Spending a weekend with the all-new Mahindra Scorpio-N
myLOWVELD.net got the opportunity to spend a late-winter weekend with the recently launched Scorpio-N, supplied by Mahindra Nelspruit.
Mahindra launched its new seven-seater SUV, the Scorpio-N, earlier this year and we were lucky enough to spend a weekend getting to know this impressive vehicle.
The press release says the Scorpio-N combines performance, technology, capability, and innovation, and it packs an immersive, cutting-edge driving experience while keeping alive the rich legacy of Mahindra’s Authentic SUV DNA.
According to the release, Mahindra believes the Scorpio-N “redefines the D-segment SUV category with its dominating presence, head-turning design, commanding driving position and well-appointed, interior”. A weekend in its company could not prove this statement wrong.
Mahindra says the Scorpio-N is truly a global product, as it was design by Pininfarina in Italy and Mahindra India Design Studio in Mumbai; engineered by the teams at Mahindra Research Valley near Chennai and Mahindra North American Technical Center in the US; and manufactured at the state-of-the-art world-class facility at Chakan, Pune, in India
The Scorpio-N sports the new “twin-peaks” Mahindra logo.
Although the Scorpio-N is brand new, it clearly is a modern version of the Scorpio SUV that it replaces. The lines are more edgy than on the older model, but it is still a fairly compact vehicle.
Mahindra says the new car is built on their new third-generation body-on-frame platform and “has class-leading structural rigidity, off-road capability, and exemplary on-road manners”.
Propulsion is courtesy of the company’s updated mHawk turbodiesel engine that delivers 128,6 kW and 400 Nm of stump-pulling torque, driving through a six-speed automatic gearbox.
Our test vehicle was the Z8 4×4 version. The Z8L 4×4 is the top model in the lineup, but it is hard to imagine what other luxuries could be added to this already feature-rich car, but I understand that electric seats and a really fancy sound system come with the L.
The Scorpio-N 4×4 has what Mahindra calls the 4Xplor intelligent terrain-response system that automatically adapts to different terrains. It has a mechanical diff-lock on the rear axle as well as a brake-locking system that applies brakes to a specific wheel that would have less traction, allowing more power to the wheels with traction. And like most new four-wheel-drives, four-wheel drive can be activated “on the fly” without having to come to a stop.
Mahindra catered for every safety issue imaginable. There are six airbags, including curtain airbags. A “Driver Drowsiness Detector” gives an audio and visual alert if the car detects that the driver might be getting drowsy. The Alts electronic stability-control suite has 18 features to maintain control during steep turns, high speed, as well as panic-braking situations.
The hill-hold features stops the car from rolling back and the descent control limits the car’s speed on a steep downward slope. We were able to test this feature at the recent launch of Mahindra Nelspruit’s Adventure Zone and it works really well.
The ABS, electronic brake stability (EBD) and tyre-pressure monitoring system round out the set of safety features.
The Scorpio-N’s interior stands out – even in our market where the Chinese cars seem to have set a new bar for modern and luxurious interiors. Mahindra says the “rich coffee-black leatherette upholstery, best-in-class command seating position, centre console encased in robust metal finished dual rails, advanced infotainment system and more, take the premium-ness to the next level”.
To describe the ride of the new Scorpio-N is going to sound like something a PR writer would come up with but, believe me, it is true. The car seems to have been made from one piece of material, because there is no flex in the body or the chassis. I remember how impressed I had been with the previous-generation Scorpio Adventure’s ride when the corrugations on the road to and from the Klipspringer 4×4 track caused no rattles or scuttle shake. But that was nothing compared to the Scorpio-N.
Mahindra says the Scorpio-N “uses the most sophisticated technologies available to offer benchmark driving dynamics. The latest generation body-on-frame structure has been optimised to offer remarkable levels of dynamic competencies and assured handling capabilities. Additionally, the penta-link rear suspension features the segment-first Watts link mechanism to offer confident ride and handling attributes”.
And although that is PR speak, I could find no reason to argue with it.
On the Sunday we took the dirt road from Dullstroom to Tonteldoos, where I had an appointment with the Mpumalanga BMW GS Trophy team. These brave and skilled BMW riders were having a practice weekend in the area, and we were going to have brunch at the High Side Tavern in the dusty settlement of Tonteldoos.
To say the road between Dullstroom and Tonteldoos is not great, would be the understatement of the year. Although the road is used regularly by locals, there seems to be very little upkeep and the road has ruts and sandy patches, which would translate in a bit of a nightmare during the rainy season. There are long stretches of corrugations and a car with normal suspension would rattle all the fillings out of your teeth – and possibly worse.
We were three adults in the Scorpio-N with light luggage for a weekend away, so not much of a load to settle the suspension. But the only rattle we could hear was from our camping kettle. The little kettle’s whistle was not fitted properly and started rattling a little. After a photo stop, I pushed the whistle on properly and that was it. The way that no road undulations caused discomfort to the passengers was almost eery.
The infotainment system with its 20,3cm touchscreen (eight inches in the old language) includes Apple CarPlay and we could listen to music while navigating with Google Maps. There was no real need to increase the volume of the music on that road because there was not much noise to irritate us.
The green issue
If you feel strongly about the environmental impact of your transport, or your carbon footprint, Mahindra has some good news. They say the Scorpio-N has the lowest CO2 emission in its market segment. The media release says “this had been achieved through competent engineering and product development right from the outset. M&M has consciously adopted several environment friendly manufacturing processes under Mahindra’s goal of moving towards carbon neutrality”.
Some detractors might feel that a weekend might not have been quite enough for a complete verdict, but I feel confident that I have seen and experienced enough. I spent some time driving the Scorpio-N around Nelspruit on typical errands and attending meetings. I also drove it to a dinner with friends and got to see how well the lights work, parking the car in the dark, and so on. All of this showed a very competent and comfortable car.
But the weekend trip to Dullstroom and Tonteldoos would have convinced any pessimist. The car not only feels solid and stable on the road, it is quiet, smooth and very comfortable too. It is as if this car does not understand the effect that bad roads should have on a vehicle’s suspension. I think the Scorpio-N did not get the memo on the bad roads through Lydenburg heading to Dullstroom, and then the terrible dirt road to Tonteldoos.
When I picked up the car at Mahindra Nelspruit, it had just been filled up with diesel and it had only done 99km, so it has not really been run in. I treated the car with the respect it deserves, being literally brand new. I did not expect great fuel consumption, but I was pleasantly surprised by the result.
I travelled 398km and used 44,825 litres of diesel. That is a consumption of 8,88 km/l – or 11,26l/100km. I think that is excellent fuel consumption for a brand-new car and one that spent around 40km in four-wheel drive. The claimed fuel consumption in the mixed cycle of around 8l/100km seems realistic.
As tested, the Scorpio-N Z8 4×4 costs R569 999 and it is very difficult to imagine better value for money on the market.
Engine: 2 198cc, 4-cylinder, DOHC, intercooled turbodiesel, common rail direct injection
Power: 126,8kW @ 3 500rpm / 400Nm @ 1 750 – 2 750rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Ground clearance: 187mm
Fuel tank capacity: 57 litres
Tyres: 255/60/18 with ventilated disk brakes
Warranty: 5-year / 150 000km
Service plan: 5-year / 100 000km
Scorpio-N Z4 Diesel 4×2 – R473 999
Scorpio-N Z8 Diesel 4×2 – R519 999
Scorpio-N Z8 Diesel 4×4 – R569 999
Scorpio-N Z8L Diesel 4×4 – R604 999
The Mahindra Scorpio-N is available in Deep Forest (like our test unit), Dazzling Silver, Grand Canyon (burnt orange), Everest White, Napoli Black and Red Rage.