Mahindra has further refined and fine-tuned its long-serving XUV500 SUV. We report on the merits of the W10 automatic flagship derivative.
We like: Improved styling. Neater interior trim. Comprehensive spec. Generous storage space. Ride comfort.
We don't like: Gruff engine at lower revs. Little luggage space with 7 seats up.
- Price: R419 999 (March 2019, without options)
- Engine: 2.2-litre 4-cylinder turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed automatic
- Fuel economy: 7.4 L/100 km (claimed)
- Power/Torque: 103 kW/330 Nm
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Where does it fit in?
Some design quirks remain, but the XUV500 has matured into a far more attractive offering than the overly fussy first efforts.
Indian brand Mahindra is one of the fastest-growing car companies in South Africa, with a rapidly expanding product line-up as well as a significant dealership footprint. The XUV500, however, is one of its oldest products – first launched here in 2012, it has been facelifted numerous times and late last year another round of upgrades were made. The XUV500 is a fairly unique proposition in South Africa, being a large SUV with 7 seats, but offered at smaller crossover (compact family car) prices.
The focus of Mahindra's most recent update was to improve the XUV500's visual appeal, as well as the technology and features on offer. This flagship W10 derivative, with all its bells and whistles, is priced about R65 000 below the cheapest automatic Ford Everest. That's an attractive saving... but should you rather stretch those rands? Or perhaps... you should rather opt for the even more affordable XUV500 W8? Let's find out.
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Long list of standard features
Touch-screen infotainment system offers comprehensive functionality. Single-zone climate control a little disappointing.
If you like to drive a car with all the toys, then the allure of the XUV500 W10 will immediately be strong. The cabin boasts leather upholstery in addition to another step up in terms of overall material fit and finish. Sure, the basic architecture remains somewhat dated and there are places where it can't match the tactile quality of its more expensive rivals, but overall, there's not much in the cabin that feels cheap and "nasty".
The infotainment system is very comprehensive too: it comprises a 7-inch touchscreen that also doubles as a display for the reverse-view camera. The W10 further boasts voice command control and built-in navigation. A good-quality Arkamys sound system is fitted to this derivative and it offers USB/aux/Bluetooth support. Conveniently, mobile charging points are provided for the 1st and 2nd-row occupants.
Leather upholstery is standard on the W10 flagship. Steering is rake/reach adjustable.
Other creature comforts include an electrically adjustable driver's seat, cruise control, rake and reach adjustment for the steering wheel (some XUV500 derivatives only offer rake), automatic wipers and lights, push-button start and an electric tilt/slide sunroof.
On the safety side, the XUV500 W100 offers 6 airbags, tyre-pressure monitoring, ABS with EBD and an electronic stability system. Hill Hold and Hill-descent control are also fitted.
In summary, this is a full-house offering that lacks precious little in terms of spec. If we had to nitpick, we'd say that single-zone climate control in the front is a little disappointing, but then again, those seated in the 3rd row get their own air-conditioning controls... You can't have everything!
Comfortable, efficient cruiser
The XUV500's instrumentation is simple and clear, but you'll find the fuel consumption data on the infotainment screen.
When it was launched, the XUV500 was Mahindra's first monocoque product. So, unlike the Everest, Fortuner etc., the XUV500 actually doesn't ride on a ladder-frame chassis. In theory, then, it's better suited to normal use on typical tarred surfaces, but with a little extra ground clearance (the Indian firm claims a total of 200 mm) when needed. In recent years, Mahindra has also further fine-tuned the rear suspension (developed in conjunction with Lotus) for greater comfort and control and added significant sound deadening measures elsewhere in the structure.
On start-up, there's no hiding the somewhat gruff-sounding engine underneath the bonnet, but at cruising speeds, the XUV500 acquires a relaxed gait and is also impressively silent inside. The engine delivers 103 kW and 330 Nm, with the latter figure being available from 1 600 to 2 800 rpm. Mahindra doesn't quote claimed performance figures, but the XUV 500 has no trouble performing daily driving duties, though it's no ball of fire.
In general, it responds satisfyingly to throttle inputs and there is sufficient power for cruising at the national limit. A somewhat frustrating feature is the transmission lever gate – we struggled to quickly and accurately engage reverse, for example, when manoeuvring the XUV500 in parking areas.
Rear seats fold flat into the floor, and middle row also folds down to create a long, flat load surface.
Out on the road, the ride is certainly softer than what you'd find in, for example, a Toyota Fortuner, but it's also somewhat less controlled, so there's significant body roll in the corners. This is unlikely to be a major concern to most owners who will appreciate the comfort, luxuries and... efficiency!
That's right, Mahindra claims a consumption figure of 7.4L/100 km, which appears optimistic, but in reality, we achieved 8.1 L/100km, which is nonetheless excellent for such a large, spacious vehicle. We also used the XUV500's full carrying capacity on numerous occasions.
Practical packaging (mostly)
With all seats in use, the XUV500 offers negligible boot space. You'll have to invest in a trailer or roofbox if you're going to be using its seating capacity often.
Due to its bulky looks, raised stance, 7 seats and turbodiesel engine, the XUV500 is often regarded a direct competitor to the Ford Everest and Toyota Fortuner, but in reality, it is quite a lot smaller. It's roughly 300 mm shorter than an Everest, for example. In fact, it's even shorter than a VW Tiguan Allspace. And yet, the XUV500 manages to offer good interior space for 7 occupants, even if the 3rd row is really best suited for kids.
The trade-off is luggage space. If all 7 seats are in use, there is basically no space in the load bay. However, when the 3rd row is folded flat into the floor, the bay is of a very decent size, so rather think of the XUV500 as a spacious 5-seat family car that offers occasional 7-seater ability. The focus on family practicality is also evident in the front, where there are 2 glove compartments, a fairly large and rubber-lined storage box on the fascia and more storage between the front seats.
A nice touch is that ventilation outlets and drinks holders are provided for all 3 rows – there is even fan control in the 3rd row.
Pricing & Warranty
The flagship Mahindra XUV500 W10 currently (March 2019) sells for R419 999. The price includes a comprehensive 5-year/150 000 km warranty and 5-year/100 000 service plan. The XUV500 is also currently subject to a Guaranteed Future Value plan.
The rear end has seen the most change; a new tailgate and combination lamps give the XUV500 a much more modern appearance.
If you're looking for a comfortable, well-equipped large SUV at a relatively small price, and it has to be new, then you can't really fault the Mahindra XUV500 W10. It offers a heck of a lot of car for the money, and that warranty/service plan further adds to the appeal.
We think, however, that (as is often the case with affordability-focused products) the best value can be found lower down in the model line-up. For a saving of roughly R18 000, you'd only forego the sunroof and keyless access/push-button start system if you opted for the W8 derivative. Those are sacrifices we'd happily make, and the lower price further enhances the XUV500's inherent appeal.
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