Johannesburg – The new Mahindra XUV700, launched in South Africa this week, is not just a big step forward for the Indian brand, it’s potentially a disruptor to the mid-size SUV market.
Built around a new unibody platform, and similar in size to the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace, the XUV700 (pronounced seven-double-oh) has a feature-packed and high-tech cabin, but what really gets our attention is the asking price.
It’s offered in three variants, with the XUV700 AX5 base model kicking off at R474 999. Upgrading to the mid-spec AX7 will cost you R524 999, while the AX7 L flagship is yours for just R559 999.
All three are powered by a 2.0-litre turbopetrol engine that produces a generous 149kW and 380Nm, the latter available from 1 750rpm. Power goes to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic gearbox.
Unfortunately the diesel variants available overseas are EU6 units and thus not compatible with local fuel, but if that situation changes Mahindra would certainly love to bring them here.
We spent some time with the new Mahindra at its pre-launch event in the Magaliesburg in Gauteng over the weekend, and were immediately impressed by the performance on offer. It feels punchy enough to overtake comfortably and power delivery is smooth.
There is a bit of body roll through the corners, but this vehicle was set up primarily for comfort, which makes a lot of sense given the family oriented target market. As a result, the suspension dishes up a comfortable and compliant ride, even over harsher surfaces.
You enter the XUV700 through pop-out door handles, and the cabin is a big step forward for the brand, thrusting itself into the digital age with a large dual-screen cockpit and many high-end features, which we’ll get to shortly.
The combined screens for the high-definition infotainment system and digital instrument cluster each measure 26cm, but the system thankfully hasn’t swallowed everything into its digital vortex as the ventilation system still has separate controls further down. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also part of the deal.
The cabin design is neat, modern and for the most part, well executed, with good quality materials across the top section of the dashboard. That said, some of the plastic surfaces lower down in the cabin do look a little cheap if we have to nitpick.
The base AX5 model offers seating for five occupants while the AX7 variants, as their names imply, have space for seven.
A walk through the range
As mentioned, Mahindra is offering three model variants.
The AX5 base model ships with the aforementioned HD dual-screen, six-speaker infotainment system as standard, along with a “Skyroof” panoramic sunroof, ESP stability control and four airbags. Externally it features 17-inch Diamond Cut alloy wheels and LED clear-view headlights.
The AX7, adds synthetic leather seat upholstery to the mix, along with six-way power seat adjustment, dual-zone climate control, reverse camera, auto headlamps, six airbags and a whole slew of driver-assist gadgets, including adaptive cruise control, smart pilot Assist, auto emergency braking, lane keep assist, high beam assist and traffic sign recognition. On the outside you’ll tell the mid-spec model apart by its 18-inch Diamond Cut alloys.
If you opt for the AX7 L flagship variant, you can also look forward to a 3D audio system with 12 speakers, 360° surround view, wireless charging, a stop and go function for the adaptive cruise control, blind view monitor, electronic park brake and a driver’s knee airbag.
New flagship has a lot to offer
Although we are looking forward to spending more time with the new Mahindra XUV700 in a full road test review, where we’ll also bring you fuel consumption figures, we are impressed so far with what the brand’s new flagship has to offer.
The new SUV provides a compelling combination of performance, practicality and specification for the price. But we do suspect we’d like the diesel models even more if they ever made it to our shores.
Mahindra experienced unprecedented demand for the new XUV700 in its home country of India, where it also won the national Car of the Year competition. But is it set for success locally? Time will tell, but so far the signs are good.