Mahindra have a pretty tough proving ground for their line of heavy duty 4x4 utes and SUV people movers – India, where the vehicles are manufactured. Before we have an in-depth look at Mahindra’s seven-seater XUV500 all-wheel drive, here’s some interesting background.
Mahindra is a huge maker of machinery and motor vehicles. Their plant at Chakan, 100km from Mumbai, India, has a capacity for turnout of a staggering 500,000 units per year. That’s a lot of vehicles by any maker’s standard!
The XUV500 has been around for a while, originally with some quirky styling and held back by an unloved manual gearbox. Last year the bar was lifted to make the vehicle far more attractive to buyers. New front and rear styling smoothed away some of its outlandish look while a very smooth Japanese-made 6-speed Aisin gearbox took care of gear shifts effortlessly, as these Aisin units – adopted by many auto manufacturers these days – always do.
Mahindra have equipped their 2016 all-wheel drive W8 model – as reviewed – with corner projecting headlights, an upgraded suspension, 17” alloy wheels and auto lights. The highlights on the dash include a 7” touch screen, reversing camera with dynamic assistance (this shows intended and extended track while reversing) a multimedia setup with GPS, Bluetooth audio and iPod connectivity, a great radio, hands-free calling and voice recognition plus a climate-control cold box in the centre console.
There are seven leather seats, three Isofix restraints for youngsters and 702L of cargo area with the third-row seats down. Unique for this class of vehicle, it also has tyre pressure and temperature monitoring. Three glove compartments are a feature with one big enough to hold a laptop and there were also aircon vents for second and third row passengers, which sure would have been handy this summer! Cruise control and electric windows? Of course.
Obviously, some serious upgrading’s been undertaken and the resulting changes are the buyer’s advantage.
In essence, the XUV500 has the same 2700mm wheelbase as a Mazda CX5, and with second row seats also folded there’s a massive 1512L of cargo area, which is larger than the Mazda’s. Another selling point is the 2.5t (braked trailer) tow capacity.
Equipped with a not-at-all silent and willing-to-go 2.2L turbo diesel engine outputting 103kW of power, 330Nm of torque, the four-cylinder 16-valve oil burner – thanks also to the slick Aisin gearbox – the Mahindra was solidly powerful. The tacho was still not touching the 2,000rpm mark at 110kph on the M1. Obviously the European-sourced four-cylinder diesel engine is not going to be very stressed in any normal driving situation given that 100kph required a measly 1600rpm.
The gearbox, incidentally, loved to hang in fourth or fifth gear to save fuel and made upshifts from around 1500rpm but will rev to 4000rpm if the pedal is on the metal. If you floor it, the acceleration is strong enough to easily fall foul of a pay-as-you-go radar detection unit, so it’s wise to pay attention to the speedo if giving the engine a try out on a straight.
The diesel is claimed to offer 8L/100km and I actually bettered this at 7.9L/100km with a mix of city and country work. Based on those figures, a 70L fuel tank should see a good cruising range.
The XUV500’s ride and handling were quite acceptable although hard cornering will reveal that the AWD Mahindra has some understeer. It also has some interesting vibration from the engine/transmission at times. Mind you, the roughness on most of our roads make this vibration hard to detect!
I did a run up to Maryborough and back on the M1 and found that the Mahindra acquitted itself very well all round; it was absolutely no effort to drive and easily kept us moving briskly among traffic. It overtook without effort and best of all I noticed that the leather seats were still comfortable after almost four hours behind the steering wheel. Full marks to Mahindra there.
Safety has not been overlooked and the Mahindra offers Bi-Xenon headlights, stability control, ABS with electronic brake force distribution, hill hold and hill descent control. Front and side air bags are standard.
The overall ride was smooth thanks to Macpherson struts up front and a multi-link setup in the rear. Even a buzz down a corrugated gravel road section around Kenilworth didn’t change the cabin ambience to any great degree.
Inside there’s plenty of rugged black material on the doors, the dash area and any areas subject to wear and tear. Silver highlights offset the somewhat bland internal finish with some extra touches around both the tacho and speedo dials. The dash is highlighted by the multi-function touch screen, which has an interesting faux-wood background and it really does have a multi-function capability. Virtually everything is there from navigation to engine status to distance of fuel remaining. I particularly liked the manner in which the reversing camera showed the proposed course for the driver, in relation to any obstacles. Parking sensors front and rear did their bit here as well.
Another Mahindra feature of note was the eight strong LED interior lights. Even the tailgate area had brilliant lighting. This feature would be handy on some of my camping escapades.
There’s no denying that the Mahindra XUV500 is a different sort of vehicle in many respects. It offers a mix of useful features that make it a good city or suburban work horse through the week, just as suited to hooking up the boat, caravan, or camper on the weekend. I had no trouble towing my boat at all.
Around town the 11.2m turning circle, big windows and reversing camera are going to be much-appreciated. With motor cars, the more you pay, the more you get. That’s in finish, performance, maker’s prestige. For it’s modest price, the XUV500 offers a lot, given its relative newness on our market in present feature level. The vehicle comes with three years, a 100,000km warranty plus three years roadside assist.
Mahindra have priced the XUV500 at around the $35K mark, but wait – there’s more! During March or until stocks run out, a 4WD six-speed auto will go out the door for $29,900. The six-speed AWD, as reviewed, will go for $32,990. Contact Mahindra Queensland for a dealer on www.mahindra.com.au or phone on (07) 3213 1211.Reads: 550