Car reviews - Mahindra - Pik-Up - utility range
7 Jun 2007
By LUC BRITTEN
FORGET everything you remember about the last Australian offering from Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), because the Indian automotive giant has returned Down Under via a new distributor, and this time brandishes an all-new utility with modern turbo-diesel power, two bodystyles and keen pricing.
Launched locally yesterday by Sydney-based importer TMI Pacific, the quaintly named Mahindra Pik-Up is now available in both single-cab and dual-cab configuration and with both 4x2 and 4x4 drivetrains, priced from $23,990.
That is a far cry from M&M’s last effort in Australia, which saw West Australian importer John Hughes struggle to shift the first shipment of 250 examples via 32 dealers nationwide from March 1990.
Two models, both descendants of a rebadged Willys Jeep produced by Mahindra under license from 1949, were available at special introductory prices here – the $13,000 Stockman and the $15,990 Bushranger, both powered by an Indian-built, Peugeot-designed 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel.
The Pik-Up CRDe range is powered exclusively by an intercooled common-rail 2.498-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that meets tight Euro IV emissions standards. It develops 79kW at 3800rpm and a modest 247Nm of torque between 1800rpm and 2200rpm. Unlike many diesel engines, it has oversquare cylinder dimensions, via a 94mm bore and a 90mm stroke.
Developed in collaboration with Austrian powertrain manufacturer AVL, but built in India, the engine is mated exclusively to a five-speed manual transmission. Compression is 18.5:1 and all variants claim ADR 81/01 fuel consumption of 9.9L/100km.
The SUV-derived Pik-Up is available through just 10 dealers in NSW from June (with a national network of 50 dealers planned by mid-2008) and comes with a benchmark three-year/100,000km new-vehicle warranty, plus roadside assistance for 12 months.
TMI Pacific says both the 4x2 and 4x4 single- and dual-cab versions are the result of extensive research and development to deliver “a vehicle that will thrive in Australian conditions”.
It claims maximum utility and comfort is provided by class-leading (double-walled) steel load tray dimensions of 1.725 cubic metres for the two-seater single-cab and 1.125 cubic metres for the five-seater double-cab. Both trays measure 1520mm wide and 550mm high, but the single-cab’s is 2294mm long while the dual-cab’s measures 1489mm.
Overall, the Pik-Up measures 5098mm long, 1770mm wide and 1860mm high (1942mm for the dual-cab), and features an 80-litre fuel tank.
Unladen, the entry-level single-cab 4x2 weighs 1990kg. The 4x4 hardware adds 100kg and the dual-cab’s extra bulk adds 60kg, meaning the Pik-Up 4x4 dual-cab weighs a hefty 2150kg.
However, even the double-cab 4x4 offers a full one-tonne payload (rising to 1060kg for the single-cab 4x4, 1100kg for the dual-cab 4x2 and 1160kg for the base single-cab 4x2). Gross vehicle weight is 3150kg, and the braked towing capacity is 2500kg.
Apart from the 2.5-litre turbo-diesel and five-speed manual combination, standard across the range is power steering, limited-slip differentials, steel side steps, foglights and, on 4x4 variants, automatic locking hubs and electric-shift 4x4 activation for the two-speed Borg-Warner transfer case.
It features a 1:1 high-range ratio and a 1:2.48 low-range ratio. The final drive axle ratio is 4.55:1.
Four-wheel drive Pik-Ups offer 4x4 mode selection on the fly at the turn of a switch, but all variants afford a respectable 210mm of ground clearance and ride on a 3040mm wheelbase.
Up front are independent torsion bar suspension, an anti-roll bar and ventilated 272 x 21mm brake discs, while progressive-rate semi-elliptic leaf springs and drum brakes reside out back.
The Pik-Up’s standard safety kit also extends to “follow-me-home” headlights, child locks, side intrusion beams and crumple zones built into the separate ladder chassis. Crucially, however, no airbag or anti-lock braking systems (ABS) are available.
Alloy wheels are an optional extra over the standard 16x6.5-inch steel wheels with wide 245/75-section tyres. The hydraulic power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system returns a turning circle of 12.6 metres.
TMI claims excellent headroom, rear legroom and storage compartments give the Pik-Up a spacious, comfortable and practical interior.
Standard features include air-conditioning, power windows, remote central locking and a Kenwood AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system that has USB and SD card ports.
An alarm, immobiliser, tilt-adjustable steering wheel, driver’s footrest, front/rear window demisters and front/rear 12-volt outlets are also standard. Unusually, metallic paint is also standard and comes in Apple Red, Turf Green, Fiery Black, Mist Silver and Rocky Beige – but not Diamond White and Arctic White.
TMI Pacific is an arm of the NSW Sutherland Shire-based Tynan Motor Group formed specifically to import and distribute Mahindra vehicles in Australia.
Headed by chairman Michael Tynan, TMG is rated 74th in the BRW Magazine Top 500 Family Companies listing and employs more than 270 staff at six locations, including multi-franchise dealerships that represent Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Honda, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Hyundai, Subaru and Kia.
Mahindra Australia, which is based in Acacia Ridge in Brisbane and imports Mahindra tractors, is a separate entity.
“We have been in the auto business for more than 40 years and have built a name in the market based on integrity and trust,” said Mr Tynan. “Our business partner M&M is a perfect fit as it’s family owned with similar values that has stood the test of time for more than 60 years in its home market.
“TMI Pacific, which will operate from a newly acquired 15,000 square metres head office in Sutherland, will be dedicated to servicing the Australian market with all after-market services, spare parts distribution and technical training of specialists.
“Our thorough market testing in tough and rugged conditions has ensured that the vehicle will deliver on the expectations of the Australian driver. We feel that the vehicle will strongly appeal to rural consumers and tradesmen, however, its large tray, price and cabin size especially in the four door, will also appeal to sportspeople and families.
“On that basis we have no doubt that we’ll be able to fulfil our initial projection of 600 units sold in the first year,” he said.
Meantime, India’s Mahindra Group is among the top 10 industrial companies in India. M&M has more than 60 years of manufacturing experience, employs more than 40,000 staff in five continents and is India’s leading tractor-maker, as well as the world’s fourth-largest tractor manufacturer.
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