All large automotive manufacturers have interesting backstories. Some are punctuated with controversy (Volkswagen), and others are littered with tales of spite and revenge (Ford and Ferrari). India’s Mahindra is very different. It’s one of India’s most prominent companies (260,000 employees in over 100 countries) with a truly incredible network of revenue streams. Twenty-two industries make up the US$2Trillion Group – ranging from power generation to defence and agribusiness. Now they’ve brought a global SUV to Australia.
Mahindra is on a roll with many new models set to arrive on the Australian market. The mid-sized Scorpio SUV debuted earlier this year, and the larger XUV700 (seven-double-oh) SUV has just arrived. I spent a day at the Norwell Motorplex in QLD getting to know the brand, senior Mahindra executives, and this seven-seat SUV.
The XUV700 comes in two specifications. The base model A7 and the luxury spec A7L. A 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol engine and six-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels power both variants. Diesel and all-wheel-drive variants will likely follow.
Five vibrant colours will be available across the range: Dazzling Silver, Electric Blue, Everest White, Midnight Black, and Red Rage. There is only one spec for the interior – off-white leatherette, which is an ‘interesting’ choice for this market.
Drive-away pricing is another highlight of the XUV700:
The XUV700 is sold with a 7-year / 150,000 km warranty, whichever is earlier. A 24x7x365 Roadside Assistance Plan is included for the same period.
An impressive list of standard features on the A7 includes:
The A7L adds:
Towing with the XUV700 is limited to 1500kg braked and 750kg unbraked.
The drive loop, the skid pan, and the track within and around Norwell allowed us to sample some of the Mahindra XUV700’s safety systems. Many of these have been rigorously honed on Mahindra’s purpose-built SUV Proving Track in Chennai making this a truly global SUV for Australia.
As you might expect, pedestrian safety is paramount for Mahindra, and several systems work in unison to keep everyone safe. We could drive the XUV700 towards a mannequin at 25km/h, and the Automatic Emergency Braking stopped us before any harm could have been done.
Other passive and active safety systems across the XUV700 range include:
From a distance, the styling of the XUV700 may look mundane. However, on closer inspection, this SUV is styled to attract the urban buyer. At the front, a broad grille cleanly integrates into the looping LED daytime running lights. The well-proportioned Mahindra ‘twin-peak’ logo sits atop the forward-facing camera.
The side profile is tall and clean with a bump in the hip-line at the trailing edge of the back door to better accommodate the third row of seats.
Arrowhead taillights create an aesthetically pleasing look at the rear. The manually operated rear tailgate is easy to open and close, but it could do with another 5cm of opening. I’m 183cm tall, and I’d hit my head all the time.
In time we will drive Mahindra’s global SUV for Australia farther afield and get a more profound sense of what it’s like to live with. On this glorious Winter’s day in southeast Queensland, an early-afternoon drive is enough to give us a feel for this mid-sized SUV.
The 2.0-litre engine is punchy, with plenty of torque – 149kW at 5000rpm and 380Nm of torque available from 1750rpm. The 6-speed transmission is slow to respond but gets better as I learn its nuances.
In the driver’s seat, the bright interior is very spacious. My two passengers and I are not short, and we all have plenty of headroom front and rear. The twin-screen dash and infotainment systems are easy to use, although we struggle at first to adjust some of the lighting and audio functions. At low speeds the steering inputs are very direct. As speeds increase the directional feel reduces significantly – something that becomes more apparent on the track.
On less-manicured roads, the multi-link suspension with stabiliser bar and Frequency Selective Damping proves its worth, and the ride is more than acceptable. Clever manufacturing further enhances the ride quality thanks to a series of high-tensile steel ‘rings’ along the chassis.
Back at the track, we take turns driving the Mahindra XUV700 in more extreme circumstances and push the boundaries of this very competitively-priced SUV. Several high-speed laps allow us to experience the acceleration and braking at their limits. Given the size of the XUV700 body-roll is, of course, very real but the seat keeps me firmly secure. I did not expect a mid-sized SUV to feel so engaging on a track at speed.
Mid-sized SUVs occupy a very competitive sector of the Australian car market. Pricing and features span the horizon, and buyers have much to choose from. The Mahindra XUV700 pricing is very competitive, and it is very easy to live with. The impressive list of standard equipment and safety features should make it an inclusion for anyone’s sub $50K SUV consideration list.
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