With no auto option to its mid-sized SUV, it’s been a tough road for Mahindra in Australia to date.
But now the Indian automaker has redressed that glaring anomaly with the introduction of an Aisin six-speed auto to its seven-seater front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive range.
Updated late last year, the New Age XUV500 W8 sports a distinctive new front grille with chrome inserts, new static bending headlamps, unique fog lamps with a chrome bezel, new 17” alloys and rear chrome appliqué.
Safety gear is extensive: six airbags; ESC with rollover mitigation; ABS with electronic brake-force distribution; hill hold and descent control; three ISOFIX child restraints in the second row; reverse camera with Dynamic Assist; and tyre pressure monitoring of all tyres, including the spare.
Tick the boxes also for leather seats, seven-inch satellite navigation system, Bluetooth music/phone connectivity, airconditioning vents in all three rows, cooled front row centre storage box, projector headlights with static bending projection lamps and Daylight Running LEDs.
A three-year/100,000km warranty applies with scheduled servicing intervals of six months/10,000km. The introduction of capped price servicing is being reviewed, according to the company.
So the value-for-money equation looks good. But how does the XUV500 drive?
Powered by a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine, the Mahindra’s 103kW of power and 330Nm of torque is nearly on par with the Toyota RAV4 TD’s 110kW and 340Nm. So it gets along nicely with the much-needed auto providing smooth up and downshifts and working well with the engine’s torque curve.
Braked towing capacity of 2.5 tonnes amounts to class-leading, Mahindra says. The ADR combined cycle fuel economy figure is 7.4 litres/100km.
Unfortunately, the XUV500’s dynamics are a long way from best-in-class. Shown a twisty back road, the steering lacks feel, body roll is considerable and the front (driving) wheels break traction easily with resultant tyre squeal. NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) also needs further work; the engine idles roughly and tyre rumble reverberates through the cabin on coarse chip roads.
Mahindra is claiming class-leading 702 litres of cargo space with the third row of seats in place, though this drops to 93 when the two seats are upright. When crash tested by ANCAP, the XUV500 scored four stars.