A hardy and rugged SUV designed by Mahindra, the Bolero does sell in good numbers and has been among the top ten selling cars of India for quite sometime. Even though the new Bolero is loaded with some extra features for comfort, convenience and safety, this indigenous sports utility vehicle is more popular for cab services and in rural/semi-urban areas. It does not really enjoy the status of a well designed, city oriented or family car.
Mahindra Bolero has been in production since 2001. The basic design of this SUV is based on Mahindra Armada Grand and the first generation Bolero had a Peugeot 2.5 litre IDI engine with power of 75 bhp. Mahindra & Mahindra released the second generation of Bolero with some external feature changes but the major modification was the engine – a 2.5 litre, turbo charged direct injection diesel motor. This was the company’s in-house product.
At present, the Bolero is still powered by the 2523 cc 4 cylinder diesel engine mated to 5 speed manual transmission. But now it is a common rail engine and that makes it more efficient while also offering improved driveability. It churns out 63 bhp of power and has a peak torque of 19.8 kgm. While the power output is same as in the direct injection motor, there is a little increase in torque. This has resulted in peppy low speed responses and the engine pulls nicely from 1000 rpm in third gear with considerable refinement.
Mahindra Bolero comes in multiple variants as per the kind of features provided and there are both AC and non AC versions. BS IV compliant and Special Editions are also available.
The Bolero has a boxy and rugged stance. Its square, sunken headlamps, a brawny bumper and the broad wheel arches add to its tough look. With those chunky slats, the front grille also gives the SUV a hardy feel. Round fog lamps are integrated with the muscular bumpers. Bolero wears steel wheels with 215/75 R15 tyres. The regular SUVs have dimensions of 4107mm (Length), 2680 mm (Wheelbase), and 1880mm (Height). Mahindra has also released a special version used for hospital ambulance services – this has an extended Length of 4494 mm, Wheelbase of 2794 mm and Height of 1977 mm.
The flat and stamped door panels may seem to deliver a retro impact but the handles are not easy to operate and require considerable finger pressure. Even the paint work is quite banal and there’s a wavy finish with imbalanced panel gaps. Aluminium side steps are provided to make ingress and egress easier. At the back too, you see a squarish look and the simple, flat design of the tail lamps complements the rear look. The spare tyre is mounted in a case with the name ‘BOLERO’ engraved on its outer shell. Because this car comes as a 7-seater and there are split seats in the luggage compartment, a side step is also fitted on the rear bumper. But with a central position, the door needs to fully open before you use it to get in.
Inside the two tone cabin, Mahindra uses wood finish for centre console and around the side AC vents (in top and mid-top end variants). But like the exteriors, the basic design is simple and linear. Furthermore, the quality of materials is not as refined as in some of the modern competitors of this SUV. The fabric & vinyl upholstered seats offer average support and there is a centre armrest on second row of seats. The ergonomics however could have been better. The top end trim (ZLX) comes loaded with features such as manual air conditioner & heater, powered windows with buttons on central console, central locking, map pockets on front doors, keyless entry, rear glass wash & wipe, 12V charging point and a driver information system.
On the safety front there is not much to speak of. Apart from child locks, padded headrests, and engine immobiliser, this Mahindra SUV does not have anything in particular for the safety of its occupants.
The BS IV version of Bolero ZLX also gets a micro hybrid system which has been jointly developed by M&M and Bosch for fuel savings. For entertainment there’s FM radio, CD and MP3 player in ZLX and SLX trims.
Mahindra Bolero comes in a colour range comprising Red, Diamond White, Black, Beige and Java Brown. Paying a little extra you can also go for customisation with front guard, auxiliary lamps, window line blackening modified body shell & re-panelling, and styled body claddings.
The price starts from Rs 5.93 lakhs and goes up to Rs 7.53 lakhs (ex showroom price Delhi) for ZLX BS IV variant. Ambulance models cost Rs 5.43 (Non AC) and 5.75 lakhs (AC) (ex showroom price Delhi).
Even if this SUV appears rugged, rustic or banal, it is popular in the market and received the ‘Best Selling SUV Car’ Award for 4 successive years (2007-10). It was also the recipient of the 2009 TNS Automotive Total Customer Satisfaction survey in the SUV/MUV category. Its tough nature for poor roads in less developed cities of India is a strong USP of Bolero.
Title of highest selling SUV is coveted one and if some proposition has got it six times in a row; one can easily gauge the appeal of the offering among masses. Yes we are talking about the very rugged and jagged Bolero that has been making sales records for Mahindra year after year. With its rock solid reliability and all terrain conquering capability, Bolero has carved a special place in the hearts of Indian customers; especially in rural areas of country. Also in order to broaden its customer base, of late Mahindra has endowed the Bolero with some quality and premium touches making it quite more appealing for urban buyers. Still a major chunk of Bolero sales comes from the semi-urban and rural areas and we don’t see possibility of a sudden change in this commerce trend of Bolero.