Ride, Handling & Performance
Interior Comfort & Practicality
Technology & Safety
Value & Ownership
When it comes to utes, Mahindra isn’t a brand that immediately springs to mind. Mahindra’s claim to fame is its history of producing agricultural products for those trying to earn a crust on the land.
Tractors aside, Mahinda has been toiling away with its PikUp ute range in Australia since 2007, so it’s no johnny-come-lately.
In an era where utes with SUV-like interiors are populating the suburbs, the Mahindra PikUp is firmly in touch with the company’s agricultural heritage.
What attracts us to the PikUp is its focus on delivering a capable ute that doesn’t make compromises in an attempt to appeal to city slickers. This one is for those in the regions with work to do. There’s no pretence here.
While it’s never strayed far from the original, since its local launch, the PikUp has been continually tweaked culminating in the S10+ we are driving here. As the flagship of the PikUp range pricing starts from $32,990 drive-away. Our tester was fitted with a $3800 galvanised steel, colour-coded tray, and $710 side steps – pushing the drive-away price to $37,500.
Exterior changes for 2020 include a new front grille, new static bending projection headlamps and the addition of LED daytime running lights with a fresh fog light assembly. The cabin of the S10+ gets an upgraded 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with satellite navigation and a rear-view camera.
It’s certainly a unique looking ute. There’s an endearing quality to the retro style that separates the PikUp from the majority of other dual-cabs. The big selling models are becoming so generic in their styling, it could be argued the designs are all born from a simple copy and paste.
Spending the extra for the steel tray is money well spent in our view, it gives the PikUp a purposeful look, one that is reminiscent of the legendary (and considerably more expensive) Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series.
Hop inside and things are surprisingly pleasant. The fit and finish is good though the presentation and tactility can’t lay a glove on the market leaders that draw heavily from their respective SUV derivatives. You will notice the little things like the absence of padding on the door cards and square cup holders.
The front occupants get nicely shaped seats with individual centre armrests, pleasingly they remain comfortable over long distances. The climate control air conditioning is welcome, as is the excellent Bluetooth system which delivered unexpectedly clear phone calls. The Bluetooth was so good, we didn’t miss Apple CarPlay.
Buying a dual-cab generally indicates the rear seats are necessary. There’s plenty of headroom and a proper set of rear air vents, however, to put it politely, the legroom is tight.
From behind the wheel, you do feel perched a long way up in the air. Looking out of the steep windscreen, the visibility is great, though finding the optimal driving position requires a delicate touch thanks to the steering wheel’s limited range of adjustment.
For an old school ute, the driving experience was surprisingly satisfying. Despite the smallish outputs, the PikUp easily holds its own both in town and on the highway.
There is some clatter from the diesel engine but it’s relatively unobtrusive. The manual transmission is a gem to use with a wonderfully light clutch that takes no time at all to master.
On a highway run, the PikUp lacks the refinement of mainstream competitors, it’s especially noticeable if you drive it back-to-back with a ‘modern’ ute.
Aside from the noise, the cruise control lets the side down, it struggles to keep a consistent speed regardless of the road. The system seems confused when presented with a modest incline, where it will often apply too much throttle.
Like every dual-cab, with an empty tray, the suspension is noticeably floaty. Even a moderate amount of weight in the back settles things down.
Off-road, the agricultural character of the PikUp shines, it was easily able to dispatch our off-road loop without fuss. It has proper low-range gearing and an Eaton diff-lock which means it has the capabilities to handle the responsibilities imposed on it by farmers or those with rural property.
Mahindra lists a combined fuel economy figure of 8.8L/100km, this is an achievable number with an unladen tray. It’s worth noting the PikUp has an 80L fuel tank for buyers who need to munch some miles.
When the focus turns to safety, the PikUp skates on very thin ice. Crash testing firm ANCAP assessed the Mahindra in 2016 and awarded a three-star safety rating. The final write up wasn’t complimentary. Jump to 2020 and the PikUp’s safety features are limited. There’s no side airbags or autonomous emergency braking.
The ownership credentials are strong, Mahindra supports owners with a five-year, 100,000km warranty and five-year roadside assistance coverage.
In terms of maintenance, the PikUp comes with a capped-price service program that covers the first four years or 55,000km of ownership. Owners are required to present the PikUp for a free inspection at 5000km (or three months).
The first capped-price service is at 10,000km or 12 months whatever comes first. From there, the service intervals are set at 15,000km or 12 months. Under the capped-price service program, each trip to the dealer averages $574.
For those wanting the individual pricing - 10,000km/12 months $499, 25,000km/24 months $499, 40,000km/36 months $799, 55,000km/48 months $499.
Mahindra has done plenty of work to the PikUp over the last few years, during this test, we were fortunate enough to have a look at a model that was only a couple of years old. The most significant changes are found in the cabin and it looks considerably better as a result.
This isn't a ute looking to appeal to a wide audience, it has a specific buyer in mind. The robust, mechanical nature of the PikUp will strike the right chord in the rural market it’s looking to find favour in.
While some sections of the market can claim immunity from the current economic conditions, this price point isn’t one of them. The $32,990 drive-away sticker pits the PikUp against the SsangYong Musso, entry-level versions of the Mitsubishi Triton, and the underwhelming LDV T60.
Regardless of the competitors, research strongly suggests the PikUp will give reliable service while presenting a uniquely individual take on the genre. It’s something focused and different in an era where mass appeal and design similarity are becoming increasingly common. If you spend a reasonable portion of your work and leisure time on dirt, it’s very much worth a look.
2020 Mahindra PikUp S10+ Specifications
Price from $32,990 drive-away Engine 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel Power 103kW @ 3750rpm Torque 320Nm @ 1500-2800 rpm Transmission six-speed manual Combined Fuel Consumption 8.8L/100km Tank Capacity 80L Length 5195mm Width 1820mm Height 1915mm Wheelbase 3040mm Ground Clearance 210mm Turning Circle 6.7m Kerb Weight 1940kg Service Intervals 12 months/15,000km after an initial service requirement at 10,000km Warranty five-year/100,000 kilometre
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