Mahindra recently changed their brand design, including its logo and overall appearance. Voted the Indian Car of the Year, the new XUV700 is one of the first Mahindras to fall under this new branding. We took a closer look at this new SUV competitor.
“What brand is this? I have never seen it before…” or “You are kidding!” were usually the first responses we received from onlookers. Since initially entering the southern-African market more than a decade ago, Mahindra has steadily expanded its customer base to be one of the leading bakkie sellers in the region.
Our tremendous 4×4 experience with the new Karoo Pik Up bakkies in 2022 is now being confirmed by the high sales numbers of the Karoo Dusk, Dawn, and Storm bakkies. Even the non-Karoo derivatives (the S10 and S11) stand firmly as one of our most recommended bakkies when it comes to practicality and price.
As a brand, Mahindra made its intention clear that it would like to expand its capabilities. With a strong and successful presence in the FIA ABB Formula E Championship, as well as an overall brand redesign, the Indian manufacturer is strongly looking towards the future of mobility.
The XUV 700
Apart from the Mahindra logo being different, the new XUV700 is more visually appealing than its predecessor. With bolder lines, the new XUV700 aims to target the luxury SUV market; a very ambitious aim as recent Chinese entries made the market even more competitive.
The competitiveness of this segment has not only forced manufacturers to be extra mindful of their pricing strategy, but to also add their unique selling point to “wow” the general public.
While the new XUV700 certainly gets our nod of approval in terms of a new exterior design, what has Mahindra done to differentiate its latest model from all those competitors?
Firstly, it has to be said that the new XUV700 is far more modern than its predecessors. Our test model greeted us with a luxurious leather interior and panoramic sunroof, yet the interior space is what mostly amazed us. This top of the range model had three rows of seats (seven in total), easily seating fully grown adults in each of the three rows. The third row even has climate control and a 12-volt socket, useful for charging rear passengers’ mobile devices, or plugging in a portable fridge once the rear row has been flattened.
During our test, one of our journalists went camping with his wife and three children, and found the car to be spacious and comfortable. Not bad for a 7-seater large SUV costing just over R550 000.
With a leather and hard plastic finish, the XUV700 now caters for a much more luxurious market. The front seats are even electronically operated from the doors, instead of on the seats. These even automatically re-adjust to the previous selection once the ignition button is pressed. Our only drawback with regards to seating arrangement is the fact that the steering column is only adjustable for reach.
Some of the most striking features and notable contrasts with the outgoing model, are the two 10.2-inch screens on the dash, equipped with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, two USB ports and a wireless charging station. While the IOS owners on our journalist panel struggled to connect their devices, the Android system seemed to pair well with the car.
Additionally, the new 12-speaker 3D Sony sound system also seemed to work fairly well, while the 360-degree camera also helped with maneuvering. Mahindra even added a camera in the left side mirror, to assist the driver when turning left. Another feature is that the cameras can also be used as permanent dash-cam; which is quite handy for insurance claims.
Naturally, Mahindra also did not shy away from safety features. The new XUV700 has seven airbags (including knee airbags), blind spot warning systems, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning (and lane keeping), traffic sign recognition, smart pilot assists, tyre pressure sensors, as well as adaptive cruise control.
Unfortunately, we found the stop-start system difficult to manage as the car would very efficiently switch off as it came to a halt, but struggle to switch back on again. This required us to switch the automatic (6-speed) gearbox back into “park”, after which the start / stop button could be pressed again. The inefficiency of this nullified the system, forcing us to get into a habit of deactivating the system ahead of every excursion with the car.
On the outside, the new XUV700 has a much rounder appearance. The front LED headlights mimic those of the Renault Koleos, while the rear lights are also now full LED. Our top of the range AX7 L model also featured 18-inch alloy wheels, while the boot door is made from plastic; to save weight.
The only downside with the latter is that it is not electronically operated and must be opened mechanically.
While the new 2-litre, 4-cylinder engine with 149kW and 380Nm delivered sufficient performance, the 6-speed automatic gearbox struggled to fully translate its efficiency. Our honest opinion is that with incremental software updates for the gearbox, the experience could be improved, and also deliver better fuel efficiency. Mahindra claims 6.6 L/100km, our figures were closer to the 9 litre mark.
Standing out might not always be a positive attribute
The new XUV700 certainly stands out from its predecessors and features a unique design, with added quirks.
It feels much more like a proper SUV, and is certainly a class leader when it comes to comfort. Whilst the engine is very quiet, there are slight noise disruptions, which may hinder the overall on-road experience.
The large 18-inch wheels are diamond-cut, but bring slight road noise into the cabin. The air-con also works perfectly, yet we found a strange onboard noise (a short escalating hum) through the cabin from time to time; once the car is at a standstill. Users not accustomed to this might mistake it for a passing car or motorbike.
As previously mentioned, a unique selling point will be very important in this segment, resulting in each manufacturer adding their unique quirks. Yet, we aren’t completely sure that this is always a good thing.
Two examples of this are the door handles of the XUV700 opening in a scissor-like fashion. Whilst appealing at first, it might be easy for a bag or a piece of clothing to be hooked onto this. This might have negative results for the clothing or the door.
Lastly, the XUV700 also features a weird-sounding indicator. Rather than the normal “click” sound, the XUV700 features a ‘ringing-bells’ tone. Some might find it appealing at first, but it can become overwhelming after a while.
Apart from these, Mahindra can be applauded for the complete overhaul of their luxurious XUV700. No longer is this SUV compared to a bakkie-like SUV. Rather, this model has grown to be a luxury SUV that should be reckoned with.
Astonishingly, the new XUV700 features the quality design of many SUVs you would find closer to the million Rand mark. Yet, the XUV700 range starts at R474 999 and tops off at R559 999. Each UXV700 is sold with a 5-year / 100 000km service plan and a 5-year / 150 000km warranty. This also includes a 5-year 24/7 Roadside Assistance Plan.