INDIAN automaker Mahindra & Mahindra Limited could well be the saviour of the traditional four-wheel drive. And by ‘traditional’, we mean really traditional: a separate chassis, live axles at both ends carried on leaf springs, and part-time 4x4. You simply can’t get more traditional or old-school than that. The vehicle in question, known the Roxor in the USA, is very traditional as it has much of the style of the original WWII Jeep, the vehicle that spawned the 4x4 world as we know it today. After all, the very first Land Rover, Toyota Land Cruiser and Nissan Patrol were all inspired by the original Jeep. But the Roxor as it will probably be known when it arrives in Australia in 2020/21, is not a recent creation of Mahindra – Mahindra has had Jeep in its DNA from day one. Mahindra was founded immediately after WWII off the back of assembling war-surplus Jeeps from knockdown kits supplied by Willys-Overland, and by 1968 Mahindra was manufacturing Jeep look-a-likes from 100 per cent Indian content. Examples of these early Mahindra ‘Jeeps’ were introduced to Australia in 1990 as the Bushman and the slightly cheaper Stockman, and they were powered by a naturally aspirated 2.1-litre diesel with – wait for it – 46kW and 120Nm. The latest iteration of these early Mahindra ‘Jeeps’, the Thar, was introduced onto the Indian market in 2010 and is the basis for the Roxor; although, the Thar has independent front suspension with torsion bars, while the Roxor has a leaf spring live axle. Somewhat ironically the Roxor built under licence in the USA from knockdown kits imported from India. In the USA the Roxor is only for off-road use (sold under the same regulations as farm-use side-by-side ATVs) and is not road legal. Here in Australia Mahindra previously looked at introducing the Roxor, but Australian Design Rules meant it could only be sold as a farm vehicle, a market already covered by the mPACT, a side-by-side ATV sold here by Mahindra. That’s the history; the future is a new-generation Roxor that will be road-legal in Australia and should arrive in the next two or three years. At this stage it’s uncertain what engine it will use, but it probably won’t be the current Roxor 2.5-litre diesel, at least not in the current state of tune that limits it to 46kW and 195Nm due to regulations covering farm vehicles in the USA. What we do know is that the Roxor sold in Australia will retain the defining elements of the current Roxor, including the Jeep-like styling. It will also be built on a separate chassis, have leaf-sprung live axles at both ends, and employ part-time four-wheel drive. The wheelbase will be 2440mm, while the overall weight will be down around a very handy 1400kg. Front and rear lockers, excellent ground clearance, and steep approach, rampover and departure angles should help make it an off-road weapon. The Roxor will most likely also come with factory body and running-gear options, such as a lift kits and bigger wheel/tyre packages. In other Mahindra news, the current Pik-Up ute will be replaced by a new-generation vehicle around 2021. This will be part of a new global push by Mahindra, with a new platform designed to satisfy the latest safety and emission standards. This new platform will also underpin the Scorpio 4x4 wagon, which is also slated for Australian release around that time. The current Scorpio sells in India and elsewhere but not in Australia. The Pik-Up will also gain the option of an automatic gearbox next year, which will no doubt boost sales in a market where the preference is now for automatics over manuals. The gearbox is an Aisin six-speed similar to that used in Toyota Hilux, Prado and Fortuner, and the Isuzu D-MAX and MU-X.
THE NEW-GEN ROXOR SHOULD ARRIVE IN AUSTRALIA IN 2020/2021
WHO IS MAHINDRA?
MAHINDRA is a giant global conglomerate headquartered in India employing more than 200,000 people in more than 100 countries. Among other things it’s the world’s largest producer of tractors (by volume) but makes trucks, buses, motorcycles and scooters. It has interests in things as diverse as aerospace, defence, clean energy and information technology. It’s a company on the rise.
ONE thing’s for sure, the new Thar/Roxor will retain the Jeepinspired styling and be built on traditional values of a separate chassis, with leaf springs and live axles all-round.