The Mahindra Pik Up is India's alternative to the more well established utes on sale in Australia.
There's no shortage of styles, with single-cab chassis, single-cab ute, dual-cab chassis and dual-cab ute all offered, with the range covered by a single turbo diesel - a 2.2-litre unit.
Prices kick off from as low as $20,999, for a 4x2 single-cab chassis, up to $30,499 for a 4x4 dual-cab.
As one of India's top ten manufacturers, Mahindra has over 60 years experience building commercial vehicles and farm machinery, the group now selling utes, tractors and farm equipment to every continent on earth - except Antartica.
So when it decided to launch its Pik-Up range of single- and dual-cab utes into the Australian market back in 2007, we were assured the sub-continent's proven industrialist would at least come with a bit of know-how in tackling the extremes of land down under.
With that in mind, we put the Pik-Up to task with a little trade work this week to see just how well it stacks up. The basic single-cab 4x4 utility a relative unknown, Pik-Up was certain to stand out at the local timber yard, drawing its fair share of interest from passing tradesmen.
Measuring in at 1880mm (H) x 1770m (W) x 5098mm (L), the Pik-Up is a sizeable beast, feeling similar in proportion to that of an early series LandCruiser. The large alloy tray offers a generous cargo area and, according to the owner's manual, is good for 1060kg of payload. The trouble is that as big as the Pik-Up is, cabin space is a little tight in terms of legroom, with storage behind the seats and in the centre console also rather limited.
When it comes to features, the Pik-Up is a little light-on compared to some full-fruit Japanese rivals, but it's not as skint as you might think considering the price.
The standard kit list includes a single-CD tuner with steering wheel-mounted remote controls and auxiliary audio input(s), air conditioning, a rear demister, follow-me home headlamps, power windows and mirrors, remote central locking, engine immobiliser, 12-volt power outlet and height adjustable headlamps. A tilt-adjustable steering column is also included as standard (no reach adjustment).
As serviceable as the cabin equipment is, the odour from the cabin plastics is rather overwhelming - and it's not just "new car smell". Our test vehicle this week had some 27,000kms on the odometre, surely enough time to dissipate any residual manufacturing odours. But seemigly not. The smell so strong in fact we resorted to driving with the windows down all week.
The other thing noticed about Pik-Up's cabin is the clip-together assembly of its various components. The fit and finish is, as a result, rather average. Its decor too a little dated when compared to most other rivals, the carbon fibre centre stack seeming very out of place.
But when you're paying $24,000 for a ute, I guess a few compromises are to be expected, and as near as we could tell these were relatively minor in the scheme of things.
As far as pulling its weight the Pik-Up did a fair job considering its rather meager 79kW power output. Unladen the Mahindra performs quite well, and although it's no bullet in the 0-100km/h sprint, managing a casual 18.3 seconds, it will keep with traffic if you keep it on the boil.
Developing 247Nm of torque between 1800 and 2200rpm, the Pik-Up's 2.5-litre common-rail, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, produced in conjunction with AVL Austria, is a little low-tech compared to market rivals, and presents noticeable turbo lag when getting off the line. The lack of pulling power is evident too when carrying weight, our 400-odd kilograms of timber enough to slow the single-cab ute at the slightest incline.
Keeping on top of the gearshifts can also be a little challenging, the gearstick position a sloppy in third and fourth gear. The clutch however is rather meaty with a tactile feel suitable for the vehicle's orientation. 4x4 selection is managed by a Borg Warner electric servo that can be selected on-the-fly at low speeds (see instruction decal in image gallery below). For convenience, the Mahindra Pik-Up also features auto-locking front hubs. At kerb weight, the Pik-Up offers 210mm of ground clearance.
Brake pedal feel is also a little vestigial with quite a bit of travel present before any 'bite' is felt. Upon engaging, the pedal is quite firm and the amount of available regulation brief, meaning that were it not for the ABS system, locking of the wheels under moderate to heavy braking would be rather commonplace, especially in the wet. The Mahinda Pik-Up features disc brakes up front and drums on the rear.
Joining the anti-lock brakes, the Pik-Up includes such safety features as a crash protection crumple zone (front), side intrusion beams, fire retardant interior fabrics, dual front SRS airbags and three-point inertia reel seatbelts with load limiters and pyrotechnic pretensioners. The Mahindra Pik-Up scores a two-star ANCAP safety rating (from a possible five-stars). Side airbags, ESP and Traction Control are not available.
Tthe Mahindra Pik-Up range is nothing if not cheap, and it's this fact above most others that see the Pik-Up score an extra half-a-wheel. If you're after a farm ute, it's certainly worth considering.
When compared to the best-sellers in its class, Mahindra Pik-Up is nearly $8500 cheaper than the Nissan Navara (based on DX diesel 4x4) and almost $14,000 cheaper than a similarly spec'ed Toyota HiLux (based on SR diesel 4x4). Sure, the pedigree may not be as well recognised in our local market, but the mutt from Mumbai certainly delivers an honest dollar-for-dollar advantage.
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