A select bunch of scribes from the online media were invited by Mahindra Two Wheelers to Himachal Pradesh to have an experience of their third motorcycle offering – the Mahindra Centuro. Riding on the four lane Himalayan Expressway- one of the best road surfaces you would find in the country with single lane hill climbing twisties to add in a dash of cornering fun- the Mahindra Centuro was put to extreme paces for its capacity.
But before the ride began, Mr. Sarosh Shetty- Vice President (Marketing) of Mahindra Two Wheelers briefed us at an interactive business session. Putting forth the philosophy that went into creating the Mahindra Centuro, differences between the Centuro and the Pantero were highlighted. Keeping the technical aspects in mind, we hopped into the cable car crossing the deep valley towards the Timber Trails Resort where a bunch of brand new Centuros were awaiting their riders.
A short session by the Mahindra Engineering team demonstrated the features of the new Centuro in detail. All this made us even more eager to ride the Centuro and with the gorgeous roads set up for the test, it was time to put rubber down to the tarmac. So how good is the Mahindra Centuro? Or is it just a cosmetically enhanced variant of the Pantero? And the most vital question- does it have what it takes to take on the established ‘H’eavyweights? We have all the answers. Read on!
DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY
The Mahindra Centuro is a good looking motorcycle for its segment. Before one could sweep the eyes across the length of the design, the thing that grabs the attention first is a set of Mojo inspired golden ribs. It was stated that the ribs are a differentiating point adding the glamour quotient to the motorcycle, but we feel the perception would differ from person to person. And though it doesn’t look out of place, we would have rather liked it in a brushed aluminium finish.
Housing a larger reflector and a bright set of 3 LED pilots on each side, the headlight unit looks appealing and incorporates a neat looking windscreen. In fact the front three quarter view of the Centuro reminds of the TVS Flame – to be taken as a compliment as the Flame was one tidy looking motorcycle. A set of clear lens multi reflector blinkers add to the modern appeal of the Centuro. The fuel tank has been retained from the Pantero and the rubber spine has (thankfully) been done away with.
The Mahindra logo slanted across with the decals on the knee recesses add to the Centuro’s appeal. The centre panel flaunting the MCi-5 label and wavy graphics continue the upswept design concluding its journey at the attractive 15 LED tail light. The five spoke alloy wheels and the exhaust have been carried over from the Pantero, the rear upswept seat and the chunky grab rail however are different in design. The belly pan on the top end variant looks overdone and the shade look more of a nail-polish finish than that of the motorcycle. A lengthier rear mud-flap would save the pillion’s back from modern art paintings during the monsoon season.
Talking of build quality, the Centuro is a well put together motorcycle. The shade is well finished throughout except the flashy looking belly pan. We were constantly tapping hard on the plastic surfaces all over and it was evident enough to conclude the quality of plastics and the panel fittings- both of which seemed a job well done. There were no signs of vibes and noise from the plastics even when the bike was being taken to its limit.
The gaps between panels are minimal and uniform with the exception of the dashboard plastics where the EVA foam inserts were easily visible. As seen on the Pantero, the handlebar grips on the Centuro are arguably the best you could find on any Indian motorcycle – be it commuter or a premium bike. The switchgear though ergonomic in operation is above average in fit and finish. Apart from the minor lack of finishing in a couple of areas, overall the Centuro scores well on most parameters for its segment.
During the interactive business session, the segment-first features which M2W refers to as “WOW” were presented on screen.
Starting with the digital dashboard though also found on other motorcycles comes with a “Distance to empty” (DTE) feature which analyses the fuel consumption at every 100ml and the prospective distance that could be covered in the remaining amount of fuel. Also a service reminder has been embedded into the dash.
The key is now a flip-type similar to that of cars and is 96 bit encrypted that would render a theft attempt useless. The mechanism is mated to an engine immobilizer function that disables the engine from cranking. If that was not all, an in-built anti-theft alarm gets activated and buzzes for a full 2 minutes, audible enough to hear from a distance. In fact we got to see the feature when accidentally one of the riders took an extra key and the M2W staff had a hard time to start the bike with a different key. The bike could only be started when the actual key was found. The Centuro would be provided with 2 keys and in a worst case scenario where both keys are lost, one could procure a duplicate key from the M2W Service by stating the serial number of the motorcycle.
Another feature is the ‘find-me-lamps’ which helps you locate your bike in a large parking lot during the night or even daytime. As in cars, a dedicated button on the flip key activates a twin beep sound along with turning on the blinkers, pilot and tail lamp.
Also the Centuro features “Guide Lamps” or popularly known as “Drive-me-home” lights (as in cars) that keeps the Pilot and tail lamps for ten seconds even after you pull out the key. A helpful feature for people in rural areas. Also a small LED torch has been built in the flip key to locate the keyhole of your door or hunt for little things that might have fallen off in the dark.
Now all those features have been hitherto unheard of in an Indian commuter motorcycle. Neat job with the features there, Mahindra!
Engine and gearbox
Though the MCi5 engine (Micro Chip Ignited 5-Curve Ignition) on the Centuro is similar to the Pantero, it has been tweaked for better performance and mileage. The Centuro now claims a 0-60 kph dash in 8.85 seconds and fuel efficiency at 85.4 kpl compared to 79.4 kpl on the Pantero. Also M2W claims the figures stated on the Centuro to be highest in its category. The Centuro features a patented lubrication system where it uses a multi-jet mechanism that aids in retaining required levels of lubrication to the camshaft and other cycle parts and doesn’t let the complete oil flow down to the sump even when the motorcycle is not in use.
The start button instantly cranks the engine to life and feels refined doing moderate speeds in all gears. Whack the throttle and it starts to show its hard work. The rev happy engine gets audible at higher speeds but it doesn’t translate to unpleasant vibes at the pegs or the handlebars. Producing peak power of 8.5 ps @ 7500 rpm with torque rated at 8.5 nm @ 5500 rpm, the rev-limiter sneaks in at 8800 rpm. We pushed the Centuro hitting the rev-limiter in every gear and the following are the top speeds the Centuro managed to hit:
- 1st gear- 30 kph
- 2nd gear- 58 kph
- 3rd gear- 72 kph
- In 4th gear the Centuro hit a top speed of 92 kph on a flat straight though even managing 94 kph but on a downslope.
From the commuting point of view, an economical riding speed of 60 kph comes up at 5900 rpm in top gear.
Coming to the gearbox, the first gear as is the case with most bikes is on the shorter side, the second gear is slightly taller with the third being in close ratio with the second and the fourth being widely spaced and on the taller side. The bike was struggling to climb up the moderate mountains slopes in fourth gear despite gathering enough momentum before hitting the incline. The second and third gear were the best for the job. Operation-wise, the gearbox turns out to be the only and biggest disappointment on the Centuro. While it doesn’t take much effort to slot the cogs, the shift action is accompanied by a pronounced clunk. If there is an area that M2W would need to improve on the Centuro, it would be the gearbox. Also working on the refinement of the engine would place it alongside the biggies in the trade.
Handling and ride quality
The Mahindra Centuro absolutely delights on the handling front. With a weight distribution ratio of 46 (front) and 54 (rear), the Centuro managed to amaze us with its handling prowess and felt lighter than it actually is. At no point does it budge from its decided line of cornering. It was a treat pushing it around the corners and going faster after every turn. We ended up doing 5 extra laps up and down the hills just for that fun factor.
The 2.75 x 18 at the front and 3.00 x 18 MRF Zapper V at the rear maintain their bite into the tarmac extremely well during cornering and under hard braking as well. Delighted by the handling trait, we couldn’t help but speak to the M2W Engineering team considering the Centuro felt very different to the experience we had riding the Pantero last time. We were told that though the frame architecture is similar to that of the Pantero, the rake offset has been tweaked in the Centuro for added stability and they have been extensively testing the Centuro on tracks including the Kari Motor Speedway.
As was the case with the Pantero, the Centuro is an extremely comfortable motorcycle to ride. With riding ergonomics set just right for a commuter, at no point of the ride did we feel the need to make any seating adjustments on the well padded seat. The front suspension is on the softer side and eats away undulations with relative ease.
Though we didn’t get many bad roads to encounter, but the speed breakers along the way served as a useful tool for the test. The 5 step coil spring rear suspension is set on the slightly stiffer side, but in a country like ours where rear space on commuter bikes are either occupied by a pillion or load- the rear suspension should manage to provide the right travel without bottoming out.
With 130mm drums at both front and the rear, the braking on the Centuro is something that can be referred to as spongy and lacks the required bite. We did try to ride another bike from the batch just in case the present bike had braking issues, but it felt no different. Braking at moderate speeds is not much of an issue, but shedding speeds at the higher level does give you a creepy feel and you eventually end up overshooting your stopping spot. This is another crucial area where M2W should concentrate on improving. We were told that M2W would soon be coming out with a disc brake variant too.
We would reiterate the lines we stated during our Pantero Review. The blokes at Mahindra Two Wheelers deserve a huge appreciation considering their relative newness to the world of motorcycles. The Pantero was a huge leap compared to the earlier Stallio offering and with the Centuro, M2W have scaled another step in their endeavour. A competitive offering with features never seen on motorcycles of its segment, the Centuro should most definitely command attention of a prospective buyer in its segment.
With some already established brands in the cut-throat commuter segment, it would be tough for the feature laden Centuro to make a mark if the pricing is set too close to the competition. Also, Mahindra Two Wheelers need to work on widening their service and dealership network which M2W stated that they are working hard at. M2W will have to wisely price the Centuro at the point where ignorance of the prospective customer should cost no less than a regret of having missed a feature laden VFM motorcycle. We were told that the pricing of the Centuro slated to be released during the national launch at Jaipur on the 1st and 2nd of July 2013 would come as surprise to many. Icing on the cake would be a 5 year warranty.
To conclude, the Mahindra Centuro looks an extremely capable motorcycle both on paper and the road too. The areas that need improvement should be considered as a relatively easy task for M2W considering the progress they have been making. The Centuro rightfully deserves an aggressive marketing campaign and the right pricing to catch the fancy of buyers.
We look forward to the surprise on the 1st of July 2013.
MAHINDRA CENTURO TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
|Engine||106.7 cc Single Cylinder, 4-stroke, Air cooled, MCI-5 engine|
|Bore X Stroke||52.4 X 49.5 mm|
|Power||8.5 PS @ 7500 rpm|
|Torque||8.5 Nm @ 5500 rpm|
|Ignition||Electric Start / Kick Start|
|Chassis||Double cradle tubular steel|
|Suspension: Front/ rear||Telescopic , Coil spring / Coiled 5-step adjustable|
|Brake: Front/ rear||130mm Drum / 130mm Drum|
|Tyre Size: Front/rear||2.75” x 18” / 3.0” x 18”|
|Headlamp||12 V 35W/35W Halogen|
|Tail lamp||LED Type|
|Speedometer||Digital / Analog|
|Dry Weight||111 kg|
|Wheel Base||1265 mm|
|Ground Clearance||173 mm|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||12.7 liters|
|Top speed||92 kph (speedometer reading)|
|Mileage||85.4 kpl (claimed under ARAI tests)|