Pictures: Jesse Adams
Pictures: Jesse Adams

Johannesburg - Mahindra’s rough and ready Scorpio Pik Up was re-launched in facelifted form this week, bringing with it some much needed gains in quality, power and comfort features, but also losing its Scorpio nameplate.

The Indian brand plans to launch a range of bakkies in the US market where the Ford-owned Scorpio badge presents some legal issues for Mahindra, so going forward this bakkie will be known by the shortened Pik Up name globally. The Scorpio SUV, which shares its underpinnings and engine with the Pik Up, carries on with the same title as before. 

The update applied to the SUV a year ago now is now passed on to the Pik Up range, and is easily identifiable by its angry new face featuring LED “eyebrow” headlights and a snarlier bonnet scoop. This styling certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (one journalist at the media launch called it an “ugly truckling”), but at least it’s a unique take on the cookie cutter mainstream bakkie mould.

Inside there’s a modernised dashboard finished in darker black plastics, and the old model’s nasty grey cloth seats make way for classier black upholstery. Not unexpectedly, the cabin is a little low-rent compared to more expensive options in the light commercial scene, with hard plastics and questionable material choices everywhere, but it’s a huge improvement on the very chintzy old Scorpio.

The new double cab ditches some of its workhorse credentials and takes on a more leisure oriented attitude in top of the line S10 trim, with standard items such as touchscreen infotainment with navigation, cruise control, auto wipers and headlights, electric windows and Bluetooth phone pairing.

Working class

A base model 4x2 single cab, in S4 trim, still caters to the working class where farmers can load it with up to 1195kg of feed or seed and site foremen can easily wipe coffee spillages off its vinyl seat covers. This version comes stripped down without audio, aircon, or central locking. It also goes without any safety features such as airbags, ABS brakes or seat-belt pretensioners, and an otherwise standard five-year or 90 000km service plan is an optional extra.

A middle-spec S6 model single cab adds a radio with USB and Aux inputs, 16 inch alloy wheels instead of the S4’s steelies, fabric seats, colour coded bumpers and mirrors, aircon and all the aforementioned safety items. The S6 is sold with either 4x2 or 4x4 drivetrains, though all models get a standard rear-axle differential lock.

The Pik Up retains the previous Scorpio’s 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine capacity, but a new turbocharger ups power from 74kW and 258Nm to a much healthier 103kW and 320Nm. All Pik Up variants come with six-speed manual gearboxes only. Maximum payloads are 1095 and 995kg for the double cab 4x2 and 4x4 respectively, and 1195 and 1095kg for the 4x2 and 4x4 single cabs. Towing capacity is rated at 2500kg across the board with braked trailer, or 750kg unbraked.

I drove the range topping 4x4 double cab on a short test route around Magaliesburg at the Pik Up’s media launch, and while there’s no question it’s a budget offering in a sea of far more premium bakkies, it still impresses with its giant leap in quality. It feels solid over bumps even if the suspension accentuates ugly road surfaces, and though there was a fair bit of wind noise at highway speeds there were no squeaks or rattles when the going got rough.

The Pik Up’s new engine is the star here, pulling strong from low revs with no noticeable turbo lag. This came in quite handy when overtaking slow moving farm vehicles in the area, and on a relatively mild off-road course where it pulled away on rocky inclines with ease. A simple rotary knob in the console engages four-wheel drive and low range modes. 

* Mahindra SA made the surprise announcement it plans to build the new Pik Up range in South Africa from 2018. The bakkies will be assembled at a factory in Durban from semi-knocked down kits imported from India. The locally-made Pik Ups will supply African markets all the way to Egypt, but could in the future also be shipped to Australia and South America.

PRICES:
Pik Up S4 Single Cab 4x2 - R187 995
Pik Up S6 Single Cab 4x2 - R239 995
Pik Up S6 Single cab 4x4 - R284 995
Pik Up S10 Double Cab 4x2 - R324 995
Pik Up S10 Double Cab 4x4 - R354 995
*All models come with four-year/120 000km warranties and roadside assistance.

IOL Motoring
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