Inigo S. Roces / Inigo S. Roces | October 20, 2016 07:25
For civilian use also?
No doubt, many are already familiar with the Mahindra Enforcer – the official PNP Police Patrol vehicle that is already roaming many of the farthest reaches of the country. Indeed, it has had a rather controversial debut, yet a year on and the vehicle is beginning to be a familiar sight.
Besides the police patrol variant that most are already aware of, the Enforcer is also offered as a civilian vehicle. As such, we test the civilian version to see if what satisfies the needs of country’s police force may also please more demanding paying customers.
First offered domestically in its homeland, India, as the Bolero, it has been widely used by that country’s military and police force for various duties: practically India’s homegrown Humvee. The Enforcer has zero pretensions. The simple, boxy, and rugged vehicle, built on a truck chassis, presents itself as a utilitarian vehicle and doesn’t dare pretend to be anything else. As such, there’s little in the way of styling with its boxy shape and near vertical cabin.
Simple halogen headlamps sit on opposite sides of the vertical grille. A clamshell hood resides over it, leading to the near-vertical windscreen. The double cab ends abruptly with a vertical wall, immediately transitioning to the perfectly box-shaped truck bed. Hoops line the railings of the bed while latches on opposite ends secure the tailgate.
In spite of the aged design, the vehicle’s boxy form pays dividends when it comes to interior space. There’s no other pickup that can rival the headroom of the Mahindra. A simple, cliff-face dashboard awaits inside. On the driver’s side is a simple speedometer with an inset digital odometer. Fuel and temperature gauges flanking it. The wheel is unfortunately fixed, offering no adjustment, but is at least power assisted. The seats at least move fore and aft, and recline.
The center console is where controls for all four power windows are mounted. Beside it are the simple climate controls for the very cold air conditioning. There’s even a heater switch. There’s also a 12V power outlet to recharge gadgets. Entertainment is provided by a single DIN stereo head unit, although audio seems to be hooked up to only one central speaker. Nonetheless, it does have a AUX jack, so it’s already more high-tech than an iPhone 7. Over in the passenger side is a grab bar and a lockable glove box.
Behind, the rear bench seat is positioned higher than the front to give passengers a view of the road ahead. There may not be much legroom, but the high-mount seats ensure no cramps on long drives. There may not be cupholders or a center storage box, yet large areas beneath the seat provide plenty of storage space.
In spite of its high ground clearance, the Enforcer is easy to hop into thanks to the step board and doors mounted on hinges, allowing them to open up to nearly 90 degrees. There’s no doorstop, just a strap, much like a conventional Land Rover Defender.
Propelling this forward is a direct injection 2.5-liter 4-cylinder diesel. It produces 100hp and 240Nm of torque. This is paired with a 5-speed manual that connects to a part time four-wheel drive system. The manual stick shift is quite a tall stalk with long gear throws. The 4WD stalk however is quite short, requiring you to reach down a bit to shift it into 4H or 4L.
The Enforcer is held aloft by independent front suspension and a semi floating rigid axle leaf spring system in the rear. It’s brought to a stop with discs in front and drum brakes on the rear. The handbrake is conventional lever type, and also requires a bit of a reach. Connecting the vehicle to the road is a set of 15 inch wheels on fat 235 75 series tires.
Naturally, the Enforcer doesn’t offer much sophistication in the drive. The ride is relatively harsh, and its turning circle is a bit on the large side. Still, the tall cabin and large windows provide very good visibility on all sides. It’s also easy to squeeze through traffic being a narrow vehicle.
In spite of the rather simple engine, there’s plenty of torque on the low end to middle of the power band. The gearing is short, allowing it to still quickly accelerate up to 60 km/h and cruise at low revs. The result is fuel economy in the high 12-14 km/L in the city even in heavy traffic. It can even go up to 16 km/L in the highway at an average speed of 80 km/h. This fuel economy coupled with a large 56 liter tank also provides some very good range.
It’s in more challenging terrain and inclement whether where the vehicle really shines. The sheer torque from the engine will allow it to crawl along steep inclines without worry of stalling. The ride may be rough, but there’s little the tall and thick tires and steep approach angles can’t roll over. Its high clearance and locomotive power allow you to power through high floods with little worry.
Perhaps the last surprising benefit is being mistaken for a police quite often, with vehicles quickly giving way when they see you in their mirrors.
All told, the Enforcer may not be the most comfortable utility vehicle around, yet there’s little doubt about its durability. Hard plastic and tough steel panelling ensure the vehicle can take quite a beating. The simple controls also ensure that anyone can operate it easily, even in harsh terrain. Besides this double cab 4x4, the Enforcer is also offered in a single cab 4x4 as well as 4x2 variants.
We find it difficult to recommend to the private consumer, being offered only in a manual and with just the bare minimum of creature comforts. Though we have no doubts it will do well as a fleet or service vehicle ideal for farms, construction or delivery work. It’s a truly tough, value for money 4x4 that can keep on chugging along with little maintenance.