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Future models - Mahindra - XUV500

Mahindra primes first SUV for Australia

Indian contender: The Mahindra XUV500 will land in Australia in July to battle competitors from China and South Korea.

India’s top-selling SUV to take Mahindra up-market Down Under

29 May 2012


A FULLY-LOADED Indian SUV with seven seats, six-airbags, electronic stability control and a lean diesel is set to make life hard for Chinese and South Korean vehicle importers in Australia soon.

Indian giant Mahindra will launch its new XUV500 medium SUV in Australia in July after a successful introduction in India where customers now have a six-month wait.

The new vehicle, which has been developed in-house and is based on an all-new platform, represents a huge step for Mahindra, as it is the company’s first monocoque bodied vehicle, moving on from its rugged agricultural models such as the Pik Up workhorse ute already on sale in Australia.

It will come standard with fuel-saving idle-stop technology, usually expected from much more expensive vehicles.

At this stage Mahindra won’t disclose pricing – the key detail that could encourage Australians to make the jump and buy a vehicle made in a developing country. It says the pricing is yet to be confirmed.

The XUV500 will no doubt be shopped against China’s Great Wall X200 at $25,990 driveaway and South Korea’s Ssangyong Korando at $27,990 driveaway, so the pricing will need to be sharp.

Mahindra is quietly confident the XUV 500 will be given a four-star ANCAP crash test safety rating, although the results of the safety body’s recent crash tests are yet to be released.

It will launch with a highly specified model, available in front-drive and all-wheel drive.

46 center imageFor now, the XUV500 will be available only with a six-speed manual transmission, an issue the company knows will cost it dearly in the automatic-oriented Australian market.

It says an automatic version could be added anywhere from eight months to two years after the Australian launch.

It is evaluating two automatic transmissions for the task, including the Australian engineered and manufactured DSI six-speed currently used by Ssangyong and produced in Albury, as well as a Hyundai six-speed from South Korea.

The company also plans to also introduce a petrol engine for export markets, but that is likely to come later than the automatic transmission.

The XUV500 will be diesel only, powered by a 2.2-litre common-rail turbo diesel four-cylinder that produces 104kW of power and 330Nm of torque.

Mahindra says the vehicle will achieve an impressive official fuel economy figure of 6.7 litres per 100km in Australia and emit 176grams of CO2 per kilometre.

The all-wheel-drive XUV500 uses key drivetrain technology from Borg Warner, running as a front-wheel-drive until slip is detected when the rear wheels are automatically engaged.

The driver can also choose to lock the vehicle in AWD, although it will automatically revert to on-demand mode at higher speeds.

Seven seats are standard, with the two rear rows folding nearly flat (with a three-degree angle) for optimum practicality.

Mahindra Australia will import only the premium W8 version as it is keen to avoid the XUV500 being tagged as a basic budget machine.

This means the vehicle comes standard with leather trim, a colour six-inch touch screen display, climate-control air-conditioning, cruise control and, for the AWD model, hill descent control.

Inclusion of features such as air vents for all three rows of seats is also likely to appeal to families. The rear row even has its own fan speed control.

Unlike domestic models, the international version will be fitted with Bridgestone Dueler tyres, fitted to 17-inch alloy wheels. The export XUV500 is also made using galvanised steel imported from South Korea, while the local version makes do with Indian-made non-galvanised steel.

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