road test review
What makes SUVs so appealing? If you are from the small section of the audience asking this question then Mahindra's new Alturas G4 flagship will not be answering your queries. But, if you are from the majority of the car-buying public who can't get enough of these cars, the Alturas G4 is right up your alley.
Essentially a rebadged Ssangyong Rexton G4, the Alturas G4 barrels straight into one of the most difficult to break into sections of the Indian SUV market. The Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour have dominated the Rs 35 to 40 lakh, seven-seater, body-on-frame SUV segment for the better part of the last decade, the Fortuner is the current sales leader.
Styling and dimensions
The Mahindra Alturas G4 strikes the right balance here. The Alturas carries a good dose of chrome on its front grille, the only major difference between this and its Korean cousin. This is nicely offset by the contoured bonnet, the squared-off haunches above the wheel wells and the strong crease that runs below the window line. The grey cladding along the lower section accentuates the car's off-road credentials. The 18-inch tyres look meaty but the international-spec 20 inches would have been an instant hit.
The LED projector lamps are also sedately styled, we especially liked the integration of the slim LED foglamps in conjunction with the mesh around it. The headlamps themselves are effective and do a good job of lighting up the road ahead.
The effect is not as convincing at the rear. The boot lid itself is plain, and the way in which the line above the rear wheels crimp into the boot feels forced. This overstyling is accentuated by the grandiose badging which uses an odd large font. The tail lamps again are well styled and are LED through-out. A nice touch is how the C-motif of the parking lights is repeated in the reflectors below.
Dimensionally, the Alturas G4 is 4,850 mm long, 1,960 mm wide and 1,845 mm tall. These are noticeable improvements of 95 mm, 60 mm, and 40 mm respectively over the third-gen Ssangyong Rexton RX7. The wheelbase has grown by 30 mm to 2,865 mm, a gain well-represented in the interior.
A view of the interiors of the Mahindra Alturas G4
Interiors, features and safety
This is where the Alturas really moves the game forward. It's a bit of a step into the cabin, especially if you do not have the optional running board our tester came with. Once inside, the atmosphere is fresh and inviting. The seats are comfortable and supportive, eight-way power adjustable and ventilated, a must-have feature in our weather. There is an expansive glass area, the edges of the bonnet are clearly visible from the seating position and the outer mirrors are large. All of this adds up to make for great visibility. The sunroof adds to the sensation of airiness.
The steering wheel is a bit too thin-rimmed for city driving but is finished well in leather and moves inward angularly to help you hold it better. The recessed horn is a bit difficult to reach.
Instrument cluster in the Mahindra Alturas G4
The instrument cluster is a simple two-dial set-up. The biggest attraction being the large seven-inch display between them. The screen is crisply rendered and comes loaded with features like numerous modes for the digital speed display, an extensive trip computer, settings for various car functions like the powered taillight and tilting mirrors. This screen also tells you the steering wheel position once you park the car and has a tyre pressure monitor.
The interiors of the Mahindra Alturas G4
The overall feel of the cabin is upmarket. This is mainly because of the dash layout and the selection of materials it uses. The top gets grey soft-touch plastic, the dark faux wood also feels nice as does the tan leather quilting which matches that of the seats. The buttons are also nice to operate with their alternating metallic or piano black finishes. Plastic quality could have been better in places though. Some bits in the footwell, around the central tunnel and the second-row seat folding mechanism, felt flimsy.
Infotainment screen in the Mahindra Alturas G4
The six-speaker infotainment is compatible with Apple Car Play and Android Auto accessed via an eight-inch display. The Alturas gets a segment first 360-degree camera though, the feed is clear and of high quality, and helped us park this big car without much hassle. A great feature is a dedicated button allowing you to bring up this camera when the car is at standstill.
The Alturas is spacious for passengers in the first two rows. The second can seat three medium-sized adults easily and legroom is not an issue either. Under-thigh support could have been a touch better. We were pleasantly surprised by how far behind it reclines. The third row is best left for children. It's difficult to get into, a complex two-step procedure folds the middle row and the high floor makes for uncomfortable seating. Legroom is fair here but the awkward angle of the seatback and the placement of AC vents only on the right side means we really don't miss this space.
The Alturas will open its boot for you if a stand near it with the key in your pocket. We tried this feature and found it more intuitive than the ones which have you kick at the underside of the car. There is a healthy 234 litres of boot space with three rows up, this grows to 641 litres with the last row folded away.
Safety is class leading here. There are front, side and curtain airbags, nine in total. Also available are every conceivable safety aid you can expect at this price point. There is ESP, traction control, a rollover mitigation function, an emergency braking signal, hill start assist and hill descent control to name a few.
A 2.2-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine producing 180PS and 420Nm sits under the hood of the Mahindra Alturas G4. Peak torque is available from as low as 1,600rpm
Engine and driving experience
Powering this SUV is a 2,157 cc four-cylinder turbocharged diesel which makes 181 PS at 4000 rpm and 420 Nm between 1,600 and 2,600 rpm. The engine is refined and at idle only a mild thrum enters the cabin. Power delivery is slow initially but the car pulls cleanly between 2,000 and 4,000 rpm. Our tests saw the 100 kmph mark come up in 11.2s from a standstill. This time matches that of smaller, monocoque SUVs. and makes the Alturas G4 quick by the standards of the class.
The Mahindra Alturas G4 uses a Mercedes-Benz sourced 7-speed torque converter automatic gearbox
The Mercedes-Benz sourced seven-speed automatic is not the quickest shifting but does a reasonable job of keeping the engine in its powerband. The gears are well spaced out and the gearbox melts away in the background at city speeds. Highway overtakes need some planning, the shifts are more perceptible here too. Corroborating this, the Alturas G4 managed our 30 to 50 kmph kickdown acceleration test in 2.6s but this grew to 3.2s when we pushed the car from 60 to 80 kmph.
We missed paddle shifters and a sport mode. The Alturas G4 only gets a Tiptronic button on the gear lever which is fiddly to use on the move. We also didn't like the gated Japanese-style shifter.
The extra cog and taller gearing for the higher gears mean the Alturas is more fuel efficient than the competition. Our tester returned 12.3 kmpl in the city and 16.2 kmpl on the highway.
In our braking tests, the Mahindra got from 100 to a dead stop in 3.2s. This is on par with the segment but feels quite the opposite in practice. The SUV holds its line under heavy braking but the pedal feels light and there is no feedback, we took a while to become confident in stopping this car.
The steering wheel is similarly inert. This makes it great for the city, steering through our crowded roads is a calm experience, helped considerably by a large amount of lock available. But we wish the steering wheel weighed up at speed, this would have made highway dashes more comfortable.
We came away impressed by the car's ride and handling package. The Alturas G4 filters most road imperfections out of the cabin, be it on the highway or at low speeds. There is a slight bobing sensation over a series of road undulations and well beyond highway cruising speeds, but this is completely natural for cars of ladder-frame construction. There is body roll, a given for a tall riding and heavy car but not to an extent that it makes the experience uncomfortable. The Alturas feels relatively light on its feet but we cannot confirm this given that Mahindra has not disclosed the Alturas' kerb weight.
The Alturas G4 gets a no-nonsense four-wheel drive system with low range. A rotary dial has been provided to shift between these and the default 2WD mode the fly. We spent some time driving the Mahindra Alturas G4 offroad earlier, read it here.
Pricing and Verdict
At Rs 29.95 lakh for the top-spec 4X4 AT version, the Mahindra Alturas G4 is excellent value. A 4X2 variant is available for Rs 26.95 lakh but we wouldn't recommend that. It loses most of the standout tech and comfort feature we've mentioned and gets a less upmarket cabin. Safety too is compromised with only two airbags being available. In any case, the 4x4 variant is a whole four lakhs cheaper than the equivalent Toyota Fortuner.
The pricing itself makes the Alturas G4 a viable contender in this segment. Add inoffensive styling, a great feeling interior, extensive features, and comfortable driving experience to the mix and you have an SUV that is desirable irrespective of how good the competition is. The Mahindra brand should also be a bigger draw now.
The only doubt is that of long term durability, its competitors have built their reputation on this trait. But this is the first time a strong third contender has emerged in this segment, we can't wait to see what happens next.
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Team OD | 21 Jan 2019
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