1. Car review: New Mahindra Scorpio – Packs a more powerful sting

Car review: New Mahindra Scorpio – Packs a more powerful sting

More muscular, more comfortable, more refined, the new Scorpio now comes across as a more value-for-money SUV too

By: | Published: October 31, 2014 11:24 PM

A FEW years ago I met a Canada-returned Punjabi who wanted to buy a car for his planned two-year India stay. Having driven some of North America’s most powerful SUVs, he wanted something similar, but within his budget of R10 lakh. Since there was none, he went to a Mahindra showroom and bought the Scorpio. “It may not be as powerful as the SUVs I am used to, but it befits my towering frame and looks good in my parking lot,” he said. Mighty and muscular, that’s what the Scorpio has been, and that’s how Mahindra has been marketing its constant money-spinner for 12 years. The SUV, which has received multiple updates over its lifetime, has now been relaunched in a new avatar and in five variants—S2 to S10*. We find out what exactly is new and what has been carried over.
The new front styling makes the Scorpio look leaner and more dynamic. Dual projector headlamps with LED eyebrows and the new chrome grille give the Scorpio an aggressive stance. The massive bonnet scoop not only looks imposing but is functional too—its ‘low-drag intake’ design lets in air to the intercooler, which increases engine performance. And the tough new bumpers make the new Scorpio look like a predator.
From the sides it carries over its old design, the only change being the new alloy wheels. As in the previous version, there is a side cladding that protects the body from dents by absorbing minor impacts. At the rear, it gets a two-tone arrangement—regardless of the body colour, there is a large matt black panel on the rear door. Here I must add that I showed the new Scorpio to five people who have been previous-generation Scorpio customers and while everyone loved the front, all found the rear to be a bit tacky, a bit aftermarket. The rear, clearly, has a love-me-or-hate-me look. Overall, there is much attention to detail—the way the front bumper neatly integrates itself with the front wheel arch signifies that the Scorpio has come of age.
The biggest change, however, is under the body. The new Scorpio has been developed on the modular W105 platform, on which both extended wheelbase and sub-4 metre vehicles can be developed. In fact, many future Mahindra body-on-frame products could be made on this W105 platform.
The cabin, as expected, is souped-up. While the multi-functional steering wheel is similar to the one in the XUV500, there is a new instrument cluster, revised upholstery and dual-tone dashboard. The plastic quality is top class, the blue-grey interiors look premium and the 3D effect instrument cluster design is futuristic. The reworked seats are supportive and ensure long journeys won’t tire you. The cabin has loads of space and seven people can comfortably sit in it—even the last two side-facing jump seats are comfy for short journeys.
But there are some strange flaws. For example, with the door shut, it is difficult to either reach into the front door pockets or operate the seat-height adjuster—because the seat squab almost touches the door. Also, the quality of door locks and some buttons leaves a lot to be desired.
There are ample safety features. The higher-spec variants get dual airbags, ABS with EBD, crash protection crumple zones, side impact protection beams in all doors, collapsible steering, digital immobiliser, etc. In the S10 variant the headlamps come with a static bending feature that illuminates bends at night, making night driving a lot safer.
The top-spec S10 variant get the features of a luxury car. Sample these: climate control, parking sensor, touchscreen infotainment system, auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, inbuilt GPS system, temperature and pressure sensors for the tyres, start-stop technology and more.
The trusted mHawk 2.2-litre engine that produces a power of 120 bhp and a juicy torque of 280 Nm powers the S4 to S10 variants, while the entry-level S2 variant gets the 2.5-litre engine producing a power of 75 bhp. The gearbox is new—the 5MT320 that we saw in the updated Xylo. However, the gearbox wasn’t as impressive as we had hoped and shifting gears isn’t a lot of fun in the new Scorpio—the good thing is we didn’t encounter any mis-shifts.
Ride and handling has improved a lot. The previous generation model tended to bump into the humps on the road, but the new model, because it gets a stiffer chassis—which means a softer suspension can been used—is pliant, and going over speed-breakers at low speeds it doesn’t bounce up and down. However, if you drive it on uneven roads at speeds over 60 kmph, you will encounter some amount of wobbling. Hit a smooth tarmac and the new Scorpio shows what it is capable of—the ride turns planted and the cabin placid (Mahindra has massively improved its NVH levels). It behaves the best in the 80-120 kmph range and can munch miles all day long. We put it on the cruise mode (set at 90 kmph) on the Delhi-Jaipur highway and got a fuel-efficiency of 17 kmpl, so in a mix of city and highway driving conditions, we expect it to deliver about 14 kmpl. While the front disc and rear drum brakes appear to be good (we couldn’t do hard braking manoeuvres), we wonder when the Scorpio will get disc brakes all round—the XUV500 already has them. Because it now gets a shorter turning radius (5.4 metres for 2WD and 5.65 metres for 4WD), parking is relatively easier.
The new Scorpio faces formidable competition from the Renault Duster and Nissan Terrano siblings. No, they are not as mighty and muscular or as spacious, but, to many buyers, they do come across as more practical daily-use vehicles. However, the Scorpio has earned a huge fan-following in the country and this means it will continue to be a money-spinner for Mahindra—it sold over 6,000 units within five days of its launch. More muscular, more comfortable, more refined, the new Scorpio, from R8.4 lakh (S2), R8.99 lakh (S4) to R11.95 lakh (S10), is now a more value-for-money SUV too.
* We drove the S10 version for this review. Prices mentioned are ex-showroom, Delhi

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