The Mahindra Scorpio – a new diesel-powered four-wheel-drive wagon with a low starting price of $41,990 drive-away – makes a strong case for value. However, there are some major flaws in this offering you need to be aware of.
- You cannot deny the value
- Good levels of diesel refinement
- Seven-year warranty
- Way behind the pace in the safety stakes
- Interior not as practical as others
- Boot is tiny in six-seat mode
For quite a long time now, Mahindra has been a quiet presence in Australia. Sales of its Pik-Up ute have been slow but dutiful, and recently picking up a boost from a six-speed automatic gearbox.
But the Indian brand is making an assault on urban and suburban buyers with this new model, the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio. It’s a four-wheel-drive wagon with three rows of seating, room for six, a diesel donk under the bonnet, auto-locking rear diff, and a proper low-range transfer case.
It’s going to line up against some well-established and impressive competitors like the Ford Everest and Toyota LandCruiser Prado, as well as the Isuzu MU-X, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Toyota Fortuner and LDV D90.
The pricing of the Scorpio is sharp and aggressive with an introductory drive-away deal, but there are some areas where the Scorpio falls down. Let’s have a closer look.
How much does the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio cost in Australia?
Until June 30th 2023, the Scorpio has a drive-away price of either $41,990 or $44,990 depending on which specification level you go for. What happens after that is anyone’s guess, and will depend mostly on how successful the new model is.
This price puts the Scorpio at a significant price advantage over its main competitors – the brigade of ute-based four-wheel-drive wagons. The Ford Everest and Toyota LandCruiser Prado, the two most popular four-wheel-drive wagons in Australia presently, are significantly more expensive. However, it’s worth noting they are both nearly 300mm longer overall.
Other competitors include the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Toyota Fortuner and Isuzu MU-X. One should also not forget the LDV D90, which holds the closest value-for-money claim against this Indian offering.
Opting to spend a few extra gorillas on your Z8L Scorpio gets a 12-speaker Sony-branded sound system, front camera, front parking sensors, upgraded driver’s multifunction display, wireless phone charger and six-way power adjustment for the driver. It also gets wireless connection for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The rest of the deal includes a tan-coloured leatherette interior trim, 8.0-inch infotainment system, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, six-seat layout (with the captain’s chair second row), 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic wipers and projector LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera and rear parking sensors. There’s also push-button start, keyless entry and tyre pressure monitoring, allowing the Scorpio to feel well-specced even in its basic form.
How much space does the Mahindra Scorpio have inside?
Kicking off proceedings at the front, the story of the Scorpio’s interior starts strong. The interior feels well made and sturdy, with a combination of textured plastics and leather-like materials. It’s certainly much more modern and comfortable than the Pik-Up.
However, there are some issues. Firstly, there’s only one cupholder in the entire cabin located just in front of the surprisingly small, shallow centre console.
There’s also no reach adjustment available through the steering column, but we did manage to get comfortable enough in the driver’s seat for our driving stints.
The manual handbrake does take up a bit of space here, but I wonder if they could have been smarter with their positioning of things to make room for an additional cupholder.
There is room for a phone or wallet underneath the dual-zone air conditioning controls, which acts as a wireless charging pad in the Z8L specification. Confusingly, though, the Z8 has the rubber pad that looks like a wireless charging pad. However, it’s not.
We also noticed there wasn’t any temperature readout of the climate-control system on the infotainment display, but Mahindra told us this would be fixed with a firmware update.
There are two USB power points up front, but no 12V. However, you will find a little Mahindra-branded first aid kit – complete with antiseptic cream – in the glovebox.
The second row – with captain’s chairs that can only fit two passengers – is comfortable and spacious. Armrests for each side help, and the raised seating position yields good visibility. There are good levels of legroom and headroom, but the seats don’t have any form of sliding function. They can tilt a little, and the passenger (kerb) side seat has a forward-tumbling function for third-row access.
There are air vents, map pockets and a single USB-C power outlet here but no cupholders. A centre console in between the seats could be a nice addition for this six-seat model, but you can at least store a drink bottle in each door.
And for those that want a conventional three-seat second row in their Scorpio, they will have to wait. Mahindra told us supply issues are the reason for only having the six-seater for now, but we suspect that a lap belt for the middle seat instead of a lap-sash – as evidenced by Global NCAP assessment – might also have something to do with it.
The third row of the Scorpio is tight. Legroom and headroom are both in short supply; a situation that is made worse by the lack of sliding ability in the second row. Kids might fit, but adults will be a squeeze.
There is only partial curtain airbag coverage of the third row, covering around half of the rear side window.
Mahindra tells us that there is 756L of boot space when the third row is folded down, but it feels smaller than that in reality. Perhaps when you load the boot up to the roof that kind of space is available.
The third row doesn’t fold into the floor, but instead tumbles forward and latches onto a second-row headrest to be secured. It leaves a storage space that is square and tall with a decent (but not huge) amount of length on offer.
When the third row is deployed, that boot space evaporates to almost nothing. We don’t have an official figure for exactly how big it is, but it seems to be smaller than the 85L on offer in a Suzuki Jimny. However, you can find a 12V charger in the back.
Pay attention to that side-hinged rear door in tight carparks as well, because it swings open in a wide arc that allows for good accessibility, only if you make room for it to open fully.
|2023 Mahindra Scorpio|
|Boot volume||756L to second row|
Does the Mahindra Scorpio have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?
Infotainment comes via an 8.0-inch system, which is shared between both Z8 and Z8L specifications. There is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on offer, while Z8L picks up wireless connectivity for both phone systems.
Z8L also gets an upgraded driver’s display, with a larger 7.0-inch display in place of the 4.2-inch screen between the dials of the Z8.
The infotainment interface is basic and effective enough, but we note that boot times are long between different modes and starting up.
There is no native navigation in the Scorpio, nor is there any digital radio reception.
Is the Mahindra Scorpio a safe car?
The Scorpio comes to the Australian market with no ANCAP or Euro NCAP crash rating, which is the standard to which all other new cars are measured.
There is a Global NCAP rating for the Scorpio, but this is not the same. Global NCAP does not test cars in as strict a manner as our local or European testing, and for reasons that I’ll run through in the next section, the Scorpio would in effect be a zero-star car if it were to be crash-tested by ANCAP.
|2023 Mahindra Scorpio|
What safety technology does the Mahindra Scorpio have?
Time to sink the boot in. While Mahindra went to some length to espouse the benefits of a five-star Global NCAP safety rating, the Scorpio is severely behind the pace in terms of safety equipment.
In particular, active safety technology is completely missing. There is a dearth of acronyms that one normally finds on a new car, which are absent here: autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assistance, lane-departure warning, forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and reverse autonomous braking are all missing here.
And when other vehicles in the segment do have these safety features (which are admittedly more expensive), buyers need to be aware that a big part of that price saving comes with a compromise on safety.
“Baffling” was one word that a colleague mused when talking about the lack of safety equipment on the Scorpio, and I tend to agree. When Mahindra is looking to push away from the rural and agricultural market and take on the competitive urban buyer market, this is a major miss.
How much does the Mahindra Scorpio cost to maintain?
Mahindra will be offering a capped-price servicing schedule for the Scorpio via the 50-odd dealers and agents it has dotted around the country. However, these details are yet to be made public. So, we aren’t yet sure on how much the Scorpio will cost to service, as well as how long and inclusive the capped-price servicing schedule will be.
The Scorpio is also set to become the first Mahindra model in Australia with a seven-year, 150,000km warranty, up from the five-year warranty on Mahindra models currently on sale in Australia.
|At a glance||2023 Mahindra Scorpio|
|Warranty||Seven years, 160,000km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 15,000km|
Is the Mahindra Scorpio fuel-efficient?
Mahindra claims that the Scorpio uses a modest 7.2 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle, which is one of the better figures in the segment. It matches the Ford Everest with the twin-turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine, in fact, but our usage indicated a figure higher than that.
We saw around 8.0L/100km after a few hours of country road and highway driving, which stretched into the nines after a stint of off-roading. It wasn’t a thorough and complete test of the Scorpio’s fuel economy credentials, however, so we’d prefer to make a more solid judgement on this in the coming weeks after more time with the car.
|Fuel Useage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||7.2L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||8.0–8.5L/100km|
|Fuel tank size||57L|
What is the Mahindra Scorpio like to drive?
Mahindra’s 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine – known as Mhawk – features as the power plant for the Scorpio, which is shared with the Pik-Up ute. However, it gets a welcome bump in outputs for this application climbing from 103kW/320Nm to 129kW and 400Nm.
It’s still the least impressive on paper in comparison to any other four-wheel-drive wagon in the segment. However, in the real world it does a good enough job. The 400Nm of twist comes on relatively early in the rev range, allowing the Scorpio to accelerate well enough. Not quick, but also not slow.
It’s matched well to an Aisin-sourced six-speed automatic gearbox, which does a good job getting the most out of the power plant. It holds revs and allows for the torque to do the work, which suits the engine. Because anywhere near (or beyond) that 3500rpm redline, the motor starts to feel a little breathless.
The Scorpio’s suspension is mostly good, but it does feel busy and fidgety over rough and pock-marked road surfaces at speed. The bigger the hits and higher the speed, the better the Scorpio seems to perform. Larger hits are well controlled in terms of absorption, with decent body control to boot.
Its steering is light using an electric-assisted power-steering system. Perhaps not as light as the Isuzu MU-X at low speeds, but it adds resistance to the equation as speeds increase. In terms of dynamics, the Scorpio is a big step forward for Mahindra. However, it still feels a step or two behind others in the segment.
Off-road, the inclusion of an Eaton-sourced automatically locking rear differential makes the Scorpio a point-and-shoot affair. Low-range offers enough reduction in first gear for most off-roading, and the vehicle feels to be stable enough in cross-axle situations. The inclusion of off-road driving modes helps with brake-controlled traction control, which means the first thing you’ll run out of is ground clearance.
The driving we did on this test loop wasn’t as challenging as what the Scorpio could handle, so we’ll look forward to putting the vehicle through its paces more thoroughly in the future.
And while the automatically locking rear differential means you can never forget to turn it off, it can provide a thudding and jarring experience in some terrains as it continually cycles between open and closed.
The tyres are on the relatively small size measuring in at 28 inches of diameter. Some control arm mounts and other brackets sit relatively low, and the Adblue tank behind the passenger-side rear wheel is in the firing line. If you outstrip the available amount of departure angle – 21.3 degrees – the 20L tank is only protected by thin plastic and is easily in line for a whack.
|Key details||2023 Mahindra Scorpio|
|Engine||2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel|
|Power||129kW @ 3500rpm|
|Torque||400Nm @ 1750–2750rpm|
|Drive type||Part-time four-wheel drive, low-range transfer case|
|Transmission||Six-speed torque converter automatic|
|Power-to-weight ratio||61.4kW/t (Z8L)|
|Spare tyre type||Full-size (steel)|
|Tow rating||2500kg braked
Should I buy a Mahindra Scorpio?
The sharp buy-in price of the Scorpio is its biggest asset. However, buyers need to be conscious of the fact that those savings on the sticker price – in comparison to others in the segment – come with a price. Safety is lacking, with active safety equipment completely missing.
The packaging leaves a little to be desired as well. The third row is tight, and the boot in three-row mode is conspicuously small. Put that down mostly to the relatively small dimensions, which does come with a benefit of manoeuvrability.
If your budget only stretches so far, then you’ve got an option here that you didn’t have before. And the seven-year warranty is a strong stake in the ground by Mahindra. It’s a good vehicle in some respects, but is let down in other areas.
We understand that the wait for a seven-seat model and active safety technology will be about two years, which is cold comfort to those who are looking to buy now.