Car reviews - Mahindra - Scorpio - SUV
Suspension and off-road capabilities, torquey engine, decent on-road handling, well suppressed road noise, ergonomics and visibility, pricing and after sales support with seven-year warranty
Room for improvement
No AEB or similar safety assistance, flawed idle-stop system, no steering reach adjustment, awkward third-row seat stowage, clumsy infotainment menus, small fuel tank, no sat-nav or DAB+
We hit the trails to see how the Scorpio stacks up against the Aussie bush
2 Aug 2023
By MATT BROGAN
MAHINDRA invested a lot of time and energy testing its Scorpio four-wheel drive in Australia, so it’s probably no surprise the Indian-made wagon feels right at home on rugged bush trails.
The level of competence displayed in challenging conditions might surprise even the most loyal of Toyota and Nissan owners, especially when you stop to consider the asking price of a new Mahindra is less than a second-hand Prado.
How much? Try $41,990 driveaway, or $44,990 as-tested driveaway.
At 4662mm, the Scorpio is about 30cm shorter in length than a LandCruiser Prado, but is almost 5cm wider (1917mm) which gives it a slightly more spacious feel across the cab. Height is listed at 1857mm.
Ergonomics are generally well thought out offering good visibility and the seating reasonably supportive, though we did miss the fitment of steering wheel reach adjustment.
Further back, the Scorpio’s third-row seating seems like something of an afterthought, and while they can be removed, have a habit of impinging on cargo space when not in use, sitting above the cargo area floor rather than folding into it. The seats are a good size for children, but not adults, but without full-length airbag coverage back there, it’s probably a moot point.
Mahindra lists cargo space at 460 litres in four-seat mode, which feels to us smaller than it looks. By way of contrast, the Prado has 620 litres in the same configuration. In seven-seat mode, however, the Scorpio has no boot space to speak of. The cargo area is accessed by a side-hinged door which needs a firm hand to keep in place if you’re parked on the wrong angle.
As a body-on-frame offering, and one that is slightly smaller than the average Aussie ‘fourbie’, the Mahindra Scorpio vies against a stack of mostly ute-based competitors.
These include the Ford Everest (from $58,290 +ORC), GWM Tank 300 (from $46,990 d/a), Isuzu MU-X (from $54,900 +ORC), LDV D90 (from $46,832 d/a), Mitsubishi Pajero Sport (from $49,940 +ORC), and Toyota Fortuner (from $53,775 +ORC) and LandCruiser Prado (from $62,830 +ORC).
Like those models, it offers a selectable dual-range four-wheel drive system and a rear locking differential, 500mm water fording depth and 227mm of ground clearance. Off-road geometry figures are listed at 27.2º approach, 23.3º ramp-over and 21.3º departure. Towing capacity is listed at 2500kg (braked).
The high-grade Z8L variant on test didn’t miss much when it came to creature comforts, either. Standard inclusions run to keyless entry and start, front and rear camera and parking sensors, a six-way powered driver’s seat, wireless phone charger, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and a 12-speaker Sony-sourced audio system.
We also found 18-inch alloy wheels (with full-size underslung spare), second-row Captain’s chairs, dual-zone climate, LED headlights, tyre pressure monitoring, sunroof, auto lights and wipers, a first-aid kit, dual USB outlets, and a 7.0-inch digital instrument panel between the analogue dials.
It is worth noting, however, that there is no in-built satellite navigation and no DAB+ digital radio reception.
Four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, auto hold, hill-start and descent are standard alongside a complement of airbags, stability and traction control.
However – and it is a BIG however, there is no autonomous emergency braking (front or rear), blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keep assistance, or rear cross-traffic alert.
Service intervals are pegged at 12 months/10,000km (whichever comes first) with service pricing capped for the first five years. The Scorpio will cost $2358 to service over that timeframe and is backed by a seven-year/150,000km warranty.
Mahindra currently has around 50 dealerships nationwide.
While the odd mix of equipment inclusions and omissions is bound to discourage some, the Scorpio’s abilities both on- and off-road are certain to impress – especially when you consider the vehicle is available from as little as $42K drive-away.
The Scorpio is powered by Mahindra’s ubiquitous 2.2-litre mHawk four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine hooked up to an Aisin-sourced six-speed automatic transmission. Output figures are listed at 129kW/400Nm and fuel consumption 7.2 litres per 100km (combined). On test, we averaged around 8.7L/100km.
Which, although respectable, is not enough to provide the kind of range Aussie buyers expect. The Mahindra Scorpio is fitted with a small 57-litre fuel tank meaning, at best, 650km of driving is possible between fills. If you’re heading Outback, you’ll need to sling a jerry can or two along for the ride.
You may also need to carry extra AdBlue, as the Scorpio’s tank holds just 20 litres.
The Scorpio develops decent grunt from low in the rev range, which is terrific off-road, providing plenty of climbing power when paired with low-range gearing. Like many diesel offerings, the engine does run out of puff around mid-tach, but the transmission is generally smart enough to compensate, meaning we only had to override decisions occasionally when tackling challenging terrain.
Tipping the scale at just 2100kg, the Scorpio feels lighter on its feet than most of the competitors listed above, which helps with ride comfort considerably.
The Watts Link rear suspension arrangement and frequency dependent dampers keep the rear-end neatly in check while also helping to sort traction across the axle. Up front, the double wishbone arrangement and coil-over type spring/damper soak up all but the largest craters while helping the steering stay true to course.
Mahindra’s power steering system is pretty light for the application and easy to twirl in tight spots. However, some might find it devoid of feel, especially when jumping from an Amarok/Ranger or HiLux, for example.
The four-mode 4Xplor four-wheel drive system provides Normal, Grass/Snow, Mud/Ruts and Sand brake-controlled settings. We used the Mud/Ruts mode extensively at our test location west of Melbourne and found the traction offering impressive on loose, shaly ground. The forward-facing camera is handy here, too.
The Eaton-sourced rear differential locks as required, which is a terrific feature when you’re otherwise occupied, say when climbing a steep grade. Though in some instances you can feel and hear it engage and disengage.
The 4Xplor system can be flicked between two- and four-high at speeds up to 80km/h.
On gravel roads and poorly sealed surfaces, the suspension can feel a little busy. But we did find the vehicle easy to control with potholes and bumps absorbed without fuss.
Body control is very good considering the body-on-frame set-up – and the amount of suspension travel offered – and hard cornering is possible when required, which should prove handy in emergency avoidance situations.
What impressed most with the Mahindra Scorpio – besides its mountain goat-like off-road abilities – is the level of build quality offered. After considerable time on challenging tracks and trails the body fell quiet upon returning to sealed roads with no squeaks or rattles to speak of. It impressed us a great deal, but we’re still a little on the fence…
You see, as good and as capable as the Scorpio is we just can’t get past the lack of safety technology offered in a brand-new car. Anyone considering the vehicle really must weigh these omissions against the list price and will also need to consider the range and packaging limitations mentioned as well, especially if the vehicle is to be used off the beaten track.
That said – and much like the GWM Tank 300 reviewed previously – the Mahindra Scoprio offers new buyers something they simply couldn’t get before: a new four-wheel drive for the price of a used one.
And to a lot of buyers, that’s bound to make this model something of a win.
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