2012 Mahindra XUV500 W8 First Drive Review

Malcolm Flynn | 28 Comments


Vehicle type: Medium SUV
Price: 2WD: $29,900 | AWD: $32,900 (drive-away)
Power/Torque: 103kW/330Nm
Fuel efficiency (claimed): 6.7 l/100km


Mahindra’s new seven-seat XUV500 SUV is the brand’s second model to be launched in Australia, a full five years after the somewhat underwhelming Pik-Up ute reached our shores.

The medium-sized XUV500 is the Indian manufacturer’s first passenger vehicle to be designed - it says - for the world market.

Australia is third in line to get the XUV500, after launching in India in September 2011 and subsequently in South Africa. Europe is to follow next.

The chassis is a unique monocoque design; power comes from an uprated version of the 2.2 litre mHawk turbodiesel-four found in the Pik-Up.

Both 2WD and AWD drivetrains will be offered locally, with a six-speed manual being the only transmission available at this stage.

For under $33,000 drive-away, both drivetrains undercut similar sized seven-seat rivals by at least $5,000.

We were among the first to sample the XUV500 on Australian roads at Mahindra’s Australian launch in NSW’s Hunter Valley.

The drive included a good mix of rural sealed roads: ideal for testing the XUV500’s suitability for Australian conditions.


Australian XUV500s will launch in single W8 spec level, with very generous equipment levels for the price.

Standard equipment includes leather trim for all seats, chilled centre-console, climate control, sat-nav, automatic wipers and headlights, full Bluetooth connectivity, voice commands, six-inch multimedia display, tilt and reach adjustable steering, reverse sensors, tyre-pressure monitoring system, and LED daylight running lights.

The only optional extra at this stage is a reversing camera, with pricing yet to be finalised.

Safety features include six airbags, stability control, anti-lock brakes, hill assist and hill decent control, which helped the XUV500 earn a 4-Star ANCAP rating.

Mahindra wants five stars though, and has pledged to modify the model to suit within 12 months.

The interior’s design marks a massive leap in both quality and aesthetics from the Pik-Up model, signifying how seriously Mahindra is targeting export markets with the XUV500.

There is a mix of textures and colours throughout which at first glance could belong in a far higher price bracket.

2012 mahindra xuv500 launch review australia 12b
Compared with the established SUV competition however, the XUV500 falls behind in many areas.

The fit of several plastic panels can only be described as “crooked”, with key offenders being the dual glovebox lids and the dash-top storage bins.

The glossy faux-wood finish of the dash-top bin is also prone to creating annoying glare under sunlight.

Many of the tactile surfaces are of soft-touch plastics, but buttons and switchgear feel cheap.

And, despite the use of rubber stoppers and felt-lining on most apertures, several creaks and rattles were evident along the test route.

Kudos however must be awarded for the dedicated vents for third-row occupants, with individual temperature control – a rarity among all seven-seaters.

The seating position is high for all passengers, leading to excellent visibility through the deep side-windows.

Legroom is excellent for all, including third-row occupants, which is in turn detrimental to cargo capacity, leaving very little room behind the seats when upright.

There are cupholders for all passengers, along with bottle and umbrella holders in the front doors and an array of oddment storage cavities throughout.

On The Road

Out on the road, the XUV500 is streets ahead of the ageing Pik-Up, with a far more passenger-friendly overall experience.

However, like its interior, this experience lags behind others in the mid-size SUV category.

Although sitting on a monocoque chassis, the XUV500 gives the impression of a very high centre of gravity, more akin to rugged ladder-frame 4WD wagons.

The four-wheel independent suspension impresses on paper, but along the patchy rural bitumen test route, the ride was harsh at times.

The damper tuning certainly needs more work; at the wheel it felt like it was carrying a load greater than the two occupants on test.

Cabin noise too is not quite up to scratch; it’s quite pronounced with diesel clatter evident at all speeds (seeming to enter via the ventilation ducts).

We also found the electronically-assisted steering to be vague with a numb on-centre feel.

2012 mahindra xuv500 launch review australia 03
The relative inconvenience of the manual-only transmission is certain to deter many family buyers, but we found the six-speed to be very useful in extracting the most from the 103kW/330Nm 2.2 litre turbodiesel. Mind you, you have to row it along though.

Engine stop-start technology however is definitely on the plus side of the ledger.

The power and torque numbers look ok, certainly not startling, but don’t translate all that well to the real world.

However, the AWD example we tested had a mere 36km showing on its odometer, so we’ll forgive the rather sluggish performance it offered on test.

First Drive Verdict

Mahindra has made a credible leap into the fiercely competitive mid-size SUV segment with the XUV500.

It has won several awards in its homeland of India, but given the very capable options currently available on the Australian market - without burning too deep a hole in the pocket - success is going to be harder to find here.

Mahindra has however managed to spec the XUV500 very well, and its 4-Star ANCAP with a commitment to a 5-Star is a welcome surprise.

Keep an eye on TMR for a full test, where we’ll pay close attention to how achievable the XUV500’s impressive 6.7l/100km (claimed) combined fuel consumption figure is in the real world.


  • XUV500 - front-wheel-drive diesel manual - $29,990 drive-away
  • XUV500 - all-wheel-drive diesel manual - $32,990 drive-away

The first XUV500 cars are scheduled to hit Mahindra's 25 national dealers this week. The brand plans to double its dealer network over the next 12 months.

Filed under: Featured, review, wagon, diesel, 2012, awd, suv, india, Manual, fwd, mahindra, family, medium, Advice, special-featured, 4cyl, 5door, 6m, 7seat, xuv500, mahindra xuv500, available, 100-150kw

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  • Smart us says,
    3 years ago
    great car - im putting deposit down for one... cant wait - value for money...
    • FrugalOne says,
      3 years ago
      great car - im putting deposit down for one... cant wait - value for money...

      U will be sorry, just wait till u try *selling* it smile

    • FrugalOne says,
      3 years ago
      Around $10k too expensive

      No auto

      No dealers

      BIG tear up, in fact HUGE tear up, will do laps at the wholesale auctions, nobody will bid on it
  • cyclone says,
    3 years ago
    1 like
    Looks wise - where do u start with epic failures. That dash, what's with the intricate design if the air con vents, for something that's going to break, keep it simple. The colour ... Grey and maroon, at least they carried it through the entire cabin. Yay...not The sat nav, I'd hate to read it considering the height of the drivers wheel. My advice. If you can't afford a decent (5 star) new suv, buy a used one, not this. 7 seats means you got up to 5 kids, 4 stars just ain't worth it
  • DOROTHEO says,
    3 years ago
    Smart I am with you I need to get me one car, I would put a deposit for it.
    • Smart us says,
      3 years ago
      i was kidding... id never get one of these id get 2nd hand territory and save the planet rolleyes
      • Alex Kirkman says,
        3 years ago
        must be a total ford fan,box of red heads fix any ford . my self would get one, more value for my dollar than any ford junker laughbleh
  • smart aus says,
    3 years ago
    Somebody save 'smart us' jerk...This guy is in every car website thrashing this car. Arrange a doctor for this poor guysadbiggrin. And buy a Bentley if you hate this car. I bet he cannot afford one.
    • Smart us says,
      3 years ago
      1 like
      sorry for you... you have to vent buyer's remorse on website with pink color scheme... since imitation is the greatest flattery you could not resist to add one more letter... you just could not resist.. you spoiled it dry
  • amlohac says,
    3 years ago
    What, in the actual F... is the go with that interior!?
  • harry takah says,
    3 years ago
    Been driving a XUV500 for the last five months and am very happy with it. wish it was an automatic, and less noise when braking, otherwise enjoy the free roll and do get a lot of attention as there is n't too many in Victoria. Am happy with it so far, just covered the first 5000 km.
    • Pal says,
      3 years ago
      Hi Hary,
      Since you own a XUV500, can you tell me how good the car is

      Is it worth buying? How is the reliabilty of the car?

      Which dealer did u buy the car from

      I am planning to buy one as I am extremely impressed with the looks and the drive of the car which i experienced when i was on holidays in India

      • Harry Takah says,
        2 years ago
        Hi Pal,
        sorry for the delay in responding only saw your message today.
        I bought it from a dealer from Benalla in victoria. Delatite Mahindra
        Here is there contact number
        Max Fox he is the sale Manager Ph 03 5762 7766
        Mobile 0439 534 219
        the Address is 28 Sydney Road, Benalla, VICTORIA 3672
        Email: [email protected]
        You can email me on [email protected] if you need any more info
        I am still vey happy with it, so far it has proven very reliable, I have completed my 9000 km mark and it's running well.
        Am hoping to do a long distance driving to see how good it can get to with regards to its millage.
        It's definitely worth it when you compared with other cars and what's on offer in terms of "blue sense factor" convenient phone calls and receiving calls, entertainment package and the great work done in term of lighting and safety features.
        Keep in touch.

        • P G K says,
          2 years ago
          Hi Harry, There is a brake pad upgrade. Talk to your dealer about changing the brake pads. That might reduce your braking noise.
          • Zee says,
            2 years ago
            Yeah, new brake pads and also the 2013 plate has all new black interior.
        • PGK says,
          2 years ago
          Hi Harry, There is a brake pad upgrade. Talk to your dealer about changing the brake pads. That might reduce your braking noise.
  • Rai says,
    3 years ago
    1 like
    Hi, when will this SUV be available in New Zealand?
    • mandip says,
      2 years ago
      1 like
      Hi Mate

      xuv500 is available in nz at drive town dealers in panmure auckland nz. its priced for $33,999.00 new and they some other scorpio as well.

  • Lisa says,
    2 years ago
    When will the automatic version be available?
    • Naresh Kapur says,
      2 years ago
      Dear sir in this major problem for suspension on the first day in this car suspension problem front side to noise in the suspenspention so many time complaint in the company but not response and problem solved this problem please help me.
  • so want this suv says,
    2 years ago
    Really want to buy thi car but so many no no's(?)
  • mixit says,
    2 years ago
    go right ahead a buy it.!. i have a mahindra with 20,000ks on the odometer and not a single problem, infact it drives and feels comfortable and looks good..inside and out..In comparison with other suv's i think its reasonable to good value, as i have had several different makes over the years. 1 ***box ford, broken every 5000kms or so, 2 landcrusiers with major gearbox problems , (at $55k for the base model, is that value?), 1 mitsubshi with major problems..it goes on....now i have the mahindra and would'nt change it for anything at the moment, ....cheers to a new change...............
  • a says,
    2 years ago
    1 like
    Um yeah, its a good attempt but I dont think I would buy a first of breed from any manufacturer. you are basically the ginnie pig to find out how to impove it for future models.. Just spend a bit extra and buy a Kia or something that has a reputation..
    • mervin says,
      2 years ago
      yep . in India they just launched a revised model and new varient w4.
    • ggggg says,
      1 year ago
      1 like
      hey indian here i would like to know what is the thing with this established or qulaity brand yes we are new and export to advanced countries is something in which we have litarelly no experience so it will take some time to understand the demand and respond to the quality likewise because we are from a developing country does not mean that a brand from our side is another chinese like brand both mahindra and tata are more than half a century old and mahindra is a $12 billion group and tata is a $100 billion group and spend an unbelievable amount in r&d and quality infact they run some of the finest r&d centeres and manufacturing units in the country of global standards.Mahindra is already working on three different platforms at r&d centre in chennai all targeted at overseas markets and tata with jlr under its badge is working on new vehicles with help of jlr and have already launched new vehicles with stunning imrovements in quality and technology.And mind u mahindras are the toughest vehicles we indians have ever seen.I am from a rural background and my family owned both mahindra tractors and offroad vehicles before i was born first the willy based jeeps and then different vehicles that came after and they do every task with not a single problem in quality or build up in fact we make fun of these so called established brands because no one of them can sustain the torture of indian roads and the typical indian habits of under maintanence and over loading the way mahindra does and all the mordern goodies such as ac etc working pretty well in the harsh rajasthan conditions(from where i belong) where as these well established brands needing repair almost every month during summers .Now even the internal and external features of the recent launches are much better than the international brands at the same the same price tag .Dont consider the indian auto brands as another cheap chinese like brands they are as competetive,proffessional and quality concious as any other reputed brands and clearly have will and resources to put serious efforts into r&d,quality and reputation improvement and clearly dont want to be recognised as cheap vehicle makers the only thing needed is time that will prove everything
  • devinder gill says,
    2 years ago
    1 like
    17 months, 40,000 km. no problem. I am loving it. just nice car.
  • Bhavik says,
    2 years ago
    1 like
    Auto transmission will be available from second half of 2014, company says. I am waiting for automatic transmission. Why pay 50000 for klugger or 45000 for Cr-v, while 33000 for this.
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