2018 Mahindra Alturas G4 First Drive Review

What is it?

Why would I buy it?

Macho exterior, great interior fit and finish, spacious cabin and powerful diesel engine

Why would I avoid it?

Bumpy ride quality, uncomfortable third-row seating

The car you see in the pictures is the new Mahindra Alturas G4 which is basically a rebadged version of the second generation SsangYong Rexton that made its debut internationally in 2017. Replacing the almost two decades-old car, it seems to be a good decision to rebrand SsangYong with Mahindra, as it carries a far more recognizable company name that has a strong SUV brand image in our country. It will be the most expensive Mahindra to go on sale in India and it takes on the might of the Toyota Fortuner and the Ford Endeavour.

As far as styling is concerned, Mahindra has only tweaked the grille of the Alturas as compared to the international car. As a result you get an SUV that makes a strong impression thanks to its towering size and macho exterior styling. Upfront is the massive signature Mahindra grille that gives the Alturas loads of presence and the stylish headlamps, which give it an air of sophistication. In profile, it looks like a mini Landcruiser thanks to the squared off wheel arches and the large 18-inch alloy wheels look the part too.  Rear styling is attractive as well, thanks to the stylish tail lamps and the muscular tailgate. Despite the massive rear, it doesn’t look too ungainly as the blacked-out lower portion on the rear bumper helps mask some its girth. Overall, the exterior of the Alturas might not be the most stylish, but it definitely catches your eye and makes a strong statement.

The Alturas G4, like its competition, has a rugged ladder frame chassis. Despite Mahindra using 82% high strength steel (meant to be light and strong) in its body construction, this SUV isn’t a lightweight at 2.2 tonnes. The Alturas G4 will come only in two variants – the-top-of-the-line 4×4 that you see in the pictures, and a 4×2 version which will miss out on some features but also will be much lighter and will have more performance on tap.

How is it on the inside?

Open the door of the Alturas and you are in for a big surprise. The heft with which the doors open is reminiscent of old Mercs. And the solid thunk that one hears every time somebody shuts them points to a car that is well built. But getting inside this tall SUV isn’t the easiest as there is no side step to climb in, which its rivals offer. Inside the cabin, the dashboard feels generations younger as compared to the old one. The design is modern and almost all materials in here look and feel premium. The middle portion of the dash is wrapped in quilted Nappa leather and all the touch points like the steering, armrest, controls stalks and gear selector feels of high quality. A large 8-inch infotainment system is placed high up on the centre console. For the most part, it feels modern and gets features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. Here, the physical buttons to scroll through frequently used menus is a big plus as you don’t have to take your eyes off the road to operate them. On the downside, the system is a bit laggy, as it pauses for a second before responding to driver inputs.

The front seats on the Alturas are large, draped in quality leather and they also feature seat ventilation which is great for our hot weather. The seats are well contoured and there is good space on offer too. The rear seat is at a good height and this reclining bench offers enough thigh and back support to keep you comfortable over long journeys. It also offers best in class space, with 50mm and 80mm more knee room as compared to the Endeavour and the Fortuner. Thanks to the scooped out roof lining, it offers much more headroom as well (30mm and 50mm more than the Endeavour and the Fortuner).

The third-row is disappointing though. As the middle-row doesn’t adjust for length, one ends up with fixed knee room in the third-row which is cramped for large adults and the low seat gives it an uncomfortable knees-up seating. Headroom too is in short supply and its best to use them only over short distances. Boot space is quite big with the third-row folded but the loading lip is quite high which makes loading big bags a chore.

As far as equipment goes the Alturas comes well loaded. It might miss out on features like auto park, electric folding third-row seat and panoramic sunroof which the Endeavour offers, but the Alturas gets its own set of unique features like 360 degree parking camera and smart powered tailgate. It also has segment leading safety features like 9 airbags, tyre pressure monitoring, active roll-over protection, ESP, ABS and EBD.