The Rodeo is considered Mahindra's flagship scooter amongst its three offerings, all of which use the same engine. Now Mahindra is rolling out an upgrade to the Rodeo and calling it the Rodeo RZ. The name, then, is inline with the DZ they added to the Duro when it was face lifted a few months ago.
Mahindra's foray into two-wheelers has been rocky as far as motorcycles go, but their scooters have done reasonably well. And the new Rodeo should only help. It features small upgrades to the engine's ignition system - a two-map digital ignition system and a new carburettor apart from equally small chassis upgrades - a higher riding position (ground clearance as well as seat height rise by roughly two centimetres). Plus there's minor visual tweaks and new colours. We expect the price to continue but Mahindra is to announce the price in a week or so as it sets out to complete a phased national roll out within a few weeks, starting with the southern markets.
The changes in the RZ may be minor but they do add up. The engine - based on the excellent SYM motor from the Flyte - remains a highlight. It's a smooth, quiet engine that propels the scooter very neatly. Mahindra claim that it is even quicker in acceleration than the Suzuki Swish (our current acceleration king in the 100-125cc automatic scooter segment). On the hand, the new ignition system and the carburettor allow the Rodeo to hit 59kmpl on the ARAI tests and Mahindra even impressed a few journos at the launch with a short but demonstrative fuel economy run.
The chassis changes were harder to quantify because the rains came down leaving us with slippery roads - standard procedure for the first rains - but ride quality will be a highlight for the scooter and the ground clearance is excellent and functional. The standard MRF tyres proved quite grippy in the slippery conditions. Handling promises to be sharp and stable but we will need to ride it harder once the rains wash off the muck and leave wet but grippy surfaces for us. At six foot in boots, I didn't feel any issues with getting my feet down from the taller seat but then again, I didn't hear some of the shorter riders at the ride complain either.
Visually, the Rodeo looks familiar and quite snazzy in the new colours. I do wish that it looked a lot more distinctive, especially from the rear. Panel quality is on par with the segment and the feature set is as expected - front fuel filler cap, shutter on the ignition key, a charging point, deep open cubby in the front apron and a large 22l illuminated underseat storage cavity.
On the whole, the Mahindra Rodeo appears to be a pleasant alternative to the various automatic scooters on sale in India today. It feels sportier and sharper than the Duro and has better chassis equipment as well. The Rodeo was priced at about the fifty thousand rupee mark (Rs 50214, ex-Mumbai), or nearly at the Activa's price and I expect the new price to be about a thousand rupees more, just like the rise in prices from the Duro to the Duro DZ.