At OVERDRIVE we test cars nonstop. And most of the time you can see us at a certain petrol pump near a certain expressway, sipping coffee and discussing how cars behave on the road. Most of the guys who work at this certain petrol pump are very familiar with our faces. We too know them pretty well considering how often we go there. So when we pulled into said petrol bunk in a Mahindra Genio with yellow plates, we were a bit taken aback when we did not get the same treatment we usually get. And when we rolled our windows and stuck our heads out, we were greeted by a "Sir! Aap?" and a puzzled expression. This was how the Genio's test began.
The Genio is Mahindra's effort to increase its dominant share in the pickup segment. If the nearly identical 1.2 tonne payload capacity does not say this, the list of features surely will. The Genio is a very handsome looking pickup. The first time I saw one on the road, it was barrelling down the hill at me in Shimla. Truth be told, I almost leaked some body fluids that time (almost). So I know for a fact that when Mahindra claims the Genio's front end looks intimidating, they are not kidding. The clear lens head lamps, the chicken mesh grille, the kinked turn indicators and sporty bumpers come together in one good looking package. In the cosmetics department, that's all I have to say about the Genio, because after the front half of the vehicle, it is just a plain sheet metal loading bay. Look at the vehicle from the side and you realize that at almost 5.3 metres, the Genio is really, really long. Anyone (especially people not used to large vehicles such as this) attempting U-turns on highways should bear in mind that more likely than not, your rear end is going to be sticking out and in the way of oncoming traffic.
Once you step inside the cabin, you have to step out again instantly. Not because there's a snake inside, but to make sure that you're in a Genio and not a Xylo. The dash in the Genio is borrowed from the Xylo. The only difference being that in our test car the AC vents and all knobs had been boarded up with bits of plastic. The steering wheel and gear lever are from the Xylo as well. The instrument cluster layout too is similar but instead of the same instrumentation, there is only a speedo, fuel gauge and temperature indicator. The wing mirrors are not internally adjustable though. Maybe I'm forgetting this is a commercial vehicle after all. The seats offer good support but lack a head rest and height adjustment. The beige colour theme looks better than the grey or black that seems to be a mark of commercial vehicles these days.
The Genio runs a 2489cc inline 4-cylinder mDI CRDe engine that churns out 76PS of power and 220Nm of torque with all that torque spread between 1400 and 2200rpm. This is 40Nm more than its closest competition, the 207DI. In our test we saw a top speed of 138kmph on the speedo with the actual speed being 127kmph. I must say that this is way more than the 120kmph claimed by the manufacturer. 100 klicks came in at 26.94 seconds in very wet conditions. The power is delivered via a 5-speed manual transmission which Mahindra calls NGT 520 R V1.
Mahindra uses independent front suspension and rear leaf springs on the Genio.The ride quality, Mahindra claims, enhances ride comfort. But this being a load carrier, it is designed to carry heavy loads and typically softens once fully loaded. Unladen, the ride is rather stiff. It runs ventilated discs in front with drums at the rear. They bring the vehicle to a stop from 60kmph in 24.22m within 3.25 seconds. But it needs to be said that under hard braking the Genio feels very unstable, again something that gets sorted once it is fully loaded.
The manufacturer offers the Genio in single cab and double cab variants. The single cab is bare basic with only adjustable steering as a plus point. The double cab variant meanwhile is, for lack of a better word, quite fancy. It comes loaded with goodies such as aircon, a 2-DIN music system with CD changer and USB connectivity and car like seating. Pretty good value for money we feel. The Genio can only be registered with yellow plates in Maharashtra and while going to print Mumbai prices were not yet available. The single cab is priced at ` 4.99 lakh (ex showroom Navi Mumbai) for the BS3 version. The double cab is priced at ` 5.46 lakh for the base version and ` 5.95 lakh for the high end VX (both ex-showroom Karnataka). With so much going for it, we feel that the double cab VX is clearly the cream of the lot. So now whenever you need a vehicle to lug stuff to your farm or to add to your fleet of CVs, you know where to go. As for the competition, the Genio says only one thing - bring it on!