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Mahindra PikUp 2018 review

EXPERT RATING
6.3
The Mahindra PikUp is a no-frills work truck designed for those who value hard-working function over flashy styling form. It's tough and simple, but the standard spec is close to bare bones.

For years now, our mainstream car companies (think Japanese, Korean, German) have been keeping a close eye on the Chinese manufacturers, convinced - as we all are - that a time is coming when they will be mixing it with the best in the business in terms of build quality, capability and price. 

But you hear almost nothing about India, do you? Yet all the while, Mahindra has been quietly plying its trade in Australia, flying under the radar for about the past decade with its PikUp ute.

It's yet to set the sales world on fire, sure, but Mahindra reckons this 2018 nip-and-tuck will give its rugged ute its best chance yet of competing with the big boys of the Aussie market.

So, are they right?

Mahindra Pik-Up 2018: (base)
Safety rating
Engine Type2.2L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency8.4L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$19,030

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

Mahindra's PikUp arrives in two trim levels - the cheaper S6, available in two- or four-wheel drive and in cab chassis or 'well-side tub' (or pick-up) body style - and the better-equipped S10, which is exclusively four-wheel drive with the well-side tub body.

Pricing is at the forefront here, with Mahindra well aware it's attempting to lure customers out of far more established brands, so predictably the range starts at a sharp $21,990 for the single-cab S6 cab-chassis in manual.

The cheaper S6, is available in two- or four-wheel drive and in cab chassis or 'well-side tub' (or pick-up) body style. The cheaper S6, is available in two- or four-wheel drive and in cab chassis or 'well-side tub' (or pick-up) body style.

You can have the same car with four-wheel drive for $26,990, or step up to a dual-cab version for $29,490. Finally, a dual-cab S6 with four-wheel drive and a well-side tub is $29,990.

The better-equipped S10 can be had in one flavour only; a dual-cab with four-wheel drive and a well-side tub for $31,990. All of those are the drive-away prices, too, which makes the PikUp very cheap indeed.

The S6 serves up steel wheels, air-conditioning, an old-school letterbox stereo and fabric seats and projector headlights. The S10 model then builds on that basic spec, with 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, navigation, central locking, climate control and rain-sensing wipers.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   6/10

It couldn't be more blocky if it had been constructed using Lego. As a result, it doesn't really matter which body style you opt for, Mahindra's PikUp looks big, tough and ready to get down and dirty.

While plenty of utes are now shooting for a car-like shape, the PikUp definitely aims for more truck-like in its body styling, looking tall and square from just about any angle. Think 70 Series LandCruiser over an SR5 HiLux.

The Mahindra is truck-like, think 70 Series LandCruiser. The Mahindra is truck-like, think 70 Series LandCruiser.

Inside, agricultural is the flavour of the day. Up-front riders sit on seats riveted to exposed metal framework and are faced with a sheer wall of rock-hard plastic, interrupted only by the jumbo-sized air-conditioning controls and - in the S10 models - a touchscreen that looks tiny in the sea of plastic jumbo-ness. 

How practical is the space inside?   6/10

Let's start with the numbers: expect a 2.5-tonne braked towing capacity across the range, and there's around one-tonne of load lugging capacity no matter whether you opt for the cab-chassis or the well-side tub.

Inside, the two front seats sit on exposed metal framework and leave you perched fairly high in the cabin. An armrest on the inside of each seat saves you leaning on the hard plastic of the doors, and a single, squared-off cupholder lives between the front seats.

Inside, the two front seats sit on exposed metal framework and leave you perched fairly high in the cabin. Inside, the two front seats sit on exposed metal framework and leave you perched fairly high in the cabin.

There's another phone-sized storage cubby in front of the manual gear shift, and there's a single 12-volt power source and a USB connection. There's no room for bottles in the front doors, though there is a narrow glovebox and a sunglasses holder fitted to a roof lined in what looks like 1970s felt.

Weirdly, the central column that divides the front seat is massive and it leaves driver and passenger feeling cramped in the cabin. And the sparse back seat (in dual-cab cars) is home to two ISOFIX attachment points, one in each window position.

The sparse back seat (in dual-cab cars) is home to two ISOFIX attachment points. The sparse back seat (in dual-cab cars) is home to two ISOFIX attachment points.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   6/10

Just the one on offer here; a turbocharged 2.2-litre diesel good for 103kW/330Nm. It is paired only with a six-speed manual gearbox that will power the rear wheels, or all four, should you spring for four-wheel drive. If you do, you'll find a manual 4x4 system with low-range and rear diff lock.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Mahindra claims 8.6L/100km on the combined cycle for the single-cab PikUp, and 8.8L/100km on the dual-cab cars. Every model is fitted with an 80-litre fuel tank.

What's it like to drive?   6/10

It's every bit as agricultural as the XUV500 SUV, sure, but that somehow suits the character of the PikUp a little more than it does the seven-seater.

And so, after an admittedly short run in the dual-cab PikUp, we found ourselves rather pleasantly surprised in places. The diesel engine feels smoother and less ragged than our previous reviewers have noted, while a ratio change for the manual gearbox has made rowing through the gears a far more intuitive process.

It's every bit as agricultural as the XUV500 SUV, sure, but that somehow suits the character of the PikUp. It's every bit as agricultural as the XUV500 SUV, sure, but that somehow suits the character of the PikUp.

The steering, though, remains utterly confusing. Light enough at turn-in, before all the weight turns up roughly midway though a corner. It's painfully slow, too, with a turning circle that leaves your arms tired and makes even wider roads a three-point job.

Keep it on straight and slow-speed roads, and the PikUp performs just fine, but challenge it with twistier stuff and you'll soon uncover some significant dynamic drawbacks (a steering wheel that tugs at your hands, tyres that squeal with minimal provocation, and vague and confusing steering that makes holding anything resembling a line near impossible).

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / 100,000 km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   5/10

It's a pretty basic package, I'm afraid. Driver and passenger airbags, ABS brakes and traction control are joined by hill-descent control and, should you spring for the S10, you get a parking camera, too.

Little wonder, then, it was awarded a sub-par three stars (out of five) when ANCAP tested in 2012.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

The PikUp is covered by a five-year/100,000km warranty (though two of the five cover the drivetrain only), with service intervals just increased to 12 months/15,000km. While the XUV500 is covered by capped-price servicing, the PikUp is not.

Verdict

Let's be honest, it's not the best in its segment on the road. For mine, the seemingly willfully confusing steering and lack of any real creature comforts or advanced safety tech would rule it out as a daily driver. But the price is mighty tempting, and if I spent more time off-road than on it, a four-wheel drive model would begin to make a lot more sense. 

Does a low cost-of-entry get you over the line for a Mahindra PikUp? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$28,888
Based on 11 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$24,888
Highest Price
$41,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(base) 2.2L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN $19,030 – 24,090 2018 MAHINDRA PIK-UP 2018 (base) Pricing and Specs
(4x4) 2.2L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN $19,030 – 24,090 2018 MAHINDRA PIK-UP 2018 (4x4) Pricing and Specs
2WD 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $16,830 – 21,560 2018 MAHINDRA PIK-UP 2018 2WD Pricing and Specs
2WD TRADIE PACK 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $15,510 – 19,910 2018 MAHINDRA PIK-UP 2018 2WD TRADIE PACK Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6.3
Price and features7
Design6
Practicality6
Engine & trans6
Fuel consumption7
Driving6
Safety5
Ownership7
Andrew Chesterton
Contributing journalist

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Pricing Guide

$14,080

Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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