New Mahin­dra Pik-Up

Mahin­dra’s new Pik-Up has fi­nally ar­rived in Aus­tralia. Here Fraser Stronach drives the sin­gle-cab 4WD vari­ant

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Mahin­dra’s se­cond-gen­er­a­tion Pik-Up work and farm 4WD ute has ar­rived in Aus­tralia and brings a raft of changes led by a more pow­er­ful en­gine and a new 6-speed man­ual gear­box.

The cabin in­te­rior is new too; and there’s more equip­ment, more safety fea­tures, and a re-styled ex­te­rior.

The Pik-Up was first sold in Aus­tralia in 2007 and was up­dated in 2011 with a new (Euro 5 emis­sions-com­pli­ant) en­gine and the ad­di­tion of an Ea­ton au­to­matic-lock­ing rear dif­fer­en­tial.

Since it ar­rived in Aus­tralia in 2007, well over 5000 Pik-Ups have been sold while, glob­ally, some 500,000 Pik-Ups and Scor­pion SUVs, which are built on sim­i­lar plat­form as the Pik-Up, have been sold.

Much of the Pik-Up’s ap­peal is, of course, in its pric­ing. This sin­gle-cab 4WD in ba­sic cab-chas­sis guise is just $26,990 drive-away.

To make a func­tional work ve­hi­cle, all you need to do is add a rear tray – ei­ther a gen­uine ac­ces­sory tray, or one from an in­de­pen­dent sup­plier.

CLIMB ABOARD

You can tell by look­ing at it that the Pik-Up sin­gle-cab is a work and farm ‘truck’ in the style of LandCruiser 79 Se­ries rather than a budget competitor for the more ‘car-like’ utes such as the Toy­ota Hilux or Ford Ranger.

Like the LandCruiser 79, the Pik-Up has a tall and up­right cabin. It’s also a fair step up into the cabin and, while the stan­dard side­steps make that easy enough, there’s no grab han­dle to pro­vide ex­tra as­sis­tance. But once inside the Pik-Up, you’ll find a cabin that is spa­cious, airy and com­fort­able.

There’s no reach ad­just­ment for the steer­ing wheel (only tilt ad­just­ment) but the seats are well shaped and the up­right driv­ing po­si­tion pro­vides ex­cel­lent vi­sion for the driver.

The new dash also brings a more modern and up-mar­ket feel to the Pik-Up and the in­te­rior is gen­er­ally neatly fin­ished.

Be­hind the seats is a good amount of space to carry items like a small bag, al­though more stowage re­cesses for things like phone, wal­let and keys, and for drinks or wa­ter bot­tles, would be wel­come.

If you are baulk­ing at the 80k for a Toy­ota LandCruiser 79 Se­ries sin­gle­cab once you add a tray, air-con … and on-road costs, do your­self a favour at take a look at the Pik-Up.

ON THE ROAD

Fire up the en­gine and the first thing you’ll no­tice is just how quiet it is. Once un­der way, the en­gine re­mains quiet and helps bring a new-found sense of re­fine­ment to the Pik-Up.

The en­gine is also will­ing and en­er­getic with a good spread of power across the rev range. With a max­i­mum power of 103kW (90kW in the out­go­ing model) and 330Nm of torque (pre­vi­ously 290Nm), the Pik-Up still isn’t a rocket ship but is nev­er­the­less re­laxed and ef­fort­less and has no trou­ble hold­ing high­way speeds even on hills with lit­tle need to down­shift. Even on the free­way, an en­vi­ron­ment the Pik-Up is least de­signed for, it gets along very nicely in­deed.

It also boasts good fuel econ­omy too – un­less you re­ally press on at high­way speeds where the blunt-nosed aero­dy­nam­ics don’t work in the Pik-Up’s favour. Over­all, the test fuel con­sump­tion was just be­low 10 litres/100km, so there’s plenty of range from the 80-litre tank.

In all this the en­gine is helped by the new 6-speed man­ual (pre­vi­ously a 5-speed) that pro­vides a low enough first gear for gen­tle, no- throt­tle take-offs and a suf­fi­ciently tall top gear for re­laxed high­way driv­ing.

The Pik-Up’s a typ­i­cal light com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle in as much as it’s built on a lad­der-frame chas­sis and has in­de­pen­dent front sus­pen­sion with a ‘live’ or solid axle and leaf springs at the rear.

On the road it steers and han­dles far bet­ter than you’d ex­pect of a ‘farm truck’, al­though the un­laden ride is on the firm side.

IN THE PAD­DOCK

The Pik-Up of­fers good ground clear­ance for pad­dock work and has a ma­jor ad­van­tage that its rear dif­fer­en­tial lock en­gages au­to­mat­i­cally when it senses wheel spin, and works in both 2WD and 4WD.

It also has elec­tronic trac­tion con­trol, which re­mains ac­tive on the front axle if and when the rear locker en­gages, a fea­ture that most 4WD utes with their driver-switched rear diff locks don’t en­joy.

For pad­dock work, first gear high range could be a bit lower, al­though low range is easy enough to en­gage (via a ro­tary dial) and

pro­vides a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion and ex­cel­lent crawl­ing abil­ity. The Pik-Up comes stan­dard with high­way-pat­tern tyres that work well enough in all but mud, while the high pro­file (75 Se­ries on 16-inch steel wheels) means less po­ten­tial of tyre side­wall dam­age from hid­den rocks and the like.

LOAD CAR­RY­ING

With a gross ve­hi­cle mass of 3150kg, the Pik-Up sin­gle-cab has a payload around 1170kg once you have fit­ted a tray.

Take off the weight of the steel bull­bar and tow­bar fit­ted to our test ve­hi­cle and the weight of the driver, and you still have a payload in the or­der of 1000kg.

We threw 800kg in the tray (our stan­dard test payload) – above the axle and not against the back­board – and the Pik-Up hardly flinched. The rear sus­pen­sion dropped a mere 45mm, which is less than the likes of Hilux and Ranger with the same load.

On the road there’s no nose-up, light-inthe-steer­ing feel and the han­dling was very ac­cept­able. And a much more com­pli­ant ride, of course, than when un­laden.

The en­gine also did a no­tably good job of haul­ing that load, even if you could feel there was a sig­nif­i­cant weight on board.

OWN­ER­SHIP

The Pik-Up has 15,000km or 12-month ser­vice in­ter­vals, and Mahin­dra will soon of­fer fixed­priced ser­vic­ing – al­though the de­tails weren’t avail­able at the time of writ­ing. Ser­vice sup­port is pro­vided by 40 deal­ers na­tion­ally.

The war­ranty is the in­dus­try-stan­dard 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, which is good for a low-cost ve­hi­cle and no doubt in­dica­tive of the fact that the Pik-Up has al­ready gained a good rep­u­ta­tion for re­li­a­bil­ity.

The Pik-Up cer­tainly looks ro­bust and solidly built in terms of its chas­sis and sus­pen­sion.

Nice de­tail touches in­clude gas bon­net struts and a man­ual fuel-pump prime, al­though the lack of a lock for the fuel cap isn’t ideal.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

For any­one af­ter a 4WD farm or work sin­gle­cab, the Pik-Up makes a con­vinc­ing ‘buy me’ ar­gu­ment given what it does, how it does it, and how much you pay.

It does all the ba­sics well and is dif­fi­cult to crit­i­cise ex­cept in de­tail. The Pik-Up also doesn’t lack for equip­ment de­spite its low price.

On the neg­a­tive side, the tow rat­ing is only 2500kg at a time when most utes of­fer at least 3000kg or 3500kg.

The Pik-Up also hasn’t been ANCAP safety rated at this stage. The pre­vi­ous model achieved a three-star rat­ing.

Since that time, the Pik-Up has gained a num­ber of safety fea­tures in­clud­ing elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, trac­tion con­trol and rollover mit­i­ga­tion, so the new one should do bet­ter if and when tested.

If you are baulk­ing at the $80k you pay for a Toy­ota LandCruiser 79 Se­ries sin­gle-cab once you add a tray, air-con­di­tion­ing – which is not stan­dard – and on-road costs, do your­self a favour at take a look at the Pik-Up.

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1. For any­one af­ter a 4WD farm or work sin­gle-cab, the Pik-Up makes a con­vinc­ing ‘buy me’ ar­gu­ment given what it does 2. With a gross ve­hi­cle mass of 3150kg, the Pik-Up sin­gle-cab has a payload around 1170kg once you have fit­ted a tray 3. The en­gine is also will­ing and en­er­getic with a good spread of power across the rev range

4. The Pik-Up of­fers good ground clear­ance for pad­dock work and its rear dif­fer­en­tial lock en­gages au­to­mat­i­cally when it senses wheel spin

5. The new dash brings a more modern and up­mar­ket feel to the Pik-Up 4 2

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Once un­der way the en­gine re­mains quiet and helps bring a new-found sense of re­fine­ment to the Pik-Up

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