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Mahindra's Xylo MPV driven

2009-03-17 13:13
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Mahindra
Model Xylo
Engine 2.5l, inline-four turbodiesel
Power 83kW @ 3 800r/min
Torque 235Nm @ 1 800r/min
Transmission FIve-speed manual
Zero To Hundred 17 seconds
Top Speed 155km/h
Fuel Tank 55l
Fuel Consumption 7.7l/100km
Weight 1820kg
Tyres 215/75 R15

Lance Branquinho

Remember Toyota’s Condor? Locally validated, vastly popular and never properly replaced - until now perhaps...Meet Mahindra’s Xylo.

At a time when most value buyers - despite straining under credit markets practically without traction - are moving away from emerging brands to established European, Korean and Japanese cars, Mahindra could be considered quite brazen to launch a new vehicle.

When you realise Mahindra have just recapitalised local operations to the tune of R30 million, a new model makes a mite more sense. Then consider the peripheral effect the Chinese sell-and-run tactics have had on consumer confidence in emerging market brands and factor in traditional South African brand snobbery, too, and you might wonder what the relevance of Mahindra's Xylo is.

Well, if you need a capacious, turbodiesel powered, rear-wheel drive vehicle that is able to transport eight people, the Xylo will be very relevant to you.

Considering the success Toyota achieved with the Condor configuration, it would be fair to postulate a sizeable market is primed for a vehicle of the Xylo’s ilk locally – especially since Condor’s Avanza replacement lacks diesel power.

Conventional design

Riding atop a ladder frame chassis, the Xylo measures 4.52m in length, is 1.85m wide and renders a tallish presence with a roofline levelling off at 1.89m.

I am hardly going to call it a pretty car, but honestly, if people can convince themselves to buy Porsche Cayennes (in vast numbers too), it shows we live in a decidedly post-aesthetic world where utility is key.

And there is plenty of utility to be found. Mahindra will be marketing two Xylo models locally, an entry level eight-seater and specced-up seven seater (with an optional three seat middle bench).

Interior is very roomy, with even the third row easily accommodating adults. Simple canvas loops are tugged to fold the third row seats flat.

The entry level Xylo E2 is not spectacularly equipped. It might have eight seats but they’re mostly vinyl-covered (which your kids will love during summer) and uncomfortably designed. Essentially, all you get is power steering, adjustable driver’s seat height, all-round power windows, air-conditioning and central locking.

Conversely the Xylo E8 is quite comprehensively equipped.

Convenience is enhanced by the presence of keyless entry and additional comfort features include foldable flight-style trays for the middle row passengers, second and third row air-conditioning, an USB/MP3/SD card/CD compatible audio system and even an illuminated key ring…

For those pedantic customers, the E8 features a trip computer. For the farsighted, E8’s intellipark reverse assist displays the distance between the rear bumper and a ding-bound object in a display illuminating the rear-view mirror.

Safety conscious buyers will be heartened by the presence of ABS, yet perhaps a little miffed at having to wait until September for the availability of airbags. This is allegedly due to the expedient nature of the Xylo’s development cycle and its quick deployment to the local market. Right.


Mahindra says the Xylo was designed in to appease local buyers who live in a world with potholes and dirt roads. Okay.

Consequently, the Xylo sports 186mm of ground clearance, which is better than a soft-roader such as Toyota's RAV4. With independent coil sprung suspension on the front axle and multiple-links on the aft axle rolling 215/75 profile tyres, it’s aptly configured for local conditions.

And you though we were joking about the name?

Powering the Xylo is Mahindra’s comically named mEagle (don’t joke, the mHawk is coming soon too) 2.5l, common-rail turbodiesel engine. Though it hardly sports European turbodiesel power figures (83kW and 235Nm) Xylo only weighs in at a touch over 1 800 kg.

On paper, performance is not what one would call rapid (0-100km/h in 17 seconds), yet at Reef altitudes on our test route, the mEagle engine provided enough torque at low engine speeds while travelling four-up, to not be an undue danger to other road users.

Mahindra claims consumption around 7.7l/100km in a combined cycle, which I think is a bit optimistic for such a drag-inducing vehicle. Fair play though, calculating range with Mahindra’s figures, you should return around 700km on a tank.

Xylo E8 well equipped. Plastic side inserts on the gearstick shifter-top eat neatly into your palms when changing ratios.

Being rear-wheel drive is a huge boon for those who intend to work the Xylo particularly hard, and the gearbox has a direct, chunky feel – despite having a desperately odd, unergonomically shaped shifter-top.

Poise is not exactly in the Grand Livina league, with the ladder frame chassis ensuring plenty of steering play in the straight-ahead position. Due to the tall dimensions, Xylo exhibits a fair amount of body roll in corners too, yet, all things considered, it’s not treacherous to drive.

A contemporary Condor?

The question remains then - is this Mahindra inadvertently the replacement Condor owners have been waiting for?

Based on my launch experience, the wind noise could be a lot less and those large, rectangular shaped door-mirrors might render a full, landscape format view of the road behind you, but they protrude a bit too much for my parking bay sensibilities.

Interior trim is hardly an ode to advanced polymer science either. The plastics are hard and shiny. Seats on the entry level E2 are awful, featuring a nearly inverse concave backrest design, although, in mitigation the E8’s cloth-trimmed seats are a world apart and much better.

Beyond these issues the Xylo is an entirely honest and capable people mover that is properly specced for local conditions.

Do you have a large family? Keen to put money away for your kids' education instead of transporting them in an expensive car? Do you happen to believe a diesel vehicle is a smart idea in the long run? Then Xylo will appeal to you.

If you are a keen driver who doubts the merits of diesel power and has a short family, Nissan's Grand Livina is still the ticket.

A key factor to take into consideration is Mahindra’s status as a serious player in automobile manufacturing. They’ve been building cars since 1945 and seem seriously committed to local operations, so don’t expect a Chinese sell-and-run state of affairs.

Mahindra XYLO 2.5 CRDe E2 - R159 900                   
Mahindra XYLO 2.5 CRDe E8 - R189 000

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