Cars - Mahindra

Road tests and reviews of the latest Mahindra models available in South Africa

We road test the new 2016 Mahindra XUV 500 W8

2016 Mahindra XUV 500 W8

By Franky Johnson

For 2016 Mahindra has given the XUV 500 its first comprehensive facelift calling it by the nickname “New Age” XUV500. It features an updated styling, even longer equipment list, increased focus towards occupant safety and claimed improvements to its overall drivability.

The most notable change to the “New Age” model is at the front end where the grille, headlights, bonnet and fog lamps have all been given a substantial redesign. The new grille design is smarter, utilising a glossy black finish with subtle chrome accents, as well as a more prominent Mahindra badge, while the lower air intake has been reshaped to provide a stronger visual integration with the grille. Black mesh inserts are consistently applied to both the main grille and the lower air intake, creating a more consistent appearance.

The headlights on either side of the grille are also completely new, with a cleaner, more resolute appearance and a new curved LED daytime running light signature, bolder fog lamps have been mounted in restyled apertures linked to the lower edge of the headlights.

The bonnet has been totally redesigned, featuring a wider, more expansive look for the front end’s cleaner, more contemporary design approach.

Viewed from the sides the Mahindra XUV 500 retains the over-sculpted body panels, particularly the front wing and rear haunch, while the wheel-arches are filled with new 17-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels which on the press vehicle were shod with Bridgestone H/T 235/65 R17 all-terrain tyres, and all credit to Mahindra, the spare is also a full size alloy. Also of note are the black clip-on lip extenders around the wheel-arches, the revised door handles, which now feature a more open user-friendly design, new chrome window underlining and twin black roof rails.

At the rear, the tall longitudinal tail lights benefit from a new internal tattoo design, while the tailgate is garnished with a more prominent, chromed Mahindra appliqué, and the twin oval exhausts add a sporty touch.

Mahindra has much improved the build quality of the interior with new materials, and although there still is a lot of plastic such as for the dashboard and door pads, they have a “brushed” finish and look quite nice. The spacious cabin of the New Age XUV 500 benefits from a number of important upgrades the most obvious being are the all-black leather upholstery and the large seven-inch, full-colour touch-screen display located in the centre stack.

Comprehensive infotainment features include integrated satellite navigation with voice prompts, a multi-speaker sound system, Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free telephony and music streaming, iPod-compatible USB sockets, a conversational mirror to see what your rear passengers are doing and a reverse camera.

Except for the tiny clock, the display remains legible, even in bright sunlight, thanks to a reshaped centre stack cowling, while the hood for the three-dial instrument cluster positioned directly ahead of the driving position, blends seamlessly into the upper contour of the dashboard.

Bright and clearly legible, the new touch screen is standard on the W8 flagship model, and provides intuitive, convenient access to the XUV 500’s comprehensive infotainment features. These include integrated satellite navigation with voice prompts, as well as a multi-speaker sound system, Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free telephony and music streaming, iPod-compatible USB sockets, a reverse camera and a GPS.

The display remains legible, even in bright sunlight, thanks to a reshaped centre stack cowling, while the hood for the three-dial instrument cluster positioned directly ahead of the driving position has been seamlessly integrated into the upper contour of the dashboard for a smarter, more cohesive appearance.

The XUV500 is a seven seater with three rows of seats - two in the front seats, three on the middle bench seat, and two on the third row. With five seats the luggage capacity is enormous, but with the two rear seats in place, luggage space is minimal.

The XUV 500 flagship is packed with modern features including auto-sensing headlights and windscreen wipers, rear washer and wiper, fully automatic climate control air-conditioning, remote central locking, cruise control, a multifunction steering wheel, electrically operated windows and exterior mirrors, a refrigerated centre console, and charging points in all three seating rows.

The list of active and passive safety features is quite comprehensive and the New Age XUV500 comes with dual front, side and curtain airbags, seat belts for all seating positions, side impact protection bars, and crash protection crumple zones.

The active safety systems comprise an all-disc braking system with ABS anti-lock control and electronic brake force distribution, electronic stability program with roll-over mitigation, Hill Hold and Hill Descent Control.

The New Age XUV 500 retains the same 2.2-litre four-cylinder 140 mHawk turbo-diesel engine as in its predecessor, which makes use of a variable geometry turbocharger to produce 103 kW of power at 3 750 r/min, and an impressive torque peak of 330 Nm from just 1 600 rpm, with power transferred to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox.

Once you’ve settled in the cab and adjusted the driver’s seat and the steering column being adjustable for both reach and rake, turn the key and the engine starts right away. At idle and parking speeds diesel engine clatter is quite noisy, but once underway and the windows closed it quietens down considerably. The XUV is not at all sluggish, even before the VGT turbo kicks in, and overtaking maneuvers can be performed with utmost ease once it enters the power band in the mid-rev range.

The diesel is an excellent power plant and good enough even to impress the sporty driver, however it is let down a bit by the long throw and rather slow gear-change, but one does get used to it. In acceleration tests, the Mahindra XUV 500 covered the 0 to 100 km dash in 11.6 seconds after two gear-changes and top speed is around 165 km/h. On the freeway, at a steady 120 km/h, the long ratio 6th gear allows for relaxed driving and the motor spins at a low 2 300 rpm.

For around town driving, the XUV 500’s EPS steering is suitably adaptive to the driver’s requirement. In city traffic, the steering is adequately light for quick turns and maneuvers, and adds enough weight during highway drives. The clutch pedal is light enough for easy drivability, while the reverse camera and small turning radius make for easy parking. It’s easy to get used to driving the Mahindra XUV 500 and when you do, it becomes a very comfortable and enjoyable vehicle to drive. As for noise levels, a little wind noise does manage to penetrate the cab at speed and there’s also some tyre noise on rough tar.

In the handling department, the XUV 500 is surprisingly well composed, and with the latest electronic driver aids, the XUV 500 holds its line through tight corners, and body roll is well contained. There is a bit of tyre squeal from the all-terrain tyres in fast cornering.

As for stopping power, stomping hard on the brake pedal at 100 km/h brought the heavy Mahindra XUV500 to a complete stop in just 3.2 seconds which is very good for an SUV.

Mahindra claim a fuel consumption of 6,5 litres/100 km for the combined cycle, but over the week I had the XUV 500 the tip computer gave me a reading of 7.9 With its massive 70 litre fuel tank, the Mahindra can go up to 1 000 km between refuels.

To conclude, If you look at the price tag, the technologies, the features offered, and the level of performance, it’s excellent value for money. To find another make similarly equipped you’d better be prepared to pay a far higher price.

The recommended retail selling price for the Mahindra XUV 500 W8 6-speed manual is R354 995 which includes a 5-year / 150 000 km warranty and 5 year / 100 000 km service plan.

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