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Car reviews - Mahindra - XUV700


We like
Torque rich petrol engine, sorted ride/handling balance, passenger and cargo accommodation, safety tech and rating, value for money and aftersales support
Room for improvement
Tyres struggle in the wet, no electric tailgate, high seating position, clumsy infotainment interface, no native sat-nav or DAB radio, steering may be too light for some tastes

We put the XUV700 through its paces in Melbourne to see how the Indian-made SUV stacks up

4 Sep 2023



WE HAVE experienced the Mahindra XUV700 in small doses in both its domestic market and again Down Under. Both times we have come away impressed; but we had also tempered our opinion with the fact these experiences were undertaken away from our familiar road test regimen.


Understandably, we were eager to put the XUV700 through its paces on home turf, driving the same roads we have with myriad vehicles before to see exactly how well the Indian-made model stacks up. Spoiler alert: we were not disappointed.


But first, the nitty gritty…


The Mahindra XUV700 is priced from $36,990 drive-away in base form (AX7) and $39,990 d/a for the range-topping AX7L tested here. Metallic paint is a no-cost option.


Alongside the far more expensive Skoda Kodiaq (from $51,890 +ORC), which Mahindra benchmarked during development of the XUV700, the upper-mid-sized seven-seat SUV rivals the likes of the Mitsubishi Outlander (from $37,240 +ORC), Nissan X-Trail (from $37,250 +ORC), and LDV D90 (from $38,990 d/a).


Powering the XUV700 is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol unit dubbed mStallion developing 149kW at 5000rpm and 380Nm between 1750-3000rpm. It drives the front wheels via an Aisin-sourced six-speed automatic transmission and will deliver the XUV700 to 100km/h in “less than 10 seconds”, according to its maker.


Those figures stack up admirably against the rivals listed above, the Outlander and twin-under-the-skin X-Trail each making 135kW/245Nm, the Kodiaq 132kW/320Nm and the D90 165kW/350Nm.


Fuel consumption again stacks up well, the XUV700 using 8.3 litres of 91RON unleaded petrol to travel 100km (while emitting 195 grams per kilometre of CO2).


Again, as a yardstick, we find the X-Trail better at 7.4L/100km (and 174g/km), and likewise the Outlander at 7.5L/100km (and 170g/km). The all-wheel drive Kodiaq sips 8.2L/100km (and emits 186g/km) while the D90 fares poorly at 10.2L/100km (and 238g/km).


Standard inclusions see the XUV700 arrive with 18-inch alloy wheels, driver’s side electric seat adjustment, dual-zone climate control (with ventilation outlets to all three seating rows and third-row fan controller), front seat heaters, LED headlights, DRLs and tail-lights, a panoramic tilt and slide sunroof and synthetic leather upholstery. There’s even a chilled centre console bin, something usually reserved for far more expensive models.


Two 10.25-inch screens provide instrumentation and infotainment details, the latter including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, Bluetooth connectivity, AM/FM (but no DAB) radio, a 12-speaker Sony-branded sound system, and a couple of gimmicky screens for G-force and a lap timer (who knows why).


Importantly, and although the XUV700 has yet to receive an ANCAP safety rating, the model has performed well in global testing, receiving a five-star Global NCAP result.


Australian-delivered XUV700 AXL7 variants receive a full complement of airbags (including full third-row curtain and a driver’s knee airbag) and the usual electronic chassis control (traction and stability control).


The variant is also fitted as standard with adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go functionality, auto high beam, an electric park brake with auto hold function, blind spot view monitor (but no traditional blind spot monitoring), lane departure warning and lane keeping assistance, speed sign recognition, and a 3D, 360-degree camera system (but no rear cross-traffic alert).


Mahindra backs its new-generation products with a seven-year/150,000km warranty and roadside assistance bundle.


Service pricing is capped for the first four years of ownership with service intervals pegged at 12 months or 10,000km (whichever comes first). Service pricing over the four-year period tallies $1781.


Driving Impressions


Driving the XUV700 over the same route we use week in, week out really shows how well suited the vehicle is to Australian conditions.


Quieter than most in its segment, and with abundant and accessible torque, the model is as enjoyable to experience on pockmarked and unsealed country roads as it is around town – with perhaps a caveat or two…


Although the chassis offers plenty of natural grip in dry conditions, the OEM tyres are rubbish in the wet, allowing too much wheelspin from a standing start and little grip in hard cornering. Yes, the Bosch-sourced traction and stability aids will kick in, eventually. But we feel there is a little too much leeway for most to handle and would strongly recommend better rubber than the MRF Apollo branded hoops fitted.


The other qualification we place on the XUV700’s otherwise admirable dynamics is that the steering is far lighter than many of its contemporaries. In urban driving, this really isn’t an issue, but over poorly maintained C road and unsealed surfaces the lack of feedback is far from ideal.


With better steering communication and fluidity, the XUV700 would be a far better drive – and allow more confident stewardship over a greater range of road surfaces.


That said, we are certain most drivers will never ‘push’ the XUV700 to the limits required to experience the model’s more deficient qualities, and will, much like us, be swayed by the driving experience as a whole – and the level of compliance, amenity and equipment provided for the price.


The ride comfort offered on the higher profile rubber and cabin quietness is something most in the Medium SUV segment have lost, but not the XUV700. The vehicle is genuinely hushed on even the poorest road surfaces and remains comfortable even when challenged by complex crest-and-trough sections and steeply crowned backroads.


It is also interesting to note just how well balanced the front-wheel driven XUV700 can carve out on gravel roads, providing a level of confidence that is there for those who can work past the light steering and plastic-like tyres.


We found the mStallion engine much like many in the category, including the EA888 Volkswagen engine found under the bonnet of the Skoda Kodiaq Sportline in my own garage. Torque is available early to negate the need for high engine speeds in most scenarios, the six-speed transmission operating decisively to utilise the torque on hand before kicking down.


You can really manage an impressive turn of speed while rarely seeing the north side of 4000rpm, which assists in keeping the XUV700’s fuel consumption below the 9.0-litre mark in most driving scenarios. Aim for the highway, reset the meter, and it is entirely possible to trim fuel use down to the high 6.0-litre range.


The idle-stop system in the XUV700 is better than that of the Scorpio we sampled previously. It is not as razor sharp as some systems we can think of, but we were happy enough to leave it engaged throughout the loan. A note to Mahindra, however, you may wish to extinguish the oil pressure and alternator warning lights when the idle-stop system is in use as this may concern some operators.


The XUV700’s braking performance is about on par with most in the segment and gave us absolutely no cause for complaint on test. Pedal stroke and assistance is again about right, the only issue noticed a lack of damping on release which is something Mahindra clearly did not pick-up from its time measuring the Skoda.


Away from the hard-and-fasts of the XUV700’s feel at the wheel we found considerable thought has gone into the design of the cabin. The materials are better than expected for the money and assembly quality hard to fault. There are no squeaks or rattles to speak of and not an air leak to mention – even the climate control fan is quiet enough to impress those with an ear for such detail.


Calibration of the climate control system is equally hard to fault, ditto the auto wipers and headlights. Headlight performance is acceptable, but not brilliant. Though again better than some in the category and very good considering the asking price. Reach is decent and lighting spread sufficient for most situations and speed limits. For country drivers, it is nothing an LED light bar or set of driving lights wouldn’t address.


We found the seat comfort and overall ergonomics of the XUV700 to be no worse than the average in the segment, only Volkswagen and Skoda offering a truly better level of support and comfort – albeit for a far higher price.


The seating material is a synthetic leather than feels better than most ‘pleather’ offerings we have come across. It is quite supple and visually interesting with a unique transition of the material perforations across the cushion and backrest. The seat heating works well, but we think buyers may be more appreciative of ventilation in the warmer months.


Visibility is generally good, though the thicker A-pillars noted during our international launch drive of the XUV700 again hindered the view out when approaching intersections and roundabouts. Couple this with a high-set seating position that places your view higher in the A-pillar than is otherwise optimal and it may take time to adjust. We’re not sure how taller drivers would fare, to be perfectly honest.


There is, however, sufficient view to make blind spot checking easy, and to enable safe reversing from angle parks. Just be aware that the camera system may be slow to respond in some instances.


At 11.5m, we did find the XUV700’s turning circle a little larger than some in the Medium SUV segment, but by the same token had no issues parking the vehicle, even in tighter underground facilities.


For reference, the XUV700’s turning circle is 900mm wider than the Outlander/X-Trail but 700mm narrower than the Kodiaq’s.


Further back in the cabin, we note a generous second row of seats with a nice flat floor, a good view out, dual cupholder armrest, and both top-tether and ISOFIX child seat hard points. The doors swing wide enough, and the apertures are sufficient to make clambering in and out straightforward – only the Nissan X-Trail betters the XUV700 in this measure with its outstanding 90-degree rear door openings.


The second-row seats split 60:40 with the ‘40’ side facing the kerb, a point we very much appreciate.


Access to the third row is about as good as you’d expect and accommodation therein appropriate for the vehicle’s size. Adults can fit in a pinch, but it is a space that is best suited to late primary- or early secondary school aged children. Vents, cup holders and a 12-volt power outlet are available to third-row passengers, but there are no child seat anchorages and the rear seats split 50:50 for through-loading of longer items.


All seating positions are equipped with lap-sash (three-point) seatbelts and seatbelt reminders.


Like many three-row SUVs there is really no luggage space to speak of with bums in every seat, but in five-seat mode the XUV700 provides a quoted 750 litres accessed via a manual tailgate, though we suspect this figure is the more generous VDA figure and not the SAE number usually quoted.


Again, against our datums, that cargo area compares to 720 litres in the Outlander/X-Trail and 640 litres in the Kodiaq.


The XUV700 has a braked towing capacity of just 1500kg, 500kg fewer than its named rivals.


While the infotainment system won’t win any prizes for ease of use, the screen resolution is clear and the menu system mostly decipherable. The ‘Fun In’ and ‘Fun With’ tabs are confusing at first, and ultimately make no sense, but once you’re used to the lay of the land, the XUV700’s menu system is no worse than anything else out there.


The Sony-sourced audio system is decent, but not exceptional, lacking clarity in its middle ranges and sounding muddy in its low end. Really, we thought a 12-speaker sound system would provide better dynamic perspicuity than we experienced, perhaps a case of getting what one pays for…


Niggles aside, the Mahindra XUV700 proved a very good overall offering – and one that shames a few big-name brands considering its price. For $37K drive-away we really can’t think of a competitor that does family motoring better, and as we said during our Indian drive of the model earlier this year, this vehicle truly does represent a massive leap forward for the Mahindra brand.


If you’re in the market for a Medium SUV – and have a budget to contend with – we strongly recommend giving the XUV700 a test drive. It genuinely is a very solid offering for the money.

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