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Mahindra Scorpio Upgrade - Fine Tuning

So what is so new about the new Scorpio?,” is one question Mahindra dealers and salespeople had better be ready to answer. Because if you do not have the eye of a diamond polisher or the X-ray vision of Superman, you will not be able to make out the differences. Like a mature car maker, Mahindra decided to carry out a rather understated make-over to their best selling SUV. Alright, the front grille has been altered and a revised numberplate position means the air-dam covered by sporty wire-mesh is now very visible. This was done so that the temperature inside the engine compartment is kept low. But none of these are changes that interest the layman. 

But not so with the interiors and that is where we will start the tour of the new Scorpio from. The new upholstery is refreshing and the seats, especially the middle row ones, have been improved considerably to provide a sense of space and more leg room. Front seat passengers now get arm rests and slightly firmer and hence more comfortable seats.

Being an SUV the seating position is taller than normal cars and the body-on-chassis nature of the Scorpio ensures that passengers move around a bit in tandem with the expected body roll. Mahindra R&D was not very happy with the ride and handling set-up that they had to settle for when they were ready to launch the Scorpio a year ago. You see, you either get brilliant ride quality or an SUV that goes around corners decently – not both.

We at Motoring were given a much-improved car to try out as early as December 2002 and Mahindra had built these improvements into the cars that we had used for the One Lap Of India event in February 2003. The latest round of suspension tweaks revolved around providing better middle and rear seat ride quality and from our stint with the new Scorpio, they have succeeded in that. 

A rather fundamental change was made to the engine – the new chain drive motor, designated SZ 2600 Plus Diesel Turbo DI, has done wonders for the NVH (Noise, Vibration, Harshness) characteristics of the Scorpio. Not that there was much criticism on this front to begin with, but the oil burner has been further refined. Even after a cold start, the engine note (and more so the turbo whine) does not intrude into the cabin and irritate you. Though Mahindra insists the engine is ‘new’,  the output figures remain the same, ie; 109 bhp at 3800 rpm and 26 kgm of torque at 1800 clicks. The rear axle ratio has been changed from 4.55 to 3.33 in search for those additional few kpl. Good move, but wait till next issue and we’ll tell you the actual fuel efficiency figures.

New graphics or an all-new shade of paint to celebrate the Scorpio anniversary would have been nice – but that has to wait. So there you are, small but critical improvements that are sure to take our Car Of The Year  2003 to more exciting times.