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Future models - Mahindra - XUV500

Two new Mahindras in June

Out of India: The rugged Mahindra XUV500 SUV will hit local showrooms in June this year.

New Mahindra Genio ute and XUV500 seven-seat SUV set to arrive in June

Mahindra logo19 Mar 2012

By MARTON PETTENDY

MAHINDRA will launch not one but two all-new models here in June, including the Genio ute and the XUV500 crossover – the first seven-seat SUV to be sold by the Indian giant in Australia.

Arriving two months later than expected following its sell-out success in India, Mahindra’s first global SUV will be a diesel-only – and, at least initially, manual-only – affair in Australia, where pricing of the Mitsubishi Outlander-size wagon should start at under $30,000.

Mahindra’s first monocoque-chassis SUV – and its first SUV in Australia since the utilitarian Bushranger and Stockman were discontinued almost two decades ago – will arrive here with just one four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine offering matched to a six-speed manual.

A volume-selling automatic is expected to arrive next March – believed to be a six-speed unit developed by Australia’s Drive Systems International of Albury, like the transmission used in the SsangYong Korando SUV.

Fitted with a fifth-generation variable-geometry turbocharger, the XUV500’s 2.2-litre ‘mHawk140’ diesel delivers 103kW of power and 330Nm of torque, and returns official Indian fuel consumption of 6.6L/100km with the aid of an idle-stop system.

46 center imageLeft: XUV500. Below: Genio.

Australia was one of four locations in which Mahindra conducted development testing of its vital new SUV, which promises to be light-years ahead of its rugged Scorpio and comes with an all-wheel drive system incorporating low-range gearing and ‘Interactive Torque Management’ to automatically distribute torque between the front and rear wheels.

“The XUV500 is our first global SUV that has been completely designed and developed around the global customer, with extensive product validation and testing done across Europe, Australia, South Africa and India,” said Mahindra & Mahindra automotive sector president Pawan Goenka.

The XUV500 has proved so popular in its home market that Mahindra was forced to conduct a ballot to allocate the second phase of its sales program, in which more than 25,000 customer orders were placed for just 7200 vehicles in 10 days to February 3.

Mahindra has struggled to satisfy demand since production began last year, with sales suspended in October after it received more than 8000 orders – accounting for four months of production – in the first 10 days of XUV500 sales from September 29.

The company last month said it hoped to increase production to about 3000 units per month over the next two to three months – up from about 2500 a month since December 2011 – due to overwhelming demand.

At the same time, Mahindra increased pricing by at least $A565 earlier this year in India, where three versions of the XUV500 were initially launched with a starting price of about $20,000.

Two examples are currently performing dealer and promotional duties in Australia and a further two have arrived for Australian Design Rule certification testing.

Although pricing and specifications are yet to be finalised for Australia, the XUV500 promises a host of advanced standard equipment to go with its low pricetag.

Globally, the XUV will be fitted with a host of safety gear, including six airbags, electronic stability control, ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, rollover mitigation, a tyre pressure monitoring system, hill-hold control, hill-descent control and LED daytime-running lights.

Inside, available premium features include six-inch touch-screen display with satellite-navigation, voice activation, Bluetooth and USB/iPod connectivity, plus adaptive headlights, automatic headlights and wipers, eight-way power driver’s seat adjustment, dual-zone climate-control, rear parking sensors, power-folding mirrors and steering wheel-mounted cruise and audio controls.

The compact seven-seater will also be available with leather seat trim, extending to the flat-folding second and third row of seats, and a cool box.

Most of these features are expected to come standard in Australia’s ‘premium’ version, which will be codenamed ‘W8’, with lower-spec W6 and front-wheel drive versions of the XUV500 unlikely to be sold here.

Unlike direct rivals like Great Wall’s Toyota-based X200 compact SUV, the XUV500 was designed from the ground up by Mahindra.

Measuring 4585mm long and 1890mm wide, and weighing a hefty 2450kg, its suspension is via MacPherson front struts and an independent multi-link rear-end, while braking comprises four-wheel discs.

Also due on sale in Australia in June will be the new Genio light truck, which will come with a sizeable 1.25-tonne payload.

Due on sale here in single-cab and dual-cab guises from June 2, the Genio ute will initially sell alongside Mahindra’s older Pik-Up commercial range, which will itself receive a number of MY12 upgrades this year.

On sale in India since February, the Genio will be powered by a 55kW/220Nm four-cylinder diesel engine matched solely with a five-speed manual transmission.

Two specifications are available in India – BS3 and BS4, the latter offering extra features – and Australians are expected to be offered the full-house version, featuring 215/75 R15 tyres, power steering, white-faced instruments including a tacho, mobile phone integration and even leather trim.

Priced from about $A9500 in India, where it is positioned as a newer and more upmarket alternative to the Pik-Up, the Genio will be a bargain-basement proposition for Australian tradesman who might consider a Great Wall ute.

Unlike the XUV500, the Genio will not be crash tested locally by ANCAP and features drum brakes on the rear, a 10.8-metre turning circle and just four exterior paint colour choices: silver metallic, white, black and blue.

The Indian brand’s product expansion plan comes after Mahindra ended its local distribution agreement with TMI Pacific around August last year.

Mahindra’s new 100 per cent factory-owned Australian passenger and light commercial vehicle operation – which oversees about 25 dealers nationally – is now based alongside the company’s tractor division in Brisbane.

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