Mahindra is on the way up. And that’s quite literally with their aerospace program now in place. Mahindra has also been concentrating on their defence program and the Axe is an all-terrain attack vehicle that has been designed and built by Mahindra Defence Systems (MDS). MDS is a subsidiary of Mahindra and Mahindra that caters to the needs of armed forces not only of India but across the globe. The Axe was designed and made as an all-terrain vehicle that is able to travel almost anywhere. The Axe prototype was given for selection to the Indian Army and went on a trial but the prototype didn’t receive the green light. Mahindra also has no plans to get the Axe into production and though the vehicle isn’t under army scrutiny anymore, the actual cost of manufacturing is top secret.
The Axe has huge dimensions with 1.98 metres in height and a massive 350mm ground clearance. The attack vehicle has tremendous street presence and comes with a special high lift jack that slots into two holes on either side of the running board. The Axe name suits the styling and defines its angular shape but make no mistake, this is by no means a handsome vehicle but one that is built to a purpose. The finish is understandably rough but the many cuts and angles give it a pleasing look. The interiors of the Axe remind us that this is a military vehicle and the Axe is so wide that it could easily seat four people in the rear.
Running the show is a 5-cylinder, 2.7-litre inline diesel engine made by Mercedes. This is the same engine that is used by Ssangyong Motors and this common-rail diesel unit conforms to Euro 4 conventions. The 5 cylinder motor produces 175PS with a maximum torque of 350Nm. Acceleration is strong and the torque gives it the grunt to climb almost 70-degree of inclines. Matched to the engine is a five-speed automatic gearbox also from Mercedes.
The Axe is built on a platform that is derived from existing Mahindra models and according to Khutub A Hai, CEO, Mahindra Defence Systems ‘The Axe was designed with help from an overseas designer.’ Each of the wheels are sprung independently and each wheel is hung by heavy duty racing suspension. The Axe rides on Bilstein coilover gas compressed shock absorbers that suspend the massive 305/70 R16 off-road tyres between a double wishbone link. There is a 3-channel ABS unit that prevents wheel lock-up during hard braking and the Axe is built to withstand some of the most extreme environments. The backbone is its spaceframe chassis with a unique tubular framework made of steel that provides strength but yet is lightweight. On to the spaceframe are welded thick aluminium and steel plates and the panelling extends to the underbelly as well. Another unique aspect of the Axe is that it can be converted from a fully enclosed vehicle to an open type dune buggy and it does have low range to help it climb up steep gradients though the lack of a differential lock would limit its abilities. Ride is impressive and the suspension gives it a good handling character.
The Axe did undergo a complete inspection by the Indian Army and though the automotive division at Mahindra isn’t considering the Axe for a commercial run, the vehicle does demonstrate the engineering advancements made by Mahindra. The Axe’s USP with its battlefield mobility and with its high ground clearance and all-wheel independent suspension can perform over any terrain. It is made for a rough ride and can be up-armoured to protect against 7.62mm ammunition. The flexible seating configuration allows for easy adaptability and it can be fitted for a machine gun, a command and control suite with communications and power supply and ammunition and water.