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THE Mahin­dra Pik-up has been in Aus­tralia since 2007 and, while there have been a few up­dates along the way, what we have here is a sec­ond­gen­er­a­tion model with a new pow­er­train, a new cabin, more equip­ment, re­vised styling and ramped-up safety. As ever, sharp pric­ing is what the Pik-up is all about, with this sin­gle-cab/ chas­sis model (the least ex­pen­sive of the 4x4s) a $26,990 drive­away propo­si­tion. The top-spec 4x4 dual-cab ute is $31,990. Ide­ally, we would have liked to test the dual-cab, but the sin­gle-cab was the first of the new Pik-ups avail­able and we were keen see how the new pow­er­train per­formed, as well as sam­ple the other changes. A test of the dual-cab shouldn’t be too far off.

Climb into the Pik-up and the first im­pres­sion is of an airy, spa­cious and upright cabin that’s more light truck than ute. The new dash and in­te­rior make the Pik-up feel more con­tem­po­rary than be­fore; the seats are com­fort­able, there’s great vi­sion for the driver and there’s a handy amount of stor­age be­hind the seats. Tilt but no reach ad­just­ment for the steer­ing wheel, and there’s a lack of stor­age space for small items like phones.

The new en­gine is quiet and, while its 103kw (up from 90kw) means it’s no rocket, it’s still very flex­i­ble and gen­er­ally ef­fort­less. Hold­ing high­way speeds up­hill poses no prob­lems, and the Pik-up feels more re­laxed at free­way speeds than it has any right to be. The Pik-up’s en­gine is a mod­ern Euro 5-com­pli­ant de­sign, so while its 103kw and 330Nm isn’t any­thing spe­cial, at least it’s very un­der­stressed. The new six-speed man­ual has a light but pos­i­tive shift ac­tion and

is nicely geared for both slow-speed and high­way work.

For a ‘farm truck’ the Pik-up’s on-road steer­ing and han­dling is sur­pris­ingly re­as­sur­ing and con­fi­dent, even if the un­laden ride is very firm – much firmer, for ex­am­ple, than some­thing like a Toy­ota Hilux or Ford Ranger. And the gen­eral on-road re­fine­ment and noise abate­ment, save for some wind noise around the snorkel (a fac­tory ac­ces­sory), is also sur­pris­ingly good.

Off-road, the Pik-up has clear­ance, vi­sion and deep low-range gear­ing on its side, but wheel travel at both ends isn’t any­thing spe­cial. Thank­fully the Pik-up now has elec­tronic trac­tion con­trol (new for this model) and re­tains the Ea­ton rear locker that’s been fit­ted since 2011. The Ea­ton locker is fully au­to­matic and, be­ing a me­chan­i­cal locker, works in­de­pen­dently from the trac­tion con­trol. So while it over­rides the trac­tion con­trol on the rear wheels, it keeps the trac­tion ac­tive on the front wheels. The end re­sult is that the Pik-up per­forms well in dif­fi­cult off-road con­di­tions, de­spite its lack of wheel travel.

As a work ve­hi­cle the Pik-up has

plenty of pay­load ca­pac­ity (see Pay­load

Test break­out above), but the 2500kg tow­ing limit is short of what other utes of­fer these days. At this stage this new Pik-up hasn’t un­der­gone ANCAP safety test­ing, but the pre­vi­ous model achieved a three-star rat­ing when tested in 2012, so this new model with new safety fea­tures such as elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol and rollover mit­i­ga­tion should do bet­ter if and when tested.

The Pik-up is sold and ser­viced through 40 deal­ers na­tion­ally and comes with a three-year/100,000km war­ranty, with an ad­di­tional two years war­ranty on the pow­er­train if the ve­hi­cle hasn’t cov­ered 100,000km. Ser­vice in­ter­vals are 15,000km or 12 months and Mahin­dra will soon of­fer fixed-priced ser­vic­ing,

Prac­ti­cal touches in­clude gas bon­net struts, a man­ual fuel-pump prime and an easy-ac­cess fuel fil­ter. Not so good is the lack of a lock on the fuel filler. All up the Pik-up is a very im­pres­sive ve­hi­cle, es­pe­cially at its price. It doesn’t feel like a bud­get ve­hi­cle and does all the ba­sics well – very well, in fact – and is dif­fi­cult to fault ex­cept in some de­tails. For a farm or work ute it makes an aw­ful lot of sense and de­serves to sell in far greater num­bers than it has pre­vi­ously.

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