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Next-generation Mahindra Scorpio-N test drive

Mahindra has unveiled the second product in its next-generation line-up, the new Scorpio-N.

This rugged SUV is planned to hit the market in the first quarter of next year alongside its luxury-focused sibling, the new XUV700.

Similar to the XUV, the Scorpio must still complete its South African roadworthy tests and its official specifications will therefore only be announced closer to its launch date.

We recently got behind the wheel of the new Scorpio at its South African reveal at the Gerotek testing facilities in Johannesburg to get a better feel for where the improvements have been made.

What we know so far

The new Scorpio is the off-road-aligned Mahindra SUV, underpinned by a ladder-frame chassis and “4Xplor” four-wheel-drive system to make it perform in the great outdoors.

Over 73% of the vehicle’s body consists of high-tensile steel to improve rigidity and safety over the outgoing model, and the penta-link rear suspension features a “segment-first watts link mechanism to offer confident ride and handling attributes,” said Mahindra.

Engine options for the Scorpio in global markets then comprise 2.0-litre, turbo-petrol, and 2.2-litre, turbo-diesel units, tuned to develop 149kW/380Nm and 129kW/400Nm, respectively.

We expect only the diesel unit will be offered in the local market, paired with the owner’s choice between a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, similar to the current-generation Scorpio.

Local buyers of the new Mahindra will also be able to select between two-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive setups.

In terms of design, the new Scorpio-N is larger and looks much less utilitarian than the generation it is replacing, riding on 18-inch alloy wheels and featuring a six-bar grille, dual-barrel LED headlights, C-shaped foglights, silver roof rails, and a “Scorpion tail” design element.

This chrome-plated “Scorpion tail” can be seen in the side flanks running on the lower edge of the windows, around the back, finishing at the top of the rear-most glass pane with the “Scorpion stinger”

Inside the cabin, a “rich” coffee-black leatherette is wrapped over the seats whereas an 8-inch infotainment system is integrated into the front fascia above stylish gloss black buttons.

A semi-digital instrument cluster is also fitted housing a 7-inch display flanked by two analogue dials, and equipment such as cruise control, climate control, hill-assist, and wireless charging are installed.

As part of Mahindra’s brand makeover, instilled in the models with the redesigned “Twin Peaks” badge, the Scorpio-N’s infotainment features will also run on the new AdrenoX operating system that brings onboard navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, as well as a 12-speaker Sony surround sound system.

It must be noted that Mahindra must still establish the exact trim levels of the Scorpio-N in South Africa so while the above features will all be available in the new SUV, they might not all be fitted as standard.

Test drive

The new Scorpio-N offers a commanding driving position high off the ground, and it’s competent around corners and at high speeds.

Thanks to the increased power over the outgoing model there is a noticeable jump in its step that wasn’t there before, but as the Scorpio is more tuned for utility and off-roading it gains speed at a leisurely pace rather than an alarming one.

The ladder-frame chassis also made it slightly less surefooted around Gerotek’s high-speed oval than the high-end XUV700 with its integrated foundation, but around the dynamic handling track at lower speeds was where I experienced the Scorpio-N to be more obedient to steering commands than its sibling.

This SUV, too, is offered in spacious five and seven-seat layouts and if the latter is chosen, the second row of seats will assume the form of captain’s chairs that offer a walkthrough to the third row.

At nearly two metres tall even I was able to squeeze into the seats furthest at the back with headroom to spare, but my knees were shoved into the shoulders of the person in front of me, so this is not advisable for longer than a few minutes.

Unsurprisingly, though, the seats and steering wheel of the hardy Bolero are not as nice as that of the XUV700, but they are certainly an improvement over the previous iterations.

The Bolero also offers similar build quality to its luxurious sibling, mostly sacrificing features and power to achieve the more adventurous personality.

Mahindra Scorpio-N

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