It’s probably quite obvious by now that the Mahindra Pik-Up appeals to my inner tight-arse (if not my outer seat warmer).
So after putting a few beach and bush kays on the clock of our Pik-Up, I figured it was time to get serious. Nothing had fallen off the red Mahindra to date and it still felt pretty tight, so I decided a decent run out to Birdsville was in order, as well as a foray into the Simpson Desert.
However, after a few hours in the saddle it became clear that the seats in the Pik-Up aren’t the most comfortable for a long trip. I found myself wriggling and squirming on occasion to get comfy and smooth out the aches. Those benches could do with a bit of extra padding.
The truck itself was happy enough to eat up country highway miles at highway speeds. It’s no powerhouse, and the 2.2-litre AVL donk is pretty coarse once wound up, but it keeps on trucking.
It was once I hit the dirt on the Birdsville Development Road west of Windorah that I figured some short-comings would start to make themselves known. To be fair, the Pik-Up still cruised the dirt well at speed and I didn’t have a great deal of weight in the tray either. The rear end still rode okay. But that torsion bar front end, while probably strong enough, doesn’t soak up the bumps as well as it could.
Everyone I encountered along the way was quite curious about the red “pretend Toyota” I was driving. The proprietor of the Windorah Roadhouse even helpfully predicted that she’d be towing me back to town. But the little Indian ute that could kept plugging away.
I didn’t have time for a crossing of the Simpson Desert, but I did take the QAA line about 50km into the Munga-Thirri National Park to see how the Pik-Up handled in the world’s largest parallel dune sea.
Ultimately it was very much at home out in the sand and scrub. Ground clearance was still the biggest issue with the Indian ute, as the Mahindra had to bulldoze its way across the top of some dunes.
The standard equipment Eaton autolocker was invaluable when it came to keeping up momentum when climbing some of the steeper, softer dunes.
I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to watch the sun go down from the top of Big Red, the Simpson Desert’s largest and easternmost dune. With a bit of momentum, and after a couple of goes, the Mahindra ploughed its way to the top (engine screaming) in time to see the setting sun paint the surrounding dunes an iridescent red.
As a long-distance cruiser the Pik-Up can handle the pace; it’s just not the most comfortable beast for hours on the highway. I did notice that, once I’d got back to Brisbane 3600km later, that the ute was sitting a little lower in the front end. It’s safe to say that the stock shockers aren’t really up to a constant outback pounding.
Our budget 4x4 Pik-Up has gone back to Mahindra now. But, unexpectedly, it’s left in its wake a little sneaking admiration for the sub-continental bush-basher.
Total kilometers: 6243
Date acquired: July 2016
Km this month: 4288km
Av fuel: 9.82L/100km