Mahindra Scorpio LX 4×4 road test and review: Competent all-round SUV

The Mahindra Scorpio has been around since 2002, but has constantly been given upgrades and new variants launched, while others have been discontinued. The Scorpio, in its latest version, is powered by Mahindra’s new MHawk 2.2-litre diesel engine across the range, in different states of tune.

One of the variants that gets this engine is the LX 4WD – a Scorpio with just the basic comforts, but with a proper 4×4 system for off-road use, which was previously available only in the VLX variants. Before the MHawk generation of Scorpios, 4WD was offered only on the DX and a limited run of SLX variants of the CRDe generation of Scorpios, while on the even older DI-engined Scorpio it was offered on the GLX variant.

mahindra scorpio action shot
Photo: The Scoprio LX 4x4 is a good all terrain vehicle but lacks comfort and safety features

So how different is the new LX 4×4 Scorpio? Does it make for an ideal expedition vehicle? Here’s a report of an LX 4WD that’s available for Rs. 9.38 lakh ex-showroom Delhi.

Looks, fit and finish

mahindra scorpio front
Photo: From the from the front the Scorpio LX looks butch and aggressive much like the other variants

Exterior

The Scorpio has pretty decent fit and finish overall, although there are some loose plastic bits around the cabin. The LX variant does not come with body cladding. The front-end styling was changed in 2009, with the flatter bonnet with integrated hood scoop for the intercooler, new style headlamps and a rather ugly grille with a chrome “tooth”. The rear was largely unchanged from 2006, except for the bumper design. Also read: Tata Safari Storme vs. Mahindra Scorpio!

 

mahindra scoprio dashboard
Photo: The insides are plain and mundane with not much to fiddle with. They also look dull and boring

Interior

The interiors of the LX 4×4 are rather bare. It comes with a grey and black interior. The 4×4 variant comes as a seven-seater variant with two jump seats in the boot. The door pads are not molded, but of the hardboard variety, unlike the higher variants. The interior lights are also basic, while the instrument panel is of the earlier design unlike the VLX variants, which get a digital fuel gauge and multi-info display with tyre pressure sensor etc. The middle row of seats in the LX does not have a center armrest, and is not a split fold either – only a single fold.

mahindra scorpio front seats
Photo: The Front seats of the Scorpio are reasonably spacious for average-sized individuals, but not much elbow room

Comfort and features

In terms of comfort, the LX 4×4 offers just about adequate features. It has a powerful AC with rear AC vents, tilt-adjustable power steering, manual central locking and internally adjustable mirrors. The power windows are also basic, with the rear seat passengers having to operate the windows from the center console between the front seats – as there are no rear power window switches on the doors unlike the higher variants.

mahindra scorpio rear seats
Photo: The middle row seat is comfortable, but ride quality is not and passengers tend to get thrown about quite a bit at high speeds.

The 4×4 system is selectable by a rotary switch on the center console next to the handbrake, with three modes – two wheel drive, four-wheel drive high and four-wheel drive low. Everything else has to be added aftermarket. Mahindra has actually cut a lot of corners on this low cost variant. Things like an AC filter which cost just Rs. 500 are missing. Pre-wiring for the antenna is also missing. Also read: Mahindra sibling rivalry: Brawny Scorpio vs brainy XUV500

Performance and handling

mahindra scoprio side profile
Photo: In profile the Scorpio looks large and there is good all-round visibility

The Scorpio LX 4WD is powered by Mahindra’s 2.2 litre common-rail diesel engine that puts out 120 bhp of power and 297 Nm of torque. It comes with a five-speed manual transmission. The gearshifts are rather long, but precise. The clutch is hydraulically powered, but still is quite hard compared to most sedans and hatchbacks.

The braking system is the traditional discs in front, drums at the rear set up, with booster-assist and load-sensing braking distribution. Only the higher variants get more safety features such as ABS and airbags.

The suspension setup in the 4WD LX is different from the two-wheel drive version. The front gets independent torsion bars instead of coil spring struts. The rear set-up is common to all Scorpios (except Getaway), which is a multi-link coil setup.

The engine is very refined and quiet. Turbo-lag is minimal, and it perks up quite well from low speeds. However, peak power only comes in once you get the engine speed over 1700 rpm. At these speeds there’s a faint turbo-whistle that’s audible.

While straight-line pick up and stability is not an issue in the Scorpio, taking a turn at speed can be a hair-raising experience. Body roll is very prominent. The suspension is soft at the rear and stiffer in the front, so there’s not much dive on braking.

However, at speeds above 110 kmph, the Scorpio begins to get a “floating” effect, where the soft suspension can actually fool rear seat passengers into thinking they are on a cruise-liner. Don’t be surprised if some of your passengers get sea-sick.

mahindra scorpio rear
Photo: The large rear windshield offers a good view and the pintel hook that comes with the 4x4 variant looks menacing.

The best bit about the LX 4×4 is its go-anywhere ability. The electronic shift 4×4 system also has a low-ratio gearbox which can tackle extreme terrain at crawling speeds. If you want to go dune bashing in the desert, the Scorpio can do it. If you want to scale snow-covered roads in the mountain, this Scorpio can do it. Slushy jungle track? Easily dismissed by the Scorpio. It has 180 mm of ground clearance at its lowest point (the differential), while the rest of the body is at 200 mm.

While it may not be as rugged as a Thar, it is about as rugged as it can get, and is loaded with more creature comforts.

Mileage

One of the strong points about the MHawk engine is the fuel economy it delivers. In city traffic, with the airconditioning running in peak Delhi summer, the Scorpio gives 12.8 kmpl. Out on the highway, the mileage hit 14.1 kmpl, which is quite commendable for a 2 ton vehicle.

What we think

Overall, the Scorpio is an ideal, cost-effective, expedition vehicle that can traverse any kind of terrain in relative comfort. The mechanicals have been tried, tested and refined over the years and it is now a pretty reliable vehicle for long distances, as long as you have rear-seat passengers who don’t get sea sick. The new LX 4×4 variant will suit those looking for a reliable four-wheel drive vehicle, with just the basic creature comforts.