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May 12, 2012, 06.45 PM IST
Mahindra XUV500 Torque Day
Let's be honest. This is not the best place to be driving an XUV500. Sure we're used to seeing its elder brother the Scorpio running about on the interior service lanes. But full throttle around the race track? Needless to say there was a cloud of apprehension around the air. Nobody was saying anything but you could see it was on everyone's mind; would this big and heavy SUV keep all four wheels on the black top? Or are those ominous looking Manitou cranes going to be doing their thing? But how did we even find ourselves here? Let's rewind to the start.
The idea was simple. We would get to experience a handful (five to be precise) of laps all in a convoy of ten cars following the lead car driven by rally champion Gaurav Gill. The first lap was taken at a very sedate 40kmph to let everyone get acquainted with the lines and layout of the track. Once back on the main straight the convoy lined up and then it was hammer time. Corner one was dispatched rather slowly but the uphill run up to C3 showed decent bite from the brakes and good grip from the tyres.
Sure there was body roll but if you brave through it, you discover the near two and a half ton behemoth actually grips surprisingly well through the corners. Of course you then push even harder at the next corner which results in you understeering right off the racing line. You can, however, feel the ESP hard at work curbing the effects of your over-enthusiasm. It dabs the brakes and even reduces torque at the wheels that are squandering it, all keeping you more or less on your intended course. The 140PS engine gets the XUV up to an indicated 165kmph at the end of the back straight which is quite respectable. You soon get into the rhythm of driving the XUV the right way, slow in fast out and with smooth steering inputs. And just as you begin to enjoy the drive your allotted five laps are over and it's back to the pits.
So no big surprises; the XUV500 is not a shocking track weapon. But even just five laps were enough to show that it is a safe, composed and able handling SUV. And if you ask me, that's what Mahindra wanted to showcase in the first place.
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