the scorpio has been around for, like, forever. Launched in 2002, it marked a massive step up from the makers of the erstwhile Indian jeep, a sophisticated SUV to take Bolero customers upmarket. In fact it was such a massive step up from the Mahindras we were used to, that for the longest time we refused to call it an SUV, insisting on giving it the ‘car’ tag. Updated periodically (better reliability, coil springs, a modicum of handling, stronger engine auto tranny, even start/stop), the Scorpio has been a massive success for Mahindra, giving it the wherewithal, not to mention confidence, to crank out the XUV500.
Of late it has been crying for an upgrade, particularly when faced with competition from the Renault Duster, and this is it. It is not all-new but thoroughly refreshed.
While the basic body is retained, the new Scorpio gets a completely revised ladder-onframe chassis with twice the strength of the earlier chassis resulting is better structural rigidity. The track is narrower, weight has come down, while the front end has been made stronger for better crash safety.
What people will notice is the styling and it is nothing if not in-your-face. If you ignore the Xylo, the styling of all Mahindras has been very macho, very aggressive. The new Scorpio is still distinctively a Scorpio, which isn’t a bad thing to begin with, but with modern embellishments and detailing. For me, they have addressed one complaint I had with the car, that it looked a bit too rounded.
The new grille is big, bold and masculine and works well irrespective of the colour you choose. There are new, sleeker-looking projector headlights, with smartly integrated LED eyebrows (a la BMW) as parking lights.
An old school formula with better style and massively upgraded mechanicals
The front bumper too has been updated, with a nice aluminium finish to the lip, lending more character to the already imposing front. Changes at the back are prominent, dominated by a black plastic cladding running across the centre of the tailgate. The tail lights are now LED, but remain similar to the outgoing model in terms of design. The new 17-inch wheels, combined with the other updates, give the Scorpio a classic, purposeful, and well-proportioned appearance.
The interiors have also got a once-over, resulting in a fresh instrument panel design with an all-new instrument cluster and pleasant blue backlighting. A six-inch touchscreen entertainment/information system dominates the newly designed centre stack that also houses an excellent navigation
system. There’s now climate control, brushedaluminium accents and soft-touch materials, as well as a long list of equipment to endow the Scorpio with a premium feel. One of the other major changes to the interiors is the moving of the power window switches from the centre, from near the handbrake and on to the door panels (where they belong). Other gizmos like the tyre pressure monitoring system, auto headlights, wipers and startstop system have been carried forward from the previous model, while also being improved. The new interior has definitely addressed the dated design and electronics of the previous model and now offers more than others in the same price bracket do. The supportive seats and smartly arranged controls make the interior feel premium and
It’s still distinctively a Scorpio, which isn’t
a bad thing to begin with, but with modern embellishments and
handsome. From behind the wheel the view remains commanding, despite a cabin that envelops you, while there seems to be more space at the rear. The Safari remains the class leader in this respect though.
Aesthetics aside, the biggest surprise is how well this near two-ton SUV now hauls itself. The rear suspension is now aided by anti-roll bars and there’s substantial roll stiffness in the suspension tuning, so the Scorpio rolls less than you might expect. While the roll can never be completely eliminated from an SUV of the size and weight of the Scorpio, it now feels a lot more balanced and controllable. Your co-passengers are less likely to complain should you decide to drive aggressively (like they were complaining to me during my recent stint in the old Scorpio in Leh). The
stiffer structure means that the suspension can focus on controlling its high-riding mass and delivering acceptable dynamics rather than compensating for torsional flex. Body motions are indeed well-controlled in most situations, even hard cornering. That said, don’t expect such a high-riding, body-onframe SUV to have the roll-free manners of a Duster or an EcoSport.
The Scorpio hasn’t achieved better athletic abilities by sacrificing smooth ride quality, which is the other most significant update – its improved ride. Over the mostly smooth roads we drove on, the stiff suspension and bigger wheels helped it glide over rough surfaces and speed-breakers, without getting unsettled or unsettling its passengers much. The suspension set-up has helped out the ride quality over some of the bumps we encountered – there was a lot less crashing and banging than the outgoing model. There are the occasional quivers transferred via the chassis on rough stuff, as the suspension needs to control the mass moving up and down. Overall, however, the ride quality has become more car-like.
Another area in which the Scorpio’s score goes up is the driving experience. Its top heavy nature asserts itself in handling dynamics, of course, but it’s far less pronounced. The hydraulically-assisted steering, with a new steering wheel borrowed from the XUV, feels a bit slow to begin with, but makes for relaxed cruising abilities and a comfortable driving experience. As always with the Scorpio, the high driving position makes it rather easy to drive for something of this size and bulk. The steering could have been a bit quicker-acting as this would have helped maneuver the Scorpio’s bulk more easily at parking speeds.
Hustling the big Scorpio has never been an issue. Powered by the same 2.2-litre mHawk unit as its predecessor, the power and torque remain unchanged at 120bhp and 290Nm, but it is more refined. And it feels quicker thanks to the revised ratios in the new fivespeed manual gearbox. More noticeable is how much slicker the gearbox is, though the throws remain long. Brake specs remain unchanged (discs up front, drums at the rear, with ABS) but it feels more stable and planted on the brakes.
We were also impressed by the quieter passenger compartment, which benefits from a host of new noise-eradicating measures and the use of better sound-damping materials
The interiors have got a once-over, resulting in a fresh instrument panel design with an all-new instrument cluster and pleasant blue backlighting
in the cabin. It feels a lot more refined and is devoid of the slight agricultural feel that the previous Scorpio models had. While thirst was never a big issue with the Scorpio, expect an improvement on this new model.
In a competitive price segment full of ‘cars’ dressed up like off-roaders, the Scorpio does feel different. No, not like an off-roader — although with its capable chassis and optional 4x4 drivetrain, it will hold its own when the going gets rough. Attitude matters in this game, and this new Scorpio has an imposing presence. There are other reasons too for recommending it beyond its belligerent styling and voluminous interior, such as its easy-to-use and helpful technologies, friendly ergonomics and more agile and comfortable new chassis.
If your need a vehicle with loads of interior space and effortless cross-country travelling ability in a traditional SUV package, the rebooted Scorpio deserves a serious look. After years of living with flaws from its bodyon-frame build, the Scorpio is now reasserting itself not only as a rival, but also as a true contender for the domestic SUV crown, an SUV with plenty of homegrown geographical pedigree and credibility.
While roll can never be completely eliminated from an SUV of the size and weight of the Scorpio, it now feels a lot more balanced and controllable
THE GT TWINS ARE back. Off the radar for a bit, they now get the extremely mild design updates that the rest of the Polo range got a couple of months ago. To be honest, we did miss them while they went off the market – they are after all, the only warm hatchbacks available in India.
As with the old GT, there has been no radical surgery. To tell a GT from an ‘aam-aadmi’ Polo, you have to look for the black gloss finish on the wing mirrors and the spoiler and of course, GT badges on the grille and bootlid. That aside, show me someone who can spot the one other tiny difference and I’ll show you someone with time on their hands. It is disappointing that the subtle updates don’t convey the fact that these are the quickest, most expensive hatchbacks (if you exclude the A-Class and its ilk) in the country. And they are expensive – both the GT TSI and the GT TDI cost nearly ` 8 lakh and that’s ex-showroom.
Right: Look for black-finish
mirrors and rear spoiler to distinguish GT from regular Polos. Below left: GTs get classy all black dash. The diesel available only with 5-speed manual, the TSI
with 7-speed DSG
Clockwise from top left: Striking new LED eyebrows are parking lights. Body roll still very evident, but feels more controllable. Smart new 17” inch wheels. Power windows finally move to the door pannel on driver’s side
Above: Rear gets distinctive new styling, dominated by the black plastic cladding running across the tail gate and new LED tail lamps. Left: Parked next to the old car, the new design looks modern and more aggressive