2022 Mahindra Scorpio Classic drive review: Rugged SUV goes under the knife
At a time when SUVs were largely considered to be the prerogative of an exclusive class of car buyers in the country, at a time when the market had not yet heard of terms like sub-compact and micro-compact SUVs, and at a time when Indian brands were mostly considered too darn raw, there emerged a player with ruggedly butch physique but with the finesse to even appeal to city dwellers. That year was 2002. That car was Scorpio. And the legacy of the model continues two decades on.
Time can be cruel but it has been generously partial to the Mahindra Scorpio which has continued to sell in impressive numbers despite the ever-changing dynamics of the Indian automotive market and the Indian car buyer. Over the past two decades, SUVs of all shapes and sizes have flooded roads here but Scorpio's momentum can be largely attributed to two key factors - timely updates and the fact that there's no real substitute for a bullishly handsome design language. Critics may argue that age has caught up with the Scorpio but Mahindra has hit back this year with a twin-strike approach - Scorpio-N as an entirely new model offering with an entirely new design, cabin and feature list. And then there is the Scorpio that is now rebadged as the Scorpio Classic.
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But while the Scorpio-N is radically contemporary and may have all the armour to take on its rivals in the mid-size SUV space, is the Scorpio Classic the same wine in a new bottle or does it justify Mahindra's decision to sell it along side its near namesake?
Here's our first-drive review of the 2022 Mahindra Scorpio Classic:
Mahindra Scorpio Classic: Weights over cardio
If Scorpio was a fitness enthusiast, you would almost always find it in the corner of the gym where the weights are placed, not the cardio section. And why would it not be? The ladder-on-frame chassis continues to underpin the Scorpio, much like it does for all other SUVs in the Mahindra portfolio - young and the veterans.
It is quite remarkable how the Scorpio Classic today is still essentially the Scorpio from way back in 2002, apart from its largely cosmetic visual highlights. These highlights are more subtle still between the Classic and the preceding model which was its third facelift and launched first in 2014. The bulk of these subtle updates are on the face where a new grille design - complete with thicker chrome slats - now gets the company's new twin-peaks logo and is flanked by a set of new DRLs. The fog light units too have been tweaked in terms of design.
The Scorpio continues to stand on 17-inch wheels and while it could have - actually, would have indeed - benefited from a larger set, the alloy design has been updated. There also is a new and unique 'Scorpio' badge on the side doors.
At the back, the tower LED tail lamp design makes a comeback. Remember, it had been replaced in the model which was offered from 2014 onwards for a smaller set. The profile here and elsewhere remains near identical though, and it is the ‘Scorpio Classic’ rear-side badge and the twin-peaks logo again that would underline that this is the updated model.
Credit to Mahindra for playing the balancing act well, a balancing act between carrying forward a much-admired design but now with bits borrowed from an updated visual trait strategy for its vehicles.
Mahindra Scorpio Classic: Quaint cabin a bit too classic?
“Throw in a larger touchscreen."
This may have been the solitary light bulb moment when Mahindra got around to contemplating how the cabin of the Scorpio Classic could offer newer highlights while not eating into the territorial space Scorpio-N seeks to create. So in comes a nine-inch infotainment screen that is still placed lower down on the flattened dashboard layout. Is it responsive? Yes. Does it pack in the usual fare of app support? Yes. Does it have in-built navigation? Yes. Does it still suffer from screen glare? Yes. Is the quality of the reverse camera feed resolution on it poor? Yes. All of these points, in a nutshell, may give you an idea about what to expect in terms of the screen's strengths and weaknesses.
The cabin of the Scorpio Classic continues to have very familiar strengths and weaknesses elsewhere as well. The dual-tone beige and black dashboard and the wood trim on the center console is quintessentially classic.
The soft seat upholstery also makes for a well-cushioned ride experience still. But the top variant could have been offered with an optional leatherette material for the seats, even if as part of an additional extra.
And among some of the big-time misses still are the lack of grab handles on the A-pillars, a peculiarly hidden and hard-to-reach USB Type A port under air-conditioning controls, lack of charging options for rear-seat passengers and shoddy storage space on the front doors which are best for only letters or document files.
In our test unit, the fit and finish was also extremely questionable. Paneling was coming off already and the switch for the front overhead light was missing.
But the Scorpio Classic does retain its inherent strength of being a large, almost boisterous SUV that can seat seven or nine, depending on the seat layout you choose. Everyone has a place and everyone sits tall inside. Passengers in the middle-row would appreciate the dedicated AC vents and still have impressive space on the stretched bench seat here. Leg room may be limited but knee room and head room are either adequate or impressive while under-thigh support is par for the course.
Jump to the jump seats at the back and Scorpio continues to deliver big time. Most SUVs and MPVs of today add third-row seating as a matter of formality. Take a cue from Mahindra. While unlikely to be the first-choice seating place still, the jump seats can accommodate two adults on long journeys if the need arises. Getting in and out surely means this section isn't for the elderly but for everyone else, hop right in.
Overall, Scorpio Classic is far closer to the Bolero in terms of its cabin highlights than it is to the younger generation of Mahindra SUVs - in terms of fit and finish, feature list and space on offer. Large windows and a high ride position still make this one of the most uncluttered SUVs around. Classic, you say? Well, sure.
Mahindra Scorpio Classic: Delivering on the drive
Those looking for bragging rights on the road through sheer physical presence of their vehicle may not much care about a sunroof. I mean I don't think I ever saw a Rohit Shetty film's protagonist elevating like I have watched him glance out from a moving Scorpio. The clientele is different, may want power on the move.
The Scorpio Classic continues with its drive traits, albeit some enhancements. The second-generation 2.2-litre mHawk diesel motor under the hood is paired with the six-speed MT getting a new cable shift technology. There's still the familiar grunt and 130 bhp of power/ 300 Nm of torque to boot in an RWD set up.
Power is Scorpio's mainstay and the mHawk motor still is mighty capable on that count. Speeds builds with a sense of purpose and at mid-range of around 60 kmph, the SUV gets a solid move on that's a delight on highways. The now lighter steering wheel also aids moving the Scorpio Classic better and with comparatively lesser effort while the still stiff suspension - now with something Mahindra calls MTV-CL technology - makes breezy work of most road aberrations.
Body roll will remain a concern for the discerning buyer but it still isn't a weakness per say considering how tall the Scorpio Classic is. This SUV has a priority list and it continues to swear by it.
The Scorpio Classic still isn't very refined on the move but it generously makes up for it by being a power-player within and beyond city limits.
Mahindra Scorpio Classic: Verdict
Scorpio, as we have always known it, deserves to be around. To be around despite its age. To be around despite the heightened scale of competition. Its core strengths of being a capable SUV with a solid road presence remains untouched and intact. The diesel engine under the hood continues to thunder as confidently as it always has.
- Solid road presence
- High drive position
- Powerful diesel motor
- Fit and finish issues in cabin
- Comparatively bare feature list
The Scorpio however was never meant for one and all. And with the introduction of Scorpio-N, the Scorpio Classic still may not be for everyone. The addition of the ‘Classic’ tag to the name can't mask over the fact that it still lacks a sense of finesse in terms of fit and finish, isn't very refined on the move and lacks features new-age SUV buyers take for granted. Expect the Scorpio Classic to now be for the ‘aspirational’ semi-urban and rural buyer who may have otherwise gone for the Bolero.