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Mahindra's back-to-basics approach a breath of fresh air

17.02.2016

National sales statistics for January 2016 showed that the two Mahindra bakkies, the Bolero and the Scorpio, pipped traditional favourite Mitsubishi and all the Chinese brands. This warrants a look at what Mahindra brings to the bakkie party in terms of practicality, build quality and value for money.

This warrants a look at what Mahindra brings to the bakkie party in terms of practicality, built quality and value for money.

No fuss

When it comes to aesthetics, it seems neither the Bolero nor the Scorpio fare very well. The Bolero, especially, has a vintage look about it and the Scorpio, which is basically a second generation Bolero, looks only marginally better.

Mahindra doesn't seem to build bakkies that look good but rather, bakkies that get the job done and - don't expect a car-like interior in these Indian workhorses. The Bolero is a no-fuss vehicle with a very basic cabin layout where vinyl is king. Being aimed at the farming and construction companies this makes sense because vinyl is more durable although not so easy on the eye.

The Scorpio - in its various forms - is a few notches above the Bolero but still not in the Ford Ranger league when it comes to cabin comfort. In double cab guise, like the vehicle pictured here, it does offer many convenience features but trim is still basic. Plastics are hard and the upholstery and carpeting has been chosen for durability purposes only.

Features which stand out inside the double cab are steering-wheel controls, which operate the Radio/CD/MP3 player, cruise control, electric windows and side mirrors as well as the air-conditioning system. Space is ample, especially between the front seats, where a huge centre console houses four cup holders. Rear legroom is also way more than what one would expect from a double cab.

Built to be worked

While the Bolero has Mahindra's aged but faithful 2.5 turbo diesel (74kW/238Nm) under the bonnet, all Scorpio derivatives run a newer 2.2 turbo diesel. The 2.2 TD is a torque engine, which pulls the large body comfortably. Peak output of 89kW is at 4 000rpm and the maximum torque of 290Nm is available between 1 600 and 2 800rpm. The standard five-speed manual gearbox has an industrial action to it. Driving the Scorpio double cab on a dirt road reveals the vehicle's stiff suspension setup.

You definitely bounce around more but then again, one gets the impression that the suspension and drivetrain can withstand a lot of punishment. Above or below deck, there’s nothing 'soft' about a Mahindra because across the line-up these vehicles are built to be worked.

Other features worth mentioning are:

  • Immobiliser
  • central locking
  • mechanical diff lock
  • engine's start/stop function

Affordable, yet tough alternative

The traditional favourites are becoming pricey so many buyers are looking for a more affordable alternative when shopping around for a bakkie. While most Chinese manufacturers go the 'bling' route, Mahindra is focusing on durability and capability. And with that said, I feel that the Scorpio, especially, is worth looking into if you need an affordable vehicle to work with.

Article written by Val van der Walt
17.02.2016
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