By Mxolisi Mhlongo
Did you know that, in 1949, Mahindra began as a Jeep assembly, which led to the company joining hands with Willys Overland Corporation in 1954 to assemble Jeep-type vehicles in India? That resulted in the Mahindra Thar, which has embodied the iconic look for off-roading for centuries.
The latest Mahindra offering is the XUV500 W8, which majors on value that brand snobs will miss and that’s sad because it really does come well packaged. We tested it to find out if it’s worth considering.
The XUV500 design is certainly a departure from what most people think a Mahindra ought to look like as we had curious onlookers asking what car it was and when told it was a Mahindra, they were pleasantly surprised. Granted, it won’t win any design awards but it certainly blends in very well with other smart-looking cars on the road.
The interior is well packed with a long list of standard features including, leather seats, cruise control, front and rear air-conditioner, Touchscreen infotainment system with Navigation to name a few. The new Mahindra has space for seven passengers, which is more than adequate with the third-row seats easily folding into the floor when not in use. Even though it comes with all electric windows, a one-touch up and down feature would have been welcome, at least for the driver’s side. Interior fit and finish is not the best but the XUV500 won’t be embarrassed in the quality stakes.
Powering our test unit is a 103kW/330Nm 2.2 Turbo-diesel engine driving the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. The gearbox shift action would have fared much better with closer changes between gears, as it is, it feels a bit old school. On startup, the engine does make that diesel noise but once warmed up, the noise is less noticeable. On the road, this engine pulls strongly in all gears and that 330Nm torque makes itself felt when cruising with minimal gear changes. We got 7.5l/100km during the review period; a figure that easily means the XUV500 can get close to 1000km in one tank.
The ride is comfortable with good bump absorption. However, it’s no sports car when it comes to the handling department. The one concern was how easy it was to lose traction on loose surfaces when pulling away, yes its no All- Wheel-Drive but traction from start was expected to be better. Overall though, it’s a comfortable ride with good Noise Vibration and Harshness levels.
The R354, 995 is the key to the attractiveness of the XUV500 W8, especially with that long standard features list. A five-year/150 000km warranty, five-year/100 000km service plan comes standard as well for peace of mind.