If there was a book on the mostsignificant cars that defined theIndian automobile industry,the Mahindra Scorpio woulddefinitely feature in it. More thana decade after launch, it still is one of thetop-selling vehicles in the highly competitiveSUV segment. In some states in India,it even outsells every other SUV. The Scorpio,until a few months ago, was even thecurrent PM's vehicle of choice. It definitelyis an iconic vehicle for Mahindra. Over theyears, it has been updated quite often toobut how much longer can it sustain in themarket? Well, Mahindra didn't want to findout and so went ahead with the developmentof the next-gen Scorpio. The resultis finally here, we have driven it too andit will be rolling out of dealerships by thetime you read this. Does the new Scorpio,then, raise the bar?
Before we drove the new Scorpio atMahindra's facility and the birthplaceof the SUV in Nashik, we met the teamresponsible for developing the new generationmodel. As the product presentationbegun, they mentioned that the only partsretained from the previous Scorpio werethe doors and the roof. Look at the end resulthere, though, and you will realise thatapart from the all-new face, everythingelse looks very similar to the outgoingmodel. That's because every other exteriorelement has only been tweaked and is notnecessarily an all-new design.
Let's start with the front end. The faceis now more aggressive than the Scorpiowe've been used to so far. Instead of tryingto fit in the new family grille onto an olderdesign (as seen in the older Scorpio), thedesigners have finally got an opportunityto start afresh. The grille, headlampsand bumper are all new. The hexagonalgrille is unique and, instead of the usualseparations in the form of slats, featuressmaller inserts finished in chrome. Theheadlamps go well with the grille, are edgy,and feature projector lighting and parkinglamps in the form of LED eyebrows thatadd to the macho character. The hood isredesigned and the functional scoop thatsits on it uses the same grille pattern.
Headlamps now feature projector lighting while the eyebrows and tail lamps use LED lighting
The sides? Well, apart from the frontfender, everything else is exactly the sameand is disappointing, after all, this vehicle issupposed to be the next-gen Scorpio. Theheadlamps now wrap around the fenderthat also features a mock vent like bezel, theside cladding is exactly the same, and onlythe front section has been redesigned sinceit is part of the new face. Larger 17-inchwheels (16-inch in the previous model) lookgood but are more car like than SUV. Thewheels however fill up the arches well.Move to the rear and you know it is aScorpio even though the design is a lotbusier than before. A black applique runsacross the upper part of the tailgate. Itlooks better on a darker shade like the blueScorpio you see here, but the silver numberplate garnish is boxy and loud. The basemodel is in fact easier on the eyes since itdoesn't feature any contrasting garnish.The window is now smaller and the visiblearea even less. But it doesn't affect visibilitysince the outgoing model's rear windowwas unnecessarily large. The windowshape is unique and complex, even therear defogger grids aren't straight lines butangular. The clear lens tail lamps are newand feature bright LED lighting but thechrome insides look aftermarket especiallyduring the day. However, the verticalpillar-mounted reflectors have now beenditched for non-reflective black inserts.
The bumper however is exactly the sameas before. Overall, the exterior is still verymuch like the current Scorpio's except forthe more aggressive face.
The tail lamps also have been revised
It's a similar story when you step inside.The dashboard, door-pads and steeringwheel are all new but the rest of theinterior only gets tweaks. The black/lightgrey dual-tone dash is no more roundedbut edgy and is better finished too. Theseats meanwhile feature blue-grey upholstery.The centre console even houses atouchscreen infotainment system (in thetop variants) that offers features similarto the more premium XUV500. The newinstrument cluster even goes well withthe interior theme, the futuristic designstill uses analogue meters but featuresa digital-centre screen that also displaysa gear indicator. The steering wheel andmounted controls have been borrowedfrom the XUV500. The light blue backlittheme is soothing and the design overall issmart and pleasing. Despite a large cabin,the Scorpio still offers very little storagepoints, the gear lever console, for instance,could have offered a lot more cubbyholes,and there are still no bottle holders in thedoor pads. The power window buttons,that were earlier placed near the gear lever,have finally moved to the doors.
The interior now houses an all-new dual-tone dashboard that is modern and well-built
The engines are similar to the outgoingmodel's and receive no upgrades too.The Scorpio will be offered in six variants,namely - S2, S4, S6, S6+, S8 and yes youguessed it, S10. The S2 variant featuresthe m2DICR 2.5-litre engine while therest are powered by the 2.2-litre mHawkdiesel. The transmission mated to bothengines however is the new-generation5-speed manual from the Xylo mHawk.
The seats also have matching upholstery
The gearshifts are now smoother and takelesser effort. The automatic variant willfeature the same 6-speed torque convertor.The 4WD model features a new shift on flysystem that allows toggling between 2WDand 4WD mode without having to bringthe vehicle to a complete halt.We didn't get to drive the 4WD Scorpiobut we did drive the top-end 2WD model,the proven mHawk engine is still very refinedand hence made sense to be retained.
Instrument cluster is modern
Turbo lag is evident but once past the2,000rpm mark, power delivery is strongand linear. The engine produces a healthy120PS at 4,000rpm while max torque isan impressive 280Nm produced between1,800rpm and 2,800rpm.The body may be similar but the mostimportant change that makes this Scorpioa true next-generation model is the all-newchassis. The new modular ladder constructionuses a hydroforming manufacturingtechnique. This process has been used inaerospace for decades but has made it to theauto industry only recently. Hydroforminghelps reduce weight, and most importantly,increases strength and stiffness. Comparedto the old ladder chassis, the new frame isvisibly thicker but is in fact two kilogramslighter and almost 100 per cent stiffer.
Since it is also modular, this ladder will bethe platform for all future body-on-frameMahindra vehicles. What about the Scorpiopick-up? It will continue to use the oldergeneration chassis as of now and accordingto Mahindra, there are no plans of anupgraded model anytime soon.The suspension uses a similar setupas before (double wishbone front and amultilink rear) but it is a newer unit andfeatures polyurethane bushes instead ofrubber. The former lasts longer since itis less vulnerable to abrasion and retainsits original shape. The track has beenincreased on both axles too, reducing theturning radius from 5.6m to an impressive5.4m. The steering system also features anew collapsible system.
The various changes to the underpinningsimprove the Scorpio's rideand handling by a margin. Gliding overpotholes and broken surfaces is evenmore effortless now, while body roll ismuch more controlled. The wider trackhas helped too, the chassis feels a lot moreplanted at higher speeds and the steeringfeels quicker. The driving position is stillvery old-school and a more committedposition could have elevated the drivingexperience even further.
Automatic climate control is offered on the new Scorpio
The outgoing Scorpio did feature a longlist of comfort features such as rain sensingwipers, auto lights, tyre pressure monitor,parking sensor, start-stop technology andmore. The new Scorpio carries forwardthese features as well. Safety features likedual-airbags and ABS will continue tobe offered, a new Panic Brake Indicationhas also been included. All the additionsand modifications will add to the pricebut we still think Mahindra will price itcompetitively. The number of variants hasincreased too, allowing buyers to choosethe model that suits them best.
The Scorpio is one of the most successfulMahindra models ever and has thepotential to do well as it has just receivedthe biggest upgrade since it was launchedback in 2002. Now if only someone couldconvince the boffins at Mahindra to offeran all-new body in the next update.
Images by Makrand Baokar