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by Tim Beissmann

India’s leading SUV manufacturer, Mahindra, has just unveiled its first global SUV – the Mahindra XUV500 – and according to the company’s CEO, it’s heading to Australia within six months.

Mahindra has confirmed the XUV500 will be priced between Rs 10.80 lakh and Rs 12.88 lakh ($22,600-$26,950) in India. If these price convert directly to Australian Dollars, the Mahindra XUV500 promises to provide serious competition to the Chinese-built Great Wall X240 ($23,990), although we expect the Mahindra to be priced above the Great Wall.

The Mahindra XUV500 will join the Pik-Up ute in Australia, which is priced from $20,990 to $30,490 driveaway.

Mahindra international automotive operations CEO, Pravin Shah, confirmed the global rollout plans for the XUV500 at yesterday’s international unveiling in India.

“XUV500 would be launched in Johannesburg, South Africa, tomorrow and within the next six months would be launched globally in South America, Australia and SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] countries,” Mr Shah said.

Mahindra automotive sector president, Dr Pawan Goenka, confirmed some of the development work on the XUV500 was completed in Australia.

“The XUV500 is our first global SUV that has been completely designed and developed around the global customer, with extensive product validation and testing done across Europe, Australia, South Africa, and India,” Dr Goenka said.

Mahindra says the XUV500’s design was inspired by a pouncing cheetah, with an intimidating jaw-like grille and powerful curved ‘hips’ at the rear wheel arches.

The new SUV is powered by a 2.2-litre mHawk diesel engine with 103kW of power and 330Nm of torque. It features a six-speed manual transmission (an automatic is currently under development) and all-wheel drive with Interactive Torque Management, which balances power between the front and rear wheels.

Mahindra says the XUV500 uses as little as 6.6 litres/100km under Indian standards. The Indian press material says it accelerates from 0-60km/h in 5.4 seconds, but does not list a 0-100km/h time. (Australian specifications will be confirmed closer to the local launch.)

The Mahindra XUV500 promises to offer plenty of features. Depending on the market, the new SUV will be available with six-inch touchscreen with GPS, DVD and iPod functionality, dual-zone climate control, bending projector headlamps with LED running lights, automatic headlights and wipers, reverse parking sensors, leather upholstery and flat-folding second- and third-row seats.

Safety also sounds first-class with six airbags, electronic stability control with rollover mitigation, hill hold control and hill descent control.

Mahindra will offer three variants and seven body colours depending on the market. Production at the company’s Chakan plant near Pune will start at 2000 units per month, but has the potential to expand if the market demands more.

Stay tuned for more details on the Mahindra XUV500 ahead of its Australian launch, expected in the first half of 2012.




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