Double Apex attended the recent launch of the Mahindra Pik Up auto and reports back.
Mahindra is a known quantity in the local context. Regardless of how you feel about its products, you know the company is Indian-owned and, probably, that its portfolio consists entirely of LCVs and SUVs. What you may not know, however, is that Mahindra SA was the fastest-growing automotive OEM in South Africa during 2019; expanding by almost 29 per cent last year over 2018.
That growth has come, in large part, thanks to small SUVs (such as the KUV100 and XUV300, which we reported on here) at competitive prices that local buyers are lapping up by the truck-load. Now the company plans to gain even more market share with the launch of the Mahindra Pik Up auto.
A company first
There are many bakkie options to choose from in the Mahindra line-up. Most in the know agree that these are hard-working and tough vehicles that are suited to the rigours of farm work, particularly in areas where one has to affect your own repairs. The Pik Up range has found favour with many buyers who require just such a vehicle. Now, Mahindra expands its offerings to include a more leisurely option.
The double-cab Mahindra Pik Up automatic has been kitted with a new six-speed automatic transmission to make it more appealing to those looking for a vehicle that won’t be drawn into the rigours of hard labour but rather serve as a leisure bakkie. That transmission is mated with Mahindra’s, in-house developed, MHawk engine. The 2,2-litre turbodiesel unit produces 103 kW and 320 N.m of maximum torque. Both 4×2 and 4×4 drivetrains are available.
The newcomer can be optioned in regular, or Karoo derivatives. The latter has bespoke trim, such as a nudge bar, roll-over hoop, a rubber-lined bin with retractable cover and different alloys. Inside, both variants are fitted with cloth seats, power steering, an extremely efficient climate control system and a full-colour touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity and satellite navigation as standard. The latter is a little fiddly to operate with small, on-screen buttons to control vital functions.
On the road
Mahindra SA hosted the national ride and drive event in the Magaliesberg area of Gauteng. From our hotel near Pretoria we set off in a 2WD Karoo version and cruised through the byways heading West. The Pik Up’s engine proved to be a pleasant surprise. It emitted little diesel clatter and remained smooth through the entire rev-range. The engine does seem to run out of steam higher in the rev-range. Smooth operation is also a trait of the self-shifting transmission.
The ride quality, while not quite in the league of the class-leading VW Amarok, was on par with most other body-on-chassis bakkies such as the Nissan NP300 or Isuzu KB. It was only rougher road corrugations that really upset the ride. A meaty steering action at low speeds lightened as speed increased, but we did find that one does need to keep a firm grip to ensure the vehicle doesn’t wander around.
Part of our route included a drive up Breedt Nek’s pass (if you have an off-road vehicle, live in Gauteng and have not been up there, we highly recommend it). Four- and two-wheel-drive versions ambled up this rocky and, in parts, tricky ascent. A high, 210 mm ground clearance allowed us to hop over rocks and other obstacles. The automatic transmissions taking guesswork out of the equation with the manual override function allowing us to control our descent speed.
Two-wheel-drive versions of the Mahindra Pik Up auto are fitted with a self-locking mechanical diff lock. The system senses a wheel speed difference and locks the rear axle to distribute torque evenly to both wheels, it then disengages when no longer required. It requires no driver input and works unobtrusively in the background.
The Mahindra Pik Up auto is not for buyers shopping in the upper end of the double-cab automatic bakkie segment. That space has a few very capable, and very expensive options. Instead, Mahindra SA is looking to bring the convenience and lifestyle aspect, that such a vehicle affords, to a new, more price sensitive side of the market. If it suits your budget, try one out you may just be surprised.
Mahindra Pik Up AT 4×2 R384 999
Mahindra Pik Up 4×2 Karoo AT R399 999
Mahindra Pik Up AT 4×4 R414 999
Mahindra Pik Up 4×4 Karoo AT R429 999