Mahindra Bolero: 5 Things We Learned From The Road Test
I was 8 years old when the Bolero was first launched, in the year 2000. Driving it today, it taught me quite a few lessons about the SUVs of yesteryear.
Cars, more often than humans, have deep personalities. They unfold in layers as you spend time with them and get to know them better. Trying to judge a car with its brochure is like judging a potential life partner on a matrimonial site: you don't know what you have until you have had a cup of tea with them. This has been especially true for the Bolero. What seems on paper like a simple old fella who is just collecting his pensions, has actually turned out to be one of the most focused SUVs I have ever driven. Here are the 5 things I learnt about the Bolero while conducting the road test.
1. It's slow… but you won't know.
The Bolero in the BS6 era has been given a retune. This means the 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder diesel from the Power Plus is now the only one available, and makes 76PS power and 210Nm torque. These figures are equivalent to a compact hatchback like the Grand i10 Nios diesel. In fact, the Ford Figo makes 100PS power, and easily weighs half a tonne less. You know where this is going, right?
There I was with the VBox slapped onto the windscreen, slotting the tall shifter into 1st. Revving the engine to realise that there is a limiter set to 1500rpm. Then backing off and launching it the old school way by revving it up while slipping the clutch. The soft suspension tilts the SUV back as the momentum builds, like it's about to launch with an intent. Into second quickly and then into third, perfectly slotting in every time. I was so engaged in the mechanics of the run that the only time I realized the Bolero is slow was when I had to slot it into 4th to get to 100kmph!
Most 5-speed manuals will reach 100kmph quite easily in the third gear, but not the Bolero. It took 4 gears and 23.46 seconds, making it the slowest car we have tested on CarDekho so far. But, while driving it in the city, you won’t notice that it is a sloth. Mahindra has been clever with the gearing and because it is so short, the Bolero actually feels responsive in the city. The 210Nm of torque is all available from 1600rpm and this means an effortless city drive. Be it overtakes or just cruising around, the Bolero does it all. Clever boy.
2. Put your wheel in the air, like you just don't care.
Body roll for SUVs is not uncommon. And so is lifting the rear inner wheel while cornering for hot hatchbacks. However, the Bolero is a weird combination of the two. The front suspension is as soft as jelly. This result is a very cushy ride over bad and no roads. However, when you show the Bolero a corner enthusiastically, the body roll compresses the outer suspension so much that the inner wheel shoots up. The good part about this is that it looks cool on camera. Bad thing, this can be a receipt for disaster as you don't feel it happening from the driver seat, given you are handing on to dear life with the steering wheel. Anyway, it made for some fun visuals. Check out the road test video from 8:56. And while you are at it, a “like” for the effort please.
3. Batmobile who?
The Batmobile has seen many iterations through the years as the villains and Batman himself kept on evolving. However, the Bolero has stood the test of time. Each generation of drivers it caters to gets the same dependable formula. Ladder frame construction, a hard metal body, metal front bumper (only car in India with one), rear leaf spring suspension and a rear-wheel drive powertrain. Even the 15-inch steel rims get a massive 16cm sidewall cover to deal with potholes without damaging the tyres. All of this with pure mechanical linkages and no electronic nonsense. As a result the Bolero is what the Indian Batman should drive, in black of course.
The Mahindra Bolero has a few elements commonly found in all cars, but work differently here. And this does leave you asking yourself... Why? For example, the doors are locked when the lock-handle is pulled outside. Universally, most car locks when you push the handle inside. Then there is the mysterious case of two fuel filler caps. The one on the right is the actual fuel filler. The one on the left is not for symmetry, but has the Ad-blue filler and unlocks from the boot. Speaking of the boot, the rear window washer has a separate tank integrated in the boot gate, which has to be filled separately.
The passenger side door has a door handle placed right at the bottom. Now, some of our viewers think that is a bottle holder. But no, the bottle holder is different and it is there on the driver’s side. The one on the co-passenger side is in fact a door handle, but no one knows why it's there. Speaking of mysteries, I have another one. The big dial on the HVAC controls does nothing. We had 2 units and it did nothing in either of them. It neither changed the temperature nor regulated the air flow. Why is it there? Why?
5. I want one
The best part about the Bolero is that it is a bad-ass! It has a personality, and doesn't care what you think about it. It is a purpose built vehicle and suits its buyers just fine. It is not here to please you or impress you. The Bolero has a lot of quirks that you’d not accept in any other vehicle in this day and age. However, these elements - like the antenna, ORVMs, and so on, fit the Bolero just fine. The seatbelts and airbag, well not so much. You are either fit to own a Bolero and would love it, or you are not its type. Whichever it is, the Bolero is an oddly lovable, yet serious SUV with a lot of room for improvement. However, when you are in the driver's seat, you won't care about any of them. I want one.
These are the things we learnt about the Bolero while driving it a month back. Do watch the video review and share with us your stories of the Bolero in the comments. We are sure you have many!
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