XUV 5oo on a racetrack? Like any of you, I too had that skeptical smile on my face when Mahindra invited me to drive their hot-selling SUV on the Buddh International Circuit. Well, testing an SUV on the track, fair enough. But intentionally taking them on track for fun could be just the most absurd thing. With these two feelings to contend with, I reached the circuit in the wee hours of the 'XUV 5oo Torque Day'.
I could hear the distant sound of tyre squeal while paying attention to the safety rules of the Circuit. That reminded me of the fact that the XUV uses a race-bred suspension system tuned by Lotus, a world renowned name in motorsport. That was confidence-boosting enough; I put on the helmet and walked into the third car in the convoy of ten XUVs, sandwiched between a pace car and a sweep car. Abiding by the pit-lane speed limit of 15 kmph, I hit the track and followed the pace car for a lap to get to know the circuit.
Having completed the introductory lap, the cars were slowed down before taking off for the performance test. I slotted to the second gear, pushed the pedal to the carpet and the XUV 5oo jumped forward with a wheelspin, with no evidence of turbo lag. The third turn, which is the sharpest among the sixteen, was fast approaching and I carried a decent amount of speed into the corner expecting severe understeer. But to my surprise, the XUV completed the turn well composed and balanced, thanks to the Electronic Stability Programme (ESP). Although body roll was near-scary, the steering was appropriately heavy and responsive.
The 2.2-litre mHawk delivers remarkably strong torque from low revs, and maintains a very responsive character right across the rev range. When I saw the end of the straight, the over speed alarm blared, I looked down and the needle was hovering at around 170 km/h. The car was almost near the brake marker on the circuit, I stepped on the brakes only to feel they were firm and great.
I left the circuit with my head in a cloud. I really didn't expect to be so blown away by the way XUV 5oo performed on track. It is heartening to know that indigenous automotive engineering has advanced to the point where such stunning performance, capability and affordability have converged.