10 years is a long time to survive in the automobile world. Most in the industry thought that when the Mahindra Scorpio was launched in 2002 the SUV wouldn’t have been the success that it is today. Timely changes and innovations we think has been the key to the Scorpio’s feat. The mean and rugged SUV over the years has seen changes to the engine and gearbox, the suspension, cabin and also mild alterations to the styling. Mahindra has been proactive with marketing and they even have a full-fledged motorsports team to promote the Scorpio and the XUV500. The Scorpio which last saw major changes in 2009, became the first SUV in the under 10lakh segment to get a Fuel saving Micro Hybrid system. While this by no means makes the Scorpio a hybrid in the league of the Honda Civic or even the Mahindra Reva-i, it nevertheless does improve efficiency even though it is only marginal. The Micro Hybrid Start Stop system comes in both the 2.5-litre and also the 2.2-litre engine. Prices start from Rs 7,58,103lakh to Rs 12,38,538lakh ex-showroom New Delhi. Compared to the regular Scorpio the price hike is only marginal and this technology is available on the VLX and the M2DI variants of the Scorpio.
The Scorpio’s SUV design elements are immediately noticeable. Premium looking nonetheless, the SUV has prominent bumpers, flared arches, a scoop on the bonnet and the now signature chromed saber tooth front grille. The only noticeable change to the Micro Hybrid is the badging on the rear but other than that there is nothing to differentiate. The Scoprio’s design has been a hit both in urban and rural India and the SUV has loads of presence. There is an integrated rear footstep and over the years Mahindra has added new metallic graphics. In 2009 the SUV got squarish multi reflector headlights and the front bumper features integrated fog lamps. The side body cladding features an embossed Scorpio tag and the build quality has also improved over the years.
The Scorpio borrows some parts form the Mahindra XYLO like the gear knob. The dashboard looks neat and the SUV comes with a 2-DIN audio system. The interiors are black and beige and the driver gets a commanding view of the road. Front seat passengers get good space while the rear passengers to get reasonable leg and shoulder room. Head space expectedly is good all around .
Seats are supportive and while the ergonomics aren’t as good as on the Toyota Innova, they are reasonably well executed. The VLX variant comes with power steering, tiltable steering, power windows all around, central locking, ABS, front fog lamps, electrically operated outside rear view mirrors and rear wipers, airbags, tyre pressure management system, rain and light sensors, 2-DIN Audio system with Bluetooth, CD/MP3 player, USB & SD card compatibility along with cruise control & audio controls on the steering. 4WD however is optional.
The ’FuelSmart system with Micro Hybrid technology’, doesn’t have an electric motor and the name is a bit misleading. The Micro Hybrid system is a simple cut-off switch and the technology was developed by M&M and Bosch. This system enables the vehicle to detect movement and after you’ve engaged neutral the system kicks in and cuts off the engine after 2seconds. For the 2.5-litre Scorpio M2Di the system cuts off the engine after 5 seconds. When you’re good to go all you need to do is to depress the clutch pedal and the engine starts. Fuel is saved because your engine spends less time running. The drawback of this system is that when the engine is switched off, the aircon too is switched off and you would roast in the summer. With the system turned on the Scorpio delivers a fuel efficiency of 10.09kmpl and with the system turned off you get a fuel efficiency of 9.82kmpl.
The Micro Hybrid system is available in the 2.2 litre mHawk all-aluminium engine which is 130kgs lighter than the previous engine. The engine with variable geometry turbocharger, double camshaft and 16-valves produces 122PS@4000rpm and a maximum torque of 290Nm between 1800 to 2800rpm. The free revving engine was developed with the help of Austrian engine manufacturer AVL and the refinement is pretty good as well. 100kmph is reached in under 17seconds with a top speed of around 150kmph.
The 2.5-litre m2DiCR engine develops 77PS and 220NM torque. This engine also gets the fuel-saving Micro Hybrid technology and is compliant with BSIV emission norms. Engine refinement however isn’t as good and neither is the performance.
Both the engines are matched to a 5-speed manual gearbox which despite being better from when the Scorpio was first launched, isn’t as refined as the Toyota Innova. The 4WD is a Borg and Warner unit.
The Scorpio uses the traditional body-on-chassis construction and the independent front suspension uses a torsion bar and at the rear is multilink with coil spring. The ride quality has improved greatly from when the Scorpio was first conceived but still isn’t as smooth as on the Innova. Ride quality nevertheless is good enough but it still has the trademark Scorpio springiness. With the use of the lighter mHAWK all aluminium engine the handling too has improved and the Scorpio doesn’t feel as nose heavy.
There are no other MPV’s in India offering a similar Fuel Saving system but the Scorpio’s biggest competitor is the Toyota Innova. Toyota has launched a facelift version of the Innova in 2012 and the MPV looks a bit better but the styling is still too van like. The build quality is best in the segment, so is the refinement and overall finish. Interior space is excellent and it’s hard to find fault with the ride and handling. The Mahindra Xylo has the best space of the lot, uses a refined and powerful engine but ride quality is springy and handling is poor. The Tata Sumo Gold is an affordable MPV, has a good ride quality and the BSIV engine feels more refined. For urban use however the Sumo unfortunately feels dated and agricultural and the handling is poor. Build quality isn’t as good as the competition either.
The Scorpio Micro Hybrid is basically an intelligently marketed Fuel Saving system. Don’t be fooled in believing that you are buying a Hybrid like the Toyota Prius or the Honda Civic. Mahindra however isn’t charging the customers a lot for the system. You get a marginal increase in fuel efficiency and the Micro Hybrid is best used in winters because in summers when the system cuts off the engine, the air con also stops. Luckily there is a button to start and stop the system so you use it at your convenience. The Start/Stop system is available in both the 2.2-litre and the 2.5-litre variants. The Scorpio remains one of the best SUV/MPV’s in India with is rugged good looks. Refinement has improved and so has the ride and handling. Interior space and passenger comfort however sill are concerns.
Quotes from other reviews:
BSMotoring: “The benefits of this feature are obvious, on the face of it. The less time your engine spends running, the less fuel it consumes – that isn’t exactly rocket science, is it? Additionally, when the engine’s not running, it’s not spewing noxious gases into the atmosphere – another plus. How does it work in the real world, though? The answer is ’well, but not without drawbacks’. When you’re waiting at a traffic light, it’s all right to have the engine cut out for a couple of minutes and then re-start itself when you depress the clutch. However, when you’re crawling along in bumper to bumper traffic and coming to a brief halt, it’s downright annoying to have the engine keep switching itself off – the interval needs to be a lot longer than 2 seconds. Furthermore, the aircon is switched off with the engine, and if you’re roasting in an Indian summer, you’re not likely to be amused.’