Almost two decades ago, it was the Scorpio which helped Mahindra enter the new millennium with a new identity. After some initial hiccups, the Scorpio became the mainstay of Mahindra’s scheme of things becoming one of the star products in their product matrix. And that is primarily because of its rugged nature and versatility. The Scorpio is as comfortable on the road as off it. Now that we have laid our hands on the latest 2017 Mahindra Scorpio, we couldn’t resist putting it through the paces to find out how it performs in the five labours.
Is it practical?
It is one of the most affordable SUVs that can seat seven comfortably and double up as a cargo van whenever you need it to be. Step inside and it feels premium thanks to the white interior. The wall-like dashboard is functional and because it is so close to the firewall, it helps open up more cabin space. Mahindra continues to focus on the utilitarian aspects and Scorpio does not get a whole lot of stowage spaces and cubby holes like the modern cars. For example, the front door pockets will let you keep a wallet or a bunch of papers. While the rear doors do not get pockets, you do get bottle holders and another mount/space added to the door panel.
Apart from these, you have a cubby slit fore of the gear lever and a rubber-matted recess aft of it. The rear AC vents housing also has a rubber-matted recess along with a 12V outlet for the smartphone generation. The seating is quite comfortable though. Both the rows get large seats covered in a mix of fabric and leather for the top-spec trim. The driver’s seat gives you a commanding view of the proceedings. The middle row gets good thigh support which makes for upright seating posture. The jump-seats in the back seem spacious but are best reserved for duress.
How is it for a weekend with the gang?
With its ladder-frame construction and rear-wheel drive setup, the Scorpio is a capable off-roader. If you are seven in number, the jump seats in the back aren’t something where you would want to be on the long hauls. But if you manage to sneak in the front, you will feel like you are in a lounge.
Because, as we have said before, space is available in plenty. Even the six-footers in our team had no issues being seated behind one another. The Scorpio would be an ideal weekender for a gang of five. You can load up the boot right to the roof-top allowing you to take anything and everything that you might need for the road-trip.
Then comes the supreme ride-quality of the new Scorpio. Mahindra’s suspension tweaks seem to have worked. While it is still quite jiggly on broken roads thanks to the ladder-frame, on smooth roads, it works like a charm. In case you hit a pothole badly, the Scorpio will only emit a muffled thud rather than the spike through the spine of the earlier-generation car. Add the new 140bhp setup to the equation and you will be simply eating up the miles out on the highway.
How is it to commute with?
Large SUVs are always a tad difficult to manage on everyday urban commute. If you are in tier II or tier III cities, where the traffic is comparatively thinner and the commutes are longer, the Scorpio will certainly be at home. It will take the broken, bad roads in its stride and you will not have to worry about the maintenance of the suspension components as the Mahindra is built just for that.
The low speed ride is plush and the NVH has improved quite a bit for an old-school SUV. The ample torque of the diesel engine means that you will not have to shift down to the first gear and just clutch it over everything. Also, you will have to worry less about people cutting you off or swerving in your lane if you opt for white colour.
But if you are out to find parking in a busy neighbourhood or the local marketplace, finding a parking slot big enough to fit the Scorpio is a task. While it is not that long, the not-so-acute turning circle asks for more space. The steering on the new car is surprisingly light which makes it very easy to manoeuvre it around the oddly-parked cars, jaywalkers and all the different obstacles a modern Indian metro can offer.
Is it fun to drive?
Well, that depends upon what you expect from the Scorpio. The Scorpio now gets the XUV upgrade to its engine i.e. the 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel engine now develops 140bhp of power and 320Nm of torque. The 140 setup has more bite and is much faster off the blocks.
However, do not expect it to handle and perform like a modern SUV. The Scorpio is old-school and that is its USP. It will not go into corners like a sedan. It will roll, pitch and yaw as well. But surprisingly, the car seems to be quite composed even around switchback corners at regular speeds. In spite of all these years of development, Mahindra has not been able to get the Scorpio to maintain its composure when it encounters asymmetrical bumps in the straight line.
The steering has become a lot lighter and improved in its precision but still has to work on its feedback. The brakes have improved from their earlier spongy self but they still can't be counted as good.
Is it good with features?
This is one thing that Mahindra has been able to crack in the past decade. With their limited engineering prowess, Mahindra has always chosen to blow their buyers away with their feature lists. The top-spec Scorpio gets all-four power windows, power-folding and adjustable mirrors, tilt adjustable steering and height adjustable driver seat.
Along with the automatic climate control with AC vents for the rear passengers, the Scorpio comes with a touch-screen infotainment system with steering mounted audio controls. The infotainment system gets AUX, USB as well as Bluetooth connectivity for telephony and music. It gets the start-stop Micro-Hybrid system that works pretty seamlessly. If you slip it into neutral at a traffic light and let go of the clutch, the engine will cut off and as you get back on the clutch, it cranks up again. The Scorpio also gets cruise control. Electrically adjustable and folding wing mirrors, rear parking sensors with camera, dual front airbags and height adjustable driver’s seat are also offered on the top-spec Scorpio S11.
The Mahindra Scorpio is a no-nonsense car. Its old-school build makes it a bit heavy but that also adds to its tenacity and ruggedness. It has acceptable manners on the road as well as off the beaten path. With its off-road skills, it can drive you through most trails. Also, it is quite spacious for a gang of five and will make do if you have two more last minute entrants for the weekend getaway. And despite being old-school, it gets a feature list that matches most of the modern SUVs and that makes it an all-rounder. But at Rs 14.79 lakhs ex-showroom, Delhi, the Scorpio S11 is on the expensive side especially, when you consider the Tata Hexa that fits in the same budget.