The options for a budget electric or hybrid vehicle in India are still limited. Mahindra e20 came about three years back but its little size, 2+hatch door layout and less than 100 km of travel range made it rather impractical for use in crowded Indian cities. The dearth of good charging points also keeps many potential buyers away from them. But as the industry moves ahead on technologies, the new e20 Plus has been launched with improvement on these points.
The ‘Plus’ denotes the things that have been added to make this electric vehicle more fulfilling. It gets two more doors, styling modifications, upgraded battery and better electric drivetrain. All of these combine to make it a more enviable package. The e20 plus will also be introduced to the British market where the 2 door e20 has already been selling.
It is a 72V battery pack that powers the top spec of e20 Plus. The range (as on papers) has been extended to 140 km. The battery sends power to a motor that churns out 30 KW at 3500 rpm and 91 Nm at 2000 rpm. The lower spec trims get a 48V battery. Its motor generates 19 KW at 3500 rpm and 70 Nm at 1000 rpm.
Mahindra Electric (the official division of the company producing electric vehicles) has increased the length of this car by 310 mm to make space for 2 extra doors. It has also become broader by 61 mm and taller by 25 mm. To increase the space in the cabin, the wheelbase of e20 Plus has been lengthened by 300 mm.
The dimensional enhancements have also created perceptible visual changes for the car. While it still retains its short front and rear overhangs, as compared to its predecessor, the e20 Plus looks better in profile view. The steel tubular space frame structure that earlier accommodated 2 doors got stretched to accommodate 2 more and this has also helped in improving the side view.
Yes, all these dimensional increases have also caused weight gain for the new model. The e20 Plus weighs approx 109 kilos more than the 2-door version. But the company claims that this was controlled with further optimisation of weight of several components - for instance they used lighter high-strength steel for some parts of the tubular frame.
At the front, the grille that appeared too big has been resized for better aesthetics and alignment with family looks. The e20 Plus keeps on with the sloping nose and large wraparound headlights from its predecessor.
Moving on the sides, you see the window line dropping with a sharp angle just after the B-pillar and it ends as it reaches the C-pillar. And as in the Chevrolet Beat and Mahindra’s own KUV 100, the rear door handles are placed where the quarter glass sites in most cars. There are black plastic side skirts that improve the profile look. Mahindra e20 Plus uses 14 inch alloys (1 inch more than the e20) with 165/60 R14 tyres.
At its rear this car is pretty clean and it looks most elegant from this angle. The tail lamps are vertically placed and add to its tallboy stance. The number plate housing has been shifted up to the tail gate. Above this is a black plastic panel as a bridge between both the tail lamps. There is a simpler design for the rear bumper when you compare it against the rather tall unit seen on the 2013-launched model. The e20 Plus also has a rear camera and it gets a blacked-out skidplate area to lessen the visual bulk.
The cabin of e20 Plus will not feel very different to those who have seen the interiors of its predecessor. But there are some cosmetic upgrades in the new version. Beige plastic has now replaced some areas of black plastics and the upholstery has a new pattern. The steering wheel is practically sized and because there are no steering mounted controls, the horn pad area is also big. The Blue-lit instrument console is carried over from the last model.
Front seats are comfortable in terms of their back and lumbar support. Cushioning is on the firm side. Headrests are adjustable and properly sized. But the seats are somewhat narrow and people with heavier build may not find them very supportive.
The dead pedal in the wheel well is rather huge (which is good) but the positioning of the accelerator is more towards the left than usual and will take time to get used to. The rearward visibility through the internal rear view mirror (IRVM) is better than in e20.
Centre console now has a carbon-fibre like pattern in place of black faux wood on previous car. The e20 Plus’s infotainment system is Android head unit from Blaupunkt. There is only one cabin light laced towards the front.
The rear part of the cabin also feels spacious with lots of legroom. It’s just that you cannot push your feet into the space beneath the front seats because there is no space! It is occupied by the battery packs housing. Also there is a prominent hump in the middle of floor even though this is an electric car without transmission part.
Window area for the rear seats is good and brings plenty of light into the cabin. Lastly, while the boot space measures only 135 litres, it is usable area in a car that will mostly be used for commuting within the city or short highway trips. In comparison to the e2o, the e20 Plus has lower loading lip coupled with a wider mouth, making the storage space simpler to access.
Mahindra e20 Plus is available in 4 variants - the P2, P4 and P6 with the 48V battery and the P8 with the 69V battery. With single Phase 16 Amp Charger, the smaller battery takes 6 hrs and larger one takes 9 hrs to get fully charged. With 3 Phase 32 Amp charger, they take only 1 hr 15 minutes (small) and 90 minutes (larger) for charging.
Priced between 5.46 lakhs and Rs 8.46 lakhs (ex-showroom, Delhi) after taxes and government benefits, this EV still feels expensive but if green is way you want to go, the e2o Plus is an attractive option. It is well suited to daily city commuting.