Launched in 2002, and after having touched millions of hearts – its Facebook page has 3.2 million likes, for example – Mahindra Scorpio has crossed the 5 lakh sales milestone. The period it took to achieve this, thirteen years, has certainly taught Mahindra a lot. And most of that has gone into the new Scorpio, which came much around the same time last year. We take a look at how an SUV managed to keep both the market and its fans happy. So much so that a lot of people still swear by the vehicle. Here’s what we feel that contributed to the success of the Mahindra Scorpio:
On- and off-road performance
Before the outbreak of soft-roaders and crossovers, the only thing that could separate SUVs and purpose-built off-roaders was the ability to tackle on-road duties of the former. And the Scorpio, although nowhere as good as cars, did just that. Its placement in the market was such that a lot of people bought it for travelling on highways and occasionally bad roads.
And roads were never bad enough for the Scorpio. Okay, apart from the extreme off-roading stuff, the vehicle did manage to handle almost everything. A 4WD system was optional and made the Scorpio very useful when tackling really bad conditions. It might still fall short in comparison to the Gurkha and Thar, but then they won’t handle everything else like the Scorpio, either. Yes, it is a compromise, but a balanced one.
Reliability and Serviceability
The Scorpio has certainly improved over the years. The updates and facelifts that continued weren’t confined to bringing new look lights, adding a bonnet scoop, and stuff like that. New engines were introduced, and slowly these were passed on to other vehicles in the line up.
Reliability hasn’t been a strong point. Okay, not Toyota strong but still.
Mahindras have been present everywhere, which means the mechanic who’s had a fair bit of experience tinkering with M&Ms of the past, won’t say no to checking your Scorpio. For the small issues, at least.
Rural and Urban SUV
The multifaceted Scorpio was equally good at handling rural conditions as it was in the city. That widened its user base by a huge margin.
While it stays comfortable even on bad roads, the Scorpio is still run by urban-dwellers, regardless of its large size. Because unless you’re headed to Purani Dilli or Dadar, the Scorpio’s footprint won’t really pose an issue.
Brand image and Fanbase
Clever advertising helped Mahindra Scorpio garner a cult following. Good versatility added and kept the users and enthusiasts happy. And those who didn’t understand what the fuss was about must have got their answers while scaling difficult terrain, courtesy of Mahindra Adventure – the customer/enthusiast oriented off-road initiative by the company.
The Scorpio is also a big status symbol, especially in tier II cities and towns. Its less utilitarian design clearly positions it above the rest of the UVs in India. And hence wins a lot of hearts.
Tata got it spot on with the Safari, but as a product, it wasn’t received with a lot of appreciation. Mahindra, on the other hand, seems to have used both the brand value as well its product’s positives to help the Scorpio grow. And it’s quite evident, the Scorpio’s success, isn’t it?
Okay, how many full-size SUVs offer an automatic in the segment? Other the Scorpio, none. Even the XUV doesn’t get an auto yet.
The presence of Creta automatic will of course have an effect on the sales, but then if you were to visit a village where roads were pretty non-existent, which one would you choose?
But it’s not perfect, either. A few things that deterred Scorpio’s success:
It’s still not as polished a product as many would have liked. The driving position is bad, and it doesn’t feel like something for which one would pay more than 10 lakhs. It might look better than before, but that’s still not a very likeable design.
Competition has to be everywhere. And while the Safari might not beat the Scorpio in terms of sales, the former is still respected a lot more.
While the Scorpio feels at ease when making progress, the Safari’s cabin is still the place to be. It’s comfortable and classy – something Scorpio hasn’t been, yet.
Scorpio’s handling is not great. It might be good to handle bad roads but while on the highway there’s such a lack of confidence that the Scorpio never feels like the right vehicle to drive at high speeds. And while the new vehicle has improved over the previous versions, a vehicle of this size should be a bit more well-mannered.
The urban buyer has started to look at the new range of crossovers, while Scorpio’s popularity elsewhere continues to be strong. It remains to be seen how Mahindra shakes its competition a bit and achieves the next milestone, which of course should be ten lakh Scorpios on sale.