The Mahindra Scorpio is a mid-size SUV manufactured by the Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra since 2002. The car has been the recipient of three prestigious Indian awards, including the “Car of the Year” award from Business Standard Motoring as well as the “Best SUV of the Year” and the “Best Car of the Year” awards, both from BBC World Wheels.
First generation (2002-2006)
The tough as nails Scorpio was one of the most capable SUVs on sale back then with its macho styling, big 2.6-liter diesel engine – a turbo’d unit, not common-rail, and commanding road presence. Today you’d call the interiors drab with grey bits all around and just the basic necessities in terms of switchgear. The seats are flat but firmly padded. What you will find most old Scorpio’s (the ones in private hands, not taxis) are aftermarket wheels and heavy duty tyres and they improve the dynamics to a big extent though even at modest speeds you can hear the wind whistling over those big wing mirrors and tyres which can be rather tiring over long drives. Those wheels added to the macho-quotient of the Scorpio and I have to say even today it does look quite good. It’s the styling that was the major selling point of the SUV and though often tweaked over the years the Scorpio remains instantly recognisable.
Second Generation (2006 -2014)
Seeing the hardcore fan following the first generation received, Mahindra reworked and almost completely re-engineered the Scorpio for its second and probably most popular itineration to date. Having realised that many Scorpios were being used as daily drivers the company focused on making the car easier to live with. Visually, the design was tweaked, with an all-new tail light cluster, the addition of a functional bonnet scoop, new bumpers and even sticker graphics. But the most important change came in the form of heavily reworked suspension. The leaf springs on the rear of the original car made way for multi-link coil overs, which significantly improved ride and no longer made the handling heart-stopping.
Third generation (2014 – 2017)
In 2014 the Scorpio received its first major chassis update, with an all-new platform. And it also got a rather in-your-face front end while retaining the familiar silhouette and proportions. Of course styling is subjective and I like the new headlamp cluster that gave the Scorpio a more contemporary look, going well with the dominant front grille and more modern styling touches. The body-on-frame platform was developed in-house and the modular platform formed the basis for other Mahindra vehicles with the flexibility built in to go extended wheelbase or shortened to fit a smaller vehicle. The platform sports a wider front and rear track, while also using anti roll bars for the first time. The focus was to provide a stiffer chassis and it actualy doubled over the earlier Scorpio. But it was a bit of a surprise that Mahindra didn’t go with a monocoque chassis, especially given the XUV 500’s success.
Fourth generation (2017 onwards)
Mahindra calls the recently launched Scorpio all-new, but in reality it is a mid-life facelift of the previous generation. Cosmetically it receives few changes to the front and rear along with newly designed alloy wheels. It’s a good thing that Mahindra has skipped making any major updates on the exteriors or even the interiors, and decided to focus on the drivetrain boosting performance along with drivability that has always been one of this old-school SUVs strengths. While continuing to use by the tried and tested 2.2-litre mHawk engine, it now makes 138bhp thanks to a new turbocharger and some reengineering on the fuel pump. Torque is also up to 320Nm, available from 1,500rpm upwards, pulling the Scorpio forward in a very strong and linear fashion. To add to the refinement and improve highway cruising you now get a 6-speed manual transmission that shifts rather well and is mated to a lighter, self-adjusting clutch.