Driving the 2.2L mHawk 140
The base S3 variant of the Scorpio is powered by a 2,523 cc, 4-cylinder m2DICR turbocharged diesel engine. It produces 75 BHP @ 3,200 rpm and 200 Nm of torque @ 1,400-2,200 rpm (ARAI fuel economy rating = 16.01 km/l). Clearly, this stripped down variant targets the budget, rural & commercial markets.
The outgoing Scorpio's engine tune is available on the two mid variants S5 and S7. The 2,179 cc mHawk diesel with a variable geometry turbocharger produces 120 BHP @ 4,000 rpm and 280 Nm of torque @ 1,800-2,800 rpm. It's a jewel of an engine with good driveability, power, fuel economy and refinement. The ARAI fuel economy rating for this unit is 15.37 km/l.
The same engine is offered in a higher state of tune in the S7 & S11 variants. It now gets a new Borg Warner turbocharger (same as XUV500). The mHawk140, as it is called, puts out 140 BHP @ 3,750 rpm and 320 Nm of torque @ 1,500-2,800 rpm (ARAI fuel economy rating = 15.01 km/l). It is paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox. This engine and transmission are borrowed from the XUV500. While the power figures of the two siblings are identical, the Scorpio makes 10 Nm lesser. In the Scorpio, peak torque is also produced at 100 rpm lower than the XUV500. With the increased power and torque, the Scorpio now gets improved power-to-weight and torque-to-weight ratios of 77 BHP / ton and 177 Nm / ton respectively as against the 66 BHP / ton and 155 Nm / ton of the 120 BHP version.
Like before, you do not need to press the clutch to crank the engine. Simply turning the key brings the engine to life. After a disturbing vibration on start-up, the diesel's clatter settles down and eventually displays its more refined side. Engine noise isn't intrusive at idle. At cruising speeds, the engine is barely vocal. The motor has an extremely refined nature on the move. Only once the revs cross 3,000 rpm does its sound filter into the cabin. The engine note is actually likeable, and isn't tractor-like. While cruising on highways, noise from the road, engine & wind are within acceptable limits. However, a certain hum & vibration are felt throughout the cabin when you lug the engine (this could be noticed in the older Scorpio too). Don't drive at too low an rpm in too high a gear.
The versatility of the mHawk is impressive. Despite the higher state of tune, the Scorpio has retained its superb driveability. Turbo lag is well-controlled and the mHawk offers excellent urban driveability. Forget downshifting for speed breakers, you can drive off from a standstill in 2nd gear itself! The engine is that tractable! 3rd gear can be used as an automatic to potter about in the city all day long. You'll never complain of the low-end torque of this engine. The Scorpio even climbs the city's flyovers in 4th gear without breaking into a sweat (no downshift required). Throttle responsiveness is good and all it takes is a gentle tap on the accelerator to commute around the city.
The mHawk diesel feels equally at home whilst cruising on the highway. It now has more grunt across the rev range and feels livelier than the 120 BHP variant. Overtaking is a breeze, thanks to the punchy mid-range. The engine revs up to a maximum of 4,800 rpm and is rather free revving by diesel standards. Power-shift the Scorpio and there's adequate torque to make the wheels spin in 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear!!! Of course, like most other diesels, it's best to stay clear of the redline, upshift at lower rpms and enjoy the torque instead. In 6th gear, 100 km/h comes up at 2,000 rpm & 120 km/h at ~2,500 rpm (both are 400 rpm lower than the 120 BHP version). Let's face it, this SUV is going to see a good amount of highway cruising and the 6th gear has made the touring experience that much more relaxing & frugal.
The 6-speed gearbox has well-defined gates, although they are placed far apart. However, the reverse gear is located to the left of the 1st and engages without any locking mechanism neither a collar nor any lifting ring as found in some other cars. This causes the shifter to hesitate slotting into both - reverse and first. Be sure to double-check what gear you are in when executing parking manoeuvres. It remains a notchy unit and will dissuade you from upshifting aggressively. A big downer is the excessive vibration felt on the gear shifter - it is always moving
. Whatever the speed or driving condition, the gear lever is continuously shaking & dancing. Drive over rough roads and you'll see the lever shake as the transmission moves about on its mounts. In our test car - the clutch was on the heavier side and the travel was long as well. You don't want such a clutch in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Mahindra should have kept it lighter.
Further, vibrations can be felt on the clutch. These are directly proportional to the engine rpm. Combined with the off-center ABC pedals and the lack of a dead pedal, it didnt offer a fatigue-free ride to the driver. The cruise control can be engaged between 40-100 km/h to slightly mitigate this problem on the expressway. Micro-Hybrid Technology (Note: nothing 'hybrid' about it):
Come to a halt, engage neutral and you'll see the start / stop light on the instrument cluster blink thrice. After this, the engine switches off to maximise fuel economy. This happens every time you come to a stop (say, at traffic lights). The electrical system is still working, but obviously the air-con compressor is deactivated. Any driver input on the pedals and the engine fires up again. This start / stop operation is far from seamless; the entire cabin vigorously shakes when the engine turns on & off. It can get very annoying. Because the air-con compressor switches off, the cabin can also get hot on a sunny day. No, I'm not a fan of this Micro-Hybrid feature at all, and am thankful there is a button to switch it off. That said, there isn't a doubt that this system automates what a lot of commercial / fleet drivers practice manually. It's made the job easier for them. They'll probably keep the feature activated at all times.
'mHawk 140' badge on the engine cover. 2,179 cc, 4-cylinder diesel engine has a new variable geometry turbocharger and produces 140 BHP & 320 Nm of torque:
New state of tune increases the power-to-weight ratio to 77 BHP / ton from the earlier 66 BHP / ton:
Coolant reservoir has been moved to the center of the engine bay:
Turbo sits on the left side of the engine. Turbo lag is very well controlled. Mahindra has tuned this engine perfectly:
Ride & Handling
In the 2014 update, we observed that ride quality had slightly improved from the first-gen Scorpio. It's no longer as bumpy as the older car was, and the suspension is far more liveable. However, the ride quality is far (read = F-A-R) from what you'd call plush. Cars like the Duster, Safari Storme & Hexa are in a different league altogether. Even at 40-50 km/h on a city road, you can feel the suspension doing its work. There is always a little up & down bouncy movement; the Scorpio never rides flat, whatever the surface. You're always
well aware of the road conditions underneath as you feel the smallest of undulations & imperfections. Sharp, deep or tall bumps are prominently felt inside the cabin. The 17" wheels with shorter sidewalls could be a contributor to this ride. On uneven roads, passengers are jostled about significantly side-to-side, and there is a lot of lateral movement experienced inside the cabin. This lateral movement can make passengers very uneasy
. It must be noted that, as with some other body-on-frame SUVs, the ride does get better with load / more passengers onboard. The suspension is robust too and you'll never slow down for rough roads at speed. If you're absolutely keen on ride comfort, a 15" rim swap is a great idea. The 15" size is the most common with UVs and there are plentiful alloy / tyre options in the after-market. For the record, the Scorpio's base S3 variant rides on 215/75 R15 rubber and should offer significantly superior comfort levels.
Mahindra has retained the anti-roll bar at the rear and made some tweaks to the multi-link coil spring suspension to improve the Scorpio's road manners. Within the city, it's an absolute breeze to drive. The tall driving position, responsive engine and the fact that every other car seems to make way for you makes things easy. The Scorpio definitely feels nimbler than the unwieldy Safari in urban confines, yet far bulkier than the likes of the Creta. Out on the highway, straight line stability is satisfactory. It doesn't feel nervous cruising at 120 km/h on the expressway. Yes, handling is safer than what it used to be. Don't get carried away though. The Scorpio is still a top-heavy SUV and you must exercise caution around corners. Even as a passenger, you can feel its top heaviness. While the Bridgestone Dueller HTs offer satisfactory grip levels in dry & wet conditions, you still don't feel confident enough pushing the car due to its bumpy and unsettled behaviour. The rear especially gets jumpy over broken roads. Drive safely & conservatively, as you would with most other body-on-frame UVs. This breed of vehicles is very easy to topple in an emergency manoeuvre and it's very difficult for the average driver to regain control once the limits are exceeded. Monocoque SUVs like the Duster and Creta will run rings around the Scorpio.
The hydraulic power steering requires some effort at parking speeds, yet it's light enough on the move within the city and you won't have complaints on this front. Out on the expressway, it weighs up nicely and doesn't feel nervous. There is a certain amount of play at the dead-center position...always a good thing in such vehicles (helps reduce twitchiness at high speeds).
The Scorpio is capable of handling abuse from rough & inexistent roads. It's easy to see why the vehicle is so popular in rural India. If you like touring to remote areas and need the capability, a 4x4 variant is available. You can have a bit of fun with the Scorpio 4x4 through mild off-roading conditions like muck, sand etc. and some obstacles of medium-difficulty levels. It's no hardcore offroader like the Jeeps & Gypsies though, and the 4x4 electronic switch is known to be troublesome. Do note that the Scorpio 4x4s turning radius is bigger @ 5.65 meters. Sadly, the 4x4 variant is now only offered in the top S11 trim.
The Scorpio's ground clearance remains unchanged. Officially, it is rated at 165 mm, but the clearance below the axle is 209 mm! To escape the higher excise duty on cars with a length >4 meters, ground clearance >170 mm and engine capacity >1500cc (related news article
), Mahindra has probably added some part, like the easily-removable stone guard of the XUV500. We took the Scorpio through some rural roads and, needless to say, it didn't scrape anywhere at all.
Mahindra says that they have updated the braking system (bigger disc, bigger brake pads, bigger calliper and a new Bosch ABS 9.1 system). The pedal has a slight play at the beginning; the initial 10-15% of the brake pedal feels loose and the actual brakes are applied only after this. In terms of capability, they do the job and that's it (nothing exceptional). What some people will find disturbing is the nosedive under braking. Even at sedate city speeds, you will notice this trait. If you happen to brake hard at speeds beyond 100 km/h, the hazard lights momentarily come on (panic brake indication feature