New Mahindra Scorpio: Expert Review
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The new Scorpio might just look a facelift, but look deeper and you'll notice that the changes run more than skin deep. We put it through an exhaustive test to see how much it has changed
Things to look forward to:
- Attractive design updates
- Way better dynamics
- Plenty of features for the price
- Very strong engine
- 4x4 variant available right off the bat
Things that would make you think twice:
- Ride quality though better, still bouncy
- Fit and finish can be better
- No automatic variant
The Mahindra Scorpio has been one of the most popular SUV's from the Mahindra stables. Plenty of features, a very strong engine and offering good value for money, the Scorpio always garnered strong sales numbers. Mahindra has kept updating the Scorpio over the years, however the last important update was the inclusion of the 2.2 litre mHawk engine along with ABS and Airbags. However dynamically the Scorpio still had a lot of issues including and extremely bouncy ride, plenty of body roll and a chassis which simply could not handle the power put out by that strong engine. For 2014, Mahindra has finally tried to address the mentioned issues with an all-new modular chassis, new front and rear axles, new and updated suspension bits as well as an updated gearbox carried over from the new Xylo. And while at it, the exteriors and the interiors have also been worked upon. We put some pedal to the metal to see how much has the new Scorpio evolved.
Design (4/5 Rating)
So while the basic design is the same, Mahindra like recently has added a lot of busy element to the new Scorpio. While many found the design to be overdone when seen the first time, just like the XUV 5oo, it tends to grow on you. Ogle at it and you'll notice that the Scorpio looks much more aggressive now.
The front end is completely redesigned with a reshaped bonnet, projector headlamps and a more "toothy" grille.
The LED strip in the headlight looks like a DRL but are actually parking lights which look like eyebrows and really attract a lot of attention at night. The good thing is that the new front does not look out of place considering the same age old silhouette is retained.
On the side, the pillars have been blackened and there are new 17-inch alloys compared to the previous 16 inchers. While the side claddings are body coloured in the S10 variant you see here, the lower S2 and S4 variants get unpainted, black cladding. The rear is where the designers seem to have got the busiest.
A large matte plastic insert runs across the entire width of the tail gate which frankly does not gel well with the looks. While its does go un-noticed on darker shades, white is where it looks the most disconnected. Mahindra have omitted a tail-gate mounted spare wheel once again which is a big hit with SUV lovers in the country.
Overall the design has definitely evolved but it does take time to get over the busy elements.
Interiors (3.5/5 Rating)
Opening the doors reveals quite pleasant insides. But to see it up-close, ingress-egress is like climbing or coming down atleast 2 tall steps. The side-step helps but does not protude out enough to make it a comfortable affair. Once seated, you notice the dashboard which is a combination of black and beige which not only makes it look quite elegant but gives the cabin an airy feel as well. To add further contrast, there are silver and carbon fibre inserts as well which add a sporty touch.
However bright colours attract a lot of dirt and its no different inside the Scorpio. We already had stain marks which if present on my car would really give me sleepless nights.
The first thing you notice is the new speedo console which does a nice self check as you twist the key. On the left is the tacho with the speedometer on the right, while a window in the centre reads out the tripmeter, the odo, the fuel and temperature gauge. In the centre of the window is a gear shift indicator which displays the gear only once on the move with the clutch fully disengaged.
The steering wheel feels nice and meaty in the hands and looks premium too thanks to the large silver insert. Then you have the usual audio/phone controls on the left and cruise controls settings on the right.
The dashboard design is nothing to talk about with squared lines allover. Quality is not the best one would have seen but quite acceptable. All the buttons, knobs and dials are backlight and click and turn with acceptable quality.
Another thing that came to notice was the lack of cubby holes. In fact there is just one in the front with one bottle holder.
And then you come to the touch screen in-car entertainment system. It looks and feels impressive right from the word go. For starters it gives out a world of vehicle readouts like distance to empty counter, average fuel consumption, tyre pressure & tyre temperature, warning alerts, service due, GPS navigation with voice, telephony options and a video instruction manual. The touch screen interface works well and there is no lag or sensitivity issues from the 6-inch screen. So while the head unit is a brilliant device, the speakers really let it down. Upgrading to a good set of speakers will definitely do justice to the HU and better the aural experience in the car.
Seating is just how one would expect in an SUV. Nice high perched driving position with good support all around. In fact both the driver and the co-passenger get armrests which makes long drives extremely comfortable. However all is not ergonomically perfect. The clutch pedal has quite a long travel because of which drivers who like to sit slightly further away from the wheel find it difficult for full clutch actuation and its a problem with shorter drivers as well.
While the left armrest works just fine for the driver, the right side rest has a deep pocket right where the elbow is supposed to rest and that gets a little uncomfortable at times too. Also the seat is so close to the door that it is impossible to adjust seat-height with the door closed. One has to open the door to reach the seat height adjustment lever. While the view of the road is perfect thanks to the slim A-pillars its not the same when you need to reverse. A smaller rear windscreen and a high-ish tailgate means one struggles to reverse out of tight parking spots. While our variant did have parking sensors, it will be wise to check the area on foot before you reverse this hulk.
Another oddity was the central locking mechanism. There is no button to lock or unlock the doors. Its a small little lever on the driver side door which one needs to pull out and push in. While that may seem like a simple affair, the lever has a lot of resistance and needs quite some effort do do so. All the buttons and knobs work well, even the aircon chills well and did not struggle in high temperatures. The auto sensing lights worked well too and come on in quick time.
Climbing into the rear bench, you realise, there isn't a big improvement as far as space is concerned. While knees won't scrub against the front seats, we expected better legroom for a vehicle this size. Thankfully, the awkward-ish recline position has been corrected. Its quite a comfortable posture with decent levels of under-thigh support. Its quite wide too and three people can be comfortably accommodated. Even on a hot day, the rear vents worked well keeping the rear passengers comfortable.
Open the tailgate sideways, and you are welcomed into the third row with 2 jump seats. Now these seats aren't meant to be as comfortable as captain seats, they are meant for two people who suddenly turn up and need to be dropped off along the way. Along the way because there is only so much time you can spend on a seat which has an almost 90 degree recline angle. However they can accommodate even large adults easily and are well padded too. The S6 & higher variants offer front facing 3rd-row seats as an option with the 8-seater (2-3-3) and 7-seater captain seat (2-2-3) configurations. These variants also get a foldable armrest for the 3rd row. With no passengers in the third row, the Scorpio can swallow a large amount of luggage easily for those long weekend trips or more.
Engine and Performance (4.5/5 Rating)
So while this is an all-new Scorpio, the 2.2 litre mHawk engine is retained with a few changes. And that is not a bad thing at all. Crank the starter and the Scorpio vibrates itself to life. Once on idle though, its quite smooth. Moving off, the Scorpio eases off gracefully with no crudeness at all. Shifting is a much better affair now thanks to the updated 5MT320 5-speed manual gearbox borrowed from the updated Xylo. While throws are a little long its not discomforting in anyway.
Coming back to the engine, the 2179cc diesel unit gathers momentum quickly. Pushing out 120 PS @ 4000 rpm and 280 Nm of torque and aided by a variable geometry turbocharger, the revs rise quickly and so do the speeds. Slapping on the Vbox, the Scorpio hit 60 km/h in 5.4 seconds and went charging past a 100 km/h in 14 seconds flat. And the speedo needle keeps climbing as you go past 160 km/h after which things start getting hairy. However more than outright performance its drivability what matters here. 60-80 km/h in third gear took just 3.8 seconds while the same in third took just 3 seconds flat. One barely needs to shift gears as the Scorpio has enough grunt to pull from speeds as low as 30 km/h in 4th gear. Hit the highways and the Scorpio's shows its forte. It cruises effortlessly carrying 3 digit speeds and can do so all day. Refinement is quite good even at higher speeds with no intrusive humming whatsoever.
Shedding speed is not a problem either. No discs at the rear but our variant came with ABS and EBD which keeps a lot of drama in check. Slam the brakes and the retardation makes the nose dive quite a bit. Standing on the brakes at a 100 km/h, the Scorpio came to a halt in 4.2 seconds covering a distance of 53.2 metres.
Ride and Handling (Rating 3.5/5)
This is where Mahindra has worked upon the most. There is all-new hydroformed modular chassis which Mahindra claims is twice as stiff as compared to the outgoing car which means the chassis flex is reduced to a minimum. Also the new car gets all-new front and rear axles along with reworked suspension bits. To further keep the Scorpio's roly-poly nature in check, Mahindra has also thrown in an anti-roll bar at the rear. And the moment you get behind the wheel, the difference is immediately felt. Ride quality has gone up quite a few notches and is much more absorbant. The damping is much better as well and even after going into a bump, the suspension settles down much quicker than before. However ride is still a little bouncy and thanks to its high centre of gravity, the Scorpio is always moving around.
Out on the highway, straight line stability is quite good, and even when shown a set of corners, the Scorpio is a completely changed animal, thanks to the new underpinnings and a slightly wider track.
Its only when you start to push harder that the body on ladder chassis starts to show its limitations. A monocoque chassis would have taken care of these things but perhaps that's on the list for the next-gen Scorpio. Bad roads are gobbles with ease and you barely have to slow down for bad patches. The steering feels good as well and does not feel overtly light when the speeds build up which is a good thing. At parking speeds the hydraulic unit does get a tad bit heavy but nothing to strain the muscles.
The turning radius is a tad bit better as well. Mahindra has definitely worked hard in the ride and handling department and by and large, the effort seems to have paid off.
Fuel Efficiency (Rating 3.5/5)
Brimming the 60 litre tank, the Scorpio managed to return 10.4 kmpl in the city and 13.7 kmpl on the highway giving it an overall figure of 11.2 kmpl which gives it a range of 672 km before you head to the next fuel bunk. Not exactly the most fuel efficient SUV out there but then lugging around 1800 kg of weight is bound to have its repercussions.
Verdict (Rating 4/5)
While this might look more like a facelift rather than an all-new car, Mahindra has put in a serious amount of work to iron out the glitches. The styling is sharper, its got plenty of kit, a strong engine and most importantly is leagues ahead of its predecessor as far as dynamics are concerned. Prices start at Rs. 8.40 lakh for the base in its segment. You even get a 4wd S10 variant which is priced at Rs. 13.05 lakh which again makes it the most value for money 4WD one can buy. Yes it still has a few minor flaws but its looking at the larger picture which makes the new Scorpio still the hit it always was.
|20-80 km/h in 3rd gear||11.2s|
|40-100 km/h in 4th gear||13.3s|