Mahindra Scorpio Review
Car Tested: 2015 Mahindra Scorpio S10
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 9.71 – 15.35 lakhs
The Scorpio has always been a hot seller and the updates make it even more appealing
There is no denying that the Scorpio is a very important vehicle, as it not only changed the outlook of people towards affordable SUVs but also changed people’s very thinking towards Mahindra, helping them transform from a Jeep maker to a car maker. Since the launch of the first Mahindra Scorpio around 12 years back, this SUV has taken the market by storm and has been selling in extremely good numbers. Its popularity is no mere coincidence as the Scorpio has always offered a lot to buyers. Mahindra’s strategy of offering more value continues with the new generation model. This isn’t just a cosmetically enhanced vehicle, the changes are skin deep which claim to transform the Scorpio, but do they?
Motor Quest: Mahindra launched the Scorpio in 2002 and the vehicle was developed with 100% involvement from suppliers who would not only source components but also test and validate them. Mahindra took five years to develop the Scorpio, investing Rs. 550 crores. In 2006, the second generation model was launched while the latest model is the third generation of the popular Indian SUV.
Exteriors – When we first saw the pictures of the new Mahindra Scorpio, we weren’t impressed but seeing the vehicle on road does change your opinion and the styling does grow on you. The structure is undoubtedly that of the Scorpio although there are some changes to the panels. Mahindra hasn’t altered the doors or the roof of the vehicle and has simply carried them over but the rest of the car does have new parts which give it a fresh appeal. The design is boxier than ever and the attention to detail on certain places is worth appreciation. The front-end of the 2015 Mahindra Scorpio has very little in common with the old car, it gets sharper elements like a grille with chrome slats, new headlights with an LED eyebrow (for the parking light and there are no daytime running lights), an intercooler which gels well with the hood (doesn’t look like an afterthought like the old Scorpio) and a chunkier bumper with a skid plate.
The side reveals the new 17-inch wheels which have a nice 5-spoke design and the blackened B and C-pillars. Other changes to the side are the chrome surrounds around the indicators (on the front fender). The rear gets quite a lot of changes too, the christmas tree light arrangement (the reflector area) has been replaced with a black cladding. Mahindra has also given the rear door of the Scorpio a two-tone finish with the black finish seeming out of place. The best part about the rear are the new LED tail lights (Mahindra likes to call them Hi-Tech). The D-shape design looks very striking, more so when illuminated although the blue area is just unnecessary (but not visible at all times). Overall, the design of the new Scorpio is fresher with modern touches and people are sure to like it with time. Mahindra also offers an exterior and interior accessory pack for the new Scorpio which can spruce up the vehicle considerably.
Interiors – The dashboard of the third generation Mahindra Scorpio is all new, it’s vastly improved and really uplifts the ambience of the cabin. The dual-tone treatment of black and beige works really well and the flat-ish design of the dash is in line with the boxy theme on the outside. The top part of the dashboard is finished in black and so is the centre console while a Scorpio badge is placed right below the left most AC vent. The power window switches have been relocated to the doors but since the doors haven’t been redesigned, one will find it almost impossible to access the door pockets or even adjust the position of the seat when the doors are closed. The new steering wheel from the XUV500 is fantastic to see and hold and has all the controls neatly laid out, including audio, phone and cruise control buttons.
Not only is the Scorpio more appealing on the inside, it has a load of features as standard
Mahindra has also updated the instrument cluster which is a very futuristic unit, both the needles swing all the way to max on start up and the blue colour fits in perfectly too, a large multi-information display shows current gear, odometer, trip meters (two of them), engine temperature and fuel level. The equipment levels are more than generous, there is a ton of features on offer including automatic headlights, automatic wipers, cruise control, voice assist (tells you to wear your seatbelt), park assist (shows distance from obstacle in cms), tyre pressure monitoring, follow me home headlamps, twin projector headlights with cornering function (illumination is fantastic and cornering lights work very well on the twisties) and climate control AC to name a few. The 6-inch touch-screen infotainment system (from the XUV) is a slick unit, it offers Bluetooth, USB, CD, DVD, AUX connectivity, Navigation (is accurate), service reminder, etc. but the audio system offers poor output and the sound quality is below average. Our test car’s audio output kept randomly shifting from the front to the rear speakers so quality is far from flawless. The touch-screen unit is difficult to see in the day and isn’t as responsive, it does have a reverse camera function but the car itself doesn’t have a reverse camera.
Mahindra has given the Scorpio new seats which are finished in dual tone beige and blue. These seats offer excellent comfort and there is ample space in the second row as well. In the first two rows, passengers will appreciate the back support, good under-thigh support and generous legroom but the last row with side facing seats is best avoided. While the second row is a nice place to be in, there are only two AC vents which aren’t up to the job of cooling the big cabin. Storage spaces inside the cabin aren’t adequate, the glovebox is small, the door pockets don’t have cup holders and the area in the centre console is the only place where you can keep your phone and keys. There is a power outlet right next to the gearlever while the other power outlet is below the cubbyhole below the rear AC vents.
Mahindra has tried to improve the ergonomics of the car, like the fuel lid button is right under the right most AC vent and certainly things have gone forward but there are still some issues in the cabin. There is no dedicated button to lock the doors and the lock/unlock switch on the door handle is just too hard to operate. The door handle itself feels like it will fall off after repeated use. Other issues include poor fit and finish, quality on the outside seems good but look closely and cost cutting is glaringly evident. The seat belt sensor is exposed (right behind the driver’s seat) and in the last row, one can pull the wire to open the fuel lid, why is it exposed is beyond our understanding. That’s not all, the wire for the defogger is also clearly visible, this isn’t expected nor accepted in a vehicle which costs upwards of Rs. 10 lakhs. Even the key has a separate remote (which stopped working on our test car) which is shocking as the Centuro motorcycle from the same company gets a flip key with buttons on it. There are no cabin lights at the front and some exposed metal parts really rob away from what is otherwise a nice interior which has taken a big leap over its predecessor.
Performance – The Mahindra Scorpio soldiers on with the same 2.2-litre diesel engine which outputs 120 BHP of power and 280 Nm of torque. Using a variable geometry turbocharger, this mill has a top mounted intercooler so the hood scoop is very much functional and not just for cosmetic appeal. Mahindra has tweaked the motor, albeit the change in tune isn’t drastic so the character of the oil burner remains just like before. There is a strong bottom-end pull and there is little lag making the Scorpio an effortless performer in the city. Drivability is where the Scorpio excels and the punch in the mid-range helps it be a highway scorcher as well.
With a good low and mid range, the Scorpio obviously lacks in the top end and there is a sudden drop on get go once you whizz past 4000 RPM, it’s best to keep this motor spinning at under 3500 RPM for best progress. Even short shifting is a good idea because 100 km/hr is reached in an instant and the mHawk mill does well to hide the Scorpio’s girth. Our VBOX time confirms the Scorpio is no slouch, taking just 13.93 seconds to do the 0-100 km/hr sprint. Cruising at 100 km/hr in top gear results in 2400 RPM on the tacho which means a tab on the big pedal is enough to make quick overtakes as the mid-range is quite punchy. The Scorpio reaches 100 km/r in third gear and will do slightly more than 40 km/hr in first, 70 km/hr in second while third will see it reach almost 110 km/hr.
The powerplant is terrifically refined, there is less of that drone you encounter in big diesels while vibrations are well contained too, a little of it at idle and quite a lot near the 4800 RPM redline. The big change to the powertrain is the new 5MT320 gearbox which comes from the Xylo. Now this unit is much smoother than before, offering slick shifts but if you don’t engage the clutch completely, it becomes very notchy. The clutch itself is very light so shifting gears requires less effort than before. Accelerate hard and you reach 120 km/hr in a flash with the Scorpio sharply losing thrust at 140 km/hr. While Mahindra claims an ARAI mileage of 15.37 km/l, one should expect the vehicle to return 11-13 km/l in the real world. The vehicle is a Micro-Hybrid and thus comes with a stop/start system which works flawlessly.
Driving Dynamics – One of the weak points of the Scorpio was the ride and handling balance, and Mahindra has done significant work to improve it. The car gets a new modular chassis, it’s still a body on frame layout but is a hydroformed frame. The new chassis is much more stiffer (by almost 100%) while the front suspension is all new and the rear suspension gets an anti-roll bar. The front suspension is lighter (the new platform is itself lighter) and also gets service free hubs while the track of the car is much wider than before, aiding in high speed stability while also reducing turning radius by 0.2 metres. So the Scorpio has gone on a diet and weighs less than before, well it still weighs quite a lot due to the ladder frame construction. Mahindra calls the new underpinnings as “Cushion suspension and anti-roll technology”. It also gets shift-on-the-fly 4-wheel drive system so you don’t have to stop to go from 2WD to 4WD (our test car was a 2WD). So do the changes translate to improvements in the real world?
The Mahindra Scorpio rides and handles much better than before, it feels so much more composed and surefooted
We are happy to report with a big YES. The Scorpio is leaps and bounds better than its predecessor with both the ride and handling seeing massive improvement. The ride quality is much better than before and the added stiffness has resulted in the bounciness reducing significantly. It still feels a bit uneasy when you go fast on bad roads and that reveals the softer suspension of this SUV, there is some pitch. The car handles much better than before, body roll is evident but well contained and it doesn’t feel as nervous. Changing directions quickly is much easier now and the composure offered by the new chassis is immediately apparent. The hydraulic steering has good weight at speed and offers decent feedback too. Considering the size and weight of the Scorpio, it definitely fares quite well in the dynamics department now. The brakes remain the same as before and while they do a good job, a bit more braking power could have helped. NVH could have been better as a lot of wind noise is audible inside the cabin at high speeds. The tyres offer good grip and the party piece of the Scorpio is the way it drives, it’s almost car like so driving it is effortless.
Safety and After Sales Service – The Mahindra Scorpio isn’t sold in Europe and hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP. It hasn’t been tested by Global NCAP either so there is little information about its crash worthiness. Mahindra does offer dual front airbags on the Scorpio, which is offered on the S8 and S10 variants while ABS is standard on the S6+ variant and upwards. The car gets panic brake indication (if you brake hard over 100 km/hr than the hazard lights will turn on), seat belt reminder lamp, collapsible steering column, speed alert warning and side intrusion beams. It would have been nice if Mahindra had given the Scorpio side airbags, at least as an option. Mahindra’s after sales service is good and there hasn’t been much compliant about the same.
Verdict – The Mahindra Scorpio has always been popular with SUV buyers and the new model will ensure that popularity escalates to new heights. Mahindra’s confidence in the Scorpio is evident by the fact that the company produced a lot of units prior to launch anticipating heavy demand. After having put the Scorpio through the thick and thin, we are quite impressed. The new model is significantly better than before while the asking price hasn’t gone up through the roof. The made in Nashik vehicle sees improvements in several areas, it looks fresher, the interior is better, there is more equipment on offer and the car is much nicer to drive than before. The new generation Scorpio is undoubtedly vastly improved, making it an easy buying choice.
The 2015 Mahindra Scorpio is the best Scorpio yet, no doubt about that. Mahindra has improved the car in several departments and all that adds to the popular SUV becoming a more compelling package in the crowding SUV space.
* Spirited performance
* Almost drives like a car
* Improved dynamics
* Loaded with features
What’s Not So Cool
* Fit-finish still needs improvement
* Door lock/unlock switch is cheap
Alternatives: Tata Safari Storme, Renault Duster
Mahindra Scorpio Specifications
* Engine: 2179cc, mHawk, 4-cylinder, 16-valves, Direct Injection, VGT with Intercooler
* Power: 120 BHP @ 4000 RPM
* Torque: 280 Nm @ 1800-2800 RPM
* Transmission: 5-speed manual
* 0-100 km/hr: 13.93 seconds
* Top Speed: 165 km/hr
* Fuel Consumption: 11 km/l (City), 13 km/l (Highway)
* Fuel Type: Diesel
* Suspension: Double-wishbone (Front), Multi-link coil spring (Rear)
* Tyres: 235/65/17
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Drum (Rear), ABS
* Safety: ABS, Dual Airbags, Rear Parking Sensors
Mahindra Scorpio Dimensions
* Overall length x width x height: 4456 mm X 1820 mm X 1995 mm
* Wheelbase: 2680 mm
* Turning Radius: 5.4 metres
* Ground clearance: 180 mm
* Boot Volume: 460 liters
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 60 litres
* Kerb Weight: 1815 kgs
Further Reading –
Picture Editing – Sri Manikanta Achanta