Back in 2002, Mahindra was a very different brand. Known primarily for hardy, mechanical utility vehicles that were a lifeline for the country’s agricultural belt. But the arrival of the Scorpio changed things, pushing the brand into a more cosmopolitan realm with the more urban, comfortable SUV.
Two decades later, the Mahindra ScorpioN’s arrival heralds a new era for Mahindra. Unlike most brands using the term “all-new” to describe a refreshed bumper and a bit of cladding on the side, the ScorpioN is truly all-new. New chassis, new body, new suspension, new alloys and a new 4WD system. This is a ScorpioN that’s batting in a very different league. The D-segment league to be specific because Mahindra took great pains to explain why its list of features and capabilities surpass even those of the mighty Toyota Fortuner. So, after a shockingly competitive introductory price (Rs 11.99 lakh) reveal, we’ve got ourselves a Scorpio that’s much larger, much better looking and a lot more comfortable. How much better is it than the regular Scorpio? (which will also continue to be sold alongside the N, as the Scorpio Classic)
That’s easy. For my money, the ScorpioN is the best looking SUV made by Mahindra. It’s still recognisably a Scorpio, but it’s also unapologetically old-school in its dimensions. The slightly on-the-nose aggression of the classic Scorpio’s bulbous framework has been replaced with a far more athletic and proportionate form. The frame is much larger now, thanks to 206mm increase in length and 70mm increase in width. The changes made to the overall dimensions are palpable both inside and outside. With proper seating for seven, this is the full-sized off-roading SUV that actually feels marginally smaller than the Alturas, but no less plusher. Wheel size options vary from 17 to 18 inches, further helping the new ScorpioN exude the sort of trademark muscular power that customers have come to expect from Mahindra’s SUVs.
It dispenses with the gentrifying design cues of the XUV700, and has the sort of hard-as-nails countenance of a traditional ladder frame SUV, in the image of old Nissan Patrols and Toyota Land Cruisers of yesteryear. As far as design goes, it’s a lot more singular in its purpose, much like the Thar, with a large imposing front fascia, narrowing projector LED headlamps and muscular wheel arches which elevate both the front and rear fenders and helping the ScorpioN deliver that proverbial sting. Certainly as far as the competition is concerned. Top that with a few design nods to its namesake, and we have a winner. No two ways about it – the ScorpioN really looks the business.
Driving the ScorpioN
Those familiar with the Thar and XUV700’s new powertrains will find nothing new here. The ScorpioN gets the same 2.0-litre turbo-petrol and 2.2-litre turbo-diesel options, with the latter being available in two different states of tune, while the former gets a 203hp power output with 370 Nm of torque (380 if you go for the 6-speed automatic variant). Not having driven the more lavishly equipped diesel (which is the only powertrain that gets the 4x4 system and multiple drive modes) I had the petrol automatic to contend with. But thankfully, there was plenty to unpack there.
As with all things Mahindra, there are several variants offering increasing levels of tech sophistication. The top-end petrol automatic may be missing the new proprietary 4 EXPLOR 4WD system, but it’s got enough punch to not need any drive modes. Sure, the engine is working with considerable bulk so power delivery in this ladder-frame SUV isn’t the quickest. Mahindra did say that while it used high-tensile steel for greater structural integrity, this is the lightest frame in this segment (which can be confusing because the Scorpio straddles both the C and the D segment, depending on the variant). Still, when power does kick-in post the 2000 rpm mark, the ScorpioN can move reasonably quick. Rear-wheel drive comes as standard, which means you can have some fun with this tail-happy SUV, should you find a nice gravelly patch. Rest assured, the Scorpio’s many electronic aids snap it right back in place.
Ladder frame chassis work best for proper off-roading, however make SUVs top-heavy, which combined with high ground clearance means a higher center of gravity which isn’t great for handling. And yet, the ScorpioN doesn’t have daunting levels of body roll during cornering. R Velusamy, Mahindra’s Senior Vice President and Chief of Product Development said that the Roll Arm Height - the line connecting the front and rear suspension roll centers is lower than what is the benchmark for D-segment heavy hitters. So it’s primarily through suspension (double wishbone up front and multi-link at the back) that Mahindra manages to contain body roll although the N is a tad lower than the Scorpio Classic.
What is truly impressive is how refined this powertrain feels, and how well it works with the automatic transmission unit. With steady enough throttle, the gearbox is smooth and glitch free. More than the handling and stability levels of this bruiser of an SUV, it’s the AT unit that’s demonstrative of just how much the Scorpio and brand Mahindra have evolved in the last two generations. Not having tested its proprietary 4WD system, I can’t speak about the efficacy of the diesel 4x4, but even the RWD managed to power through some heavy slush with incredible ease. At no point, on road or off it did the Scorpio’s 180mm ground clearance (lower than the standard car’s ) seem insufficient.
Interiors and Features
Dual tone finish, leather wrapped steering, an upright center console – nothing about the interiors here scream Scorpio. It’s so much more refined and plush. The AdrenoX operating system is reasonably easy to use, but despite boasting of wireless Apple CarPlay, it only seemed compatible with Android Auto, perhaps as a result of being a pre-production version. Mahindra has also thrown-in a Sony 3D surround sound system, which works just as well as you’d expect it to. While a seven-seater configuration is standard on the lower variants, the top ones get a 6-seat setup with captain seats in the middle row.
Satin-finished surfaces, vertical aircon vents, USB-C and USB charging ports – this is a cabin that’s been calibrated for modern use. The wireless charging dock actually charges your phone, which is more than I can say for the competition. In terms of passive safety measures, the ScorpioN gets up to six airbags, ESC, EBD, driver drowsiness detection, hill hold hill descent, tire pressure monitoring, tyre orientation on the instrument cluster, rain sensing wipers among other features.
Room for improvement
Despite the glowing praise that the Scorpio will undoubtedly receive from all quarters, it’s still not a perfected product. The steering wheel feels a bit too light and isn’t as communicative as I’d like it to be. And the suspension doesn’t soak-up the bumps quite as well as it should. As for the third row, it isn’t the most comfortable in the business, and the lack of AC vents can make things a tad more inconvenient for the hopefully petite individual occupying those seats.
The ScorpioN will no doubt prolong the winning streak Mahindra has been on with its recent launches. It’s a deliciously wholesome product, with such a no-compromise, engineering-driven approach behind it that elevates India’s car making prowess by a considerable margin. Mahindra has announced an introductory price applicable for the first 25,000 purchases only. That’s 25,000 cars that’ll disappear from their shelves in a jiffy. While we await word on whether Mahindra has updated its vendor base, it’s safe to say that the only real issue that Mahindra will face is ensuring that supply meets demand.The ScorpioN is a robust, go-anywhere SUV, now equipped with the creature comforts of a much more expensive D-segment offering. Its mix of space, quality, off-roading capability and comfort would have been enough to draw in a vast pool of customers. But with the Scorpio name added to all these attributes, Mahindra won’t be able to sell these fast enough. What the Scorpio did for the Mahindra brand two decades ago, the ScorpioN does for the Scorpio brand today: it revolutionizes it.
|Mahindra ScorpioN variant list||Petrol MT||Diesel MT|
|Z2||Rs 11.99 lakh||Rs 12.46 lakh|
|Z4||Rs 13.49 lakh||Rs 13.99 lakh|
|Z6||—--||Rs 14.99 lakh|
|Z8||Rs 16.99 lakh||Rs 17.49 lakh|
|Z8L||Rs 18.99||Rs 19.49 lakh|