Mahindra PikUp S11 Automatic 4×4

PikUp. Tough. Truck. But now a bit more than that.

Mahindra PikUp

The S11 Double Cab offers a six speed automatic box, climate control, power windows, tiltable power steering, central locking, touch screen infotainment centre with Bluetooth, USB and AUX, steering-mounted audio & cruise controls and even puddle lamps.

Clearly we are still talking truck here, sure it has most of the comfort amenities you could want and has a really pleasant cabin, but it drives like the robust truck it is under the refreshed more stylish skin. Its not unpleasant to drive but it is not a Ranger or Amarok. Having said that it will go where any of the other bakkies dare venture. I drove the automatic in really soft dune sand with no problems at all and no need to engage low range.

Safety provision is good with all the basic measures included.

Little luxury items include rain-sensing windscreen wipers, rear camera, light-sensing and follow me home headlamps with daytime running lights.

The mHawk 2.2L turbo common rail engine produces 103 kW and 320 Nm with a claimed consumption of under 8L/100km (but work on 9L/100km). The rear mechanical diff lock is automated and low range is engaged using a rotary knob. Braked towing capacity of 2.5 ton, while unbraked is 750kg. The turning circle is a bit wide for the city at 6.7 m. The ground clearance of 210mm is not as bad as it looks because the wheels are not as far apart as some other bakkies.

The range starts at R316 499 for the S6 4×2 workhorse right up to the leisure orientated S11 4×4 Karoo at R429 999. We drove the S11 4×4 Automatic at R414 999. It is just plain good value for money. Yes, it has a lazy turning circle and yes a woman in high heels will have fun mounting the cabin (for a lack of suitable grab handle) and yes it looks a little archaic from the side and the cabin is a little narrow, but none of these are deal breakers.

The Karoo models are unique to South Africa and do give you a leisure bakkie with a real workhorse in its heart. A bit like an Isuzu – just not quite as refined.

On the open road, whether tar or gravel, the PikUp cruises happily and frugally at the legal limit. Above the legal limit you will need a bit of a downhill and preferably a tailwind to get to the 155km/h top speed.

The seats are comfortable, aircon works well, progress is effortless and roadholding is normal by bakkie standards and much improved over the versions of a few years ago. Off-road the “new” mHawk 2.2 turbodiesel working through the Aisin six-speed together with the automatic Eaton rear diff-lock produces the goods.

The warranty and roadside assistance plan is for 4 years or 120 000km while the included service plan is for 5 years or 90 000km.

The alternatives include the Steed 5 and 6, Nissan NP300 and JMC Vigus. I also like the underrated Steed 5, but only with the 2.0L VVT engine.

Mahindra is a big Indian vehicle manufacturer which since 2018 has a local assembly plant at the Dube Tradeport near Durban where the PikUp is assembled so spares should be relatively cheap and quick to source.

First published in Stellenboschnews.com.

Suzuki S-Presso

Cheap and cheerful

Suzuki sPresso between the Canola fields near Klipheuwel

Suzuki are masters at creating good small cars. They know how to extract the essence from the kernel or bean. And voila!

S-Presso – just what the barista made at Wecke & Voigts coffee shop in Windhoek in my youth. Small cup, strong and aromatic. Mmmm.

Suzuki’s little percolator on four wheels is just such a memory in the making.

With Suzuki you know you are getting a reliable car, relatively economical and safe for its niche. With the S-Presso you get more than they promise. Good finishes, enough space, especially headroom, surprisingly good kneeroom at the back, practical touchscreen and sound system and a good engine.

The 1.0 ℓ engine which produces 50 kW and 90Nm coupled to the five-speed auto box which has manual function (or a manual), their new “Heartec” platform and a three-quarter ton weight means this little coffee kettle goes sweetly even on gravel as it rides 180 mm above the road. Expect around 5 ℓ/100km.

This entry level car is not just a basic bear bones kettle but a real machine. As standard the GL+ has electric windows at the front, aircon, touchscreen which couples with Android and Apple smartphones, rear camera and a large round instrument display a la Mini in the centre of the dash. Safety systems include ABS, EBD, two airbags and a solid steel capsule around the cabin.

The boot is a usable 239  ℓ. The seats are comfortable even for little trips on weekends even though this car’s forte is the city. I took two adults on day trip to Melkbos via Klipheuwel and Philadelphia to get a feel for the open road in this little car. What a pleasure. Keeps to the legal limit with ease, feels safe around bends and has enough woema to overtake easily. There is a bit of wind noise, but not enough to drown out easy conversation. A pleasant drive. Very pleasant coffee at de Malle Meul in Philadelphia.

In a nutshell – it is a small car but does not feel cramped and performs above expectation.

If you need a city car or are buying a small car for yourself I recommend the S-Presso GL+ automatic. Easy to park (especially with the camera), nippy, safe, fair space, economic and probably solidly built. In June 2020 Suzuki sold over 500 of them in a very depressed market. Tells you something.

Your options include Renault Kwid around R160k, Datsun Go (R170k), Hyundai Atos (R160k), Kia Picanto (R190k), Mahindra KUV100 (R165k) and Toyota Aygo (R190k).

The Suzuki S-Presso range starts at an incredible R134 900 for the 1.0 GL manual. The rest are the GL+ MT – R139 900, S-Edition MT – R147 900, 1.0 GL+ AMT – R152 900, S-Edition AMT – R160 900.

You get a 5 year/200 000 km warranty, 2 year/30 000 km service plan and 1 year insurance.

I think the GL+ AMT at R152 900 hits the sweet spot.

S-Presso. Just what the barista ordered.