Indian brand Mahindra was in the spot light last year after it won the bidding in supplying the transport vehicle requirements for our police force nationwide. Some called the awarding of the bid controversial because the brand, for them, was unknown and had no service or track record to speak of in the country. Many called the deal questionable as to why the bids and awards committee favored the Indian brand over better-known Japanese and American marques. Very little was reported on the brand’s 70-year history in producing world-class farm and rugged utility vehicles as well as its presence in more than 20 other countries, including the United States. Little mention was also made on the brand’s 10-year presence in the country and the over 30 service and dealership network it co-shares with a sister brand.
Following the completion of delivery of the 1,470 Mahindra Enforcer units to the Philippine National Police, Asianbrands Motor Corporation (AMC), the official distributor of Mahindra vehicles in the country, began lending out civilian-spec units of the model for testing. We got our hands on a unit for a two-day test (Yes, too short. We were told that there was a long list on queue who wanted to test the Enforcer) to put it through its paces.
From the outside, it looks unmistakably like a Jeep (Mahindra, since the 1950s, have been licensed to produce Willys Jeeps), with its vertical-slot steel grilles and flared wheel arches. It is 4.924 meters long, 1.815 meters wide and stands 1.885 meters tall. It has a wheelbase of 3.014 meters and has a ground clearance of 18.5 centimeters. The civilian version has four doors and a bed big enough to carry 1.63 cubic meters of cargo ([length x width x height]1460 millimeter x 1530mm x 730mm), which is way bigger than other pickup trucks in the market. The bed has no liner, yet it looks sturdy enough to load whatever stuff you want to haul be it construction materials, livestock or even fresh produce.
Inside, the Enforcer has a no-frills, Spartan interior (including the dash, sidings, floor and ceiling). It was made that way to make the cost really low. The cloth/vinyl covered seats, although plain and simple, comfortably seats five adult passengers. It has an air-conditioning system that works great even under the scorching heat of the sun, and a single-din audio system that plays CDs and both FM and AM radio frequencies.
Engine and brakes
Under the hood of the Enforcer is a 2.5-liter NEF TCI turbo-diesel engine that produces 100 horsepower at 3,800 revolutions per minute and 240 Newton-meters of torque at 1,800 rpm. Zero to 100 kilometers per hour can be attained in 15 seconds while going through its five-speed manual transmission. Stopping power is more than adequate, thanks to the ventilated disc calipers up front and drum brakes in the rear. We only got to drive the Enforcer for a total of 100 kilometers, both in heavy traffic and highway driving conditions. We were not able to get exact fuel consumption figures but the fuel gauge just dropped to the 7/8th mark from full.
As expected, the ride is stiff but compliant. The Enforcer has an independent front suspension and torsion bar with stabilizer bar and hydraulic shock absorbers. To support extremely heavy loads, it has semi-elliptical progressive leafs springs at the back. This truck can comfortably carry three passengers and 15 sacks of rice (at 50 kilograms each).
Power steering comes standard with the Enforcer. Personally however, the steering feels too light and does not transmit any road feedback. It also has centralized power locks and power windows for convenience.
For the buyer’s peace of mind, Mahindra is backing up the Enforcer with a three-year or 100,000-kilometer warranty.
However, there are two things that buyers have to get used to when buying the Enforcer. The signal switch is located on the right hand side of the steering column while the wiper switch is on the left. It takes a day or two to get used to, but it really is not a great deal. I am assuming Mahindra India did not bother to produce components for left-hand-drive versions to save on costs and keep the price low.
Basic as it may be, the Enforcer lives up to its promise as a rugged utility vehicle. This pick-up is the perfect partner for Filipino entrepreneurs that need a fast and dependable vehicle that can haul their wares to and from the market, factories, farms or even the boonies without worrying too much about the superficial condition of their vehicle. With all the power, carrying capacity, efficiency, dependability and a reasonable price tag of just P750,000, what more could one ask for?