So there we are at the Jolly Grant airport at Dehradun. While we definitely loved the place, most of us were still doubtful about the choice of place to test Mahindra’s latest commuter offering. But an hour’s drive from the airport to Narendra Nagar in the tranquil Himalayan foothills through some of the most lovely paved and not to mention twisty roads immediately laid our doubts to rest.
In fact once we reached the resort most of us were itching to get on the bikes and challenge those luscious curves. Coming to the bike, the Centuro was already unveiled with the entry-level Pantero earlier this year with only the latter getting launched. While the Pantero was an improved version of the lets just say ‘not very successful’ Stallio, the Centuro aims to be Mahindra’s flagship 110cc commuter offering not only reliable technology but a lot of firsts for its segment.
Setting our eyes on the bike the first time revealed that the bike is unchanged from the last time we saw it which is not really a bad thing barring some minor bits, of course. But coming from the Stallio/Pantero, the Centuro looks quite good in the flesh. The first thing that hits you is the quality of components. No cheap bits around and everything looks quite contemporary when compared to the competition. Mahindra has definitely learnt from its mistakes and it shows. There is a large trapezoidal headlight flanked by a small bikini fairing.
But what adds further flair is the small array of LED parking lights which look quite good when they come on. The tank features a neat design and even boasts a flush fuel filler cap, but the only problem here is that it looks a tad small behind that large headlight. A bigger tank would have definitely added more mass and as a result more visual appeal as well and not to mention make better use of the knee recesses as well.
The instrument console is neatly designed as well and offers a host of information. The speedo cum tachometer takes centre place flanked by tell-tale lights on either sides. The window on the left not only has a digital fuel gauge but also for the first time in this segment offers a Distance to Empty indicator which shows an approximate figure of how long the bike will run before the fuel runs out. While the whole console looks good, this is the only place where we found the quality of plastics a little lacking.
Adding Mahindra DNA to the Centuro are the gold ribs as Mahindra calls it. While this might have been Mahindra’s attempt at making the Centuro stand-out, I for one do not agree with it. I still prefer the bike with its ribs hidden than shown though I will give Mahindra some brownie points for integrating it so well. The rest of the bike flows nicely with a stylish grab-rail and a sharply designed tail light unit.
The entire components get an all black treatment with just the heat guard on the exhaust being chrome. The black silencer looks especially good and we just wish it was a little sportily angled compared to its current dead straight position. Overall, the Centuro isn’t a head turner but comes across as quite a decent looking bike.
Powering the Centuro is the same 106.7cc MCi-5 sloper from the Pantero pushing out 8.5PS @ 7500 rpm and a maximum torque of 8.5Nm @ 5500 rpm. Now Mahindra has considerably worked on the engine putting it through some gruelling conditions to make sure they get it right and it shows. Thumb the starter and the engine settles into a nice refined idle. Shift the constant mesh 4-speed gearbox into first and the Centuro gets off to a nice eager start.
The gearbox not only shifts positively but has some very good gear ratios as well. The only teeny problem here is that I found the engine a tad too peaky. Now this works well when you’re gunning it up and down the ghats, but owing to the peaky characteristics, drivability is slightly compromised in 4th gear.
That said, the Centuro feels quite relaxed at higher speeds. Refinement is extremely good and dare we say on par with its Japanese competition. It’s only when I tried to really rev it hard, close to its 8k rpm redline, that a few vibes trickled in through the foot-pegs and the handlebar.
While we did not get to ride the Centuro through the cut and thrust of city traffic, we had ample corners which highlighted the bike’s nimble handling nature. The double cradle steel chassis works well with the well set up suspension which not only handles bumps but also gave us enough confidence to scrape the foot-pegs through the corners. Mahindra has done a fantastic job with the brakes as well and the 130mm front rear drum set up performed admirably well through our ghat runs without showing signs of fading.
While we definitely wished for a disc, Mahindra says an option might be added later. Mahindra claims best-in-class acceleration and braking for the Centuro but we can only support this claim once we test the bike.
But what we did get to test was some the first-in-class features that the Centuro aims to attract customers with. For starters, there is the key. Now the first time you are handed over the keys, you might mistake them for car keys since what you get is actually a key-fob with a flip key with buttons on it. With a 96-bit secure access, even inserting a duplicate key will raise an alarm.
Yes you read right, the Centuro raises an alarm just like a car with a security system does. There is also the ‘Find-Me’ feature which makes a noise and illuminates the lights in case you have a hard time finding your bike in the parking lot. Now these may not sound like features that would make or break a buying decision, but definitely qualify as handy and cool features that one wouldn’t mind having.
Frankly I came away quite impressed with the Centuro. Mahindra has done its homework well and as a result come up with an extremely competent product that has the goods to stand out amongst the competition.
The only question that remains is how well Mahindra prices the Centuro, but knowing Mahindra’s knack for value-for-money products, we are sure Mahindra will manage to price the Centuro right. Decent looks, a promising engine and some very cool features means this time Mahindra definitely has a winner on its hands. Keep watching this space for more!
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