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Text & Photos: Sunil Gupta/ Sunilg
Mahindra 2 Wheeler’s entry into the two wheeler market was an explosive one, thanks to the one motorcycle they put on display, Mojo, along with the Stallio that actually went on sale. But as the dust from that explosion started to settle, it became apparent that explosion, wouldn’t cause any damage to the sales of the existing players. In fact, a few months down the line M2W had to remove the Stallio from the market, due to some issues that were damaging the company’s reputation as a potential serious player. Since then the company has been relying solely on its scooters (Rodeo and Duro) to defend its territories and gain further ground in the market.
Forced by the flak they faced over Stallio, Mahindra 2 Wheelers seems to have been working hard. There have been consistent efforts at their end to stage a comeback, and while everyone guessed that they would make their comeback with the launch of Mojo, M2W decided to play it safe and re-enter the segment that has the largest volumes. This past weekend, they unveiled 2 of their new motorcycles in front of a select group of media in Pune. While everyone was aware of the first one – the 110 cc Pantero, they surprised us with the unveiling of another bike in the commuter segment – The Centuro.
The Centuro has a lot of ‘first-in-its-class’ features. The Centuro is being powered by the same 110 cc MCI-5 (micro chip ignited 5-curve) engine that is fitted on the Pantero. As per them, this entirely new engine has been developed by Mahindra 2-Wheelers at their new R&D house in Pune in just 18 months. Though we did not ride the Centuro, we were told that what differentiates the Centuro riding experience from the Pantero, is the way the engine has been tuned. The Centuro seems to have been tuned for a more ‘peppy’ riding experience, without compromising much on the fuel economy. The Centuro delivers 8.5 BHP @ 7500 RPM and 8.5 Nm @ 5500 rpm. Feature wise, the Centuro comes fitted with a Central-Locking Anti-Theft system with engine immobiliser and a remote 128 bit encrypted Flip Key – A feature that we have not seen in bikes till now. It also has “Find Me Lamps” feature that will makes the turn indicators blink simultaneously at the touch of a button on the remote, making it easier to find the bike in a crowded parking lot. There is also a fully-digital console, with an inbuilt service indicator and Distance To Empty Fuel calculator, that should come handy in day-to-day riding. There are also bright LED tail and pilot lamps. Mahindra calls these pilot lamps “Guide Lamps” as they remain on for 7 seconds during the night time even after you take out the key and turn off the engine, which would keep your way illuminated to make easier for you to find your way in the darkness. Styling wise, the Centuro wore a more solid and robust look than the Pantero. It has been fitted with a pair of golden bars under the tank, which would remind you of the Mojo. It also claims to have the category-best ground-clearance of 173 mm with a seat height of 800 mm and maintenance free battery.
Pantero First Ride report & Impressions:
Engine & Performance: As said earlier, the Pantero is powered by Mahindra’s all new 110-cc MCI-5 engine, which delivers a peak power output of 8.5 BHP at 7500 RPM. It also gives an ARAI certified fuel average of 79.4 KMPL. This bike has been benchmarked against the category-bestseller Passion Pro from Hero and gives a 0-60 KMPH timing of 8.85 seconds against Passion Pro’s 9.17 seconds (as per Mahindra). For an 110cc motor, the engine did feel responsive and eager. There is reasonable low end torque too. Even with 2 heavy riders and a steep incline, the bike didn’t disappoint, though you have to keep the expectations realistic and not ask for too much out of 8.5 BHP. The Pantero did well in the initial rev range; however, once you go past the 6K RPM mark, the engine starts showing signs of stress and you start feeling a lot of vibrations. Though there were no false neutrals or clinks, we didn’t find the gearbox to be the smoothest.
Please note that the above graphs/pictures have been taken from the official presentation slide that was shown to us at the time of unveiling.
Styling: The Pantero has been given very contemporary looks, which won’t make it stand out in the crowd, but won’t leave you with much to desire. It has got a very sleek styling, with a bikini fairing upfront and LED pilot lamps. The tail lamp also has been fitted with LEDs. The overall styling of the Pantero is not very different from its predecessor, the Stallio; however, it now dons a set of new vibrant graphics to make it stand out from the Stallio. The Pantero is available in 4 colour schemes: Fiery Red, Sterling Silver, Blazing Black and Cool Black. The engine, exhaust pipe and alloys have been given an all-black treatment. The exhaust pipe comes with a chrome-plated heat shield. The compact looking tank has a 12 L capacity and has an aircraft type tank lid. There is also a plastic tank protector, running along the entire length of the tank, to protect the tank from scratches from your belt buckle and/or the zip of your jacket. At the rear, the LED tail lamp and the black rear grab rails, along with the clear-lens turn indicators give it a fresh look.
The Pantero will be available in following 4 different variants:
T1: Self Start, alloy wheels, digital speedometer
T2: Self Start, alloy wheels, analog speedometer
T3: Kick Start, alloy wheels, analog speedometer
T4: Kick start, spoke wheels, analog speedometer.
The one we rode was the T1 variant with the fully digital console that has been taken straight from their scooter, Rodeo. The console backlight color is orange and it has digital tachometer, fuel gauge, clock, odometer and trip meter along with the digital speedometer.
Handling & Ride Comfort: Mahindra believes that handling and manoeuvrability is the USP of this bike. They had even put up a slalom track for all the test riders, to test its maneuverability. The Pantero did feel sleek and easy to maneuver, taking all the quick turns with ease, which should make it fun to ride in city traffic conditions. The basic suspension setup of telescopic upfront and twin shock absorbers at the rear does its job with aplomb and left us impressed with the comfort it provided even off-road, with more than 150 kg payload on board. The comfortable seat just added to the overall ride quality.
The Pantero has a seat length of 774 mm, which makes it the longest seat in its class. This should be an advantage for the riders & pillions with a heavy build. Particularly in rural areas where you find people riding three-up.
On the brakes front, the Pantero comes with the drum brakes on front and rear, which is good enough for coming to halt from moderate speeds in reasonable time. However, we do feel there should’ve been a disk brake variant for added safety. The drum brakes just won’t cut in case of real urgency.
Overall: The Pantero is quite a commendable effort from Mahindra to re-enter the motorcycle market. Especially if you consider that they accepted their mistake by recalling the Stallio from the market. It has everything that the competition is offering in this category. It is a huge improvement over the Stallio. There don’t seem to be any serious problems with the product that would put a potential buyer off of.
However, we must add, this market is already full of products that look the same and offer similar features, and they command the consumers’ trust because they have been there in the market for many years now. To pull these consumers towards it, Mahindra really needs to price it sensibly as that would be the deciding factor for most customers.