While most Indian car buyers are busy getting confused between petrol and diesel cars, Mahindra Reva is attempting to lure a fair share of them urban dwellers off the fossil fuels, towards a purely electric future with its e2o.
How good is it at its intended role of being an hassle free green commuter? Should we be worried about its range? How is it to drive and live with? In our Mahindra e2o review, we attempt to find answers to these quintessential questions which crop up in a prospective EV buyer’s mind.
Given the nascent stage of electric mobility in India, Mahindra has positioned its zero emission vehicle as a lifestyle product rather than a regular commuter. So it appeals to those who question the status quo and to those want to make a statement on their environmental friendliness.
Like most conventional passenger cars, e2o wears a hexagonal honeycomb meshed front grille but that’s were the conformity ends. Angular projector headlamps which are peeled back all the way above the headlamps and a tapering bonnet makes for a unique countenance.
Besides the extremely compact footprint that makes the car stand out from the rest, the quirky design lines heighten its uniqueness. The profile is characterized by a near flat roofline, high-set day light openings, alloy wheel-like hubcaps, and a gradually raising waistline which drops down sharply above the rear wheel arch. The accentuated wheel arches and sheet metal character lines jointly make an attempt to alleviate the blandness of the boxy design.
Coming to the rear, e2o’s boxy nature is even more apparent, thanks to the massive bumper which makes up roughly half of the fascia and a rectangular windshield with constitute the rest. A grey badge-carrying insert sandwiched between wraparound taillights round off the design.
In short, though some may find e2o’s design to be quirky, its unconventional appearance and small dimensions give it an exclusivity in the urban jungle.
Exterior Photo Gallery
While the exterior design stands out of the crowd, the interior design is pretty much conventional, expect for the unusually compact dimension of course. The all-black dashboard is dominated by a four-spoke steering wheel and a blue blacklit circular instrument console display which is sandwiched by numerous by telltale lights. The round AC vents sport silver accents while centre console settles for piano black finish.
Mahindra e2o offers ‘My Car’ touchscreen infotainment system which incorporates the vehicle status and smartphone connectivity (you can switch the car on/off with your smartphone and pre-cool it). Rest of the real estate on centre console is occupied by a multifunction knob, AC blower knob with 6 speeds and AC heat/cool selector knob, all finished in silver. While dashboard layout is functional, plastic quality, design and the way various switch gears operate are utilitarian and don’t relate to the term ‘lifestyle’.
Front seats can accommodate average adults comfortably but a generously proportioned person would find the cabin to be bit claustrophobic, especially when he/she has a passenger to share the cabin with. However, there will no issues for slim and tall people as the car offers surplus headroom.
As far as driver ergonomics is concerned, the narrow dimensions have forced designers to adopt a tricky location for the pedals. e2o’s brake pedal is where you would expect to find the clutch pedal in a normal car and that means, the accelerator is located where your brain is programmed to search for the brake pedal! This arrangement certainly takes some getting used to.
The rear seats which can be accessed by folding the ones upfront are suitable only for toddlers. Ingress and egress are also cumbersome, making the rear bench not very useful. However, considering that e2o is conceived as a highly efficient short distance urban commuter with a footprint compact enough to challenge a motorcycle, interior space was not high on the priority list when the car was being designed.
Interior Photo Gallery
Engine and gearbox…sort of
There is absolutely nothing conventional about the little city car’s propulsion system when compared to a regular Indian small car. Motive force is courtesy of a rear-mounted electric motor which puts out a modest 19 KW (around 26 PS) at 3,750 rpm and a torque of 53.9 Nm right from the word go all the way up to 3,400 rpm. The system derives electricity from a 48V maintenance free Li-ion battery pack which can be leased from the company to avoid the high procurement cost. The motor is mated to an automatic transmission.
The battery pack takes 5 hours and 10 minutes to get fully charged on a standard 220V 15A socket but the process takes place at a much quicker rate with the Quick2Charge (DC fast charge) station.
Once you authenticate the keyfob by bringing it in contact with the start/stop button, you press it and are ready to go. The only way to know that the car is on, is by looking at the instrument panel. A jab of the accelerator pedal is accompanied by a muted whining and relaxed progress.
Acceleration is not frantic, at the same time not lethargic either. Once you get the feel of the electric powertrain, slipping though those tiny gaps in a typical urban jungle becomes a child’s play. The car has a top speed of 81 kmph but getting there is quite a task.
To sum it up, the electric powertrain has enough performance on offer to keep a city commuter happy and the NVH levels are reasonable.
Mahindra Reva claims that e2o can travel a good 120 km on a full charge. While we didn’t get an opportunity to test this, the fact that we were left with more than 30 km worth of charge even after subjecting the car to a punishing drive of around 70 km (half the distance with AC on) pretty much verifies the manufacturer’s claim. So, for a typical urban commuter, a full charge can easily last for 2-3 days.
How is it to drive?
Mahindra e2o is not your regular hatchback and hence doesn’t drive like one. The sturdy welded tubular chassis is suspended by gas charged McPherson struts upfront and gas charged coil spring shock absorbers at the rear. Despite the diminutive 13-inch alloy wheels, e2o has an SUV rivaling ground clearance of 180 mm.
The softly sprung suspension makes for an exceptionally plaint ride quality and we were pleasantly surprised to see the tiny electric car devour an unpaved trail with an aplomb of a SUV! In an urban setup, pot holes or speed breakers can do nothing to unsettle a charging (figuratively speaking) e2o!
The soft suspension setup naturally introduces excessive body roll and noticeable bobbing, both of which limit the car’s high speed handling. Agility in city traffic is terrific but we would have liked the light electric steering system to be sharper and more responsive.
Mahindra e2o is fitted with conventional front disc and rear drum brakes but the regenerative braking system makes the whole decelerating affair spongy and one needs to exert more effort on the pedal to bring the car to a quick stop.
Mahindra Reva has done a good job to equip its compact electric car with several funky features that are sure to appeal to the tech-savvy target audience. The 6.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system offers a comprehensive status of the vehicle, GPS navigation, reverse parking camera, and smartphone connectivity with remote access to the AC. Other noteworthy features include high impact body panels, power windows, keyless entry with start-stop button, regenerative braking and projector headlamps.
What it costs to own and run?
Thanks to the government’s FAME incentive, Mahindra e2o is priced at INR 4.79 lakhs (ex-showroom, Bangalore) if you opt for the Care Protection Package which leaves the battery ownership under the company. As per this scheme, owners are required to pay a monthly rent of INR 2,999 for the battery for 5 years or 50,000 km (whichever is earlier). After that, the lease can be either renewed or one can continue using the battery for INR 2.5 per km for the usage of more than 800 km. This scheme makes the electric car affordable and the fixed battery rent also shields the owners from inflation.
Mahindra e2o is a well engineered pure electric car which is characterized by a cheerful attitude. It is very efficient, extremely easy to use, comes loaded with modern technology and now benefits from government incentives.
On the flip side, the compact size bites off a chunk of practicality because you can’t really transport your entire family in it and the quirky aesthetics may be a put off for some prospective customers. Also, considering that most urban dwellers reside and work in multi-storey buildings, trying to charge from a common power socket is easier said than done.
Mahindra has managed to set up decent number of quick charging points across Bangalore and New Delhi, but covering all major cities is too big a task for an automaker to execute single handedly. Unless more and more automakers join hands – with an helping hand from government of course – and set up quick charging stations across key areas of urban India, electric cars would continue to have a tough time converting the prospective customers into owners.
Having said that, if you have an easy access to a charging socket at your home or office, Mahindra e2o makes a strong case for itself as a second or third car in your household. It is no doubt a smart city solution which, when adopted on a large scale, will result in reduced traffic congestion and emissions.
Mahinra Reva has done its job! Now its the government’s turn to put its NEMMP 2020 (National Electric Mobility Mission Plan) to a good use and create an attractive market scenario for EVs.