Going back to basics with the Enforcer

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In Photo: Boxy and old-school-looking, yet a certified head-turner.

Story & photos by Randy S. Peregrino

WITH all the innovations taking place in the automotive industry, the Indian car manufacturer Mahindra is still in the business of producing rugged and basic utility vehicles.

The basic interior layout takes you back in time.

One of their creations is the Enforcer model, which is also known globally as the Bolero. Here, the country’s exclusive distributor Asianbrands Motors Corp. even brought in numerous frame configurations to target specific purposes. In fact, the ‘Transporter’ variant is currently one of the Philippine National Police’s newest additions to its official fleet. Among the various body designs is the ‘Floodbuster’ Double Cab 4X4 edition pickup—built to withstand floods in the Metro during monsoon season. Moreover, its off-roading capabilities also makes it a good carrier to traverse the roads less travelled.

One look and you’ll know that the Enforcer’s frame design is all that robust, boxy and old school-inspired. It exudes that classic separated square halogen headlamps and pronounced rectangular front grille, along with indestructible steel bumpers. While the Enforcer is really one tough pickup, considering the ample metal parts all over, there are also several matte-black plastic finishes.

NEF TCI 2.5 liter, fourcylinder, turbo-diesel motor with front-mounted intercooler.

Together with the 15-inch steel clad in aluminum covers, those additional trims also accentuate and complement the rugged posture. Overall, it’s an absolute head-turner, thanks to several distinct attributes from legendary off-roaders. For one, the protuberant doors with visible hinges is very much Rubicon-like.

Then comes the boxy frame with open rear cargo bed garnished with wheel-flare extensions, snorkel and roll bars—somewhat evocative to that mean G-class truck character.

Inside is where you’ll realize more of the Enforcer’s old school characteristics. It’s like your own time capsule showcasing how utility vehicle’s cabin looks and feels like decades ago.  Everything is basic from the simplified dashboard layout to the matching fabric materials on both seats and door sidings. You’ll find none of those electronic controls, except for the power window and door locks. The power-assisted helm is fixed in a relatively forward-tilted position. What you’ll see in the instrument panel are just three analog meters for speed, fuel level and engine temperature, among other light indicators. The absence of a center console necessitates the stick shift to be longer with rubber booting. At least, it makes moving between seats quite easily. Even the 4WD transfer case operation is manual through a separate stick situated just beside the gearbox shifter. But accessing is impossible while driving, as you need to reach further down to operate it. Space-wise, however, you’ll appreciate the tall headroom even if you’re seated at the rear bench. Also, the single-din audio unit has a universal auxiliary terminal to play your music from smartphones.

The rear end is more retro-inspired.

Propelling the Enforcer is a NEF-TCI 2.5 liter, four-cylinder, turbodiesel motor with front-mounted intercooler. It generates 100 hp at 3,800 rpm with maximum torque of 240 N-m at 1,800rpm. Take note that the coupled five-speed manual gearbox is fitted with a ‘Borg Warner’ 4WD manual transfer case. That provides a plus factor coming from a drivetrain equipped with a component produced by a well-known aftermarket provider. Crank that engine and you’ll hear that typical clanking noise from a retro-diesel-fed engines.

Those figures may be modest, but you’ll be surprised how sufficient the torque is from the low end. Push it further toward midrange and you’ll start to feel more boost. Gear ratios are also good. High gears managed to handle relatively lower speeds, which enable less downshifting, except whenever engine braking is necessary.

Driving this truck is a love-hate kind of relationship. It entails a broader perspective in order to understand what it could offer, rather than lamenting on the lacking elements.  Because for one, you’ll definitely won’t get that pleasure of comfort when you drive it around the city. Let alone its stiff and underslung leaf-sprung rear suspension. But take it to a remote area with shallow river beds, uneven and rocky terrains then, you’ll begin to understand that these dwellings are its ideal playground.

The lack of electronic controls and sensors entails more of your driving skills and involvement toward any situations ahead. Just like how the engine vibrations and grunts eventually becomes the cue for shifting gears. Likewise, the harshness from rough surfaces conveys your pacing and maneuvering adjustments. And when you finally engaged the four-wheel high setting, total control comes your way from additional tire tractions. The low setting, on the other hand, provides an impressive crawling abilities even on shallow waters with slippery nuggets underneath. Gear after gear, even at low speeds, it keeps the drivetrain going effortlessly and smoothly. Don’t worry if the stopping system is not equipped with anti-lock braking system (ABS) because it does bits well when invoked.

The Enforcer Double Cab 4X4 ‘Floodbuster’ is not for everyone to appreciate. Only those who understands and willing to engage themselves more into taking charge of their machines would be willing to drive one. For a price of P875, 000, you already got yourself an affordable, tough, reliable, macho-looking workhorse and unpretentious off-roader ready to tackle any challenging conditions ahead.

Image Credits: Randy S. Peregrino

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Randy is our contributing writer for motoring and journey sections. If he is not doing test drives for monthly feature stories, he finds delight in covering travel events once in a while. His passion for cars goes beyond appreciation and knowledge as he takes pleasure in fixing stuff all by himself - as long as he have the right tools. Previously, he led teams of associates in the BPO industry from several offshore companies for almost a decade. He is a proud Thomasian.