Mahindra does not have an expansive portfolio but is still found among the top five car manufacturers in India on the sales charts. And that is possible because of icons like the one we have here, the Mahindra Scorpio. Mahindra had almost pegged its entire fortune on the Scorpio at the turn of the millennium and it had to succeed for the Indian car maker. The Scorpio is one of the first cars independently developed by Mahindra and the one we have here is the first update of the second generation Scorpio. We drive it to find out how much the new Scorpio has improved and how well it makes a case for itself, again.
The Scorpio has maintained the essence of the design of the original car and the styling is rather timeless. Over the years, the signature vertically slatted grille has become sharper and the large front bumper has gained muscle. The chrome lined slats gets a black mesh-grille background while the crystal headlamps are blacked out for that aggressive look. The blacked out lower half of the bumper with the contrast bash-plate and the chrome-bezel fog lamps complete the fascia.
Moving on to the sides, the profile is unmistakably Scorpio and has remained almost the same over the past two decades. The long hood with the signature scoop, an upright windscreen and the three-cab profile is complemented by the body-coloured cladding and the stepper. Large 17-inch alloys with the all-terrain Apollo 235mm profile tyres add to the bulk. While the tail lamps are almost the same, the design of the tail gate has been revamped. The black cladding band across the width has been ditched and the single tone sculpted tailgate makes the new Scorpio look suave.
Climb into the driver’s seat and you will be greeted with generous space, a commanding view of the road and a large steering wheel at your disposal. The wall-like dashboard sticks close to the windshield glass which opens up quite a bit of space in the cabin. The centre console is simple and gets a touchscreen infotainment system and the AC console along with a cubby hole. The blue-lit instrument cluster behind the chunky steering wheel adds a bit of funk to the equation.
The front seats are big and you barely notice that because of the plentiful space. The commanding upright seating position is made comfortable by the long seat base which offers ample under-thigh support.
Move into the second row and the generosity of space continues. There is enough space for three in the back and the seating again is upright. But the knee-room is a tad bit reserved. While it might feel comfortable for errands, it tends to get tiring over long hauls.
For storage spaces, there is hardly anything for the front passengers but the rear passengers get two bottle holders for each of the doors. The third row gets two jump seats and with lack of any restraints (seat-belts) safety is. They seem to be spacious in terms of shoulder room, legroom is very limited especially when both the seats are occupied. Also, it eats up into the luggage space which otherwise is ample for the baggage of five on a weekend trip.
In terms of equipment, the Scorpio ticks the right boxes with the automatic climate control, all-four power windows, electrically adjustable wing mirrors and rear parking sensors with camera. It also gets AC vents for the rear passengers under the front armrests but for a cabin of this size, they do not provide enough cooling. For purposes of safety, you just have two airbags in the front. Also, the interiors are better than before, but for this price, they are still crude and lack the premium feel.
Biggest change in the new 2017 Scorpio is the 140bhp setup that has been brought in from the XUV. The 2.2-litre M-Hawk turbocharged diesel engine now develops 140bhp of power and 320Nm of torque and comes mated to a six-speed manual gearbox that drives the rear wheels. Mahindra has been able to tune this AVL block quite well and the extra power is felt right away. There is more pull available from as low as 1400rpm and the torque builds up till 3500rpm. The power starts tapering off after 4200 but with the six-speed gearbox, the rev range is more than enough for everything.
The gearbox also feels much more positive in its engagement and with the light clutch, shifting is not much of an issue. Gear throws out the old-school SUV lineage and you have to get used to the shift pattern to distinguish between the reverse and the first gears without needing a second attempt.
Quick off the blocks, the Scorpio cruises easily in the low hundreds with the engine revving around 2000rpm in sixth gear, giving it a nice blend of economy. And the best part is that, with so much torque available, you barely need to downshift. It climbed uphill in sixth from 60kmph without breaking a sweat with only me inside the car. So, when fully loaded, I might have to shift to fourth, and that is commendable for an engine’s tractability.
Also, whatever Mahindra has done with the suspension tweaks seems to have worked. It feels planted most of the time but still hops and skips over asymmetrical bumps in a straight line and the underlying jiggles of the ladder-frame are hard to miss. On the other hand, if you drive through switchback corners at humane speeds, it feels quite composed. As an engineer, this is quite a puzzle but as a driver, it gives me more confidence than before.
Ride quality has also improved and it is plush now. The sharp edged bumps are now registered as mere muffled thuds and along with the improved NVH, the Scorpio is a much better place to be in than before. The steering is lighter than before and apart from a little vagueness in the centre, is quite precise. Of course, the feedback is minimal, but it pans out well for the overall package of city and highway driving. The brakes also feel much better than before and have come a long way from their spongy wooden self of the first-gen Scorpio.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||140bhp @ 3750|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||320Nm @ 1500|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||60|
|Tyre size||235 / 65 R17|
|Automatic Climate Control||Yes|
|Electrically Adjustable Wing Mirrors||Yes|
|Rear Parking Sensors With Camera||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||S11 RWD||2.2 VX 4x2 Varicor400|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||140bhp @ 3750||154 bhp @ 4000|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||320Nm @ 1500||400 Nm @ 1750|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||60||63|
|Tyre size||235 / 65 R17||235 / 70 R16|
The Mahindra Scorpio continues to be the old-school workhorse that it has always been and now has got better at it with the revisions. The styling is sleeker and the little tweaks on the inside make it look better. The powerful 140bhp M-Hawk engine has certainly got a lot going for the Scorpio and the ride has turned out to be better as well. At Rs 14.79 lakhs, it is a bit expensive for what it offers and with chinks that it still has in its armour, especially the ones inside the cabin, there are hardly any options for the utility and durability that it offers.
Photos By Kapil Angane