Mahindra revamps its double-cab Pik Up as a cheap-but-reliable alternative to premium contenders...
Back in October 2006 when we tested the first-generation Mahindra Scorpio Pik-up double cab, we came away suitably impressed. Despite the fact that it preferred cruising at 100 km/h rather than 120 km/h, and possessed refinement levels that were relatively low, what counter-balanced this was impressive interior space, ruggedness, fuel economy and an easy-going nature. Now, 14 years after Mahindra and Mahindra began trading in South Africa, the second generation has been launched in this country, and the Scorpio moniker has been dropped; the vehicle is now known simply as the Mahindra Pik Up.
To call it an all-new vehicle would be stretching things a little. Based on the same platform as the previous generation, the exterior changes constitute more of a substantial facelift than brand-new elements. The rear of the vehicle is much the same as its predecessor’s, whereas the front receives a new nose treatment that features a more modern, expressive grille, along with projector headlamps, LED running lights and cornering lamps.
With the modern double cab often employed as a family or leisure vehicle, such a vehicle’s interior treatment has become an important consideration. With that in mind, the Scorpio’s light cockpit colour scheme has been swapped for more sophisticated dark charcoal/black upholstery and facia trim. The instrumentation is much improved, too, with white-on-black numerals illuminated by blue lighting and a centrally sited trip-computer screen. In this flagship S10 derivative, there’s also a touchscreen on the facia that includes sat-nav and Bluetooth, although we found it difficult to read in bright sunlight. A few testers also noted that they often had to execute a double-finger push to get the screen to react.
Standard-fitment items on this model include auto lighting and wipers and, curiously, you can deactivate these functions with facia-mounted buttons. Headlamps are adjustable for height and so is the steering column, but unfortunately there is no reach adjustment. Passenger safety has also been improved and the rear bench gets triple three-point seatbelts, along with Isofix anchor points on the outer seats. Whereas the previous model had no airbags, dual items are now fitted, as is ABS with EBD.
Because they sit on bulky ladder-frame chassis, many double cabs have a high floor, which necessitates dropping the seats in order to provide passengers with sufficient headroom. This bum-on-the-floor, legs-stretched-out position might be good for performance cars, but it’s not ideal in a bakkie with no additional room to put your feet or to enjoy the comfort of sufficient under-thigh support. Not so with the Pik Up. There is even some space under the seats to stow goods. Initial impressions were that there wasn’t sufficient kneeroom for rear passengers, but the rear cushions are quite long, so the space is there.
There are a few niggles, though. The rear seats are sited too high, so taller folk have visibility out of the vehicle obstructed by the roof line, and the backrest is uncomfortably upright. Although the roof is high, the body is a little on the narrow side, so the doors are close to your arms and there is insufficient space for water bottle holders in the small door pockets. Lastly, given the Pik Up’s size, we would have liked some rear parking sensors to help manoeuvre this large bakkie in and out of parking spaces.
The most significant upgrade to the Pik Up rests under the bonnet. This new-generation double cab gets Mahindra’s excellent 2,2-litre mHawk engine and a six-speed gearbox taken from the XUV500 SUV range (and that means we know this drivetrain well after running a XUV500 in our long-term fleet for most of 2017). Power leaps from 74 to 103 kW and the engine is much more refined than its predecessor.
This new 2,2-litre pulls cleanly from 1 600 r/min (and resists stalling right down to 1 000 r/min) and 120 km/h cruising is now easily achieved thanks to the increased power. Sprint acceleration is not the most important aspect in a bakkie, but overtaking grunt is useful, and even with the limited power, the torque gets you past most traffic quickly enough. The stop/start function is rather abrupt and we preferred to save the starter motor some heavy PT and keep the engine spinning.
Fortunately, no changes have been made to the steering, which displays well-considered weighting, while the gearlever has a clean, mechanical action through the six forward ratios. As is often the case with vehicles like this, the turning circle is particularly poor.
On tar, the ride quality is moderately composed, although it errs on the firm side. It did, however, improve when a fully packed load bay settled the rear suspension somewhat. We did some driving on mountain roads as well and found first gear is too tall to prevent stalling, with a switch to low range required. Large rocks were not a problem, though, thanks to the 210 mm ground clearance.
The load bay is definitely geared towards hard work. The vehicle has a payload of 995 kg and plenty of practical tie-down hooks welded to the top of the bay, providing multiple options for securing loads without having to get to low-mounted eyes that may be hidden after loading. The standard protector bars behind the cabin are useful as additional tie-down spots and supplement the multiple ears round the bay. We made good use of these to firmly keep in place a variety of goods, including chairs, a table, irrigation piping and boxes full of clothing. The Pik Up also makes a decent towing vehicle with a rating of 2 500 kg.
Towing and a packed load bay do naturally have an impact on fuel consumption, but travelling at the national speed limit with a load on board (during a strong Cape Southeaster, too), we registered an average fuel-consumption figure of just more than 10,0 L/100 km. That’s especially impressive given the Pik Up’s less-than-aerodynamic profile. Wind noise around the side mirrors and doors seals, however, is certainly noticeable.
Although this second-generation Mahindra bakkie may look similar to the vehicle it replaces, the new Pik Up is a significant improvement on its predecessor. With this derivative offering many of the features of a modern leisure double cab, the Pik Up is a rugged and considerably cheaper alternative to the likes of the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger that dominate the South African market. Sure, it is not as refined as those stalwarts, but you can't expect that at a much lower price level.
The cherry on top is the economy of the 2,2-litre turbodiesel. In freeway driving, we saw the fuel recording drop to 7,7 L/100 km, while we achieved a figure of
8,9 L/100 km on our mixed-conditions 100 km fuel route. With the fuel-tank size unchanged from before at 80 litres, this suggests a possible range of close
to 900 km.
Testament to Mahindra's confidence in the Pik Up's reliability are service intervals that have been doubled to every 20 000 km or yearly, along with a warranty that is now four years and 120 000 km. A service plan lasting five years or 90 000 km is now also standard on the S10.
*From the February 2018 issue of CAR magazine
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See Full Mahindra Pik Up Double Cab price and specs here