Mahindra Scorpio-N Z8 L D AT 4×4 Road Test Review

Mahindra Scorpio-N Review


Very few models in the Indian automotive industry truly combine the best of ‘two worlds’. The Tata Harrier, Hyundai Creta or MG Hector, might represent the populous SUV culture of India but in most aspects they demand compromise. Compact front-wheel-drive SUVs, adapted on top of modified small-car platforms and built to be affordable –  these are the necessary but inherent traits they carry. On the other hand, we have rugged, go-anywhere utility vehicles like Mahindra Thar and Force Gurkha. They are built on specialized platforms, fitted with the necessary hardware and tested to take on the toughest obstacles. However, these demand compromises in the form of comfort, space and refinement. This is where Mahindra has stepped in with its Scorpio-N. In this detailed road test review, we bring you a thorough breakdown of what we like and what we don’t in the Mahindra Scorpio-N Z8 L D AT 4xplor. Phew! Now that we’re done with the name, let’s dive straight into its design –


Talking about the inspiration behind the design of the all-new Scorpio-N, chief designer Pratap Bose wished to carry forward the classic Scorpio silhouette and ‘take its design, interior and tech to the exponential level with the power of N’. Well, have they managed to achieve what they set out to do? In my opinion, they definitely have. The Mahindra Scorpio-N has hints of the Scorpio design language fused in perfect harmony with the brand’s new design philosophy. The upright stance, long bonnet and square-ish dimensions will instantly remind you of what was. On the other hand, the softer edges, curvier body lines and slimmer front-end look will make you appreciate what is.

The front features a six-slat grille with the Mahindra twin-peak logo adorned in the middle. This, combined with the dual-barrel projector LED headlamps are another nod to the design inspiration from the old Scorpio. Step to the side and you’re greeted to butch fenders, chunky 18-inch alloy wheels clad in 255/60 MRF Wanderer rubber and chrome-finished window strip which curves into the shape of a scorpion’s tail. Overall, there is no mistaking the Scorpio-N for any other vehicle on the road and at the same time, be prepared to receive a fair-few glimpses from onlookers too. The biggest letdown, in my opinion, is the design of the rear-profile. In trying to keep a minimalist approach. The Mahindra Scorpio-N is now larger, looks more premium but has not lost touch with the design legacy handed down by the classic Scorpio.

When it comes to dimensions, the Scorpio-N measures 206mm longer, 96mm wider and has a 70mm longer wheelbase compared to the outgoing Scorpio. However, it stands 125mm shorter when it comes to its height. Yet, compared to the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour – it is 35mm and 33m taller, respectively. While all this is fine and dandy on paper, the Scorpio-N actually manages to translate this increased road presence in real life as well. If you had to pick an SUV solely based on how it towers over other vehicles around you – the Scorpio-N would already be standing at the front of that queue.

Interior Design & Features 

As you step into the cabin, you’ll realize that the Scorpio-N’s interior design has evolved a whole lot more than what the exterior would suggest. Cleverly, the designers have taken the best of XUV 700’s premium appeal and injected a host of nostalgic touches from the outgoing design. Everything you touch is covered in soft-touch materials and all the high-end necessary features are all present at your fingertips. At the same time, a class-leading 854mm seat height, short dashboard layout and large daylight opening will not let you forget the class of vehicle you are in. Another noticeable improvement over the outgoing model is the quality of plastics that now adorn the Scorpio-N’s cabin.

When it comes to features, the top-end Z8 L variants feature a combination of 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system and 7-inch TFT instrument console which function as the main nerve centers of the entire operation. The touch response from the infotainment system is smooth and the layout is easy to understand. On the other, all the controls for the instrument console are located on the steering wheel. The graphics for which are crisp and are extremely comprehensive when it comes to changing settings or displaying different vehicle information. However, the biggest sore point is the quality of cameras which have been used in the Scorpio-N. The picture quality is heavily pixelated and low-latency results in serious lag issues. There are a total of 5 changes which the Z8 L features over the regular Z8 variants – electric front seats, Sony 12-speaker sound system, wireless phone charger, Driver Drowsiness Alert system and a front-side camera. The cost, on the other hand, for the Z8 L over Z8 is INR 2.45 Lakh. While some may find this to be too steep of an ask, the demand surplus for the Z8 L over any other variant suggests people are willing to pay for these add-ons. Other highlights that help the Scorpio-N’s equipment list standout is 3-zone AC controls, AdrenoX connected car tech, wide sunroof, built-in GPS navigation, 360-degree surround-view camera and built Ask Alexa commands function.

When it comes to comfort, the first-row occupants get the most space and most comfortable seats of all three rows. In terms of ergonomics, you sit high and get a very commanding position of the road ahead. You always find yourself at par with large SUVs and medium-sized CVs like the Tata 407, that feel-good factor is deserving of praise all on its own. The brown-leather, contoured seats are extremely supportive albeit with a tad too much lumbar support to always find the perfect position for your back. Adding to that sour point is the lack of adjustability of the steering wheel for reach. 

When it comes to the second-row, owners can choose between a 6 seat configuration with captain seats or a 7-seat layout with a bench. While the former gives you better comfort and easier transit to the third row, the latter is easily the more practical choice. In either case, the passenger sits high enough for a good view out, while having plenty of head and shoulder space. The knee and leg room is plentiful for those of average 5’7 ft build but anyone taller is best left to the front-passenger seat. Features in the second row include a chunky armrest w/ two bottle holders, individual AC vents with controls, Type-C charging socket and dedicated mobile holder in the front seat pockets. The bench seat also gets a 60:40 split layout, with the smaller section tumbling all the way forward to make space to climb into the third row. Using the side step to help you up, getting into the last row is an easy affair for anyone. However, you might want to relegate the kids to the back, if you have any. The third row gets decent head and shoulder room but space for your knees is virtually non-existent. The Scorpio also misses out on AC vents, cup holders or charging points to make matters worse. If you are looking at the Mahindra Scorpio-N as a means of ferrying a large family with luggage around, you should know that it gets 460-Litre of boot space. With all the three-rows of seats in their upright position, you have just enough space for two gym-sized duffle bags at your disposal.

Engine Performance & Off Road Ability

The model which we have put to the test for this review is the top-end diesel automatic version. Which means it is powered by a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel motor which belches out 175PS and 400 Nm of peak torque. It is the same power unit that can be found under the hood of the XUV 700 as well, albeit with slightly less power and torque on tap. However, despite that shortcoming, the Mahindra Scorpio-N never tends to feel underpowered in any situation you put it through. Mash the the throttle and the SUV sets off from standstill with plenty of gusto, while shifting gears seamlessly via the 6-speed torque converter automatic transmission. While the transmission does well to cope with city traffic and 4-lane stretches of highway, you do feel a slight hesitancy in shifting up gears when climbing speeds. On the other hand, shifting down cogs in a hurried manner is dealt with without any issues. Where this diesel and automatic transmission combination really shines is in its high speed cruising mannerism. Once you climb past 100 km/h and the automatic transmission settles into 6th gear, the effortless mile-munching capabilities will truly impress you. If you happen to choose the two-wheel drive version of the Z6, Z8 and Z8 L variants, you are also offered three drive modes – Zip, Zap and Zoom. Unfortunately, Mahindra has decided to not offer them to those who choose the 4×4 versions of Z8 and Z8 L. Which would have been a big disappointment, given the asking price of these models. Why I say ‘would have’ is because actually sampling these three drive modes in quick succession revealed mildly increased or decreased performance. Definitely not enough to warrant a protest at the Mahindra HQ.

Driving the petrol and diesel variants of the Scorpio-N back-to-back is the only way you can truly compare the refinement between the two. While the petrol-automatic version has received lots of praise from the automotive fraternity, the NVH levels that you get with the diesel-automatic versions are almost on par – and that is no mean feat. For those who would have otherwise chosen the petrol versions to avoid these pitfalls, now can take that aspect out of the equation when making the choice between the two. A well-insulated cabin, lack of diesel clatter and seamless driving dynamics – that is what sums up the refinement you get with the Scorpio-N in its diesel avatar.

While you might have understood that the Mahindra Scorpio-N is a thoroughly well-designed premium SUV when it comes to comfort and performance, its off-road ability is what helps it stand out over the crowd of pseudo-SUVs that boast rough road capability. When it comes to the 4xplor variants in the Z8 trim, you are offered a proper low-range gearbox, brake-lock differentials at the front and mechanical locking differentials at the back. You also get the choice of four off-road traction modes – Normal, Snow, Mud, and Sand. In our brief experience of the Scorpio over varied off-road terrain, we found that the SUV does well in handling most situations that require momentum with ease. It is the slow-speed off-road section like deep ruts, rock climbing and steep sand dunes, that you start feeling the effect of the Scorpio-N’s size and weight. The locking differential is activated once the vehicle senses a complete loss of grip but you have to forego finesse and mash the throttle before it actually locks the diff and gets you going. While the Scorpio-N would easily outshine the XUV 700 when it comes to getting down and dirty, the Mahindra Thar still has the upper hand when it comes to being your weekend playmate.

Ride & Handling

This aspect of the new Mahindra Scorpio-N is where this car truly stands out from its previous iterations. The first part of the equation is that the new Scorpio is 500 kg lighter and a substantial amount stiffer in its construction, which is noticeable in the way the car behaves around corners and at triple-digit speeds. The second factor which has transformed the Scorpio is an all-new suspension setup which comprises a double-wishbone up front and Watt’s five-link setup out back. Adding to the list of modern equipment are Frequency-Dependent Dampers (FDD) which are set up to soften up ride quality on harsh terrains and stiffen up when taking corners at faster speeds.

Once you start driving the Scorpio-N, all the time and energy spent on perfecting the Scorpio for Indian roads becomes apparent. The SUV feels taut and refined at speeds, be it in the city or on highways and at the same time, glides over potholes and broken tarmac stretches like a camel on sand dunes. However, make no mistake – the Scorpio-N does remind you of its size, weight and purpose if you get too frisky. The body roll at higher speeds may not upset the handling of the SUV but it certainly does feel unnerving at times. However, driving the petrol and diesel versions back-to-back, the former did manage to feel a tad more sharp and involving given the lighter weight of the engine in question. Another feature of the Scorpio-N which has transformed it from utilitarian tractor to urban multi-faceted workhorse is the quick, but light electronic power steering. Once you get over its size, the Mahindra Scorpio-N can be piloted by anyone despite age, strength and stature. Overall, the all-new Scorpio is a sizable step up from the outgoing models and has firmly placed itself in contention with anything thrown in from foreign car manufacturers.

Braking & Safety

It was of paramount importance to the engineers at Mahindra, that safety in the Scorpio-N is uncompromised. It was, after all, being built for a generation of Indians which is now uncompromising when it comes to safety in their new-car purchases. The Scorpio-N features 4-wheel disc brakes which feature ABS with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution). In real-world tests, the Scorpio-N’s braking hardware does manage to bring the 2.5T SUV to a halt swiftly but gets unnerving given the amount of weight transfer to the front. However, while the brakes feel strong, the initial bite from the pedal can catch you off guard if your foot movement isn’t gentle enough.

When it comes to safety, the top-end Scorpio-N Z8 variants gets a comprehensive safety suite which includes – six airbags (front, side and curtain), a well-tuned Electronic Stability Control function which comes in handy in tight turn-ins and sudden braking situations, hill-hold assist, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and ISOFIX child-seat anchors.  


After spending more than 1,500km with the new Mahindra Scorpio-N over varied terrains, I have a new sense of appreciation for how it manages to juggle being an urban mall crawler and off-road adventure tourer in perfect harmony. Yes, the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour might be more reliable, comfortable or powerful – but the former is now almost double the price of Scorpio-N and the latter is no longer available in India. The version we have on our test is the Scorpio-N Z8 L D AT 4xplor, which would set you back INR 23.9 Lakh (ex-showroom). While this may seem steep for a ‘Scorpio’ but overlooking that fact would reveal a premium, three-row family SUV that offers a powerful engine, proper 4×4 hardware and large dimensions. It does have shortcomings like low camera quality, lack of boot space and a relatively steep asking price.

So, coming to our opening statement, ‘Very few models in the Indian automotive industry truly combine the best of ‘two worlds’’. The Mahindra Scorpio-N is one vehicle which defies this statement and actually combines the best of ‘many’ worlds into one and somehow, doing justice to all aspects. Add to that the fact that the Mahindra Scorpio-N officially has no competition in its price point. The Safari now exists only in name and like I mentioned previously, the Fortuner is now in a different ballpark and the Endeavour is now no longer with us. The Mahindra Scorpio-N is the ‘best in segment’ not just by default but Mahindra engineers have worked hard to actually make it deserving of the accolade. However, if you are reading this and have just decided to book yourself one – good luck with getting deliveries anytime before Q3 2023.