The Mahindra XUV five-double-oh (official brand name) SUV has been around seven years now. Long enough to earn its first big makeover.
During that time it’s earned a following in its state of origin (India) and built a strong platform for future sales growth in rocky-road markets such as South Africa and Argentina.
Here, the seven-seat XUV500 has been on sale only for a couple of years, but it has garnered fans in isolated locations such as Gisborne and Tuatapere. These are places where durability, dependability and value matters a lot more than things such as cellphone projection, touch screens, and automatic parking assist.
But the latest Mahindra SUV still gets plenty of extra sophistication to go with its existing ready-for-duty nature.
This new W10 front-drive version offers multi-directional airbags, tyre-pressure-monitoring system, triple-row seating, reversing camera, three-zone climate control and cruise control across the 2019 range.
It has sat-nav via the 7” info screen, connectivity, sunroof and some of the plushest leather-clad pews you’ll ever find on a vehicle costing just $35,490 (4WD: $39,990).
Drop the side-impact airbags, the second gas strut for the bonnet, the leather hides, the shiny alloy kick-plates, the sunroof, the info screen and the sat-nav, and you’ll have the otherwise-identical W6 version of this SUV. At 29,990, the W6 appears tailor-made for larger families looking for a new vehicle alternative to a second-hand seven-seat SUV.
Meanwhile, the W10 is arguably the most family-ready vehicle produced by the brand.
Luggage space has been sacrificed in the XUV500 to make room for third-row occupants and long-distance travel with all seats occupied will be best done with a luggage trailer attached to the vehicle (towing capacity 2500kg). Folding that third row down frees up 720 litres of stowage space.
Out where road maintenance is token, existing XUV500 owners will be impressed by the new 2.2 litre turbo-petrol engine of the latest version.
It is essentially a turbodiesel in its robust design, one equipped with a lower compression ratio and fitted with a new cylinder head featuring four sparkplugs to fire up petrol.
The new Mahindra turbo-petrol is diesel-like in more than just its architecture. For it produces almost identical power and torque figures to the 2.2 diesel in the Pik Up, the major difference being where those peaks are found in the rev range.
Both motors produce 103KW of power, the diesel at 3750rpm, the petrol at 4500. Torque output is a narrow win for the engine without spark plugs, the diesel pumping 330Nm in a band between 1600-2800rpm; the petrol is only 10Nm shy, producing 320Nm from 2000-3000rpm.
With an Aisin six-speed automatic gearbox transferring those petrol outputs to the front wheels, the XUV500 can sip fuel relatively gently for a vehicle weighing 2115kg.
Owners can expect the Mahindra to return 100km of travel in exchange for roughly 8L of petrol.
The new engine prefers to lope along on the mid-range torque instead of spinning up near the top of the rev range. It gets harsher and noisier as soon as it starts bleeding grunt above 3000rpm. Open-road cruising is best conducted while respecting the Mahindra’s preference for a relaxed pace.
Mahindra still has work to do on the fit and finish of the XUV500. The driver’s door needed a strong pull to seal the cabin, and a perennial rattle in the front passenger’s air vent annoyed.
But this upgrade offers more style, features, and luxury than has been offered in a Mahindra before. This new XUV500 has the potential to silence those who think Mahindra should confine itself to trucks and tractors.
MAHINDRA XUV500 W10
Pros: 7 spacious seats, superb ride
Cons: Four-star crash test (2012)