Most of you won’t even consider buying the Mahindra Bolero. You’d think that it’s too agricultural and cumbersome to drive but it’s not without reason that the Bolero is the best sold SUV in India. The Bolero has evolved significantly since its launch in 2001 and Mahindra has recently given it another facelift and also made changes to the engine. Sure the Bolero can’t match the comfort or refinement of a sedan but neither can a sedan match the versatility of the Bolero. With a starting price of just Rs5, 19,046 ex-showrooms New Delhi, the Bolero comes very cheap and the point that we are trying to make is that the Bolero definitely makes a compelling case for itself provided you like to be escape city confides.

Design

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The exterior styling of the Bolero stays true to its predecessor’s image. The car looks ready to climb any terrain and the simple and robust exterior lines look good and give the Bolero a sense of purpose. After the facelift the front of the Bolero gets a new radiator grille with chrome inserts and newly designed bumpers. The front rectangular lights are new and they now come with incorporated headlights. The rear is a new spare wheel cover and a rear wiper with washer and except for the wheel arches you won’t find any curvy lines.

Interior

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The interior upgrades are more compared to the exteriors. The Bolero has a new digital instrument cluster, a wooden finish dashboard and new steering wheel which is a bit too large. The ergonomics are a concern and so is the quality of plastic which feels hard. The latest variant has a new gearshift knob with a more practical design. Unfortunately even with the new features the interiors still keeps that old look from the previous model.

Mahindra has tried to make all the 7 seats more supportive than the ones from the previous model but they still remain uncomfortable especially the second and third row sets. The legroom for the second row passengers is limited and the seats are too upright and thigh support isn’t good. There is an armrest in the middle row, space for bottles and magazines and other storage spaces around the cabin. The Chevrolet Tavera remains the most spacious SUV in this segment while the Tata Safari offers the best comfort. The Bolero is available in five trim levels and the top variant comes with central locking, keyless entry, voice messaging system, door open warning system and power windows.

Engines and Performance

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The Bolero is available with a direct injection (DI) engine which delivers 63PS Mahindra has now added common rail technology to this engine which makes it more efficient and refined and also increases the power rating to 97PS. Like on the Scorpio the Bolero is also available with Micro Hybrid technology which helps conserve fuel. The CRDe variant feels much better to drive than the DI engine and 100kmph is reached in 25.6 seconds. The ARAI claimed fuel efficiency of 15.96 is good and compared to the Tata Safari the Bolero’s CRDe engine is less powerful. While the pushed hard on the highway the motor starts to suffocate especially when it is fully loaded.

Ride

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Given its rough look the driving experience offered by the Bolero is not bad. The ride quality is impressive and the Bolero gets front independent suspension with coil spring & anti roll bar with ellipitical leaf springs at the rear. Thanks to the high ground clearance of 183mm, rough terrains won’t be a problem with the Bolero. Compared to the Tata Safari the handling of the Bolero is pretty ordinary and the body roll around corners is disconcerning.

Competitors

The Tata Safari offers high level of comfort, has a good ride quality and a powerful engine but there are reliability issues associated with it. The Chevrolet Tavera offers lots of interior space and it’s a very reliable car (150,000km power-train warranty) but the design is outdated and the engine is week.

Verdict

The new CRDe engine has made the Bolero more refined to drive. Power delivery is better though performance still needs a lot to be desired from. In rural areas the Bolero is a practical buy and even though the ride has improved, the Bolero isn’t the most comfortable utility vehicle to drive around town. Build quality still has flaws but the Bolero comes at a bargain when you compare it with the sedans and other utility vehicles and it also gives you the practicality of 7 seats.

Quotes

Autocar: “The poor ergonomics, a time-honored Bolero problem, persist. The front seats are flat, the steering is too big and too high and the pedals are painful to use after some time. It’s almost like Mahindra benchmarked tractors when finalizing the driving position. Move over to the rear and you are greeted by cramped seats which don’t offer much legroom or good under thigh support.”