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Mahindra XUV500 could be here ‘within six months’

Currying favour: Mahindra’s XUV500 has been developed with export markets in mind and carries a long list of high-tech equipment and luxury features.

Luxurious Aussie-tested, Indian-built Mahindra XUV500 due to hit Oz next year

3 Oct 2011

MAHINDRA’S seven-seat XUV500 wagon – its first “global” SUV and a product that has undergone durability testing in Australia – is to appear in Australian showrooms within six months, according to the Indian company’s chief executive of international operations for automotive and farm equipment Pravin Shah.

Speaking at the Indian XUV500 (pronounced ‘five double-oh’) unveiling last week, Mr Shah said the vehicle would be launched immediately in South Africa, before being rolled out within six months in South America, Australia and South Asian countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Mahindra & Mahindra automotive sector president Pawan Goenka described the vehicle as being “completely designed and developed around the global customer”.

He said extensive product validation and testing of India’s first indigenously-developed monocoque SUV had been done across Europe, Australia, South Africa, and India.

Priced from the rupee equivalent of $A22,784 to $27,172 in India where it is available in two front-drive variants plus an all-wheel drive flagship, the technology-packed XUV500 promises a lavish equipment list.

It also undercuts the starting price of rival Tata’s MPV-like Aria crossover (about $A24,299) while beating it on equipment.

In the Australian market the XUV500 will straddle the compact and medium SUV segments and is likely to go head-to-head with the Chinese Great Wall X240 petrol and X200 diesel SUV line-up, which is priced from $23,990 drive-away.

46 center imageAt 4585mm long, 1890mm wide and 1785mm tall the XUV500 is 35mm shorter, 90mm wider and 15mm lower than Great Wall’s five-seat X240/X200.

The XUV500’s array of features include a six-inch multi-function touch-screen with satellite navigation, DVD/CD audio system with MP3, USB, Bluetooth and iPod compatibility, automatic dual-zone air-conditioning, voice control, LED lights, hill-holder and hill descent control.

Further equipment includes rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and wipers, cruise control, remote tailgate, interior mood lighting, eight-way adjustable driver’s seat and a steering wheel with in-built audio controls that adjusts for both reach and rake.

Safety aids include electronic stability control with rollover mitigation, six airbags (including side and curtain protection), tyre pressure monitoring and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution.

Power comes from a tweaked version of the new 2.2-litre ‘mHawk’ turbo-diesel engine that debuted recently in Mahindra’s MY11 Pik-Up commercial vehicle along with a $1000-lower base price of $20,999 drive-away.

Mahindra says the engine’s fifth-generation variable geometry turbocharger and dual-mass flywheel ensure “rattle-free driving pleasure”.

In the XUV500 it produces 103kW of power at 3750rpm (up from 89kW) and 330Nm of torque from 1600rpm to 2800rpm (up from 270Nm). Mahindra claims fuel consumption as low as 6.6 litres per 100km, helped by the standard fitment of idle-stop technology.

Drive is distributed through a six-speed manual transmission and a 0-60km/h time of 5.4 seconds is quoted but the brand is yet to supply 0-100km/h acceleration performance.

An automatic option could be offered in future, with a six-speed unit from Australian firm Drive Systems International (DSI) manufactured in Albury, NSW, a likely contender – as with the smaller Korando from Mahindra-owned South Korean brand SsangYong.

The 2450kg XUV500 rides on independent suspension all-round – claimed to be developed with help from sportscar specialist Lotus – with MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link arrangement at the back. Both ends get disc brakes, anti-roll bars and 17-inch wheels.

The “cheetah-inspired” styling is one of Mahindra’s better looking efforts, with a busy nose treatment that appears to take cues from the latest Jeep Grand Cherokee and Mazda’s next-generation BT-50.

Around the back, things get more experimental, with an interesting kick starting on the rear doors echoing the line of the wheel arches, straked rear pillars and a fan-shaped raised section on the tailgate following the rear windscreen wiper’s sweep.

The lavish-looking two-tone leather interior features plenty of storage, including a laptop holder in the glove compartment and a drinks cooler between the front seats. Textured finished abound and a waterfall-style centre console is flanked by metal-look trim highlights that also appear on the doorhandles, handbrake and steering wheel.

An instrument binnacle features chrome-rimmed dials with nested digital displays for information like selected gear, fuel level and engine coolant temperature.

Mr Shah said the XUV500 might be manufactured in South Africa for supply to neighbouring countries including Botswana, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, adding that Production in Brazil and Egypt was also under consideration.

The Indian XUV500 factory, on the outskirts of Pune in the state of Maharastra, will initially build 2000 units a month, with volume ramped up to match demand.

Pitched as a global product, the XUV500 is likely to increase Mahindra’s export sales, further cementing its position as India’s number-one vehicle manufacturer.

Mahindra has 25 dealers in Australia, backed by Mahindra Automotive Australia, a joint-venture formed between M&M and TMI Pacific – a division of major Sydney-based dealer body Tynan Motor Group.

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