Fueled by the growing sales and liking for SUV in the Indian market, we have seen competitive offerings from various car manufacturers. The Scorpio from Mahindra`s lineup has been one of its immensely successful and popular models. Mahindra has regularly updated this capable SUV with improvised bits, both technical and cosmetic alike.
For the untrained eye, this might not be a change that stands out, well it isn’t since the major upgrade has come under its hood. We take the all new Scorpio for an extensive test, here are our impressions.
The New Mahindra Scorpio facelift continues sporting the same popular butch look that we are familiar with. The front grille receives chrome surrounded slats in place of the “fangs” on the earlier version. The bumper along with the scuff plate has received minor tweaks and the fog lamps now come with chromed bezels. One of our favorite bits on the Scorpio has always been the air scoop on the engine hood that feeds straight onto the intercooler underneath, which lends this SUV a more purposeful look.
Viewed from the side, there are hardly any visual changes apart from them Hawk D140 badge on the left fender and the LED indictors on the ORVMs and the new 17” alloy wheels. The rear door has received significant changes and now looks less busy unlike the earlier design. Gone is the matte black cladding and registration plate surround. The current version is more simplistic and elegant with a chrome applique for the registration plate.
The taillights are also revised and lose the blue and amber tinge in the lens from the earlier units. The aero blade rear wiper also gives the face-lifted Scorpio a more upmarket look. The ski racks or the roof rails are commonly knows retain their position and play their part perfectly in enhancing the Scorpio`s SUV character.
The interiors of the Scorpio have always been biased towards being utilitarian and face lift add some bits and bobs to improve the in cabin experience. Despite the burly exterior dimensions the interior space is rather on the conservative side.
Carrying forward on the same platform the interiors remain mostly the same, biggest noticeable change is with the updated upholstery. The seats now get dark grey faux leather upholstery; the gear lever as well as the steering wheel receives the leather wrap treatment. The front seat are quite supportive and with the height adjust on the driver side, it offers a commanding view as well as a comfortable driving position with the armrest down.
The a mobile phone sized rubber pad under the hand brake lever is a new addition, so is a mobile phone sized recess carved out ahead of the gear shifter lever. The S11 variant we tested is the top of the line in the 2WD configuration gets a 6” touch screen infotainment system with a host of features like Tyretronics, Reverse Assist with Intellipark, Fuel Info. & in built GPS in 10 languages. The steering wheel is similar to XUV500 and has telephony control buttons, which we found a bit too fiddly and small.
The instrument cluster with hexagonal surrounds is carried over with the central MID screen. The Scorpio also gets the sunglasses holder for 2017 while rest of the cabin remains the same. While the equipment on offer is quite generous on the S11 trim, what the Scorpio struggles on fundamentally is space and thoughtful design.
For instance, we still can’t snap the seatbelt or uncouple it whilst the armrests are folded down. The door pockets are practically inaccessible without opening the doors; the plastic quality has improved but still does not justify the price tag the Scorpio comes with. The plastics are hard, with exposed sharp edges at certain places around the dashboard.
The door ajar, handbrake engaged etc warning messages are a bit too loud and overpowering, while the handbrake had a tendency to get stuck in the penultimate notch triggering the warning alarm. The rear seats of the Scorpio remain sufficiently spacious while the low placed center armrest is carried forward to the update as well.
How`s it to drive :
Coming to the crux of the matter, the biggest update and our favourite on the facelifted Scorpio remains its engine. Though this potent engine is only available on the S7 and the S11 trims, the lower variants have to make do with the older units. The 2.2 mHawk 140 engine`s power figures are 140bhp@3750 rpm and 320Nm@1500-2800rpm, thanks to the new Borg and Warner Variable Geometry Turbo.
The 140bhp engine also gets an all new 6 speed manual transmission, but the Scorpio is yet to receive an Automatic transmission. The engine displays strong performance and only gets a bit vocal past 3000rpm where it begins to lose a bit of steam. Despite our enthusiastic driving, the Scorpio returned a respectable 13.5kmpl, the number stretched to 19.2kmpl(!!) at constant speeds between 80-100kmph- the tall 6th gear doing its job very well.
The power figures are identical to those of the XUV500 now but endow this SUV with more mid-top end punch. The new gearbox definitely has a better feel through the gates and the shift quality has gone up by a notch, it however remains a long throw unit and engaging the reverse takes a short while getting used to. The steering with hydraulic power assist could have done with some more assist, it feels heavy to twirl around especially when it comes to lock to lock turns. The update also brings in a reworked clutch which is surprisingly light and does not tax your left leg whatsoever.
The Scorpio continues using its proven body on frame chassis introduced in the earlier version and remains robust as ever. The brakes have been beefed up to improve feel as well as handle the added power and offer a sharper pedal response than before. With the revised suspension too, the Scorpio seems to continue improving each passing version. Broken patches are something which has been the Scorpios favorite diet that it absolutely loves to devour.
Despite the tweaked suspension setup, the Scorpio till feels a bit nervous over triple digit speeds and exhibits considerable roll around turns. Addition of electronic driver aids like ESP, EBD could make a lot more sense over the existing ABS and Airbags for a vehicle at this pricepoint. The specsheet mentions the Ground clearance at a meager 180mm, while its competition is rated at and above 200mm. This does not hinder with its off road ability and the Scorpio simply trundles over small rocks, we even indulged in small stream crossing despite this being a 2WD variant – such is the confidence the Scorpio instills.
Buy or not to buy:
Mahindra has upped the game for the Scorpio which has been around for over 15 years now, the facelift has a formidable list of features to hold its candle against its competition. The Scorpio also enjoys a strong fan following for its brute looks and robust drive quality over broken surfaces. Which brings us to the important factor in the whole equation – the price. The top of the line S11 4WD is close to 19 lakh and its closes competitor –the Tata Safari Storme 4WD retails at a shade under 18.5 lakh.
The 140bhp S11 2WD we tested retails at 17.43lakh and is still a steep price for the offering. The Duster AWD retails a lot lesser at 16.9 lakh in comparison, while the base S3 variant of the Scorpio retails at shade under 12 lakh. What makes the pricing on the Scorpio look steep is that it still has chinks in its armour. The fit and finish, the quality of materials used, the general ergonomics, highway mannerisms as well s NVH levels have loads of room for improvement.
Also, the 15-20 lakh price bracket opens up other options if one is looking for SUV and there is one from Mahindra`s own stable to challenge the Scorpio – the XUV500, apart from the Renault Duster and Tata Safari Storme if proper SUV platform is to be considered. That said, the Scorpio enjoys its customer base and sees a steady sales number thanks to its butch intimidating looks and a robust overall package.
Variant-wise on-road, Mumbai prices in lakh:
S3 2WD – Rs. 11.89
S5 2WD – Rs. 13.75
S7 120 2WD – Rs. 15.08
S7 140 2WD – 15.43
S11 2WD – Rs. 17.43
S11 4WD – Rs. 18.91