Mahindra Automotive North America (MANA) has brought out a new off-road utility vehicle, for the US market, named the Roxor. The carmaker is trying to leverage its image as a maker of agricultural and utility vehicles in the USA and will assemble the new model in Detroit. Besides being sold as a side by side or utility vehicle (classified as an off-highway vehicle in the US), Mahindra will also supply the vehicle to the US Federal postal service.
The new off-roader looks like the Mahindra Thar, from the grille to the wheel arches, which isn't surprising considering the Roxor is based on the Thar. Hence, the Roxor features a steel body on a boxed steel frame. It is powered by a 64hp, 2.5-litre four-cylinder diesel engine and a five-speed manual gearbox.
Meant to be a hardy vehicle in the mould of the Thar, the Roxor gets four-wheel drive as standard. As it falls in the off-highway category of motor vehicles in the US, top speed is limited to 72kph. Mahindra is trying to position the Roxor as a rival to other side by sides like the Polaris RZR ATV and the Kawasaki Mule Pro series. Interestingly, while others in the segment typically use smaller two- or even three-cylinder engines and all-round independent suspension, Mahindra have used a four-cylinder engine and simpler leaf-sprung rigid axles at the front and rear. Where the Roxor also differs is with the use of a manual transmission against auto ‘boxes in the others. Another interesting bit is the use of a five-slat grille on the Roxor, unlike the typical seven-slat grille of Mahindra’s current vehicles, also seen on Jeeps.
For the first six months, the two-seat Roxor will be offered with few customisation options. However, everything from the exterior and interior colours, safari seats and back seats and ride heights to the hard tops, winches and side enclosures will be offered with a high level of personalisation. In fact, buyers will be able to select from over 900 paint shades.
Mahindra will not retail the Roxor through a standard dealership network, but instead through a new powersports dealer network, which would help it tap into the powersports market. The model is the Indian carmakers first from the new assembly plant in southeast Michigan. There is no word on when the Roxor will launch officially in the US, though Mahindra is expected to share more details on that towards the end of this month. The model is priced at $15,499 (about Rs 10.1 lakh).
Mahindra have been assembling the American Willys in India since the 1940s and for long, used the Jeep name under licence, although the Indian carmaker no longer holds the rights to the Jeep brand at the launch of the Roxor, Mahindra did make a clear reference to their American ties.