By: Justin Jacobs
Cape Town – Before there was Haval and Chery, there was Mahindra, presenting itself as a cheap alternative to the ever-increasing price of German and Korean vehicle offerings. Those first-generation Mahindra models to reach our shores were indeed cheap. However, as quality started to improve, so did their popularity.
Today, Mahindra is a serious player in our market with a wide range of bakkies and SUVs. The latest being the Mahindra XUV700, which we recently drove.
Pronounced “XUV seven double oh”, the newcomer replaces the XUV500. Mahindra has jammed all the bells and even more whistles into its latest offering which forms part of a trilogy. The XUV is for the business professional that is looking for a vehicle that can complement their active lifestyle.
For starters, it looks attractive, with a familiar design that has been reworked to offer a more modern appeal. The new facia features a large grille and new C-shaped headlights with LED technology for improved visibility at night.
Taking centre stage on the grille is the updated brand identity. The redesigned ‘Twin-Peaks’ badge represents a new direction for Mahindra. At the rear, you will find large taillights and a neatly sculptured tailgate.
Completing the look are a set of 17-inch rims. The design is not busy and subtle which, in our opinion, is a good thing as it prevents the risk of fast ageing as trends change.
It is, however, the interior that impressed the most. From a visual perspective, the cabin offers a modern look, complete with large screens for the infotainment system and quality switch-gear. It’s as if the designers drew inspiration from other premium brands – not a bad thing at all.
A combination of two hi-definition 10.25 inch digital screens for the digital cluster and infotainment systems takes pride of place in the Mahindra XUV700 cabin. The UI on the screens is customisable and allows for a detailed view of vehicle information. The graphics are clear and the system relatively easy to use and offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
A highlight is the fact that the climate control system is still operated with the use of buttons and not a complex menu within the touch screen. Also, Mahindra has equipped the XUV 700 with 12 3D Sony speakers on its flagship AX7L model.
Another standout on the AX7 L is the Blind View Monitor system as standard. It has also included four digital cameras, mounted in the nose, tailgate and side mirrors, for a 360-degree bird’s-eye view of the vehicle when manoeuvring or parking. This system can be set to continuously record while driving, negating the need for a traditional dashcam.
The XUV700 is available as a five- or seven-seater, with a decent amount of rear head and legroom. But the big treat across the range is the large panoramic sunroof, which comes as standard.
This Mahindra is also big on safety. Mahindra claims it is the safest car tested in India. It has seven airbags and a structurally reinforced chassis that will help protect your most precious cargo.
Under the bonnet, you will find a Mahindra built 2.0-litre mStallion turbo-petrol engine, delivering exhilarating performance, with 149kW and an impressive 380Nm of torque. All versions of the XUV700 are fitted with Mahindra’s smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission which works well with the motor.
Under the skin, Mahindra claims a best in class performance multilink suspension with stabiliser bar & FSD (Frequency Selective Damping) technology. This helps smooth out the ride quality.
Our drive was brief but we can report that the XUV700 offers a compliant ride, the motor is strong but we fear that, like its Chinese competitors with similar engines, will be relatively thirsty. More time behind the wheel of a car that has a few more kilometres on the clock would offer a better representation of fuel consumption. We were averaging around 9.0l/100km. We would also like to see a reprogramming of the Start/Stop system which is a bit unpredictable at times.
One of the biggest issues, however, will be with the seats which are finished in white leather. Positioning the car to those who live active lifestyles, with families and pets, white leather is not the best option. An electronic tailgate would have also been a nicety, which is lacking on the XUV700. Yes, we are nitpicking now.
Overall the XUV700 is an appealing package if you consider the fact that the flagship, with all the bells and whistles (a separate article will need to be dedicated to the features list alone), carries a sticker price of just R559 999.
The XUV700 is sold with a comprehensive 5-year/100 000km service plan and a 5-year/150 000km mechanical warranty. A 24/7/365 Roadside Assistance Plan is included for the same period.
But wait there's more, each of the first 700 customers who places an order online and completes the pre-order will receive a unique code that will be confirmed in the order books. If the customer pays their fully-refundable deposit of R5 000 at a dealer, they will have the option to choose from a free service plan and warranty extension up to 7 years, or a package of R3 000 fuel card, custom-fitted XUV700 side steps and a Mahindra tow bar.
Mahindra XUV700 Pricing (November 2022)
2.0T AX5 – R474 999
2.0T AX7 – R524 999
2.0T AX7 L – R559 999
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