A few months ago we attended the world premiere of a new SUV from the sub-continent. The Mahindra XUV700 was shown locally and in its home market simultaneously. The all-new model has just gone on sale in SA this week. We were invited to attend the national ride and drive event that took place just outside of Cape Town.
All-New Range Leader
The XUV700 SUV replaces the XUV500 in the current portfolio. It is an all-new offering that is based on a unibody construction. It has a far more toned down appearance, less flashy and more ‘European’ in its outward appearance. Oh, the XUV700 is also the first model from the Indian company to feature Mahindra’s new logo.
One attendee at the launch event made the interesting observation that our fleet of XUV700s blended in with the rest of the traffic. And it wasn’t meant in a nasty manner either. They were referring more to how the model’s appearance is similar to other (read: mainstream) brands, which should help gain acceptance from local buyers.
Climbing aboard the XUV700 requires one to pull on a door handle that is flush-fitting a la Aston Martin unless it is in use. One can see the influence of styling house Pininfarina (which is owned by Mahindra) in such details. The company’s new ‘twin peaks’ logo is featured on the chunky steering. The lines of the facia are otherwise clean and uncluttered. Thankfully Mahindra has chosen to maintain a full set of physical, as opposed to virtual, controls for the dual-zone climate control system.
The cabin features a, new for the brand, completely digital display. Well, it has two of them to be specific. The layout of the instrument cluster ahead of the driver and the infotainment interface are not dissimilar to that of modern Mercedes and BMW models. The system features a customisable displace as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.
Choose Your Flavour
There are three grades of Mahindra XUV700 on sale, these are AX5, AX7 and AX7 Luxury. All derivatives are well kitted as standard. The aforementioned dual-zone climate control and digital cockpit along with a panoramic roof, keyless entry and start, LED lights front and rear, and alloys wheels are among the standard items. If you opt for the ‘7’ versions you will also get and extra pair of seats.
Mahindra SA has decided to keep the engine line-up simple. There is just a single powertrain on offer to local buyers. A 2,0 litre turbopetrol produces 149 kW and 380 N.m of torque. This engine drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.
A Brief Taste
We got to drive the newcomer in the area around the start of the Overberg Mountains. Our initial impressions are favourable. The large model rides on an independent suspension set-up that simply absorbs all bumps. The trade-off off for the soft-ish ride is a bit more body lean that one would experience in a similar European model.
The in-house developed turbo engine delivers good shove from low down in the rev range. The engine, it must be said, is very quiet, hardly ever making its presence known except under full-bore acceleration. One critique from our short drive is that the transmission seems over-eager to shift down a gear, or two. Simply getting off the gas sees the revs flare up as a lower cog is selected.
Mahindra, as a brand, has stayed the course in SA. Some brands have entered the local market and left, only to return again. The Indian automaker has, since day one, delivered products will a level of ‘honesty’ about them. Owners knew what to expect from the word go and the vehicles delivered as such.
Now its time the brand uplifted itself and that it is exactly what it is aiming to do with its next generation of products, starting with models such as the XUV700. Look at the pricing (below) as well as the value proposition versus other similar products and it is not difficult to see why Mahindra is one of the fastest growing OEMs in the SA market.
Mahindra XUV700 Pricing
AX5 – R474 999
AX7 – R524 999
AX7 L – R559 999
All prices include a five-year/100 000 km service plan and a five-year/150 000 km mechanical warranty.