The Superheroes: Mahindra XUV500, Super XUV500 and Big Foot

The confidence the all-wheel drive system gives you can’t be matched by the regular front-wheel drive version. Where the front-wheel drive squeals and understeers, the AWD has much better composure. If you try to be a hooligan with the clutch, the system is jerky but in the real world, power distribution is quite seamless and you won’t know when the rear wheels start pushing.

Inside, the only difference is a small AWD lock switch that locks the centre differential and distributes the torque evenly to all four wheels to help you out in tricky situations. In the real world however, if there comes a time when you need that sort of grip, it’s unlikely to help because by then you’d have already surpassed the abilities of those road-going tyres.

So if you must act like Indiana Jones, invest in a good set of tyres to avoid embarrasment. Unfortunately, there’s no low-range, so off-roading is limited to trail driving. The XUV AWD is good, but is it necessary? Well, that depends. If you’re going to be driving in places where regular cars have a hard time going in a straight line – say, in the northern hilly regions – the XUV AWD does make sense, but if you’re planning to cruise the malls downtown, it’ll only collect you some points down at the bar.

Words: Kartik Ware, Ashish Masih and Manish Sarser

Photos: Nitin Rose and Himanshu Pandya

Note: This feature was originally published in a 2012 issue of TopGear India Magazine