Mahindra replaced its popular SUV, the Armada, in June 2000 with the Bolero and since then, it has been the best-selling utility vehicle in the Indian market. The next-generation of the SUV, which is expected to be launched sometime in 2016, has now been spotted undergoing trials on the Chennai-Tiruchirappalli highway, near Chennai. Internally called U301, the car was heavily camouflaged and by the looks of it, still seems to be in development phase.
Mahindra has been constantly upgrading the Bolero by incorporating a host of features and aesthetics and even launched an ABS-equipped special edition a few months ago. This time though, the Bolero will be given a comprehensive makeover, which includes a hydroformed ladder frame chassis. Hydroforming is a specialized type of die forming method which helps in producing stronger, lighter, and more rigid structures for vehicles. This new chassis will ensure that the car retains its renowned rugged characteristic while helping it lose some weight. It will also get a host of modern features and equipment to make it more modern and comfortable.
The new Bolero will ditch its old-school styling and utilitarian look for a softened design. The front grille of the test mule seemed to be influenced by the XUV500, while the headlamps were smoked. Tail lamps were similar to those in the Scorpio, but actual production model might adopt a different design.
While the current Bolero is powered by a 63bhp 2.5-litre diesel engine, the new version is expected to employ a tuned version of the m-Hawk unit. This turbocharged diesel engine is also used in the Scorpio in which it produces 120bhp and 290Nm of torque. As the rural market is where most of the Bolero SUVs sold in the country end up in, Mahindra will have to ensure that fuel efficiency isn’t affected by this increase in power.
Speculations suggest that the new Bolero might also be offered as a sub-four metre SUV which would replace the underperforming Quanto. By 2016, Mahindra will also launch the sub-four metre S101 SUV, which will share the segment with this shorter version of Bolero, but will be positioned in the higher end of the market.
The Bolero has been a consistent performer since its launch, though a major chunk of the sales come from the rural market. With this new Bolero, Mahindra will hope to find the right balance of styling and utility to ensure that urban buyers also find it an attractive option, while not losing out on the rural customers. The Bolero is offered in a host of body styles including an XL (extra long) version, pick-up truck as well as a soft-top off-roader. The regular Bolero goes up against other utility vehicles like Chevrolet Tavera (BSIII only), Tata Sumo and Tata Movus.