The design is strong and forceful, thanks to its SUV build and its athletic front profile. The ride height is also decent allowing you to tackle undulating roads. What caught me off guard, however, was the lack of an Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), in a vehicle of this stature and price, which meant when driving during one of Joburg’s thunderstorms, the car can go slipping along.
The 2.2-litre mHawk turbo-diesel is potent and the shining light of the XUV. The 103kW and 330Nm supplies plenty of punch off the line, and the 70-litre fuel tank seems to fund an endless driving range.
Despite the good engine setup, our test model XUV500 W4 4x2 MT will set you back R249 995. Not bad, considering its size and versatility in the form of seven seats and a very spacious interior. But, this XUV sported very little else. In fact, the aircon and radio were the only creature comforts to keep you company. There were no steering mounted controls or USB, however, there was a Stop/Start system, which Mahindra call a micro-hybrid type system. Truthfully, it’s a bit of a gimmick, as the car seems to reluctantly restart when you engage the clutch and I’d rather leave it turned off.
Overall, I quite liked the XUV’s concept. It is a good platform to build on. I would just get rid of the 50 shades of brown interior and not opt for the base-level W4. But pricing is becoming tricky as Renault offers its Duster for similar money and you get a lot more, minus the space.