The Pantero marks the beginning of Mahindra 2Wheelers’ second innings in the country, with regards to the cash-cow commuter motorcycle segment. The first motorcycle that Mahindra 2Wheelers launched was the Stallio but the response was far below the company’s expectations. Digging deep into its newly created R&D centre in Pune, the company nearly went back to the drawing board with the Stallio and came up with this, the Pantero.
While the styling has largely remained the same, plastic quality has improved tremendously and now, unlike the Stallio, the Pantero gets surfaces with uniform texture. The paint quality too, is on par with the competition but some areas, like the panel gaps for instance, could have been better executed. That aside, the Pantero is nothing like the Stallio, thankfully. The engine is refined and the gearbox — once the Achilles heel of the Stallio — is slick and slots into the desired cog every single time. Selecting neutral, however, does need a heavy foot. The 107cc engine has been extensively redesigned and despite looking similar on the outside, it is about 1.2 kg lighter! Everything from the piston to the ignition system has been reworked or changed altogether.
The engineers behind the Pantero know India well, it seems, for the suspension has been tuned so it is soft enough to soak up the notorious potholes on our roads, but still taut enough to take on corners without difficulty. Also, it’s not hard to utilise the Pantero’s 8.4 bhp power output to its maximum, thanks to the grippy MRF tyres. The brakes, however, are very basic and a disc brake up front should have been available at least as an optional extra!
Mahindra claims that the Pantero sports the longest seat in its segment and from the looks of it, we don’t doubt that claim. There is, indeed, more than ample space for the rider and pillion, irrespective of their girth. Pretty good, that! With ex-showroom prices starting at Rs 44,690 in Chennai, the Pantero is aimed at the lower end of the commuter segment and it deserves to do well.
Mahindra will also soon launch the Centuro, which is powered by the same motor as the Pantero but will have better features and styling cues and will be positioned higher up in the segment. The company plans to retain its customers and the Mojo, a much awaited 300cc motorcycle that should be launched in the months to come, is a testament to that. It makes sense to have a motorcycle within your model line-up that your current customer can upgrade to when the time comes rather than moving on to another brand. But for that to happen, the Pantero better build a loyal following based on a reputation for value and reliability.