Pray sta­tion

On In­dian roads, the test­ing ground for Mahin­dra’s first SUV, life’s cheap

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test -

Mum­bai, a city of 18 mil­lion peo­ple, to Mahin­dra’s brandspank­ing new fac­tory in Pune. It’s as if you’re in a PlaySta­tion com­bat ac­tion game with a bar­rage of at­tacks com­ing from all an­gles. You feel like shout­ing ‘‘ In­com­ing!’’ as each new threat looms. But this is no game. There’s no Retry set­ting. The peo­ple step­ping onto the road are not made of pix­els and nor is the over­loaded truck driv­ing head-on at us in what used to be our lane.

The threat is very real. One small mis­take, by any­one, and there will be carnage.

Hav­ing sur­vived a few hours of this chaos, I’mtempted to sug­gest this method of mayhem works, that it’s ac­tu­ally ef­fec­tive. The fam­ily of five all aboard one scooter seem happy enough and sev­eral blokes laz­ing around high up on top of a truck’s cargo aren’t wor­ried ei­ther, but the num­bers sug­gest oth­er­wise.

In­dia has the high­est road toll in the world, with 115,000 peo­ple dy­ing ev­ery year. Yes, 115,000. Luck­ily, I didn’t study the fig­ures be­fore head­ing out in the new Mahin­dra.

This com­pany al­ready sells the util­i­tar­ian Pik Up ute in Aus­tralia. It’s as ugly as the local slum dogs, but has gained a rep­u­ta­tion as a rugged, re­li­able and cheap work­horse.

The com­pany also sells trac­tors— 300,000 of them

The in­te­rior is good, too, with a 6-inch high-res­o­lu­tion screen and leather seats that look as if they be­long in a true pre­mium car.

There is also a mass of bad wood­grain and some or­di­nary trim-join sec­tions.

I’mim­pressed by the huge amount of head­room and legroom in the sec­ond row. If I wasn’t so wor­ried about dy­ing, I could sit back and re­lax.

The XUV 500 is diesel only, so thank­fully it’s a good one. This is a 2.2-litre com­mon rail

Steer clear: The fresh styling of the Mahin­dra SUV stands out among the over­looaded scoot­ers and over­turned trucks in the Mum­bai traf­fic

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