First Drive: Mahindra Scorpio N
Mahindra has been a hot topic of discussion recently with the release of the XUV700, as the new badge has brought with it an attitude adjustment. These cars have increased their aesthetic appeal and are becoming increasingly desirable. And now, Mahindra has launched its all-new flagship model, the Scorpio N (Nth), which combines impressive off-road capabilities with practical, family-friendly features.
While the previous Scorpio was well-known, it was not universally loved due to its boxy, sharp-edged styling, which appeared outdated even in its updated form. With Mahindra stepping up its game and producing more modern vehicles, I was eager to see what improvements it would bring to its flagship model, the Scorpio N.
It's a marked improvement over its predecessor, with styling that makes a bold statement. Its shape is reminiscent of more popular SUVs, and it's caught the eye of many in parking lots, something I didn't expect.
Tank or SUV?
Mahindra has held on to its fondness for the more rugged body-on-frame design, and it's evident in this new SUV. This design often results in a high centre of gravity and less confidence at higher speeds, but as an off-road vehicle, it makes a world of sense. Off the beaten track, it's capable, and not much will hinder its progress. However, I do have concerns about the approach and departure angles, as the front and rear bumper have substantial overhangs, and the ground clearance isn't particularly impressive.
We tested the Scorpio N on sandy tracks with rocks strewn about for an extra challenge, and it showed remarkable capability as it handled the terrain with relative ease. Power is ample, making inclines a breeze, and its light steering is perfect for navigating tricky obstacles. Whether you're an avid off-roader or simply looking for adventure, the Scorpio N can take the off-road challenge.
One of the standout features of the Scorpio N is its ride quality, a topic of frequent critique for the outgoing gen. It's remarkably smooth and easily handles bumps, even on gravel roads. However, the wind noise is a letdown, and the steering, though purpose-built for off-roading, can feel a bit sloppy. This is not uncommon for most off-road vehicles.
The Scorpio is equipped with a 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine that produces 129 kW and 400 Nm of torque. It boasts a claimed fuel consumption rate of 6.9 litres per 100 km, though our testing saw us closer to the 8l/100 km mark.
The Scorpio N is a handsome SUV that's, from a styling perspective, a considerable improvement over its predecessor. The design team was inspired by human muscles, which gives the rear window shape and light accents a unique look. The front end has a rugged, squared look with LED lights and chrome accents, while the side of the vehicle is sleek and modern. Although the rear end is improved, it needs more refinement, as the squared shape and prominent badges detract from the clean aesthetic. You can choose between 17" steel wheels or 18" alloys, both of which add to the car's rugged yet futuristic appearance.
Is it as stylish inside?
The interior of the Scorpio N is a standout feature, with the 4Z entry-level model offering a cloth interior and the 8Z and 8Z L models boasting a stylish rich coffee and black trim. The 8" infotainment screen is smoothly integrated and textured like a Kindle screen, which is a nice touch and doesn't leave fingerprints as readily as many other infotainment screens. The Scorpio N is also equipped with a 12-speaker Sony surround sound system that impressed with its audio quality.
The Scorpio N has ample legroom in the front two rows, with enough space in the back row to comfortably accommodate a sixth and seventh passenger. The only drawbacks I noticed were the occasional use of moulded textured plastic, which detracts from the stylish mood of the car, and the lining behind the sunroof, which tends to rattle on bumpier roads as it needs to be better secured.
How much will it cost you?
The Mahindra Scorpio N starts at R465,000 for the Z4 2x4 and tops off at R590,000 with the Z8 L 4x4 making it an attractive proposition in light of its features. It may not be the most capable off-roader – or even the prettiest – but it offers a blend of style, comfort, and capability for a reasonable price. The Scorpio N comes with a 5-year/150,000 km warranty and a 5-year/100,000 km service plan.
The Mahindra Scorpio N is a solid choice for adventurous families. While it by no means blew my mind, it offers respectable off-road ability for most 4x4 trails, a stylish appearance, and a comfortable ride. Although minor niggles like the steering feel could be improved, the SUV gets you to your destination in comfort. Given its price point, it represents excellent value for money.