First the facts. The Mahindra Scorpio has been in the market for nearly a decade and a half. In that time it has seen significant improvements. Its looks improved as did the standard equipment list, the engines and the quality. And though the Mahindra Scorpio was never regarded to be a great vehicle dynamically, it did receive its fair share of improvements in the handling and braking departments over these years.
But all that work pales when you consider what has been achieved with the new Mahindra Scorpio or the new generation Scorpio as Mahindra likes to call it.
Exterior design / Styling
Let’s talk looks first. According to Mahindra every panel on the new Scorpio is well, new, barring the doors and the roof. Plus, the SUV gets a bolder, more modern face courtesy new head lamps (projector type), bonnet (and the air intake scoop), bumper and front fenders. Mahindra has also redefined its signature grille, and we must say it looks good. In profile, the 17 inch wheels, the flared wheel arches and the lowered stance of the new Scorpio grab attention. The mirrors and the door handles are new too, and there’s now a pseudo air mesh or bezel on the fenders and bold Scorpio badging on the rear doors. At the rear, a black plastic panel on the tail gate dominates, and it is flanked by LED tail lamps.
Interiors & Space
The interiors on the new Mahindra Scorpio have been heavily reworked too. And for the better. The dashboard is all new, as is the steering, the door trim and the seats. The dash with its layered design looks more upmarket now and the choice of materials, colours and the attention to fit and finish is a huge improvement over the outgoing Scorpio. The instrumentation is more in line with the new Scorpio’s youthful aura while it remains easy to read and throws up a decent amount of info including gear indication.
The operability of controls – dials, buttons, stalks et al – is crisper and better dampened too on the new Mahindra Scorpio. Mahindra has paid attention towards improving the ergonomics as well. The aircon vents are not only better shaped, their effectiveness has improved as well. Also, the power window switches have now moved to the doors from the central console as on the previous Scorpio. Though this is thoughtful change, it has negatively affected how one works the driver side seat height adjustment; it leaves no space between the seat and the door to put your arm in. We would have also liked the front armrest to have more adjustability; currently, it moves along with the seat back, which is quite pointless.
As for space, there isn’t a big improvement over the older Scorpio. Having said that, apart from lack of elbow room upfront, there’s nothing to complain about; there’s more than adequate room all round be it for head, knee or shoulder. And the boot with the jump seats folded offers good luggage room.
Mahindra has garnered a reputation of delivering an exhaustive features list on its products. The new Scorpio is no different. It is comfortably the best equipped SUV in its class, at least in this top of the line S10 trim. The new Mahindra Scorpio S10 gets a touchscreen multimedia system with Satnav and bluetooth. There’s reversing aid, climate control, cruise control, a multi-functional steering wheel, rear AC vents, power ORVMs, automatic headlamps and rain sensing wipers. The new Scorpio also gets a strut operated bonnet and this is important because it tells us Mahindra’s intent of moving up the premium ladder by offering convenience related bits the lack of which aren’t exactly deal breakers in this class.
Engine & Performance
The new Mahindra Scorpio continues to use the same 2.2-litre Diesel engine as the older model and that’s no bad thing because we have always regarded this 122PS, 280Nm motor as a fine unit be it the power delivery, its torquey nature or even its refinement levels. And now it is mated to a new 5-speed manual gearbox which has improved the shift quality. The latter is still notchy, but an improvement over the previous ‘box, nonetheless. The clutch effort isn’t tiresome either but yes it could do with a bit more progression. As for performance, the new Mahindra Scorpio is no scorcher off the line but the torquey nature of the engine makes it a great tool for highway driving, given of course you don’t get overzealous trying to match faster cars. It’s still best to stick to the ton mark and thereabouts instead of trying to go flat out.
Ride & Ease of Driving
Another huge change on the new Mahindra Scorpio is the chassis. It still is a body-on-ladder frame SUV but the ladder frame has been completely revised for the new model. The frame is lighter and doubly stiff as compared to the older Scorpio. The wheelbase has been kept the same but the tracks – front and rear – are wider in order to reduce the turning circle as well as improve stability. What’s more, the suspension geometry has been altered, there are new more effective dampers and there’s even an anti-roll bar now at the rear. And of course the new Scorpio now runs 17 inch wheels instead of 16 inchers.
On the road, the new Scorpio feels better tied down now. There’s still some side to side movement and the ride quality over broken roads is still jiggly, but it isn’t uncomfortable. The ride is also quieter and the increase in travel along with bigger wheels makes the new Mahindra Scorpio almost invincible over pot holes, no matter how huge. As for ease of driving, the shorter turning circle makes it easier to manoeuvre; the visibility is still great upfront and from the sides and via the large ORVMs; and with reverse parking sensors (in this the S10 trim), parking is a non-issue too.
Handling & Braking
One of the big issues with the older Scorpio was its unrefined dynamics. Even though various improvements were made over its near decade and a half long lifespan, the handling and braking of the Scorpio was never really secure. Now with the new chassis, new track lengths and significant suspension changes, the new Mahindra Scorpio feels a lot more planted. It’s still not a handling or braking benchmark, but you can finally push it hard without a prayer. The steering response is acceptable and even though the Scorpio still rolls and dives, the movements aren’t alarmingly high. The brake feel has improved and the new Scorpio displays less tendency now to swing about under hard braking.
This is the first proper change the Mahindra Scorpio has received since its launch way back in 2002. And given it gets a new chassis and nearly all new body panels, it is almost like a generation change. The same – to a large extent – can be said about its improvements in looks, fit and finish, and crucially, dynamics. Mahindra has also packed in a lot of equipment in the new Scorpio and when you consider its price tag compared to the likes of the Renault Duster, the Nissan Terrano and the Tata Safari Storme, not to mention its ability to seat seven or even eight people, it’s now a proposition that’s very hard to overlook.