Hundred thousand bookings in 30 minutes. That’s an outstanding achievement. Especially when you consider the new Scorpio N isn’t exactly an affordable proposition. And not just that; the Scorpio N isn’t kickstarting a new niche here, and this buyer already has some formidable options to choose from in this price bracket.
So, is this ‘1,00,000 in 30’ just a flash in the pan? Or is there something substantial behind these numbers; something that will ensure this momentum continues instead of the new Scorpio turning out to be a one-hit-wonder?
A new Scorpio
As a new Scorpio, the N is outstanding. No question. It takes all the positives of the older SUV and puts it on a higher plane. It’s more domineering, more comfortable, better engineered, more spacious, better equipped, and safer, and it’s not short of attitude either. But that’s just the start.
I have spent over 3,000km behind the wheel of the new Scorpio N through good roads, twisting roads, traffic jams, no roads, peak hour traffic, and sliding it around on the little Rann. And compared to the older Scorpio (now called the Scorpio Classic), the new one is easier to drive and quicker. It’s more comfortable and ergonomically sound. It’s more stable and more agile. And it’s not half as tiring to drive or live with, even on a 1000km driving day.
Then, if you owned, liked or wanted the Scorpio - or let’s just say you are a fan of the brand - you will want one. And that puts the N on sound footing.
The XUV700 challenge
Having said that, the N’s biggest challenge will come from the inside, in the form of the XUV700. There’s no doubt that the XUV is the better SUV here. You take road presence, features, ergonomics, comfort, driving dynamics, space utilisation, safety, and what have you, the XUV beats the N. It’s almost like the XUV showcases the best Mahindra has to offer, while the Scorpio N, in comparison, is a compromise.
It’s like Mahindra started working on the N as a replacement for the Classic but then began prioritising other bits along the way, like GNCAP and made last-minute adjustments to fit things in. And at the end, one has an SUV, which is good, yes, but lacks the right attention to detail. Take space utilisation, creature comfort, utility, ergonomics, or even the feel-good factor, and it’s evident the N falls short on these counts for the price it demands.
Again, the Scorpio N is a big step up from the older Scorpio. We are not taking that away, but the 700 sets a new benchmark. It’s not the Indian Car of the Year for no reason.
Plus, when you bring the pricing of the Scorpio N against the XUV into context, the N is even more wanting. I agree; when considering the top-spec versions of the two SUVs, the former is almost 2 lakh cheaper. But, even then, it makes sense to pay this premium because one is getting the better car with more features in the 700.
But, let’s compare the two in price.
Let’s consider the Scorpio Z8 and the XUV AX5. Both are diesel manual seven-seater versions. And both are priced under Rs 18 lakh, ex-showroom. Now, the N does have more features, but it doesn’t have it all. It gets front side airbags, TPMS, hill descent control, automatic two-zone climate control, reversing camera, cooled glovebox, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlamps, keyless start and cruise control which are missing on the AX5. And quite a few of those features are important for buyers, we agree.
But then the XUV gets a panoramic sunroof, an eight-way adjustable driver seat, more cup and bottle holders and stowage spaces, and a reclining third row that also splits and folds to add practically, and a better sound system, all of which is missing on the N. The AX5 also gets alloy wheels which the Z8 doesn’t.
As is evident, even though the Scorpio Z8 is better equipped, it’s not as strongly opinion-altering. And this is before we consider the fact that the XUV, even in the AX5 guise, is the better vehicle, as mentioned earlier. It is better and easier to drive, it is quicker, and it is more involving, more comfortable, more practical, more premium, better built, and possibly, safer as well. The N’s GNCAP ratings were not out at the time of writing this article.
And so, if I want an SUV to drive and live within the city or to go intercity, the XUV is the more logical choice. And yes, the Scorpio is built to take more of a beating and completely dismisses bad roads, but our time with the XUV has shown that it too takes on the rough with great authority. And poise.
So, unless you are a true Scorpio fan - which takes us to the first sub-head of this article - there isn’t a solid reason to buy the N over the XUV. And this could be a damper on Scorpio’s current momentum. Along with, of course, its impending price increase.
The Classic conundrum
There’s also the Scorpio Classic to consider. Now, if Mahindra had replaced the old Scorpio with the N instead of allowing the two to co-exist, no matter where you were or what your usage, you would have had to settle for the N. But now, with the Classic, the fleet sales will continue to be skewed in its favour.
What’s more, with the price differential between the Classic and the N set to increase, many in smaller towns would continue to prefer the Classic for its lower price, its cult status, and its simpler setup. Not to mention its side-facing seats in the boot instead of a conventional front-facing third row. And if this happens, then the N will find itself squeezed out of volume share even more.
So yes, the ‘1,00,000 in 30’ does sound very promising. But, with the XUV in the urban sphere and the Classic in the hinterlands, the N’s party might not continue unabated.