Mahindra Scorpio: Level up and live on

The ride is much flatter and more settled, and there’s less pitching and bobbing  

The Mahindra Scorpio has been around for more than a decade, and has had its fair share of updates over the years. This new model is seriously improved, and we find out exactly what is new and what’s carried over.

The most important change on this new model is the all-new chassis and suspension system, which will also form the basis of a new generation of cars from Mahindra. The new modular chassis is considerably stiffer than the outgoing frame and it is much safer too. The all-new front suspension is lighter and sports service-free hubs, whilst the new rear axle is now supported by a newly added anti-roll bar. The wheelbase is the same, but the Scorpio now sits on a track that is substantially wider than before.

On the outside, the doors and roof are carried over. Up front, the earlier fan-shaped grille has made way for a more striking and modern one with blade-like chrome slats, and there are projector headlamps with LED daytime-running lights. The 17-inch alloys look great, but the gap in the wheel arches at the rear means the wheels look smaller than they are.

The new car continues to be powered by the 118bhp, 2.2-litre mHawk turbo-diesel engine, and you still get the lower-powered 75bhp CRDe engine for the base variant. Also carried over are ABS-equipped brakes, but M&M has now put in its new 5MT320 five-speed manual gearbox from the Xylo.

The cabin also sees a lot of fresh updates and additions. It gets a new dashboard, lots of features and brand new seats. The dash is a neat, clean and angular design with the top of the dash is finished in matte black and the lower half in a nice shade of beige. The power window switches have been shifted from the centre console to a more handy location on the doors, and the fuel filler cover release is also conveniently located behind the steering wheel. There still are some cheap-looking bits though, like the door handles that feel like they might break off if pulled too firmly, and the plastics too are not up to the mark. Although not up there with the benchmarks, overall quality is a big step up from the earlier Scorpio.

It comes with a six-inch infotainment touchscreen borrowed from the XUV500, an in-built GPS system, temperature and pressure sensors for the tyres, and rear-parking sensors. Some versions also get cruise control and controls mounted on the smaller, sportier steering wheel. The driver’s seat however, brings back memories of the earlier car’s poor ergonomics. There’s no central locking button on the dash and you have to use the lock on the door handle, which is a bit fidgety. Front passengers will miss storage for bottles; there’s one central bottle holder but that space is where you end up keeping your phone or toll change. The narrow front seats are placed too close to the doors, and hence there’s no way you can adjust the driver’s seat comfortably or access stuff from the door pockets without opening the door. The front seats themselves are generously cushioned and quite supportive, although shorter drivers may find an excess of thigh support. Space in the middle row has been improved by slimming down the seats and moving them back a bit to carve out more space. The bench seat itself is now more comfortable too, thanks to good thigh support, a high seating position and a finely adjusted backrest angle. The seats, which extend all the way to the doors, are nice and wide, which makes travelling five up fairly comfortable.

The mHawk engine is mildly retuned and given a different set of gear ratios in this new model. There's a bit of vibration below 1,000rpm, but low-end response is strong as ever and the Scorpio skips forward effortlessly in a way that belies its weight. Spin the engine harder and there’s a corresponding increase in power as well. This sensation of plenty of torque and power carries on if you shift up early. But past 3,800rpm, the engine starts to strain and gets somewhat loud. However, it’s pretty smooth for a big diesel; in fact, it’s the most refined engine in its class. What’s less than perfect is the gearbox, which feels quite notchy and needs an extra shove. The clutch is a bit heavy too, so shifting gears isn’t exactly fun.

Ride and handling sees a big improvement. The new chassis and suspension have made a world of a difference to the dynamics of the car. The car is now pliant at low speeds and that takes the edge out of the bumps and potholes. The ride is also much flatter and more settled, and there’s less pitching and bobbing. It’s when you gain momentum that this softly sprung SUV has more vertical movement. The wider track has also helped make the new Scorpio feel more planted at high speedsThe steering is well weighted and has a decent amount of feel, and this car is now far happier to change direction than before. Yes, you do feel the weight of the tall SUV roll around behind you, and no, you can’t flick it around like a hatchback, but this Scorpio is now so much nicer to drive.

The top-spec S10 trim gets almost as much kit as an XUV500. You get follow-me-home headlamps, tyre pressure warning system, speed alert system, rain and light sensors. It also comes with cruise control, steering-mounted audio controls, a touchscreen infotainment system with GPS, automatic climate control and a height-adjustable driver’s seat.

Mahindra also offers shift-on-fly four-wheel-drive system as a paid option on the S4 and S10 trims; the Scorpio is rear-wheel-drive by default.

The new Mahindra Scorpio has improved in almost all areas. It is better to look at, better to sit in and much nicer to drive. Priced almost the same as the outgoing model, from Rs 7.98-Rs.11.46 lakh, it has what it takes to remain the huge success it has been to date.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2022 11:04:30 AM |

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