What do you think of when you hear Mahindra?

Off-roading? The Thar? Tractors even? How about a flagship SUV that can brawl with the Ford Endeavour, Toyota Fortuner and the like? Well, that’s a first. Not to mention, with elite company no less. Mahindra’s latest off-roader is the brand’s most expensive SUV ever which also makes it the most ambitious Mahindra to date.

So before we go further exploring its street cred, let’s see if it has any spec cred first. Based on a second-gen Ssanyong Rexton, it get its strength from a ladder-frame chassis, seats a full family of seven and combines all wheel drive with low-range gears for sticky situations. Under the hood, the 2.2L diesel whips 178 horses around while transmission duties are assigned to a trusty Mercedes Benz 7G-Tronic auto. Sounds like a fun recipe, then. Time for a deep dive...

Exteriors

This massive SUV rocks its dominating dimensions unabashedly. Big it may be, but by no means is it boring in any way. The muscular hood’s beefed up to make lesser vehicles in the vicinity tremble while the wide nose ensures it does it all with an evil grin on its face. It’ll go further still to brighten up your life with HID headlamps integrated with LED DRLs.

Being the longest, widest, tallest SUV in its class comes with its clauses. The 18in alloys, for instance, can look a bit dainty in proportion while ‘fun-sized’ folk will have to hop into the car’s lofty cabin. Other than that, it’s a design that’s executed with elegance all around.

Tech nannies to boot include nine airbags, Electronic Stability Program, Active Rollover Protection, Hill Descent Control, Hill Assist Control, Brake Assist, Emergency Stop Signal, ABS with electronic distribution, are you even reading anymore? Point is, the Alturas scored a 5-star rating in the K-NCAP crash test so you’re guaranteed supreme safety inside.

Interiors

The Alturas’ cabin is a swanky place to be. It exhibits its modern automotive manners before you even step inside. Open the driver door, and the seat instantly slides back for easy entry. Pull the door shut and it’ll slide back to its original position, ready to roll. The space inside is slathered with faux wood, brushed aluminium and Nappa leather. It’s all done with taste without trying too hard to please.  

Infotainment is provided via the 8in touchscreen on the dash, packed with our preferred choice of automotive tech treats: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Cameras spread all around will give you a 360 view of your vehicle while an additional 7in screen in the instrument cluster chucks more info at you.

Just like a smartphone, the Alturas lets you apply different themes to the instrument cluster as well. Busts the boredom from something you’ll be staring at quite often. Two-zone climate control means everyone gets to stay nice and comfy on the go. The sunroof above adds a breath of airiness to the cabin for added comfort.

Performance

An elegant cabin means nothing if it isn’t mated to performance that’s just as exciting. The Alturas assigns that duty to its 2.2L diesel that dishes out 178 horses at 4000RPM with 420Nm of torque at 1600-2600RPM. Fire it up and it feels surprisingly refined. Cocooned inside the insulated cabin, you’re spared any unwanted engine noise.

Kick the go pedal into action and low speeds feel effortless with the amount of response it displays. The automatic gearbox makes progress nice and easy without much fuss. Just try not to hustle it too much and you won’t be disappointed. There’s enough torque on tap to get through the sticky bits with the shift-on-fly four-wheel system always by your side.

Suspension and ground clearance have been tweaked to take on the craters we often call roads. The whole setup works silently absorbing all undulations with ease. For its sheer mass and comfort, the Alturas feels solid and composed. Gathered excess speed? You needn’t sweat it as the Alturas stops just as well.

 

Initial verdict

Some of you eternal optimists surely expected Mahindra would shave a few lacs off its asking price, but for what you get, it’s a commendable package as is. You get a dominating SUV with road presence in spades, luxurious interiors that you can just sink into and a car safe enough to stuff your entire family into without a worry.

It’s loaded to the gills with creature comforts and tries its best to justify its price, more so for the Mahindra badge that comes with it. It’s certainly equipped for a fight to the finish with the Endeavour’s proven credentials and the Fortuner’s exquisite build and design. This ain’t no walk in the park for Mahindra, but it has a lot going for it. And we expect it to put up a good fight.