Our market is fit to burst with premium-this and premium-that products, mostly because they command a premium profit margin. Now the once-rustic brand Mahindra is reaching for these levels…
You should know: Mahindra can look back on a long line of no-frills, no-nonsense vehicles which are as affordable as they are uncool; in today’s shallow lifestyles. We certainly shouldn’t blame Mahindra for wanting a slice of the premium pie, especially if it’s only a small part of their sensible line-up.
What else? Their latest attempt at a large uni-body luxury SUV didn’t go that well in my books, as the new XUV700 has newbie flaws that are unforgivable at this price. The smaller but cheaper XUV300 has similar issues (or quirks, for Mahindra fans like me) but, considering the cheaper asking price, they are just as tolerable as those found in the thrifty Pik-Up.
Why you shouldn’t: Did someone say Pik-Up? What sets this Scorpio-N apart from its XUV siblings is that it uses an old-school ladder-frame chassis; like most bakkies do. This obviously has deficits in terms of road handling and weight, which modern motorists may notice when they’re carving up a wavy back-road.
Why you should: Where a body-on-frame construction shines is in terms of 4×4 ability, toughness and probable longevity. And as proven by Fortuner, Everest and Pajero Sport, it turns out that southern Africans happily put up with backwards tar manners in return for excellent off-road abilities, plus the novelty of a full estate body on a tough bakkie chassis.
As with its rivals, that means you get an extra row of seats, plenty of head- and leg-room in most aisles, high driving position with decent visibility, chunky 255/60 tires on stylish 18-inch rims, plus the choice of two- or four-wheel drive (with terrain settings). All Scorpio-N’s in our market have a 2.2L turbo-diesel (129kW/400Nm) and 6-speed automatic.
More info: Our test vehicle was a white 4Xplore specimen with part-brown pleather interior. Not only did this lift the ambience of the snazzy cabin, it should also be excellent at repelling or hiding family whoopsies. Of course the quality isn’t on Volvo levels, but they most certainly measure up to Ford and company.
I encourage you to find out yourself, but you might be amazed to find a quirky infotainment system, lots of automated and powered features, plus a comprehensive driver information screen. The only things that disappointed a bit were its Sony-branded sound system and the comparably small (57L) fuel tank.
In summary: The new Mahindra Scorpio-N has decent looks, the right amount of space and features, plus it undercuts everyone at prices between R474,000 and R605,000. Included in each sale is a 5-year/150,000km warranty and 5-year/100,000km service plan.
FULL SPEC LIST
|2,179cc i-4 Turbo-diesel
|6-speed Automatic, RWD/4WD
|129kW @ 3,500rpm
|400Nm @ 1,750rpm
|11.38 seconds (no claim)
|4WD From R570,000 (Dec. 2023)