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Crucial automatic for Mahindra XUV500 arrives

Automatic choice: Mahindra is ready to make a more significant impact on the Australian market with the addition of an automatic transmission option for the XUV500 mid-size SUV.

Mahindra prepares for sales rise as XUV gains six-speed auto, equipment upgrades


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9 May 2016

AFTER four painful years of slow sales since Mahindra launched its flagship XUV500 mid-size SUV, the Indian automotive giant is finally ready to start scratching the surface of the Australian market with the addition of a crucial automatic transmission option.

The new six-speed auto is sourced from Japanese transmission specialist Aisin and joins the seven-seat XUV500 offering as part of a mid-life range refresh featuring upgraded equipment, better infotainment technology and improved interior trim.

Entry pricing remains at $29,900 drive-away for the front-drive manual, with the automatic costing an additional $2000. The all-wheel-drive manual XUV500 is $32,900 drive-away, with the automatic again commanding a $2000 premium.

Fuel consumption for the front-drive manual remains at 6.7 litres per 100 kilometres, rising to a still-competitive 7.4L/100km for the automatic. All-wheel-drive fuel figures are not quoted, but Mahindra expects 80 per cent of XUV500 sales to be front-drive.

The XUV500’s 70-litre tank provides a theoretical range of 946km for the front-drive auto and engine outputs from the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder remain modest for its size at 103kW and 330Nm.

Key to the interior update is a new 7.0-inch touchscreen replacing the old 6.1-inch unit, which features satellite navigation with speed alerts and points of interest functionality as standard.

The screen also serves to display the image from a newly added reversing camera with animated guidance lines and distance indicators to supplement the rear parking sensors.

Bluetooth audio streaming and address book functions have also been installed, along with an electronic vehicle manual with instructional videos for the various functions and guidance for servicing schedules.

All tyres – including the spare – now have a pressure monitoring system, which is also accessed through the central screen.

Compared with the original XUV500, some of the quirkier interior design flourishes have been thinned out with a new, more subtle black and silver colour scheme for the dashboard and standard leather upholstery. Mahindra says the fit, finish and materials quality have also been improved.

At a preview event in Brisbane last week GoAuto noted that most surfaces seemed solid enough, with only a few storage compartment lids feeling flimsy and Mahindra’s interesting choice of surface textures – like a close-up of a fingerprint or magnified woodgrain – are likely to polarise opinion.

The leather upholstery was impressively plush, although the front seats were rather firm and oddly designed flaps over the Isofix points and folding hinges looked messy and one came away in our hand during investigation.

Mahindra’s two-stage centre-row seat-folding mechanism also felt rather industrial, and required a hefty push to lock back into place although rear-row room was surprisingly generous even for tall adults.

Practicality favoured by the XUV500’s family audience has also been enhanced with 10 cupholders, a glovebox big enough for a 15-inch laptop and a chiller cabinet beneath the front central armrest plus three Isofix child seat anchorages on the 60/40 split and reclining second row and class-leading 702-litre boot capacity with the third-row seats folded.

While GoAuto found boot space to be almost eliminated with the rear seats up, their head restraints almost touching the rear windscreen, this is understandable considering the XUV500 offers a spacious third row while occupying the smaller end of the seven-seat SUV segment, being identical in length to a five-seat Honda CR-V.

Mahindra makes much of its comprehensive interior lighting consisting of eight super-bright LEDs, while second-row occupants get air-conditioning vents and third-row passengers get a separate AC system with fan control and vents. All three rows also have 12-volt power outlets plus a USB socket at the front.

Exterior lighting has also been upgraded, with the new headlights featuring beam-bending under cornering and LED daytime running illumination plus chrome-rimmed front fog lights. Also part of the facelift are a new chrome grille design, updated 17-inch alloy wheels and chrome boot handle trim.

Braked towing capacity remains a class-leading 2.5 tonnes, equivalent to a Hyundai Santa Fe from the next segment up.

Mahindra expects to introduce a top-spec ‘W10’ variant of the XUV500 to Australia before the end of this year, which will add electric driver’s seat adjustment, an electric sunroof, additional chrome trim and illuminated sill plates.

Standard safety equipment includes six airbags including side curtains protecting all three seating rows, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, electronic stability control with rollover mitigation, hill-hold and hill descent control.

Four years ago, the pre-facelift XUV500 achieved a four-star ANCAP crash-test safety rating and at the time Mahindra said it intended to get a five-star result, which could possibly be achieved in six to 12 months. A petrol engine with automatic transmission option is also on the cards for next year.

At the XUV500 preview event, Mahindra executives said they were still “working on it”, which suggests the fix is not a simple one. In addition, since the XUV500 launched in mid-2012 ANCAP has moved the goalposts for attaining a five-star rating, making it even harder for Mahindra to achieve its claimed goal.

Mahindra’s warranty coverage lasts three years or 100,000 kilometres including roadside assistance for the duration, with service intervals at six months or 10,000km.

Capped price servicing plans and extended warranty offerings are under consideration for introduction in the near future.

GoAuto will deliver a full XUV500 road test once cars become available for evaluation.

2016 Mahindra XUV500 pricing
W8 2WD $29,900
W8 2WD (a) $31,900*
W8 AWD $32,900
W8 AWD (a) $34,900*
*Excludes on-road costs

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