The Pik-Up ute is the Indian company's first crack at the Aussie market; it may be flawed but between you and me, it's not that bad.

Our test vehicle was the top of the range 4x4 dual cab ute priced from $29,990. That's $3000 less than its nearest competitor, SsangYong's Actyon Sports and $8000 clear of its cheapest Japanese rival, that is if you don't count Musso which is in the final stages of run-out.

Explore the 2007 Mahindra Pik-Up Range

But, for a clearer picture, you really need to study the specification and equipment lists for both vehicles.

The Pik-Up comes with a three-year, 100,000km warranty and 24-hour roadside assistance for the first 12 months. Like all of Mahindra's utes (4x2 and single cab versions are also available) the Pik-Up is powered by a four-cylinder 2.5-litre common rail, intercooled turbo diesel.

It's an in-house design developed in conjunction with Austrian powertrain engineers AVL. The diesel delivers 79kW of power and 247Nm of torque from a low 1800rpm and meets Euro IV emission standards.

Fuel economy from the 80-litre tank is rated at 9.9 litres/100km. The engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission, however auto is not available.

The Pik-Up is targeted at the lower end of the market: farmers, tradies and the like who want a low-cost vehicle they can run into the ground.

The all-important tub on the back is a good-sized one, measuring 1489mm long, 1520mm wide and 550mm deep (measured inside). With independent front suspension and leaf springs under the back, it's capable of carrying a one-tonne payload and has a braked trailer rating of 2500kg.

The Pik-Up features a part-time four-wheel drive system and cannot be driven on dry bitumen with four-wheel drive engaged.

A limited-slip rear diff is standard. For slippery surfaces four-wheel drive can be engaged on the fly via a rotary knob located between the front seats, with auto-locking front front hubs. Although we found the transmission in our test vehicle notchy at times, the Pik-Up is reasonably easy to drive, provided you don't try to hurry things along.

Keeping up with the traffic is no problem and it cruises easily on the motorway at 110km/h. Having said that, the ute's turning circle is terrible and we note it is fitted with rear drums, as well as missing out on anti-lock brakes. It also misses out on airbags and the centre rear passenger is relegated to lap-style seatbelt.

Although the vehicle is fitted with power windows, the exterior mirrors must be adjusted manually (we'd gladly swap one for the other).

Off-road, the Pik-Up is blessed with 210mm of ground clearance and a very low, 'crawler' first gear.

Suffice to say it navigated our favourite fire trail without too much trouble, limited mainly by a lack of traction from the tyres.

We'd rate it as a medium-duty four-wheel drive. As for reliability, only time will tell.

Standard gear includes air, keyless entry and a Kenwood sound system with USB and SD card ports. Side steps, front and rear 12-volt power outlets and an alarm are also fitted, but alloys are extra. A full-size spare is under the rear.