Mahindra gets a new fortune

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SummaryWith the Rexton, Mahindra enters the segment ruthlessly dominated by Toyota Fortuner. It’s priced right, but is that enough to make the Rexton shine?

With the Rexton, Mahindra enters the segment ruthlessly dominated by Toyota Fortuner. It’s priced right, but is that enough to make the Rexton shine?

In India, not many had heard about SsangYong until Mahindra & Mahindra acquired a 70% share in the Korean SUV major in February 2011. In fact, I doubt many would be even able to pronounce SsangYong correctly! With SsangYong in Mahindra’s kitty—which obviously takes the utility major closer towards its goal of becoming a global SUV player and provides the company the much-needed diesel engine technology—we look forward to some exciting times in the SUV market in India, beginning with the Rexton that Mahindra launched recently in two versions, RX5 and RX7. For our review, we pick the RX7 automatic.

Although an entry-level SUV globally (it is present in over 70 countries), in India the Rexton sits alongside the likes of Toyota Fortuner, Ford Endeavour, Chevrolet Captiva, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Hyundai Santa Fe, etc—essentially the premium SUV segment. And this means ruthless competition, especially in the form of the Fortuner, which has that ‘one’ feature almost all Indians look for in an SUV—massive road presence.

Now, the Rexton, at 4,755mm x 1,900mm, is the longest and widest SUV in its class, and though that results into massive interior space, the SUV’s slanting bonnet lines and wraparound headlamps don’t quite give the Rexton the brute frontal looks of the Fortuner. But that ‘softness’ diminishes once you look at it from the side. The sheer length of the SUV combined with muscular wheel arches, huge 235/75 R16 wheels mounted on alloys, side footboards and a blackened out B-pillar give it a tough, go-anywhere appeal.

At the rear, the wraparound windscreen looks quite neat. The small roof-mounted antenna also looks good. Probably because the name is new to India, Mahindra has badged ‘Rexton’ at all possible places on the body, even inside the headlamps! The rear bumper also has a small ‘by Mahindra’ badge.

On the inside, the impression the SUV creates is even better. The cabin is plush, plastic quality is superb, dual tone interiors look smart, and seat fabric and cushioning seem from a class above. Getting inside the Rexton is quite easy and the SUV is loaded with features such as the illuminated keyhole, touchscreen Kenwood audio system, Bluetooth telephony, GPS navigation, climate control, automatic sunroof, rear parking sensors (but no rear camera), automatic headlamps, steering-mounted controls, paddle shift, cruise control,

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