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Mahindra XUV500 SUV from $24,000


And it shows India aims to use price-cut techniques to outmanoeuvre China as it heats up its SUV presence in Australia. Major Indian light commercial and SUV maker Mahindra will launch its XUV500 wagon within three months in Australia and expand the models of its newly-acquired subsidiary, Ssangyong. 

A Mahindra spokesman at this week's Delhi motor show say the XUV500 is the company's first monocoque SUV and its first designed from the outset as a global market vehicle. 

Priced at about $24,000 and available as a 2WD or AWD, the XUV500 claims it ha more features than its rivals yet costs about half the price. It competes in India with the Toyota Fortuna, Chevrolet Captiva, Hyundai Santa Fe and Mitsubishi Outlander. 

But it will also take on China's Great Wall X240 petrol and X200 diesel wagons, the Foton and the XV that is expected to go on sale in Australia also in March. 

The spokesman - who did not want to be named - at the Mahindra stand at the Delhi stand says the AWD model features include sat-nav, touch screen monitor, upmarket audio, six airbags and electronic stability control. 

It gets a 103kW/330Nm 2.2-litre common-rail turbo-diesel engine - a development of an existing 89kW/270Nm diesel - and six-speed manual transmission.                              

The spokesman says an automatic transmission will be available in the future. This transmission is likely to the six-speed unit made by DSI - a company owned by China's Geely - in Albury, NSW. 

The gearbox is available on the Ssangyong Koranda. The XUV500, which is marketed with a tiger motif that Mahindra claims represents the SUV's "athletic looks and symbolised by the pronounced wheelarches'', is similar in size to Great Wall's SUV.

It is 35mm shorter at 4585mm, 15mm lower and 90mm wider and weighs 2450kg in AWD guise.  Mahindra will kickstart the XUV500 with production at about 2000 units a month and expects to grow that figure on export demand.