The Scorpio marked Mahindra & Mahindra's transition from a jeep-maker to a manufacturer of passenger vehicles. Following initial domestic success, the Scorpio earned accolades for Indian manufacturing, when exported as the Mahindra Goa. Now, in its latest avatar, the Scorpio mHawk has a new engine, but little else. Is the new Scorpio worth a buy? Sourya Biswas reports.
''What's in a name?'', said William Shakespeare, ''That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.'' The head honchos at the marketing department of Mahindra apparently agree. What else can explain the fact that what began its life as the Eagle, and even grew up as one, suddenly underwent a change of name to another bird of prey – the Hawk? Not that the average person can tell them apart when he sees one. That same average person will have no such problem discerning the new Scorpio in its mHawk avatar from its worthy CRDe predecessor, but only if he takes it for a drive.
The ''only'' in the above sentence exists because there is very little to differentiate the new Scorpio from the outside. Sure it's got alloy wheels as standard issue, but that's to be expected considering the vehicle is currently available only in the premium VLX trim, and costs a bomb. Of course, there are the sexy 'mHawk' metallic badges, but they are hardly visible from a distance. Yes, the decalling on the hood can be seen from quite a distance, but viewers are undecided whether it is something good or bad. While some did agree with Mahindra that the ''exclusive sporty decals add that extra zing to this showstopper'', others thought that the vehicle had a bad case of measles.
There's nothing much to add as regards the exteriors. Although very little has changed from the earlier 2.6 CRDe that may not be a bad thing after all. For the Scorpio still maintains its considerable road presence with its imposing size, hungry stance and toothy grille. Of course, the rear is still relatively boxy and compressed, looking like having come off a losing argument with a heavy truck.
Before moving into the roomy interiors, a brief history of the Mahindra Scorpio is due. The Scorpio has had a long and illustrious life, bagging several accolades along its journey of constant innovation. The Mahindra Scorpio was launched in 2002, soon racking up impressive sales figures and stealing a march over its established rival, the Tata Safari. In 2003, it won four prestigious awards – the 'Car of the Year' Award from Business Standard Motoring, the 'Best SUV of the Year' by BBC on Wheels, 'Best Car of the Year' award, again, from BBC on Wheels and finally, 'Car of the Year' from premier Indian auto magazine Overdrive.
The Mahindra Scorpio underwent a change of heart in 2005 when it was equipped with the second-generation common-rail CRDe engine. The vehicle was one of the few indigenous technical products to have an overseas market, and retailed in Europe under the name Mahindra Goa. But the engineers at Mahindra were not content to rest on their laurels. Now, in its sixth year since inception, the Scorpio gets its second heart transplant and its third heart.
The engine is the USP of this vehicle, and it is quite an engine. This 2.2L common-rail power plant has quite a bit common with the 2.2L DICOR engine powering the latest Tata Safari, and not without reason. World-renowned engine specialists, AVL of Austria had a major role in the development of both these engines. AVL is the world's largest privately owned and independent company for the development of powertrain systems with internal combustion engines as well as instrumentation and test systems, or that is how they describe themselves. Well, we can be thankful to them for having contributed substantially towards the development of the new avatars of India's homegrown SUVs.
However, unlike the Safari engine that develops an astonishing 140bhp, the Scorpio engine has been tuned to put out only 120 horses, although it can be tuned for higher power delivery. Thus, although the output increases only by 5bhp from the 115bhp put forth by the 2.6 CRDe, the resultant effect on performance is much more pronounced, powering the vehicle to the 100 kmph mark within 15 seconds, a full 1.6 seconds faster than its predecessor. That is because the new engine is a full 82 kilograms lighter than the hefty CRDe, and this positively impacts handling and fuel efficiency as well.
For the first time, the air scoop on the bonnet serves a purpose more than ornamental – it feeds air to the top-mounted intercooler providing for a smoother run. While the earlier problems of ride quality, or rather lack of it, persist, they have been significantly reduced, thanks to a refurbished front suspension. Although unchanged in layout and design, the suspension has been equipped with new springs and dampers, resulting in a ride that lacks the lost feeling of the earlier Scorpio. Quick lane changes feel more direct although one is still affected by the distinct body roll due to the high center of gravity.
Sudden maneuvers are no longer a major pain as with the earlier model; even quick stops are possible without the fear of skidding, thanks to the standard-issue three-channel ABS that this beast comes equipped with. Even the lack of highway stability, which had been the bane of Scorpio owners, has stabilized somewhat, and the mHawk can match up to the Safari in the highway-cruising department. However, the Toyota Innova, another competitor in the 10-lakh SUV range, stands alone in a different class as far as ride and handling are concerned.
Now, we will look into the interiors, a department where its competitor, the Safari, scores heavily due to space and loses marks due to lack of refinement. They can briefly be mentioned as old wine in a new bottle – the designs remain unchanged, only the colours do. The interior has been designed on a black-and-red theme – both dashboard and seat covers reflect this obsession with sporty shades. The seats are comfortable and the middle row slides back to accommodate the potential basketball player. The mHawk comes in only one variant, and that is an eight-seater VLX trim. In a marked contrast from the Safari, the third row faces towards the front but can be quite cramped for adults. A more practical utilization of the space is to remove the hefty bench and use it for luggage.
As far as safety is concerned, the mHawk has a glaring weakness certainly not expected from a car costing a million, literally – it lacks airbags. It does feature a three-channel ABS and a smart window technology on the driver' side that prevents it being wound up if an obstruction is encountered. Collapsible steering column, side intrusion beams and crumple zones take care of frontal and lateral collisions.
The mHawk comes with an innovative tyre pressure monitoring system Tyre-tronics, which unfortunately, is not always accurate. According to Mahindra, ''advanced sensors detect ambient light conditions and switch the headlamps on and off according to your needs'' – this is the much-touted Lightsensor technology.
The reduced weight not only improves performance but also fuel efficiency, another of the old CRDe's bugbears. With city and highway mileages hovering around 10.6 km/litre and 13.7 km/litre respectively, the mHawk almost matches up to the amazingly frugal Tata Safari 2.2 DICOR.
The mHawk in its premium trim comes with a whole lot of bells of whistles - some useful, some distinctly not so. Some of the useful ones are the rear-mounted parking sensors that animates on the rear-view mirror what is behind the vehicle, and the steering-mounted controls for the high-tech MP3 CD player with USB and SD card ports. What seem like overkill are the rain-controlled wipers and the cruise-control feature that can hardly be used on winding Indian roads. This feeling is compounded by the fact that really useful features that feature in the Safari, powered mirrors, for example, have been left out.
The mHawk provides a smoother urban driving experience as compared to the new Safari, but as far as off-roading is concerned, the Tata vehicle beats it heads down. The Scorpio doesn't offer a four-wheel drive option.
The Mahindra Scorpio 2.2 mHawk is a great vehicle, but doesn't offer much room for choice, available as it is only in the VLX trim, which translates to an on-road price of over a million. The mHawk is strictly for the Scorpio enthusiast but offers less value for money than the lesser trims of the Tata Safari or the Toyota Innova. Maybe a slightly watered-down version with a few less gizmos at a lesser price-point will make the new Scorpio a darling of the SUV-lovers again.
A comparison of the Mahindra Scorpio mHawk 2.2 and the premium versions of its two main competitors, the Tata Safari and the Toyota Innova, is given below:
|Parameters ||Mahindra Scorpio mHawk 2.2 VLX ||Tata Safari 4X2 VX DICOR 2.2 VTT ||Toyota Innova 2.5 V MS|
|Dimensions || || || |
|Overall length ||4495 mm ||4810 mm ||4555 mm|
|Overall width ||1817 mm ||1810 mm ||1770 mm|
|Overall height ||1975 mm ||1925 mm ||1755 mm|
|Wheelbase ||2680 mm ||2650 mm ||2750 mm|
|Ground clearance ||180 mm ||195 mm ||176 mm|
|Front track ||1450 mm ||1500 mm ||NA|
|Rear track ||1450 mm ||1470 mm ||NA|
|Front headroom ||970 mm ||1000 mm ||950 mm|
|Front legroom ||NA ||2020 mm ||1028 mm|
|Boot space ||820 litre ||981 litre ||758 litre|
|Kerb weight ||1850 kg ||2040 kg ||1585 kg|
|Fuel tank capacity ||53 litre ||65 litre ||55 litre|
|Fuel efficiency || || || |
|Mileage (city) ||10.6 km/litre ||10.7 km/litre ||10.6 km/litre|
|Mileage (highway) ||13.5 km/litre ||14.4 km/litre ||14.4 km/litre|
|Mileage (overall) ||11.0 km/litre ||11.6 km/litre ||11.6 km/litre|
|Performance || || || |
|Maximum speed ||152 Km/Hour ||152 Km/Hour ||151 Km/Hour|
|0-100 kmph ||14.9 seconds ||16.2 seconds ||17.6 seconds|
|80-0 kmph ||30.9 metres ||NA ||29.7 metres|
|Engine || || || |
|Engine type ||2.2L 16-V DOHC Diesel ||2.2L 16-V DOHC VTT DICOR ||2.5 Liter, 4-cyl, 16-V, DOHC, Turbo|
|Displacement ||2179 cc ||2179 cc ||2494 cc|
|Power ||120bhp@ 4000 rpm ||140bhp@ 4000 rpm ||102bhp@ 5600 rpm|
|Torque ||285Nm@ 2800 rpm ||320Nm@ 1700 rpm ||200Nm@ 3400rpm|
|No. of cylinders ||4 cylinder ||4 cylinder ||4 cylinder|
|Transmission || || || |
|Transmission type ||Manual ||Manual ||Manual|
|Gears/Speeds ||5 Gears ||5 Gears ||5 Gears|
|Suspensions || || || |
|Front suspension ||Independent, coil springs, double wishbones with anti-roll bar ||Independent double wishbone with torsion bar ||Independent, coil spring, double wishbone, with stabilizer|
|Rear suspension ||5 link suspension with coil springs ||5 link suspension with coil springs ||4-link coil springs|
|Brakes || || || |
|Front brakes ||Ventilated discs ||Ventilated discs ||Ventilated discs|
|Rear brakes ||Drum ||Drum ||Drum|
|Wheels || || || |
|Wheel type ||Alloy ||Alloy ||Alloy|
|Wheel size ||16inch ||16inch ||15inch|
|Tyres ||235/70 R16 tubeless ||235/70 R16 105S ||205/65 R 15 tubeless|
|Price(Ex-showroom) || || || |
|Price (Mumbai) ||Rs.9.79 lakh ||Rs.10.62 lakh ||Rs.10.44 lakh|