Mahindra Gusto: Full Road Test Review

  • Oct 01, 2014

When Mahindra decided to jump into the bandwagon of two-wheelers by acquiring Kinetic Automobiles, they generated a fair amount of anticipation. While there have been a mixed bag of responses to Mahindra’s two-wheelers thus far, in 2013, Mahindra finally saw the much-needed ray of hope and excellence in the face of Centuro. This all-new motorcycle not only amplified the number of footsteps in Mahindra showroom, but also generated a sense of expectancy from the future products to be rolled out from them.


Keeping up the spirit, Mahindra invited us in Jodhpur to make us feel an all new wave of vehemence in their new scooter – the Mahindra Gusto. Amidst the scenario depicting the Activas, Maestros and Jupiters selling like hot cakes, can the Gusto repeat a “Centuro” for Mahindra in the scooter segment? We took it for a joy ride to find its real essence.


When we head into the past and try to faze out the hazy clouds over previous Mahindra scooters, we realize that although the scooters had fresh approach in their design, but somehow they were unable to stand apart in the crowd. But when it comes to the Gusto, as far as my opinion is concerned, the case is different – the scooter's overall silhouette is not too different than that of scooters by other manufacturers available presently, but has some really striking elements which can make the Gusto an easily recognizable scooter in a parking lot.



Take the scooter's front apron for instance, which has characteristic lines stretching from the upwards all the way down to the silver-colored rectangular strip, which houses the Mahindra logo, giving it a Y-shaped bulgy appearance. But the one element which makes the Gusto look very distinctive is the silver-finished front grille. Besides these two grille elements, on both the sides are placed trapezoidal clear lens turn indicators, which are surrounded by black plastic cladding. The front fender is large and sharply designed, which makes the front view appear taller than it actually is.



The headlamp is mounted on the handlebar, and is crisply designed with a V-shaped appearance with in-built pilot lamps on either ends. The headlamp, though not revolutionary designed, looks much better than the conventionally styled trapezoidal units found in other scooters. The side profile is characterized by two crisp lines meeting at a point, giving it a substantial stance. The side body panels also house the Mahindra logo and 'Gusto' emblem in 3-D fashion. The footrests are rubber padded and are easy to flip out, without much hassle. Mahindra has given luggage hooks, each below the instrument cluster and the seat, to mount baggage, and are placed conveniently.



Just like the front apron, the rear profile of the scooter too is visually striking, with a long horizontal tail lamp flanked by vertical turn indicators on either side of it. The long reflector unit then joins the turn indicators back from the top, which overall gives the rear tail light cluster a very different impression of a quadrilateral unit. Amidst the tail lights, proudly sits the Mahindra logo in 3-D. The contemporary feel of the rear profile is further amplified by a nicely styled alloy grab rail for pillion riders.



The instrument console of the Gusto is one particular arena which makes the scooter look a bit dated, with a very basic layout comprising of an analog speedometer, fuel gauge, odometer and basic tell tale lights. Although we were not expecting a 'hyper-cool' digital console like the one on it’s very own stable mate, Rodeo, but it could have looked better. The silver garnishing around the meters do spice up the design to an extent.





But one trait of the Gusto which managed to completely blow our minds is it’s long list of features. Mahindra has tried to make the Gusto appear as a “Centuro of scooters”, and has fully loaded it. To start with, the Gusto becomes the first Indian scooter to come with a sophisticated flip key, which looks very stylish and incorporates the anti-theft alarm signal button as well, just like in a car key. The Gusto is also equipped with find-me and guide lamps, which make the scooter easily recognizable in a crowd of two-wheelers.



The seat opens upwards in an opposite direction, contrary to the other scooters. On opening the seat you find the seat-height adjuster at front, which can adjust the seat height from 770 mm to 730 mm, just by the twist of a knob. This can be termed as a boon for a family which has members of varying heights, as the seat height can be adjusted as per according to the height of the rider, making it an ergonomically sorted out two-wheeler. Though the unconventional way of flipping of the seat in the opposite direction is helpful in a better access to the seat height adjuster and gives a distinct look, but can prove a bit quirky and inexpedient at the times of refueling the scooter.



To sum it up, Mahindra has played safe in styling the scooter, which is a result why the Gusto's overall silhouette has a conventional sense to it. But what gamble Mahindra has perfectly executed is to equip this scooter with some salient design bits and copyrighted utilitarian features which definitely give the Gusto its own individuality. Built and fit and finish are exemplary and show that Mahindra has done strenuous homework in rectifying the mistakes of previous Mahindra scooters. Most handsome and well-built Mahindra scooter till date? Without a doubt, it is!


The Mahindra Gusto has undergone rigorous tests and experiments since past one year, in order to give tough competition to it’s rivals. And, when Mahindra proclaimed that this is an all new 'grounds-up' scooter, the anticipation from the Gusto went on to a new height. Mahindra has given the Gusto an all-new four-stroke, air-cooled, 109.6cc engine, which is completely built of aluminium. The engine is capable enough to max out the peak power figure of 8PS @ 7,500 rpm and a twisting force of 9Nm @ 5,500 rpm. All the power generated is channeled to the rear wheel through a CVT transmission, which is also a completely different unit from that of the other Mahindra scooters.


As per Mahindra's claims, the engine of the Gusto uses a stronger crank and bearings, along with a high energy ignition coil and a high venturi carburettor. Mahindra says that all these attempts have been done to squeeze out a stress-free and efficacious performance out of the engine. The result also is quite amenable, as the moment the throttle is twisted, the Gusto impresses with it’s power delivery, which has a linear feel to it. The Gusto has a robust low end grunt and mid-range performance, which by the aid of it’s linear power delivery, can be easily pushed to 80 kmph without any stress-and-strain.


Though Mahindra claims a top speed of 85 km/h for Gusto, it managed to indicate a top speed of 95 km/h on the speedometer with me on the saddle (ofcourse speedo error is always associated with most analogue units). Refinement levels are remarkable, as even when the scooter was hovering in the speed range of 70-80 km/h, the scooter showed no signs of harshness or inconsistency in its power delivery. Mahindra claims a fuel efficiency figure of 63 km/l to a liter for the Gusto, which can be expected in the range of 45-50 kmpl in real world conditions, which considering the overall size of the scooter, is pretty impressive.


Nowadays, when we see the words 'front telescopic suspension forks', '12-inch wheels' and 'tubeless tyres' in the spec-sheet of a scooter, it is easily a safer bet to predict that the scooter will be an ingenious performer in terms of ride quality and handling. So, the Mahindra Gusto is no exception here, as the front telescopic suspension and rear coil springs give the scooter a balanced ride, which in no doubt make this scooter one of the bests in terms of handling and ride quality.


The tubular chassis aids in an equitable weight distribution throughout the scooter, and even after the kerb weight standing at 120 kg, the scooter never felt ponderous to maneuver. That said, the handling could have been a bit more superior, had the weight of the scooter measured a bit lesser. The scooter never felt nervous at speeds, and was stable even at full twitch of the throttle.


Though there were very few corners in the cities of Jodhpur, which is otherwise adorned with incredibly supple straight stretches. The Gusto managed to appear as a respectable machine on whichever available corner or potholes it was thrown upon. The scooter never felt jerky on even some of the gravel filled tracks, which is a testimonial to the tall claims of Mahindra about the ride quality of the scooter.


The seat is large and two full-sized adults can seat comfortably on it, and even after two riders on board, the Gusto didn't felt underpowered or convulsive at all. The tubeless MRF Zappers perform their task to the fullest and complement with the other underpinnings of the scooter. The halting duties on the Gusto are performed by 130 mm drum brakes on both ends, which have a progressive feel to them. The brakes may not prove exceptional on immediate braking while on a frisky ride, but that's not Gusto is built for, which is why the brakes it comes fitted with score with brilliant marks on the overall report card.


Mahindra has made the Gusto available in two variants – VX and DX. The VX is the standard variant which comes equipped with the all aluminium 109.7cc engine, front kicker, halogen headlamp with LED pilot lamps, front grille, telescopic front suspension, 12-inch steel wheels, tubeless tyres, two luggage hooks, 17 liter underseat storage compartment, quick storage space below the instrument console and a 6 liter fuel tank.


The Gusto VX is priced at Rs. 43,000 (ex-showroom Delhi). But add in Rs. 4,000 more, and you get the second variant, Gusto DX, which in addition to the aforementioned features, also adds in remote flip key, find me and guide lamps and seat height adjuster below the seat, it is priced suitably at Rs. 47,000 (ex-showroom, Delhi). Easily, if value-for-money quotient is your priority, which naturally should be, then the Gusto DX is a more viable choice amongst the two.

Since 2008, when Mahindra ventured in to the two-wheeler business, the company has been selling scooters which were based on either the erstwhile Kinetic scooters (such as Duro and Kine), or the one which were re-badged SYM products (see Flyte and Rodeo). The Gusto then comes as a crucial product, as it is the first 'grounds-up' scooter for Mahindra, and no surprises, Mahindra has spent two years and Rs. 65 crores to ensure that their first proper solo shot in the scooter segment does not fade into obscurity.


In that facet, the Mahindra Gusto is one perfect strive by Mahindra 2-wheelers to put themselves on the roadmap of scooters back again. The scooter feels agile without being too perky, the suspension is sure-footed for your daily city commutes and the ride quality is nothing but absolutely brilliant. But the biggest USP for which the Gusto earns some serious brownie points is its impressive set of features and equipment, which are neither quirky nor tacky, but usable. The Mahindra Gusto comes at a time when the scooter segment is stupendously thronged by offerings from almost all the two-wheeler manufacturers of India (except Bajaj and Royal Enfield), each of which has its own set of traits to boast upon. In case of Gusto, it's the set of equipment and good ride dynamics.


In a nutshell, the Gusto executes all the tasks of a scooter very well, if not in an outstandingly brilliant manner. If you want to shell out your money on a scooter which fares well in your requirements of features and ride quality, along with decent performance and economy, the Gusto is one such product which deserves to be in your list. And if the instantaneous success of Centuro is anything to go by, it's hard to doubt for the same fate for Gusto as well.


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