By: Dave Abrahams
Pretoria - Mahindra SA has added a back-to-basics single-cab workhorse to its Bolero bakkie range, with the emphasis on payload and low running costs.
That means a torquey, low-revving diesel, an extended wheelbase and an Olympic-sized load-box; say hello to the Bolero Maxitruck Plus.
It comes with Mahindra's M2DICR 2.5-litre direct-injection turbodiesel four, rated for 46kW at 3200 revs and a muscular 195Nm from 1400-2200rpm, driving the rear wheels via a five-speed manual 'box at a nominal consumption of seven litres per 100km.
It also has an extra 136mm between the axles (up from the standard 3014mm to 3150mm) to allow for a rugged sheet-metal load box 2500mm long, 1540mm wide and 295mmm deep - that's 1.13 cubic metres.
It's rated to carry 1130kg, thanks to old-school rigid axles and leaf springs at both ends, with hydraulic power steering and heavy-duty 195/80 tyres on 15-inch steel rims giving it 170mm of ground clearance for on-site capability.
Mahindra & Mahindra got its start in 1945 making Jeep clones and that heritage is clearly visible in the Maxitruck's vertically slotted grille and pronounced wheel arches - as well as its wide-opening doors, side steps and no-nonsense two-seater cabin.
Its furnishings are basic but not cheap-and-nasty, with cloth upholstery, a standard-issue transponder/immobiliser, and a 12V power point for charging cellphones on the move.
All of which will cost you R127 995, including a two-year or 50 000km warranty. Services are at 10 000 km intervals.
In this day of 'car-like interiors' and long-travel suspension it's easy to forget that the reason Henry Ford invented the Model T pick-up, almost exactly a century ago, was to replace the farm wagon - which is why it had a wooden load bed, so that any wainwright (and in the early years of the last century there was one in every farming community) could repair or, in fact, rebuild the 'wear areas' while the steel chassis and running gear were unaffected.
The Maxitruck Plus is just such an agricultural implement - and as long as there are loads of gravel, builder's rubble and stock feed to be hauled, there will be a place for a back-to-basics bakkie.