Mahindra SA certainly caught me by surprise, arriving at Gerotek expecting to see and drive the long awaited new XUV700 SUV.
Instead, they pulled a number of rabbits out of their hat with major announcements and reveals. A further coup was the fact that some of these were world reveals that took place simultaneously in India.
It started with the reveal of a new brand identity for Mahindra with a bold new “Twin Peaks” logo. This was immediately followed by the reveal of the all new Scorpio N model, having it’s world premiere.
The excitement in the marquee continued with the SA reveal of the XUV 700 as expected. Possibly the disappointment was hearing that it will not arrive for full launch and sale until late this year.
As the classic saying goes, but that’s not all…………the final reveal was of 3 special edition versions of the Pik-Up and these are locally developed. Say hello to Dawn, Dusk and Storm.
Fortunately it wasn’t all just show and reveal and we were then given the opportunity to drive examples of all the new models shown. I joined the group that headed to the high speed oval first where Scorpio N and XUV 700 were waiting. Both are unmistakeably Mahindra designs but with all the modern touches on the exterior. Both are also available in both petrol and diesel derivatives. Final local specification is still to be finalised so although both 6 speed manual and auto boxes are available, its very possible that we’ll only get the auto options.
Taking the Scorpio around the banked track, you have to remember that this is a 4 wheel drive off-roader SUV. In spite of this it sat very comfortably at the 130km/h mark on the oval. A rather intrusive noise from the roof rails was the only disturbing factor. I would personally remove this as this would become tiresome on a long journey.
Next I took the XUV 700 around. The improvements in luxury and spec over the previous XUV 500 are immediately noticeable. You can expect top models to include everything and they certainly appeared to be very well put together. Again, our circuit of the oval showed a smooth and comfortable ride, especially taking into account that this is not the smoothest surface. This vehicle offers 7 seats as an option and will be ideal for long family trips and holiday travel.
The Pik-Ups were waiting for us at our next stop where we tested the up and downhill gradient abilities. Engaging Hill Descent Mode and remembering to keep your feet on the floor and away from the pedals was easy and the return trip up the 70% gradient was simply a matter of keeping the revs at just over 2500rpm.
The special editions all come in striking colours suited to their names and all have upgraded off-road suspension, black alloys, steel bumpers and, on some, roller shutters for the load bin. Mahindra say that the Karoo versions have been a great success and that these will build on that base.
I finally took the diesel powered XUV 700 around the mountain track. The handling around the tight bends was more than acceptable for a family SUV and the torque of the diesel motor handles the steep gradient sections with ease. We did this section with 4 on board and from both driver’s and passenger seats I found the ride very smooth and comfortable.
Mahindra have been on a success roll in SA over the past months with their sales showing consistent growth. With these new models in the range, I am certain that this will continue.
Alan Rosenmeyer: MotorMatters: www.motormatters.co.za