No frills and no nonsense
Mahindra is in a particularly interesting position in our market. While there are many out there who scoff at the idea of an Indian-made automobile brand succeeding a Philippine market that's dominated by Japanese and Korean brands, there is one key reason why Mahindra has a very good chance of mass market success: we share a lot more with them than we think, and this Xylo is perhaps the best proof of that pudding.
This particular version of the Xylo is meant to move the masses, geared not to cater to gated communities but to be mainstays at the company motorpool or UV Express terminals. And so, the exterior is more function than form; big, tall, and bulky. It's not pretty, but that doesn't really matter as much because it's about utility, not style. Proof of that are the bumpers; they're not painted so any scratch or nudge doesn't require a buff or a repaint.
Inside, there isn't much to report about either. It looks, feels, and probably is dated. The dashboard is purely plastic, and there are inconsistencies with the panel gaps that could drive an OC person nuts. Being a base model means there are no frills; the radio is a basic single DIN unit, there are no central locks, heck, you even have to wind the windows. A millenial car, this is not.
Despite all that, Mahindra made sure the base model gets a powerful dual A/C system (India is a hot country too), and the steering wheel is tilt-adjustable. But the Xylo has it where it counts with its for-hire target market: there are two seats in front, a middle row that can seat three, and two more side-facing benches in the back for another four. Yes, this is a 9-seater, though we wouldn't be surprised if the drivers find a way to seat more, given the dimensions of the Xylo.
India's roads, just like ours, aren't particularly excellent either, and so the Xylo is a truck through and through. The body-on-frame construction (a modified chassis from the Mahindra Scorpio) gives it a ruggedness that can take a beating whether it's on some bumpy, pothole-peppered road in Mumbai or Manila. The ground clearance of 186mm also gives it the ability to clear most urban or suburban obstacles.
Perhaps the best thing about the Xylo is its engine. The 2.2-liter mHawk turbodiesel makes 120 bhp and 210 lb ft of torque; that's plenty. The Xylo's motor achieves this via its common rail direct injection system, a turbocharger, and a top-mount intercooler fed via ducts in the hood. Again, being a base model, this comes with a 5-speed manual.
It definitely has the torque, easily able to accelerate from a standstill in second gear. There's nothing exceptional about the drive, but the acceleration does prove to be quite enjoyable. Even with a fully weighed down cabin (overloaded, even), there's no doubt that Mahindra built the Xylo to not disappoint. But perhaps the best thing is the fuel efficiency; when driven casually in the city, the Xylo returns 12.3 km/l. On the highway, it goes up to 15.6 km/l. And I wasn't even trying to be economical.
The base Xylo has a lot going for it given its target market, especially with its PhP 895,000 price tag. No, it's not fancy, but it's not meant to be. And with its primary competition in the UV Express market ceasing production by the end of the year (because of the higher emissions standards), the market should open up for this honest-to-goodness, no-frills hauler that can take a licking and keep on ticking.
Engine: Inline-4, 2179cc, dohc, 16V, CRDI turbo intercooler, 5-speed M/T
Max Power: 120 bhp @ 4000 rpm
Max torque: 210 lb ft @ 1800-2800 rpm
0-100 km/h: 11.2 sec.
Top Speed: 170 km/h
Fuel Mileage: 12.3 km/l City / 15.6 km/l Highway
+: Functional, affordable, seats nine
-: Central locks and power windows shouldn't be options
Price as tested: PhP 895,000
C! Rating: 6.5/10