The interior looks nothing like the old Scorpio, and it is a change for the better. The colour scheme is now light grey and black, with fabric upholstery in grey and blue. The steering wheel is the biggest change – it has been taken from the XUV, and the buttons have great tactile feel, unlike the buttons on the previous steering wheel, which would have your thumbs aching in no time. The buttons on the wheel control the audio system, telephone and, in our top-spec S10 variant, the cruise control as well. Also gone is the square top of the previous gear lever, replaced with a more ergonomic oval one. The dials remain twin-pod, there are two analog readouts for the speed and engine revs, but the digital multi-function display in the centre displays the rest of the information, which includes two trip meters, the speedo, fuel gauge, temperature gauge and gear indicator. No, it does not tell you which gear to shift to like the Hyundais and VWs do, and Mahindra has overlooked the fact that while blue might look like a great backlighting colour, it is very essential to provide the consumer with a dimmer for the instrument cluster rather than the screen on the centre console.
The centre console is topped by two chrome-lined rectangular AC vents, and below that sits the touchscreen head unit for the audio/navigation system. It is very impressive, providing the driver with such information as tyre pressure and temperature. It also follows the blue lighting theme in its colour graphics. However, some aspects of the system are very confusing. The ‘Eq’ button takes you to a screen with options that are named in a way that I’ve never heard of before, and you have to experiment and remember through repetition what each of those settings do. Some of those settings don’t deal with just equalisation, they also pan the sound completely to the front or the rear, which led me to believe that Mahindra had left out a fader and equaliser. But I was wrong – both are there, but available in a sub-menu somewhere that wasn’t easy to find the first time around. Also, there are three buttons on the head unit for the phone and one each for equalisation, and ‘info’ but there’s not a single button for accessing the media that can be plugged in, like aux or USB/iPod. That takes three clicks/touches each time. Speaking of which, finding the USB and aux in ports is difficult – they are squirreled away beneath the centre console, which I understand. A lot of manufacturers like Honda and Hyundai use the same location, but in the Scorpio I found it impossible to see the ports. A little labeling in a visible place below the ‘Start/Stop’ and ‘auto wipers’ will go a long way in making it easier for new owners to find the ports easily. The screen is also not very visible on a bright day, and especially if the passenger is wearing bright clothing. The placement of the screen is also too low for the sat-nav to be used as a visual aid to the driver, because looking at the screen means taking your eyes completely off the road.
The Scorpio S10 gets climate control, and it chills the cabin quickly and effectively. There is no roof-mounted blower for the people in the back, so it remains to be seen how effectively it will handle a full complement of passengers in the middle of summer.
Below the air-conditioning controls are the buttons for the hazard lamps, and automatic lights, wipers and start/stop system. There are cubbyholes at the bottom next to the handbrake. The plastic cover over the rotary knob that controls the 4WD looks like an afterthought – Mahindra would do well to make that another place to keep small things like coins in, in the 2WD models. The biggest of the recesses next to handbrake will hold a 1-litre bottle but there aren’t any cupholders per se. The glovebox holds quite a lot of things, and above it sits a chrome badge that states “Scorpio” just like in the Verito. It is a nice touch.
The doors are similar to the ones we’ve seen before on the Scorpio, with map pockets but no bottle holders. They have grab handles that are finished wonderfully, but the actual door handles are made of cheap, non-silvered or chromed plastic, on which you can feel the edges of the moulding. The seats themselves are comfortable, with the driver’s seat getting height adjustment as well. The steering wheel doesn’t telescope but the mirrors get electrical adjustment but no automatic folding. The buttons for the power windows are now in the right place, on the driver’s door, and the driver’s window even gets the one-touch up and down feature. However, the button operating the driver’s window is the same as the others and doesn’t have the two-step feel that we’ve come to expect from this feature, so actually engaging the auto up/down takes more than one try, and can get frustrating. Pedal placement is good, but even if you’re forty feet tall like I am, using the lowest height setting on the seat makes it difficult to get the perfect balance between reach to the steering wheel and the comfort of your foot against the pedals. The armrests for the front seats are a great addition if you’re going to go for long drives.
The second row is roomy and comfortable. Under-thigh support is adequate, and the backrest angle is good. However, the pull-down arm rest and even the level of the elbow rests on the doors is too low for most people. There are door pockets in the rear doors that can hold 1-litre bottles – this means that a person in the rear seat can access at least two 1-litre bottles in the car, while the front row occupants can access only one – and there is a small mobile phone holder just below the window line, which seems like a great idea until you actually try to put your phone in it. I have a Moto G, which is a phone size that most of the world meets or exceeds, and it doesn’t fit into the holder. It also won’t be wise to keep your phone there during a Mumbai monsoon, especially since it doesn’t seem like Mahindra has thought of a drain hole at the bottom of the holder. The rear seat passengers then have a single seatback pocket behind the passenger seat. What is really nice is the 12V socket, the AC vents, and the place to store small things like phones in the space behind the AC vents. Special mention has to be made here of the jack and spanner, which are stored below the seats. Maybe it was just our car that hadn’t had the jack fixed properly, but every single time we went around a corner enthusiastically, it slid sideways and bumped against the doors. It also puzzled our video team no end, until the culprit was found.
The rear has sideways-facing seats which are comfortable for short runs. They can be folded up and the second row tumbled forward to make for a massive load bay.
NVH is greatly improved – the new Scorpio is a quiet place to be in, with hardly any road, engine or wind noise seeping into the cabin even at highway cruising speeds.
The Scorpio’s interior is a much better place to be in, and the plastic quality has taken a giant leap ahead of its previous version. In fact, it seems better than the Duster in many ways. However, certain things don’t add up: a really high-tech head unit for the audio system but comparatively low-rent speakers. Twin gas struts that make opening the bonnet child’s play but a rear door that refuses to stay open when the Scorpio is parked nose-down on the slightest of inclines.
Overall, old Scorpio owners will want to upgrade on the strength of the interior of the S10 by itself, that’s how much of an improvement it is.