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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Review of New Mahindra Scorpio vls 2.2 mHawk

I drove a brand new Mahindra Scorpio v-series (Vls) powered by mHawk engine for about 900 kms in 3 days recently. I took this beauty cum beast on self drive rental from Hertz Bangalore (details). This post is a review of this vehicle, based on my experience of driving this vehicle in these 3 days.
Scorpio v-series mHawk vls 2.2
I got the delivery from Hertz representative Mr. Anil on 20th Sep morning 5.30 AM at Bangalore city railway station. He explained me the key controls and handed over the keys after rental formalities. This gray coloured Scorpio Vls in which we toured Wayanad during next 2 days, was registered on 15th September and had less than 600 kms on the odometer. It was so new, Hertz people didn’t even had time to attach their sticker on the car. It was as supplied from showroom condition, with plastic seat covers still intact. The green ribbon on the bonnet ensured that almost everyone turned their head when they spotted this vehicle cruising by.

Soon I picked up my team mates from their homes/nearest pickup points and we were on Mysore road, cruising towards Mysore. It gives a great masculine feeling to drive this SUV. Other vehicles willingly give space if they see a Scorpio (or Safari or other SUV) speeding. But I couldn’t go beyond 150 kmph in this-not sure if it is a limitation of the 2.2 liter engine or something else. In June this year I’d pushed a 1.9 litre Skoda Octavia to much higher speeds (upto 170 kmph) on the same stretch in Mysore road.
Negotiating hairpin turns at Lakkidi
Breaking, turn radius, maneuverability and sturdiness is superb. Absolutely no reasons to complain. ( I haven’t driven Safari or other SUVs- so can’t give a comparison or rating). Nearly 20 kms of the road I drove was in very bad condition-From the moment we entered Karnataka border near Nagarahole forest till HD Kote. This stretch of road would have been very hard to near impossible for normal cars but Scorpio’s off-roading abilities ensured that we could clear any kind of road with ease. Engine was smooth and silent, though we could hear some kind of minor odd noise during first gear and reverse hear- I guess it is due to levers/pedals touching the frame

This is the most powerful (well, I know there’re more powerful cars around-I’ll drive them too, one day) and sophisticated car I’d driven so far. So many sensors-warns you to release hand-break fully or wear your seat belt as applicable. But this sensor can be cheated-keep the seatbelt hooked to its buckle and this sensor won’t know that you’re cheating. Also seat belt sensor is only for driver-not for other passengers (if vehicle moves forward it assumes driver has to be there-it doesn’t seem to have a way of detecting if other passengers exist)
Cheap plastic and uninspiring console
By evening, the dashboard stopped displaying odometer and started showing time in that place. I didn’t try to reset or fix it as I was fine with time being displayed there and trip meter was there for distance calculation. Follow me home lamps were another new thing-in the night, when you park and lock the car, it keeps headlamp on for some 30 seconds (so that you can have some light to get inside your home). I’d parked it in Woodlands hotel Kalpetta, security guard called me back asking me to switch off the headlight. I said it will go off on its own and he was surprised. But there’s no sensor that can guide during parking or other activities (Skoda Laura has it). Also it didn’t say ‘Good Morning’ to me when I entered for the first time in a day. Could have been a simple implementation.
m-Hawk closeup
How to turn on 4 wheel drive?
There was a marking “4WD” on the console, but I couldn’t figure out how to turn on four wheel drive. Didn’t find any controls for this-guess this option might have been disabled intentionally or this particular variant doesn’t have it. Carzonrent (Hertz India licensee) didn’t give me owner’s manual of the vehicle, so I couldn’t help much. Missed one great opportunity…

Looks, as you know, is very impressive. I found the mHawk body graphics missing-Has Mahindra & Mahindra stopped it? (Or may be that is exclusive to vlx variant) Also 2.2 is not mentioned anywhere on the body (earlier variants used to display 2.6) The air scoop on the bonnet is dummy-just a show piece. We were able to catch a FM radio station of Mysore city (92.7 MHz) almost all places in Wayanad district. Strong antenna? The sun pad (not sure of the exact name- the pad near windshield which can be tilted to cover sun beams hitting on your face) couldn’t be tilted side wards. Glove box compartment was not locking smoothly and needed 2-3 attempts. Headlamp was powerful enough to light up the road, even inside a dark NagarhoLe jungle. No indicators embedded in rear view mirrors-most auto makers are giving this fancy feature in their high end offerings- M&M yet to incorporate it in its flagship Scorpio.
In the driver's seat
What I didn’t like-
1. Cheap plastic for the dashboard looks depressing. Interiors could have been better. Console appeared conventional-other cars in similar price band come with much better interiors and sporty console. The provision to keep water bottles in the door were not big enough to accommodate a big bottle, say 2 litre can. It can take only small bottles.

2. Gear shift was rough (or shall I say not smooth enough?). I had to put substantial energy compared to Skoda I’d driven sometimes back, which was much smoother. Scorpio was only marginally better than Mahindra Utility and Pickup jeeps I'd driven earlier. Should a rugged vehicle always have a rough gearbox? Would have been better if this could be improved. My left shoulder still recovering from pain, after changing gears some few thousand times during the 900 km drive…



Haven't checked the top end vlx variant -which has several extra options like 6 speed Automatic transmission, technology to prevent engine from stalling, better interiors, cruise control, on steering audio controls, many more sensors and more.

Fuel economy:
I drove about 900 kms in 3 days- More than 50% on highways, some 20% on ghat and mountain roads, rest on city and village roads. AC was used only for say 20% of the journey. I had to fill a total of 71 litres to return the car full tank to Hertz-
That makes an average mileage of 12.67 kmpl (I'd wrongly mentioned as 11.85 earlier-it was 71 litres not 76. Sorry for the error- a calculation mistake on my part)
This particular model is relatively new in market, so I am not sure if this mileage is above or below average. I feel it is decent. The car was brand new and hadn’t undergone any servicing yet. So may be after few services the fuel economy might improve a bit.

rear view amidst tea plantation

Over all, it is a pretty good car-pros outweigh cons. Scorpio has evolved over time, but still few improvements possible, to take it near perfection.


Returned the car to Hertz in one piece without any dents or scratches on 22nd night- It was a big responsibility to rent a new 10 lakh worth SUV for long drives, be responsible for lives of my passengers, drive the car safely in superfast highways, curvy mountains, bad roads and congested cities and finally return it safe and sound. I enjoyed every bit of it. This Wayanad trip was my 2nd self drive expedition (Chennai Mysore in a Skoda was the first). More about the places we visited and the trip will come up in different posts. Please standby. Those who were doubtful of my driving abilities now seem to have gained confidence in me and have expressed desire to join for next mission. Already receiving enquiries like "which car you're taking next/ where r u going next..."… let me see.


May 2009 update: This vehicle of Hertz Bangalore seems to be in a very high demand. Always I get to hear from them that it is already booked. I accidentally spotted this vehicle again in Ooty last week.

November 2010 Update: Scorpio now has over 2 lakh fans on its facebook page. Scorpio also won 3 awards at 2010 Raid De Himalayas Event. Congratulations!


July 2011: I rented this Scorpio again from Hertz for a day and it was as fun as earlier.
Nov 2011Aria 4x4 review * Aria photoshoot Set 1Set 2 * Aria in Mullayanagiri * ottinene

16 comments :

Raveesh Kumar said...

Nidhi,

No doubts in mind now about your driving skills after seeing your skills in ghat section routes. By the way, great review of the vehicle. You have covered almost all the details of the four wheeler.

Raveesh

Rajesh Kumar said...

Anyone offering a jet for a review?!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Raveesh for the certificate :)

@ Rajesh
yeah.. no one is renting me a Volvo B7R either...Jets and Yatches are distant dreams....

krishna said...

Ohh my god....We missed the trip bayya for sure... I will plan one for sure like you taking a car for rent or my own....

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@ Krishna
yes..You're welcome anytime

Prateek Dayal said...

Wow .. sounds very exciting. Looks like you had a lot of fun.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Yes Prateek,

We did have lots of fun... you missed it...

Try to join us next time...

Regards,
Nidhi

Sandeep said...

I love your Car rental experiences ..In fact when I was in Bangalore I always wanted to drive some good car other than my Maruti 800 DX but never tried with Hertz of anyone like the way you did it and also made efforts to put it on your blog.

I believe India has a log way to go in Car rental services and I hope it improves in coming years.

I am doing a similar research in Singapore to find how the Car rental system works and how one can rent it ! ..will post my experience soon.

Excellent ..

cheers
Sandeep

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Hi Sandeep

Thanks for sharing your experience. If you don't have a blog, I can let you guest author at my blog if the article is good.

Let me know once your research is complete.

Marcel said...

Hi Nidhi,

thanks for your detailed descriptions, i find it very interesting, i plan to fly to Delhi on august 2009 for a 2 week trip to India by self drive car, i prefer to rent a Mahindra Scorpio, it's very hard to find those cars for self driving, i called the big rental companies already, also autoriders and they don't provide this car, now i found a company called atlaschoice.com they offer a Mahindra Scorpio or similar for about 560 Pounds GBP for 2 weeks, but i heard from customers who had alot of bad experiences with this company, (searched at different blogs and forums), can you help me please in this situation, thanks alot for reply, regards from Marcel, Switzerland

Anonymous said...

I think if you are driving responsibily I dont think you need to drive at 150kmph. This is total madness. You are putting yourself, your passengers and mostly the people on road at great risk.
I think you could have flown a aircraft instead of a Scorpio. Drive responsibily!!!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Marcel,
I've not heard of Atlaschoice.com. Let me see how I can help.

yes, very few registered rental companies have SUVs on self drive-Avis has Ford Endeavor and such vehicles, but they are let out only on corporate contract and not to individuals.

If you try local newspaper classifieds you may find some unregistred operators-individuals who are ready to rent out their personal vehicles. If you're very particular about Scorpio you can try this option.(But renting from such people has its own risks-they may ask for original passport as security) Else vehicle like Innova will be available with less difficulty.

Alternatively, rent a chauffer driven Scorpio, try your luck with the driver-for a small tip he may let you drive for a while.

Hope this helps

Anonymous,
Appreciate your concern and thanks for the suggestion. However, I drove at 150 only for a few minutes whent the road was straight, traffic was nil and visibility was full. Else I won't venture into high speed. Its not speed that causes accidents but the failure to control the vehicle at high speed. When I am fully confident and situation on road permits, I try high speeds for short duration-else I don't.

Would love to fly an aircraft. But what to do- Private Pilot License itself costs Rs 6 lakh and no one seems to give an airplane on self drive rentals...

Ramesh said...

This is a nice color for the Mahindra Scorpio. Unfortunately, for the Vlx AT 4WD, Mahindra offers only two colors - Black and White. Why are they so stingy ? The other colors that were available - Mystic Purple, Mist Silver, Rocky Beige are all much better looking. Given that this is a good off-roader, Black is the pre-dominant choice.
With the revisions in excise, BS4 emission norms etc. the on-road cost of the VLX AT 4Wd w/Airbags is now Rs. 14.5 lakhs. Mahindra should try to contain this to max. 12 lakhs on-road for the top-end model. All the features that they have offered on the Special edition should come as standard; viz. leather covered dashboard, leather steering, leather seats, premium alloy wheels. And high time the Mahindra offered MRF radials as standard instead of the Bridgestone radials. A straight line automatic gearbox is also preferable in comparison to the current gearbox that they have sourced from ATW. At the least they should change the gear knob of the automatic gear stick. It looks and feels very cheap. To take the Scorpio to the American market, these are all minor refinements that Mahindra should not penny pinch on. Else, the analysts/reviewers will simply rubbish such a good vehicle as a World War II leftover.

Mahindra Scorpio said...

Mahindra Scorpio was a huge success for Mahindra at that time because Mahindra has always enjoyed a tag of tractor,truck,loading cars tag and people trust it blindly but Scorpio has transferred the Mahindra into a completely new track of luxury off roaders.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Ramesh

Appreciate your comments. Hope the new 2014 scorpio refresh will solve some of these concerns

Arya hasib said...

Mahindra & Mahindra is the leading automotive company in Indian market.Mahindra Scorpio was the first SUV car that has been successful model accepted in worldwide.