Recently, Mahindra launched the Scorpio facelift - basically a mid-life update of the current generation SUV. With the facelift, Mahindra has skipped making any major updates on the exteriors or interiors, but has decided to alter the drivetrain to make this the most powerful Scorpio yet. So, do the added power and new transmission make any significant changes in drivability, especially when it has been the major strength of the SUV in the first place?
Spot The Difference
Not much to cover here. The grille has let go of the whiskers and now wears 7 slats adopted from the Imperio pickup. Sounds familiar to any other well known SUV brand? Anyway, it does make the Scorpio look more imposing which goes hand in hand with its generous proportions. It also gets a slightly tweaked bumper with new fog lamps with cornering function to complete the new front look.
The alloy wheels are still 17-inchers, but the new simple 5-spoke design looks mature. You now also get turn indicators on outside mirrors which makes the SUV feel more premium. The rear has been worked on to look more mature as well. Gone is the chunky cladding and angular lines, instead replaced by a clean design with taillamps that get red lenses instead of transparent ones. That said, we liked the older ones better. But aside from these minor differences, it's the same old Mahindra Scorpio.
In this update, Mahindra has put in efforts to fix some of the issues with the cabin. Starting with the upholstery, now you get faux-leather on the seats, gaiter and the gearknob. This makes the cabin feel a little more upmarket, but the quality of the same on the seats is a little aftermarket-y.
Other than that, Mahindra has managed to fix the issue with storage spaces. Now, you get a sleek rubberised pocket for your mobile in front of the gear knob with a re-positioned 12V socket. Behind the gear knob, you now have a flat rubber coated section for keeping things like your wallet. Also, you now have a deeper can and bottle holder which can otherwise store coins and keys amongst other things. Last but not the least, there’s a sunglass holder which is apt for keeping aviators, but will struggle to accommodate a larger frame.
While these have been fixed, other things like the storage pockets on the doors being hard-to-access, the low placement of the infotainment system making it difficult to reach and inaccessible seat height adjuster still persist. Even the small and rather pointless mobile holder is still there on the rear doors. Why?
The bolstering on the front seats is still not adequate and while there is ample leg, head and knee room on offer in the middle bench, the backrest angle is on the steeper side. And in this seven-seat configuration, the third row, well it’s still not a row, rather two jump seats facing each other.
In terms of tech, there is still the old 6-inch touchscreen infotainment system which offers information such as tyre pressures, range, average fuel efficiency, navigation and media. What's new is that it now features dynamic bending guidelines for the rear camera. Also, like the earlier model, the Scorpio facelift continues to get cruise control, automatic climate control, automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers and auto start/stop for the engine as part of Mahindra’s micro hybrid tech. An addition here is that the driver-side window now automatically comes up once you lock the car. Mahindra really should have taken this opportunity to update the infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or at least MirrorLink, but all three are still absent and you have to make do with a basic Bluetooth connection.
The instrument cluster has also remained unchanged with two analogue dials for speed and rpm, and an MID screen with trip information, gear change indicator, and fuel gauge.
Power On Tap
The Scorpio still continues to be powered by the same 2.2-litre diesel engine, but the S7 and S11 variants get the XUV500’s more powerful tune with the new BorgWarner turbocharger. This gives it 140PS of power and 320Nm of torque - 20PS and 40Nm more than the older tune. What's more impressive is that this power and torque is made lower down the rev range. And to better utilise this gain, you now get a 6-speed manual transmission. Slotting in gears is easier now, but the reverse gear will give your arm a proper workout. Thankfully though, clutch action is light, with linear travel.
The Scorpio has a reputation of being easy to drive. The bump in power has further helped this cause, with the engine delivering power effortlessly. You can keep it in 2nd and 3rd gear all day long in the city. And then to pick up speeds, just stomp the accelerator and it responds with no fuss. The acceleration is impressive and there is a linear torque delivery from 2000 till 4500rpm. Driving sensibly, the Scorpio managed to return 13.2kmpl in the city. The 100kmph mark is hit quite early too - 11.68 seconds to be exact. Considering the Scorpio’s size, this is quite impressive.
In the city, the engine is not loud till about 2500rpm, but is still audible. It is a little vibey but that can’t be felt much on the steering. However, the moment you hit a patch of broken road, the seats begin squeaking and there is some or the other sound constantly in the cabin. Even on the highways, there is a fair amount of wind noise from the A-pillars which gets tiring over time. That said, the addition of a 6th gear has made highway drives more calm, with the engine now running at a lower rpm trying to keep the NVH levels in check. This also helps the Scorpio manage 15.6kmpl on the highway.
Even the brakes on this facelift are mighty impressive. The feel from the pedal is spot on and the ABS helps the car come to a dead stop without any drama in an impressive 48.09metres.
The Scorpio is a tall, ladder-on-frame SUV. It's even taller than the Toyota Fortuner and that shows in the way it handles. There is quite a bit of body roll on corners, but the facelift deals with it slightly better than the older car. The suspension takes small undulations well, but on broken roads, it tends to throw you from side to side. This experience is felt more on the rear seats, with passengers really getting tossed around. Even in the front, the shallow bolstering of seats don’t help and and you have to hold on the steering to maintain balance.
Where this softness really helps is when the roads end. It soaks up all kinds of small surface undulations and lets you glide over everything. In the city too, speed breakers are nullified with utmost calm. And when it comes to steering, you don't get much feedback when turning at higher speeds but it is heavy and lets you stay confident. That said, this heaviness takes a toll in the city, especially when making u-turns.
All Right Then?
The new Scorpio addresses some of the issues of the earlier version, but doesn’t fix every little annoyance. The more powerful engine has definitely improved its easy to drive nature and the the 6-speed gearbox has made it even more usable. The cabin, though it still can't be called premium, is an improvement over the older car. Also, in terms of safety, Mahindra is still offering just dual airbags and ABS in such a large SUV. We really feel this is something that should’ve been improved upon.
At Rs 14.79 lakh for this two-wheel drive S11 variant, it is a lot of money for something which is still a little rough around the edges. But if you consider that to be a part of the Scorpio's personality, the facelift has just made the deal sweeter.
Words: Nabeel Khan | Photography: Vikrant Date
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