Johan van Heerden, General Manager of the AutoCity Group, was proud to mention to me recently that in May 2018, the AutoCity Group are set to celebrate 18 years of service to the local community. Due to their passion and drive under the AutoCity banner, AutoCity Mahindra Heidelberg is doing nothing less than providing excellent products and services since their launch. Having made a a big mark on the industry, most especially in the area, the General Manager notes that an understanding of how important buying a car is to the customer means that the Dealership as a whole can focus on going out of their way for the customer in order to deliver – and exceed the expectations – of each client that they meet. .
Douw Bezuidenhout, Dealer Principal of AutoCity Mahindra Heidelberg, has been in the motoring industry for a little over the decade and is fairly new to heading up the dynamic AutoCity Mahindra Dealership in Heidelberg. With a passion for the industry and a growing respect for the brand, Douw was warmly welcoming of my visit. Excited to hear another perspective on the incredible Mahindra XUV 5OO, I found it refreshing to meet with such a humble and kind Dealer Principal. Having achieved an array of accolades in 2017 – the most prestigious of which is the Dealer of the Year award for the second year running – this Dealership is certainly one to watch.
The last four months with Mahindra have been record months, and Douw finds the excitement of this to be what keeps him going. Although he feels there is a lot of hard work ahead, he is excited about the future of the brand. He believes his success – and that of the Dealership – lies in keeping the customers happy, and watching them leave (and return) happy. Douw believes that the dynamic vehicle that is the XUV 5OO is a symbol of the excellence and excitement which the brand brings. Having driven the XUV 5OO for three months himself, Douw was suitably blown away by the value for money that the vehicle presents. For a closer look at the vehicle, Douw shows me to the office of Piérre Nel, the Sales Manager for AutoCity Mahindra Heidelberg.
Having been in the motoring industry for the last decade, Piérre is one of the few people who has been with this specific dealership right since the start. Since the opening of the Dealership in 2012, Piérre feels very connected to the brand as he was part of the launch. As a huge part of his life, Piérre feels grafted to Mahindra, and is at the Dealership every day and some weekends as well. As a member of the Business Chamber of Heidelberg, Piérre also enjoys the privilege of sharing his passion with others in the community.
I am delighted to be handed over to Chané Engelbrecht, the Sales Representative for AutoCity Mahindra Heidelberg for the last 6 years. Having started her career with the Dealership, Chané is the much-needed feminine touch in the often male-dominated industry. As a competitive, ambitious and driven individual, Chané has a natural affinity for sales and working with people. Her personal opinion on the brand is that it is the best value for money on the market. Her customers are often repeat customers, and will gladly refer other buyers to her as well. Introducing me to the vehicle of the moment, Chané is a specialist in her field, with a broad knowledge base.
The XUV 5OO is a 7-seater, with comfortable seating in two back rows which can also be converted to a 5-seater as you desire. The practicality of this vehicle is a definite plus point, and although the third row would be a bit of a tight squeeze for adults, it is roomy and comfortable in the second row, and fantastically spacious in the cockpit. Speaking of the cockpit, when looking at technology and features in the XUV 5OO, I note that it is definitely up there with the best in its class – static-bending headlamps, a state-of-the-art 6-inch LCD touch screen infotainment system and a comprehensive Driver Information System relaying the vehicles performance dynamics to you in real time. Rain and light sensors as well as a voice command-operated system means the driver can focus on the road, and actually enjoy driving the vehicle. In the W8 variant, reverse cameras and park assist are included, which assist me in manoeuvring the bold, muscled SUV with ease.
The drive itself is smooth and effortless, and the 2.2 litre mHawk engine produces a satisfying power output, as it combines with the 5th generation variable geometry turbocharger to provide really good oomph. Despite this lovely throaty roar and powerful pull, the XUV is superbly economical, boasting a 6.5 litre per 100-kilometre consumption (given that a generous 103 kW and 330 Nm of torque is produced), which is always a plus in the current financial climate. Chané feels that for what this vehicle has to offer, the price is not just reasonable, it is affordable, starting at around R286 000 for an entry level XUV.
As a family woman, safety is always a big deal to me, and I am beyond thrilled to note that the Mahindra’s XUV prioritises passenger safety through its Electronic Stability Program, combined with the ABS and EBD systems that add to the Rollover Mitigation and Traction Control features. 6 airbags, strategic crumple zones and fortified side-impact beams form part of the carefully designed body to absorb impact and protect the passengers in the event of an accident. Hill Descent and Hold Control Features further make risky angled driving more controllable, whilst braking is managed through the all-wheel disc braking system, ultimately promoting cautious driving. Driving this vehicle in a proper Highveld storm right at the outset gave me no cause for concern – I felt completely in control with the vehicle holding the road beautifully.
My experience with the Mahindra XUV 5OO is one I am personally invested in sharing. I feel really connected to the brand and proud of what is has achieved in creating an SUV that stands out and is unique, whilst still being able to hold its own in a very competitive segment. I am also particularly impressed by the affordability of owning such a vehicle. In complete sincerity, I would most certainly look into the XUV 5OO for my next vehicle.
My own perception of Mahindra vehicles, as well as that of the many Mahindra client’s I have spoken to, has been drastically shifted in the last few months of working with the brand; my reality, now that I have experienced true Mahindra quality, now incorporates the high standards and excellent quality these vehicles stand for, and the promise of reliable care in the future. Back at the Dealership, I share the excitement of the impending arrival of the facelifted S11 SUV from this brand, as well as the KUV upgrade which is being released later this year with an all-new interior.
With fantastic support from Mahindra South Africa, which provides excellent support and care services to all customers, AutoCity Mahindra Heidelberg boasts a great variety of products and services, showcased by a close-knit team who (even after hours) takes care of each other and seeks to build each other up. It is such a pleasant environment and I have no doubt that the staff members look forward to coming to work every morning (which is what Douw strives to achieve). Currently offering trade-in assistance of R35 000 on the XUV 5OO, this Dealership seeks to equip everyone to drive a Mahindra.
Follow the Dealership on AutoCity Mahindra Heidelberg
Journalist: Desh Bechan
Reporter: Inge Stols
Editor: Belinda Anderson