4X4 SHED: MAHINDRA PIK-UP
IT’S NOT THE MOST HIGH-TECH 4X4 ON THE MARKET, BUT DOES IT STILL GET THE JOB DONE?
IT’S a bit left of centre, but the Mahindra Pik-up is a well-priced, honest and tough 4x4. And I’ve decided to run with the “so uncool it’s cool” tag. It’s been fun observing the sneers of derision from those behind the wheel of heavily accessorised mainstream brands during the morning commute. Since when does bolting a high-lift jack and some Maxtrax to your rig give you the off-road moral high ground?
Our very red Mahindra 4x4 arrived with just 60km on the clock and sat resplendent with its powder-coated steel tray and bullbar glinting in the sun. I have since added a Big Red light bar and LED spotties, for a product test.
For a shakedown run we headed up the road to Fraser Island, to see whether we could keep up with the Maxtrax and highlift-jack-equipped punters.
As you’d expect of an emerging 4x4 that shares its stable with some very popular tractors, the interior and spec is a little agricultural – it’s more than a couple of generations behind what most expect. Plus, it lacks the electronic anti-crashing tech that’s standard fare in today’s 4x4 market.
However, the little ‘Punjabi Prado’ proved to be a surprisingly capable little jigger, and a comfortable cruiser. The 88kw 2.2-litre common-rail diesel engine has all the hallmarks of a great gen-set on paper, but it’s actually quite a flexible little engine off-road. 280Nm would indicate it’s unlikely to pull a sick sapling out of a bowl of porridge, but keep the hoof planted and it has an admirable crack at keeping up with the big boys.
That said, I’ve encountered better gearshifts on mining equipment, and the gates are that far apart you could undergo open-heart surgery (and recover) between shifts. And the idle start/stop feature is horrid and should be immediately disabled to discourage frustratingly slow restarts at intersections. Failure to do so may result in you having your lights punched out by someone behind you in a Maxtraxequipped Cruiser.
The run up 75 Mile Beach saw the Mahindra stretch its legs in 4x4 High. In fact, I didn’t need low range until we hit Ngkala Rocks, which the Eaton-autolocker-equipped Pik Up handled quite well – apart from a little bulldozing in the sand. Suspension damping leaves a bit to be desired – hit a wash-out and you’re still bouncing for a while after.
The torsion bar IFS front end doesn’t have a great deal of clearance, but neither did the Navara that got stuck not long after I came through the rocks!