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FIRST DRIVE | We get a taste of the new Mahindra Scorpio-N and XUV700

29 June 2022 - 13:36 By Phuti Mpyane
The Scorpio-N, foreground, and XUV700 are two new Mahindras being launched in SA shortly.
The Scorpio-N, foreground, and XUV700 are two new Mahindras being launched in SA shortly.
Image: Picture: SUPPLIED

It was 18 years ago at the Gerotek Test Facility that Mahindra SA was formally established in this country and introduced its Scorpio SUV.

To mark the occasion, the company returned to the original venue with three new models coming to SA: the new XUV700, which launches towards the end of 2022; two new aesthetic themes for the S11 Karoo Pik Up: and the new Karoo Storm and Dawn, which join the Dusk.

The all-new Scorpio-N also made its global debut on the day and is earmarked for SA market entry in 2023.

The cabin of the new Scorpio-N.
The cabin of the new Scorpio-N.
Image: Picture: SUPPLIED

The outgoing XUV500 SUV had its own distinct place in the Indian brand’s SUV line-up as the passenger-focused flagship ahead of the more rugged Scorpio. It has been replaced by the new XUV700, which looks more interesting with front styling that depicts a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado that swallowed a Renault Megane thanks to a slatted grille and large bow-shaped LED daytime running lights. It’s a good-looking thing. 

If you think the rear and side profile of the Scorpio-N evokes images of a Volvo, you’d be spot on. It also gets slatted new grilles and both new SUVs bear the company’s new-look logo.

What the front-wheel drive XUV700 loses in go-anywhere ability it makes up for with a more refined drive quality. Both the XUV and Scorpio-N can accommodate up to seven passengers and the folding third row of seats seem adequate for children and adults. In one of the XUV700 test units they were covered in cream faux-hide, and in the Scorpio a coffee-and-black theme.

The cabin of the XUV700.
The cabin of the XUV700.
Image: Picture: PHUTI MPYANE

The dashboards are well laid out, and the XUV700 adopts a Mercedes-Benz MBUX-style layout digital screen with good resolution, while the Scorpio-N is a bit more conventional, with a central large screen and analogue dials for the driver’s binnacle. Overall quality in both betters their predecessors.

The seats are well crafted and comfy, but the driving position in both isn’t top-notch due to a steering wheel with rake but no reach adjustment.

Both SUVs have good urge from their engines, which can be a petrol mStallion engine with 149.14kW and 380Nm of torque, or the diesel mHawk with 128.6kW and 400Nm. In the Scorpio-N, both engines will be offered in six-speed manual and automatic transmissions, and optionally 4x4 while terrain management is also available. 

The ride was supple in the XUV700. With its unibody and independent suspension, it felt the more road-biased compared to the body-on-frame Scorpio-N. But noise and vibration suppression was impressive in both, even over coarse surfaces on Gerotek’s mountain track.

The new Mahindra Scorpio-N is more refined yet maintains the rugged family SUV outlook.
The new Mahindra Scorpio-N is more refined yet maintains the rugged family SUV outlook.
Image: Picture: SUPPLIED

The taller Scorpio is the one with all the off-road accoutrements such as all-wheel drive, low-range gearing and approach angles, which we didn’t get to try out on the 4x4 trail. The Scorpio-N rolls more through bends when pushed hard, while the XUV700 turns with better control, but both displayed good poise and strong legs when accelerating on the banked oval. Passive and active safety systems will also be extensive. 

The appearance of the new Scorpio-N also signals an all-new bakkie-based version around the corner to replace the current Mahindra Pik Up, though Mahindra is not sharing plans on this topic at the moment.

Expect the new XUV700 in SA before year-end and the Scorpio-N early in 2023. 


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