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Mahindra Pikup 2023 review: 4x4 cab-chassis - GVM test

The Pik-Up follows conventional truck design. (image: Mark Oastler)

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Tradies score

4/5

The Mahindra Group is a $20 billion Indian conglomerate based in Mumbai. It consists of more than 150 companies and has an expansive global reach across 22 different industries in more than 100 countries. Its diverse operations include aerospace, construction/farm/industrial equipment, defence, energy, IT, logistics, real estate and many more.

Its self-proclaimed flagship company is Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd; a multi-national automotive manufacturer that is India's domestic market leader in utility vehicles and tractors. So, given the scale of this operation, it's perhaps surprising that its single and dual cab-chassis 4x2 and 4x4 Pik-Up trucks have been fringe-dwellers in Australia's one-tonne ute market since being launched here in 2007.

So, we recently put one of these low-priced workhorses to work for a week, to see if it's worthy of a seat at the table with the established players.

Price and Features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Our Arctic White test vehicle is the S6+ single cab-chassis 4x4, which like all Pik-Up models is available only with a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel and six-speed manual transmission. It comes only as a two-seater with a genuine accessory general-purpose aluminium (GPA) tray for a drive-away price of only $30,990.

Our S6+ example is fitted with some other Mahindra accessories including the optional heavy-duty aluminium (HDA) tray and 16-inch black alloy wheels with 245/75 R16 tyres, plus a 2.5-tonne tow-bar, engine snorkel, bull-bar and SandGrabber floor mats, which raises the drive-away price to $37,990.

Our S6+ example is fitted with 16-inch black alloy wheels with 245/75 R16 tyres. (image: Mark Oastler) Our S6+ example is fitted with 16-inch black alloy wheels with 245/75 R16 tyres. (image: Mark Oastler)

So, for less than $31K drive-away for the standard S6+, it's frugal with standard features but it does have some useful kit including automatic central-locking and keyless entry, AM/FM radio (with tiny non-touchscreen) and Bluetooth connectivity, non-adaptive cruise with steering wheel controls, USB port, 12-volt accessory plug and overhead reading lamps.

The steering wheel is only height-adjustable and it has a mechanical handbrake lever. However, by stark contrast, it also has fold-down padded inboard armrests on both seats. This unique and welcome comfort feature has not been offered on any one-tonne ute we've tested (not even as an option) yet here it's standard equipment. Go figure.

Design – is there anything interesting about its design?

The Pik-Up follows conventional truck design with a rugged ladder-frame chassis and leaf-spring live rear axle, but the independent front suspension with upper and lower wishbones uses torsion bars rather than coil springs. Brakes are front discs and rear drums. It has a 3040mm wheelbase and with its standard GPA tray has an overall length of 5175mm, 1820mm width and 1860mm height.

It has a 3040mm wheelbase and with its standard GPA tray has an overall length of 5175mm, 1820mm width and 1860mm height. (image: Mark Oastler) It has a 3040mm wheelbase and with its standard GPA tray has an overall length of 5175mm, 1820mm width and 1860mm height. (image: Mark Oastler)

The interior, although basic, is a practical and visually pleasing mix of black and grey surfaces with satin chrome highlights on the gearstick surround, steering wheel, handbrake, dash and door trims. All driver controls are easy to see and operate and the fabric-trimmed bucket seats are comfortable.

However, the volume control for the audio system doesn't allow for adjustment between its strictly numbered settings. And although it has 210mm of ground clearance and steep 34 degrees approach angle, the long rear overhang of about 1600mm from the axle centreline to the rear of the tray/tow-ball results in a comparatively shallow departure angle of only 15 degrees. And the turning circle is rather large at around 13.4 metres.

The interior, although basic, is a practical and visually pleasing mix. (image: Mark Oastler) The interior, although basic, is a practical and visually pleasing mix. (image: Mark Oastler)

Engine and transmission – What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The mHAWK CRDe is a refined and economical 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel with intercooler, common rail fuel injection and Euro 5 emissions compliance. It produces 103kW at 3750rpm and its 320Nm, available across a 1300rpm-wide torque band between 1500-2800rpm, showcases its useful flexibility particularly under load.

The rest of the drivetrain consists of a six-speed manual gearbox, Borg Warner part-time dual-range 4x4 transfer case with electronic shift via a large dial on the centre console, plus an Eaton auto-locking rear differential.

The mHAWK CRDe is a refined and economical 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel with intercooler, common rail fuel injection and Euro 5 emissions compliance. (image: Mark Oastler) The mHAWK CRDe is a refined and economical 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel with intercooler, common rail fuel injection and Euro 5 emissions compliance. (image: Mark Oastler)

Fuel consumption – How much fuel does it consume?

Mahindra's official combined figure is 8.6L/100km and the dash display was showing 8.1 when we stopped to refuel at the end of our 392km test, of which around a third was lugging a near-maximum payload. Our figure, calculated from fuel bowser and tripmeter readings, was very close at 8.7L/100km. Needless to say, that's excellent economy for a one-tonne ute and based on our figures should deliver a lengthy driving range of around 900km from its 80-litre tank.

Practicality – How practical is the space inside?

Mahindra claims an official kerb weight of 1855kg allowing for a tray weight of 260kg. Even though that seems heavier than usual (in our experience GPA trays are usually around 150kg) the Pik-Up's 3150kg GVM  allows for a useful one-tonne-plus payload rating of 1035kg.

It's also rated to tow up to 2500kg of braked trailer, which is 1000kg less than the 3500kg benchmark for this segment. And with its 5150kg GCM, or how much it can legally carry and tow at the same time, the Pik-Up's payload would need to be reduced by 240kg to tow that weight.

The centre console has a narrow vertical slot at the front which is ideal for storing a phone. Behind that are single cup and bottle holders plus some small open storage at the rear. (image: Mark Oastler) The centre console has a narrow vertical slot at the front which is ideal for storing a phone. Behind that are single cup and bottle holders plus some small open storage at the rear. (image: Mark Oastler)

Internally, the aluminium tray is just under 2.6 metres long and 1.8 metres wide with 250mm-high drop-sides. It comes equipped with 16 internal anchorage points and three external ropes rails along each side.

Limited cabin storage includes a single glove-box plus narrow bins with no bottle holders in the doors. There are also no bottle or cup holders or any other storage in the dash, but there is an overhead glasses holder.

The centre console has a narrow vertical slot at the front which is ideal for storing a phone. Behind that are single cup and bottle holders (fine for one occupant but not two) plus some small open storage at the rear. There's also some useful space behind the seats for packing loose items like jackets, soft bags, groundsheets etc.

Limited cabin storage includes a single glove-box plus narrow bins with no bottle holders in the doors. (image: Mark Oastler) Limited cabin storage includes a single glove-box plus narrow bins with no bottle holders in the doors. (image: Mark Oastler)

What's it like as a daily driver?

You sit high relative to the bonnet and the tops of the doors, with a similar feel to a Land Cruiser 70 Series or an old school Defender. This provides a commanding view over the front of the vehicle and out each side, which is ideal for off-road driving.

Even though the cab is relatively narrow it offers a comfortable driving position with height-adjustable steering wheel, seat adjustments for height, reach and backrest, plus a left footrest which ideally could be wider as it only supports about half the width of a big Blundstone.

The padded fold-down inboard armrest, in combination with the door's armrest (not padded unfortunately) allows the driver to evenly rest both elbows, which reduces fatigue particularly during long highway hauls.

Internally, the aluminium tray is just under 2.6 metres long and 1.8 metres wide with 250mm-high drop-sides. (image: Mark Oastler) Internally, the aluminium tray is just under 2.6 metres long and 1.8 metres wide with 250mm-high drop-sides. (image: Mark Oastler)

Ride quality without a load is quite firm as you'd expect for a 4x4 cab-chassis one tonner, but it's more supple than some mainstream rivals we've tested including Toyota's kidney-kicking HiLux equivalent.

Steering weight is linear, which means the turning effort doesn't noticeably change from highway to parking bay. By comparison, it has a light clutch pedal and the gearbox provides easy and decisive shifting, although the synchros feel a little slow on occasions.

Given the Pik-Up's relatively light kerb weight, its 2.2-litre turbo-diesel provides energetic performance in city and suburban driving. It also provides comfortable highway cruising in top gear, requiring 2100rpm to maintain 100km/h and 2400rpm at 110km/h which are both within the optimum torque band.

Mahindra claims an official kerb weight of 1855kg allowing for a tray weight of 260kg. (image: Mark Oastler) Mahindra claims an official kerb weight of 1855kg allowing for a tray weight of 260kg. (image: Mark Oastler)

Engaging the non-adaptive cruise control requires one push of a steering wheel button. However, after setting the speed at 110km/h, we did notice that the speedometer needle waved back and forth over the 110km/h increment. A more disciplined movement of the needle at this speed would give more reassurance that the set speed was being maintained.

We also couldn't ignore a loud clicking or tapping noise coming from the rear of the vehicle each time the brakes were applied. We assume this was related to the rear drums, but apparently it was not a major issue given the vehicle's satisfactory braking response throughout our test.

What's it like for tradie use?

We strapped 890kg onto the tray which with driver equalled a payload of just under one tonne. The rear leaf springs only compressed about 40mm under this weight, which left about 40mm of static bump-stop clearance that was more than ample to avoid any bottoming-out over bumps.

It felt stable and surefooted when hauling this load around town, with the short first gear and  engine torque making light work of standing starts. It was also competent and comfortable at highway speeds, with relatively low engine and tyre noise.

It also performed well on our 13 per cent gradient, 2.0km-long set climb under this load. We didn't need to shift any lower than third gear and it pulled cleanly from as low as 1500rpm, which showcased its flexibility. Engine-braking in second gear on the way down was also commendable for such a small displacement engine, given the heavy load it was restraining.

We strapped 890kg onto the tray which with driver equalled a payload of just under one tonne. (image: Mark Oastler) We strapped 890kg onto the tray which with driver equalled a payload of just under one tonne. (image: Mark Oastler)

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

There's no ANCAP rating for our model and the dual-cab 4x4 variant only earned three out of five stars when tested in 2012, so safety needs a major upgrade. There are at least dual front airbags for driver and passenger, electronic stability control and ABS, but there's no AEB or any of the latest features found in (higher-priced) mainstream rivals.

Ownership – What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The Pikup is covered by a five-year warranty consisting of primary three years/100,000km followed by two years coverage of the drivetrain only. There's also five years/100,000km of roadside assist. Scheduled service intervals are 15,000km/12 months. Capped-price servicing for the first four years/55,000km totals $2296.

In some ways it's reminiscent of a scaled-down Land Cruiser 70 Series, with a back-to-basics specification, high driving position, manual transmission and one-tonne payload rating. Overall, it's a competent 4x4 workhorse, but safety falls well short of the benchmark and its primary three-year warranty is hardly reassuring. So, whether it's worth a punt given such a tempting driveaway price, only a potential buyer can decide.

$30,990

Based on new car retail price

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Tradies score

4/5
Price Guide

$30,990

Based on new car retail price

This price is subject to change closer to release data
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.