Scorpio 2.6 GLX
dates : 9th January 2005
13th January 2005
Mahindra is back on the local
scene after a toe-in-the-water exercise in the late 1990s.
This time the enterprise has direct backing from the Indian
parent company in association with a local partner known as
African Automotive Investment Corporation.
Those who were unimpressed with the original Jeep-like vehicle
might well be surprised at this latest offering.
Overall quality is vastly improved, as our test vehicle, the
Scorpio 2.6 GLX proved on a pretty severe off-road test at the
Protea Eco Challenge near Mogale City, formerly known as
Appearance-wise there has been an improvement too. The Indian
off-roader has elements of many modern offerings from Europe
and America, including a Jeep-like grille and a high-roofed
side profile reminiscent of Land Rover.
What is impressive is that the design hangs together well,
with an overall sense of purpose and this goes for the way the
vehicle is configured in terms of practicality, and in overall
As far as off-road practicality is concerned we were impressed
with the substantial black plastic bumpers and side panels,
making it a real bundu basher.
However we did notice that these panels are not that securely
attached, and nor are the bumpers.
We could also do without the chrome steel-tube and alloy plate
running boards, which are just waiting to snag an obstacle in
an off-road environment.
On the road the Mahindra has a very solid feel, with no
rattles or squeaks.
And on a challenging off-road course this holds true over
really rough going
It is said that India has some of the world’s worst roads,
and it ids obvious that the Mahindra is built to cope with
really harsh terrain.
It has really solid suspension and drive-train fixtures. The
Mahindra features a separate steel chassis in traditional
rugged off-roading practice.
The body is large, with full-time seating for five and
fold-away jump seats. With these occasional seats folded away
there is nearly 600 litres of luggage space available.
While storage space available for large items is impressive,
the Scorpio is lacking in terms of casual-item stash
facilities. There are no cup holders and only a couple of
small bins for items like sunglasses.
And the driver-seat has no door pocket.
More cruically, the Mahindra is not equipped with airbags and
nor does it have ABS braking, so in this important safety
department it does lag behind most off-road rivals.
In terms of comfort, the GLX does have electric windows and
air conditioning as well as a radio/CD player.
Both front and rear seats come with armrests, but standard
upholstery for the GLX is cloth rather than leather. And the
pattern design is rather dated, as is the soft velour texture
of the cloth.
Another example of practicality over style is the exposed
workings of the fuel filler release. Much easier to fix if it
breaks, but rather rudimentary in terms of finish.
The engine is a large capacity four-cylinder turbodiesel
motor, displacing just over two thousand six hundred cubic
centimetres. The engine was designed and developed by AVL an
Austrian off-road engine specialist.
The accent is on high torque and reliability, rather than peak
power. An indication of this is the very small diameter turbo
pipe from the turbo impeller to the inlet manifold. The finish
on the motor too is, shall we say, pragmatic, rather than
being the high point of craftsmanship.
At just 82 kW peak power is rather low and this shows up on
the open road where a realistic cruising speed is 120 km/h
tops, speed falling down to 110 km/h or so when steep hills
But off road is where it shines. When serious off-road terrain
is encountered, the Mahindra has an electronic switch on the
console to engage four-wheel-drive and low-range. Strong
torque is produced at very low speeds and this pays dividends
when negotiating obstacles like rocky ridges, where a slow
approach speed is necessary to avoid damaging the
The ground clearance is very good and so is the suspension
travel, as well as the chassis rigidity, as this axle twister
test at the Protea Eco Challenge shows.
But crucially, the Scorpio does lack a rear diff lock and this
sees it spin away its power in extreme conditions.
However the local distributors say that an after-market diff
lock will be obtainable at a cost of around R12 000.
Overall our impression of the Mahindra Scorpio was positive.
We would have liked a bit more cruising speed, and some of the
fitments looked a bit rudimentary.
But the overall solidity of the vehicle appeals. And so does
At R215 000 it has no real rivals in this market, and this is
where it will attract a lot of interest.
The fact that it is a serious off-roader will see this Indian
newcomer definitely winning a fan-base in South Africa.
Car Torque is