Bike Reviews Reviews

Mahindra Gusto: Ride Report

Mahindra Gusto: Ride Report
Parichay Malvankar
Written by Parichay Malvankar

The Mahindra Gusto has been launched in India at a price of Rs. 43,000 for the Dx variant and Rs. 47,000 for the Vx variant. (ex-showroom Delhi)

Mahindra Two Wheelers Limited (MTWL) is a group venture owned by Mahindra & Mahindra Limited (M&M). MTWL was founded in 2008 when M&M acruired the business assets of Kinetic Motor Company Limited. Also, the MTWL has tied up with Taiwan’s Sanyang Industry Company (SYM) for scooter development and Italy based Engines Engineering for research and product design. The company has a manufacturing facility at Pithampur in Madhya Pradesh and a R&D facility located at Chinchwad in Pune.

Posing in the early morning sunlight

Posing in the early morning sunlight

It’s been a long time Mahindra Two Wheelers has been trying to tap the India market. Continuing with acquired products such as the Duro and Flyte, it gave the company an easy access into the segment. But the downside was, the history of flaws was and unnecessary baggage which was carried along as well. Yes, the scooters were decent, but did not stand out amongst competition and looked rather old. The market had evolved and with foreign players investing big time to get a larger chunk of the market share, Mahindra lacked in their product offering to drive in sales. However, with the scooters, they still had the ball rolling. But in the motorcycle segment, things were bad. The Stallio was a dud right from day one. Plagued with niggles, it didn’t find any buyers. But the company was patient. Probably with certain data trickling down from the four-wheeler arm, MTWL got a good grip on what sells in markets unknown – features. That is when the Centuro came in. It was no game changer with respect to design or riding dynamics, but it packed a host of features which the commuter segment never saw, and it clicked. Now, moving forward with a positive sentiment, Mahindra is offering the Gusto scooter to the market. Continuing with their fetish for product names engine with an ‘O’, the Gusto is not just another name, but their branding philosophy. It belongs to the 110cc-class scooter segment and looks at par with the competition. For a scooter which Mahindra has bult grounds-up, it is quite commendable. The scooter does not lack in any aspect and can go head on with the competition. So what is the Gusto all about, let’s find out…

At the front, the Gusto gets a couple of highlights like the silver face plate with Mahindra logo and the silver aero-fins

At the front, the Gusto gets a couple of highlights like the silver face plate with Mahindra logo and the silver aero-fins

Design:
Look at the Gusto and it looks pretty much the same considering scooter standards. Comparing it to competition, it does it’s job of standing out with subtle styling cues which were not seen in the segment before. People would compare it directly to one major player which has become synonymous with the scooter segment, the Activa. But let us tell you this, the Activa is overrated. Yes, it does sell in huge numbers, but then, considering products from the competition in current times, it has nothing extraordinary to offer apart from the Honda badge. It all then comes down to brand preference. The Gusto on the other hand will remain underrated unless Mahindra pulls up their sleeves and goes all out in promoting their new scooter left, right and centre.

The white coloured variant had body decals (this will probably be a higher variant)

The white coloured variant had body decals (this will probably be a higher variant)

At the front, the Gusto has it’s front apron with a few styling highlights. It gets a silver faceplate at the bottom of the apron with the Mahindra logo on it. Above that, you have 3 small slits which mostly cover the horn. On either side, you get clean lens turn indicators which have a black plastic surround which add a nice contrast on colours apart from black. Next to the turn indicators, you have silver aero-fin like design element which is purely for form and no function. However, it does break the conventional design monotony of scooters and gives the Gusto that extra styling highlight at the front. Front mudguard size is proportionate and does not look out of sync when compared with the front apron size. In the centre, you bolt in the number plate and just above that you have the Mahindra stickering. Handlebar houses a slightly bulbous headlamp with a ‘V’ cut, which houses two LED pilot lamps which are a segment first. The halogen lamp does a decent job of illuminating the road with average light throw. Rear view mirrors are wide and although your elbows do intrude a little, you still have lot of room to check out what is happening behind. Also, we must mention, select variants will also get body decals.

Side profile clearly shows off the contoured seat at first. It is not of the split type, but the contours do their bit in defining the rider and pillion section. Panels below the handlebar and the floor are in black. Another noticeable feature on the Gusto are the 12″ wheels, which are largest in the segment. Not only do they lend a substantial look to the scooter, they also provide better stability and good front end weight & balance when on the move. Exhaust pipe is in all black and gets an ugly looking tube coming out at the tip. On the rear side panel, you have another Mahindra badge and the Gusto branding in chrome. Grab rail for the pillion rider is painted in silver.

Rear end gets the usual kit apart from a couple of highlights

Rear end gets the usual kit apart from a couple of highlights

At the back, the tail lamp is pretty ordinary with a stop lamp in the centre and clear lens turn indicators on either side. But just to add some more style quotient, Mahindra added a reflector strip above the tail lamp for times when your tail lamp isnn’t functioning well. Between this reflector and the tail lamp, you again have a Mahindra badge in chrome. That makes a total of 5 times where Mahindra is slapped on the scooter – the front faceplate, sticker below the headlamp, two logos on the rear side panels and the badge above the tail lamp. Below the tail lamp, you have a silver surround on a small reflector and this will also house the bulb to illuminate the number plate.

Instrumentation and ergonomics:
Instrument cluster on the Gusto gets a silver panel on top and a analogue speedometer along with an analogue odometer. It gets another small cut out for the turn indicators and the fuel gauge. We sincerely feel that Mahindra should have provided a digital speedo console just like they do on the Rodeo. Yes, the segment does not demand one, but giving one would have helped in better differentiation from arch rivals. Also, the silver panel is rather cheesy and a gloss black one would have looked slightly better than this. Switchgear is made up of decent quality plastic and they fall right in place.

Silver coloured instrument cluster looks plain Jane. Notice the nifty storage spot below.

Silver coloured instrument cluster looks plain Jane. Notice the nifty storage spot below.

For storage, Mahindra has provided a nifty spot which most would put to use, under the speedometer. It is an open rectangular storage spot which can accommodate oddities while getting on or off, or placing your parking tickets. But be careful, if you place you smartphone over here and ride away, a pothole will bring tears in your eyes as your phone will be easily thrown away. Apart from this, you have two hooks to hold on to your bags. One under the handlebar and one under the rider seat. An optional storage box is also available which can be bolted on under the handlebar.

Sit on the bike and the plush seat is comfortable at first go. It is slightly contoured towards the front end so will avoid slipping down when riding in wet conditions. The seats are reasonably wide and have enough room for two. They are contoured even at the centre to define the rider and pillion section. Pillion grab rail comes in handy and also, if your pillion wants to sit sideways, Mahindra has provided a big silver side step on which one can rest their feet.

Long and contoured seats are accommodating

Long and contoured seats are accommodating

We all know Mahindra likes to add a few extras on their products, which the mass market seems to love. And they have done the same with the Gusto as well. First comes the flip-key. What the people loved about the Centuro, has made it to the Gusto as well. The flip-key firstly adds a lot more to the style quotient. Also, it does not interfere or scratch your smartphones when in your pocket. It also has more features such as a LED torch, find me and guide me lamps. Another unique feature is the front kick. Don’t get all puzzled thinking that the kick is now placed in the rider footwell. The kick lever is simply inverted and is pointing towards the front. This helps the rider to sit on the bike while kick-starting the scooter on those cold mornings. Even the elderly will appreciate this because they won’t have the need to balance the bike or put it on main stand just to get it started.

Seat opens backwards, segment first. And has a locking mechanism which holds the seat in place.

Seat opens backwards, segment first. And has a locking mechanism which holds the seat in place.

What will be a big selling point for the Gusto is this… height adjustable seat. Yes, you read it right, height adjustable seat on a scooter. Working hard on customer feedback, Mahindra noticed that the scooter is for everyone in the family. Right from 16-18 year old kids to the grandparents, everyone uses it. But not everyone is of the same height. So to take care of this, Mahindra added a simple pull-up lever under the seat. Firstly, let us mention that the seat opens the opposite way, meaning it gets the hinges under the pillion side and not at the front. Also, it gets a locking mechanism which holds the seat in place once you open it so you need not worry about it falling on you while picking up stuff from the storage below. So, the height adjustment, all you have to do is pull up a small knob on the inside and pull the lever up or push it down. It is a very simple mechanism and every user can easily set their comfortable riding position within minutes. Fuel filler cap in placed below the seat and the storage under the seat is good for a half size helmet or a small size full-face helmet.

Engine, performance and handling:
The word name Gusto is derived from the term ‘gust’, which means a strong current of wind. The scooter is classified under the 110cc scooter market and it rivals the Honda Activa, Hero Maestro, TVS Jupiter and the likes. It is powered by a 109.6cc, air-cooled, four-stroke, single-cylinder petrol motor which churns out 8 BHP of power @ 7,500 RPM and 9 Nm of torque @ 5,500 RPM. Engine is mated to a CVT transmission. The Gusto’s power unit is an all-new, all-aluminium M-TEC block built grounds up by Mahindra. The engine features a stronger crankshaft and bearings, high inertia magneto, high energy HT coil and series regulator to deliver better power and fuel efficiency. With an ARAI approved mileage of 63 kmpl, practicality is taken care of as well, however, the real world figure will be a little lower than that. Fuel tank capacity is 6 litres.

Wring the throttle and the Gusto accelerates without any fuss. The CVT gearbox is crisp and acceleration is decent by segment standards. The engine isn’t to noisy either and the exhaust note is mild too. On start-up, there are no vibrations felt on the handlebar or on the rider seat. NVH levels are pretty up to the mark. On the move, the Gusto packs good mid-range punch and the scooter is eager to move faster with throttle input. Power delivery tapers off at 85 kmph and we don’t think it will make any further progress. And we do not promote going faster either, it is a 110cc class scooter and 85 kmph for a top whack isn’t bad.

Telescopic front suspension and 12" wheels

Telescopic front suspension and 12″ wheels

Suspension setup coupled with the large 12″ wheels ensures good ride and handling. The suspension soaks up the bumps well and even when on speeds, undulated roads won’t leave you unsettled. The 12″ wheels result in better ground clearance and moving over big speed breakers with two on board won’t result in scraping. Also, the 12″ wheels probably add better weight at the front end, hence, it does not feel light or bobbing around when moving over bad patches. This is a good thing because when a scooter is 90% of the times rear heavy, the front end tends to be loose under tricky conditions, but the weight is well balanced here. Credit for this must also be given to the front telescopic fork. MRF Zappers provide good grip on different road surfaces. The scooter is light to flick around and changing directions won’t be an issue.

Braking performance is adequate with 130mm drum brakes at the front and back. We especially loved the front bite which was much better when we compare the feel of certain budget motorcycles with a poor front disc brake. Mahindra isn’t offering alloy wheels or a disc brake setup at the front at the moment. But if all goes well with the Gusto, we are sure a facelift or a top of the line variant will definitely make it to the market. We would have appreciated if Mahindra did a little extra homework and added combi-brakes on the Gusto. At least as an option. Offering a safety feature is nothing wrong. And when you don’t shy away from adding LEDs, flip-keys, something as simple as a combi-brake can also make or break a deal for those who prefer function over form.

Mahindra has built the Gusto grounds-up, and is quite a commendable job

Mahindra has built the Gusto grounds-up, and is quite a commendable job

So, does the Gusto make a good value proposition? Definitely. The scooter packs decent punch compared to competition, has unique features such as the flip-key, seat height adjustment, LED pilot lamps etc. which are a good thing to have. Also, it has good room for taller occupants riding it and the ride and handling is at par with the segment, probably slightly better with a well weighted front end. Once you have a potential customer in the showroom, it won’t be too hard selling the Gusto. The hard part is getting a customer to the showrooms. Mahindra really needs to work hard on their dealer network and reach out to a wider audience. Also, they need to ditch their region specific TVCs which kind of turn-off a few customers who are not from the region. MTWL has a competent product in the Gusto, it just needs to strike it out right, and loud.

Click here to check out the Mahindra Gusto photo gallery.