Mahindra has managed to slash prices on the Mahindra XUV500 by up to Rs. 33,000. That’s the good part. The not so good part – it has also slashed ground clearance from the amazing 200 mm to a speed-breaker kissing 160 mm! That’s a whopping 40 mm off on ground clearance. But there’s a catch.

Before we get to that, some background as to why it had to reduce ground clearance on an SUV – which frankly with reduced ground-clearance is no longer an SUV in the exact sense of the word. But wait, that was the intention. The Indian government’s definition of an SUV is a vehicle that has an engine capacity of over 1,500 cc, has a length of over 4 metres and has ground clearance of over 170 mm. All such vehicles are taxed at a much higher excise duty rate of 30% from the earlier already high 27%, which made them even more expensive. READ: How Mahindra may reduce ground clearance on its SUVs

The subsequent hike in prices after the Union Budget has seen XUV500 sales stumble, dropping to just 1,377 units in June from 3,427 units in February. With an overall gloomy sentiment in the Indian automobile market, buyers have been shying away from buying cars, and such price increases have hit the industry further. Also read: Mahindra stone guard to help drop prices on its SUVs

The solution

Mahindra had to come up with a quick-fix cost effective solution to the issue. It could not alter the size of the vehicle, and neither could it downsize the 2.2 litre engine, as that would make the XUV500 underpowered. The easiest fix was the ground clearance. Ground clearance in India is measured by the lowest point on the vehicle. By adding a “stone guard”, which is just an underbody engine protective shield made of plastic, Mahindra has managed to reduce the overall ground clearance of the vehicle to just 160 mm.

In reality, this is just a 10 mm drop from the 170 mm that was the vehicle’s lowest point earlier (the mud flaps and suspension arm). On paper, the Mahindra XUV500 had a ground clearance of 200 mm, which is measured from the centre-point or the break-over point of the vehicle (the centre-point of the wheelbase). Mahindra is figuring out if it can do something similar for the Mahindra Scorpio, Mahindra Xylo and the Mahindra Bolero as well.

So if you are a buyer of the XUV500, fret not. There has been no alteration to the suspension or any other part of the vehicle. The engine shield may scrape a few stones, but won’t get caught on speedbreakers as it is between the wheels on the front axle and will rise with the wheels of the vehicle. If you think it’s a bother, you can simply unbolt it for additional clearance. Also read: How to INCREASE ground clearance of your car