From India with Love

Photography by: Mark Bean


If $80K+ seems a bit steep to get a LandCruiser 79 Series dual-cab farm ute out the dealer’s door then perhaps it’s time to have a look at a Mahindra Pik-UP and save yourself $50K? Fraser Stronach reports

 

"What you think of your Mahindra, mate," came the question from the bloke on the other side of the pump when I was fuelling the Pik-Up at a servo off the Hume.

"Not mine mate, but it’s as cheap as chips for what it is," was my reply.

To which my new friend added; "My mate has a Mahindra tractor and he reckons it’s the best thing he’s ever bought."

Less than a week later, another bloke, this time in the main street of a small country town near where I live, also asked me about the bright-red Mahindra Pik-Up and in much the same conversation went on to say, "My mate has a Mahindra tractor and he reckons it’s the best thing he’s ever bought."

Now, I’m not sure if this is just a coincidence or these two blokes have a friend-in-common (both conversations took place in the NSW Southern Tablelands), but I do know that Mahindra makes more tractors than anyone else globally, employs in excess of 200,000 people in over 100 countries, and has interests in things as diverse as aerospace and defence. And Mahindra makes four-wheel-drives.

In fact, Mahindra has been making 4WDs since 1947 when it began assembly of war-surplus Jeeps from knockdown parts supplied under licence from Willys-Overland in the USA.

In a sign of just how far Mahindra has come since then, the roles are now reversed with Mahindra exporting a Jeep look-a-like (called the Roxor) back to the USA for assembly there.

Mahindra Jeep-look-a-likes (similar to the Jeep CJ) first appeared in Australia in 1990, while the Pik-Up ute, in both 4x4 and 4x2 variants, arrived here in 2007.

Mahindra’s new Pik-Up 4x4, although using the basic chassis of the original, is effectively a second-generation vehicle and comes with a more powerful engine, a six-speed manual gearbox (previously five-speed), fresh exterior styling, a new interior, more equipment and, for the first time in Australia, electronic stability control (ESC), which since the end of 2017 has been mandatory on all new light-commercial vehicles. ESC, essentially a safety upgrade, incorporates electronic traction control (ETC), which is a significant help anywhere that’s slippery such as a muddy paddock or building site.

Here we are testing the better equipped of two dual-cab models, the S10 (see ‘Equipment’). As you can tell from its looks, the Pik-Up is more in the style of a LandCruiser 79 than something like a Hilux, although the Pik-Up does have independent front suspension rather than a front live axle, so more Hilux and less LC79 in that regard.

Mahindra CTA

Climb Aboard

It’s a fair step up to the Pik-Up’s cabin and while the side steps can be of help when climbing aboard, there’s no assist handle on the driver’s A-pillar. Once inside the cabin feels tall and upright and more light truck than a passenger ute. There’s no steering-wheel reach adjustment (only tilt adjustment), but the driver and front passenger both get fold-down armrests while the driver’s seat also has height adjustment, both part of the S10’s extra equipment over the S6. It also offers heaps of headroom, decent legroom and sufficient width for three adults in back seat too, even if the seat itself is relatively upright and somewhat hard.

The cabin feels more modern than before, but needs more small-item storage, bottle holders in the front doors and more secure stowage for the jack handle and wheel brace, which are tethered loosely under the rear seat.

This new Pik-Up hasn’t been ANCAP safety tested although the previous model achieved a three-star rating without the electronic stability and traction control, and rollover mitigation now fitted, so may do better if and when tested.

The cabin feels tall and upright and more light truck than a passenger ute

On the Road

The Pik-Up’s new engine claims a modest 103kW of power (up from 90kW) and 330Nm of torque (up from 290Nm), so it’s no powerhouse by today’s ute standards. But these numbers don’t really reflect what is a willing engine that gets on with the job with little fuss even if doesn’t have much left in reserve for overtaking at highway speeds. Modest power and torque from a modern 2.2-litre Euro 5-compliant diesel does, however, bode well for longevity.

This new engine is also smooth and quiet, far more so than you’d expect and even quieter than some diesel dual-cabs that cost twice as much.

For its part the new six-speed manual offers easy and positive shifts, all helped by a light and short clutch action. The overall gearing is short enough so that open road and expressway hills can be generally conquered in top, yet tall enough not feel too busy at highway speeds.

The Pik-Up also offers decent steering feel and feedback and doesn’t do anything untoward handling-wise, even on bumpy country roads and at open-road speeds. The unladen ride is, however, very much on the firm side, so you can be bounced around a bit, but the upside is that it carries heavy loads well (see below).

Modest power and torque from a modern 2.2-litre Euro 5-compliant diesel bode well for longevity

In the Paddock

The Pik-Up is more than handy in the paddock or anywhere where you need a 4WD. There’s excellent visibility from the driver’s seat so you’re less likely to run over something you shouldn’t, more ground clearance than the factory claim of 210mm suggests, and a practical 16-inch wheel and tyre combination. Unfortunately, the stock tyres’ tread pattern is ‘highway’ rather than ‘all-terrain’ but the modest speed rating (‘S’ or 180km/h) suggests a relatively robust construction. The tyres are General Grabbers, made in the USA no less, so should be decent quality.

The Pik-Up comes standard with an Eaton brand self-locking differential at the rear, which works even in two-wheel-drive. A better idea than the lockers you have to switch on … often too late when you are already stuck.

In addition, the Pik-Up has electronic traction control that stays active on the front axle in four-wheel-drive even when the Eaton locker engages, so its general tractive ability of the Pik-Up is good. Part-time 4x4 with low range – operated via a rotary dial – offers plenty of reduction for slow-speed work.

Part-time 4x4 with low range – operated via a rotary dial – offers plenty of reduction for slow-speed work

Load Carrying

With a GVM of 3,150kg, so 150kg less than the heavier LC79 but 100kg more than the similar-weight Hilux, the Pik-Up has a very competitive payload, around 1,050kg with this steel tray and 1,070kg with the factory tub.

To test its load-carrying ability we threw 800kg on a full-sized pallet in the tub. With the longer cabin of the dual-cab this weight is all behind the rear axle, so a tough test. Add in driver and passenger (another 150kg) and 50kg of miscellaneous gear, and you’re right on the 1,050kg maximum payload, with the majority of that well behind the rear axle.

How did it handle it? Well, in a word, very nicely indeed. On the road you could feel the weight on the back but the Pik-Up remained stable and secure. And while the engine also felt the weight in general acceleration and hill climbing it didn’t need to work excessively hard to maintain highway speeds.

No tow testing this time but worth noting the Pik-Up has a 2,500kg tow rating, which is 1,000kg behind the LC79 and utes like Ranger, Colorado, Mazda BT-50 and Amarok V6.

With a GVM of 3,150kg the Pik-Up has a very competitive payload

Ownership

The Pik-Up has 15,000km or 12-month service intervals and 40 dealers nationally. The warranty is three years/100,000km with an extra two years’ coverage on the powertrain provided the vehicle hasn’t covered 100,000km. Currently the resale value of the Pik–Up after three years is around 50 per cent.

Mahindra’s new Pik-Up 4x4 is effectively a second-generation vehicle and comes with a more powerful engine, six-speed manual gearbox, fresh exterior styling, a new interior, more equipment and, for the first time in Australia, electronic stability control

Summed Up

The Pik-Up’s trump card is pricing with the S6 dual-cab (with factory tub) under $29,990 drive-away and the up-spec S10 also with a factory tub, just $2K more. Our test vehicle is an S10 but with the tub replaced with a deluxe heavy-duty colour-coded steel tray making it a $34,990 drive-away proposition. What’s more, it does all the basics well and can only be criticised in detail.

Could the Pik-Up, just ‘everyone’s mate’s’ Mahindra tractor, be the best thing you have ever bought? For a farm or work ute it’s certainly worth a look.

 

Specifications: Mahindra Pik-Up 4WD dual-cab/chassis

Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl turbo diesel

Max power: 103kW @ 4,000rpm

Max torque: 330Nm @ 1,600-2,800rpm

Gearbox: Six-speed manual

4x4 system: Dual-range part-time

Front suspension: Independent/torsion bars

Rear suspension: Live axle/leaf springs

Tyre/wheel spec: 245/75R16 111S

Unladen weight: 1,940kg (no tray)

GVM: 3,150kg

Payload: 1,210kg (minus tray)

Towing capacity: 2,500kg

GCM: 5,150kg

Overall length: 5,195mm

Width (no mirrors): 1,820mm

Height: 1,860mm

Wheelbase: 3,095mm

Turning circle: 13.4m

Ground clearance: 210mm (see text)

Fuel tank capacity: 80 litres

ADR fuel claim: 8.8 litres/100km

Test fuel use: 10.5 litres/100km

Touring range: 712km*

*Based on test fuel use, claimed fuel capacity and a 50km ‘safety’ margin

Pricing: Mahindra Pik-Up

S6 single-cab/chassis 4x4: $26,990

S6 dual-cab/chassis 4x4: $29,490

S6 dual-cab ute 4x4: $29,990

S10 dual-cab ute 4x4: $31,990

*Prices are drive-away

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