Mahindra to launch Fortuner rival

Indian version of the next-gen SsangYong Rexton (Y400) will be heavily localised and badged a Mahindra; Ssangyong brand to be dropped.

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Mahindra to launch Fortuner rival

SsangYong LIV-2 concept at the Paris Motor show.

SsangYong LIV-2 concept at the Paris Motor show.

Global automakers have made deep inroads into the SUV segment which is core to Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M). Feeling the heat, the leading SUV maker of India is taking the fight to the next level. It is readying an all-new premium SUV for a late-2017 launch positioned above the XUV500, its current flagship, and smack into the Fortuner and Endeavour territory.

This all-new SUV is, in fact, the next-generation Rexton (codename Y400) and the production version of the LIV-2 concept that was showcased at last year’s Paris motor show. The 4.85m long, 1.96m wide and 1.8m high LIV-2 concept indicates that the production Y400 will be a full-size, seven-seat SUV pitted head-on against Fortuner and Endeavour. The Y400 will be built on a new-generation body-on-frame chassis that’s also designed to underpin a Ssangyong crew-cab pick-up (codename Q300) to rival the Ford Ranger and the Toyota Hilux in international markets.

The Y400’s 2865mm wheelbase is a substantial 120mm more than the Fortuner’s, which potentially could give it far better interior space. M&M also hopes to get an edge over its more established rivals by equipping the Y400 with best-in-class equipment. If the features from the LIV-2 concept are any indication of what’s likely to be carried over into the production car, you can expect a dash-mounted 9.2-inch infotainment screen with a host of functions that include Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. All these can even be controlled even from a rear console.

There’s a special focus on rear seat passengers as well, with 10.1-inch displays in the back of the front head rests and individual ‘captain’ seats that may come with a massage function. Other features you can expect are special mood lighting in the cabin to give a lounge-like experience, electric sidesteps and technology that creates an illuminated path for occupants approaching or leaving the car.

With new safety regulations coming into play from April 1, 2017, the complement of nine airbags as seen in the LIV-2 and an advanced emergency braking system are possible options on top Y400 variants.

Power will come from a choice of petrol and diesel engines that are future-ready to meet the 2020 BS VI emission norms. The 2.0-litre GDi turbocharged petrol engine boasts 225hp and 349Nm, mated to either a six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual gearbox. The 2.2-litre turbodiesel develops 184hp and 420Nm through a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic gearbox. For India, however, it is only the diesel that will be offered initially.

The big news is that the Y400 will be launched as a Mahindra and not a Ssangyong. It will replace the current Rexton and effectively mark the end of the Mahindra-owned Ssangyong brand in India. The Korean brand has miserably failed to establish itself in this market as can be seen by the sales figures of its lone model, the Rexton, which dwindled to insignificant 146 units in 2016 (Jan-Nov). Hence, however good the Y400 maybe, it will flounder with a Ssangyong badge that has no standing in this market. Besides, Mahindra is determined to establish itself in the upper end of the SUV market and the feature-rich Y400 could just be the product to do that, especially if it’s aggressively priced. According to company sources, the Y400 could undercut the Fortuner by a massive Rs 4-5 lakh.

The production-ready Y400 will be launched globally at the Seoul motor show in March 2017, possibly as the new Rexton or it might get a completely new name. The Indian version however, which is expected by December 2017, will be christened with Mahindra nomenclature (most likely XUV700) and will get a few design tweaks as well. The design team, keeping with the Mahindra family face in mind is developing an all-new grille with distinctive vertical elements. The Y400 will be the new flagship in Mahindra’s range and an important brand builder for the company.

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SsangYong LIV-2 concept at the Paris Motor show.
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Autocar Magazine

Issue: 209 | Autocar India: January 2017

We bring you drives of the Maruti Ignis, the Skoda Kodiaq, the new 5-series and take you on a trip from India to Paris in a Renault Kwid. All that and lots more inside!
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