2023 Mahindra Scorpio Z8L on-and-off-road review

By Evan Spence 10 Min Read

Is the Mahindra Scorpio a proper contender when it comes to four-wheel driving, or another soft-roader pretending it knows how to boogie in the rough stuff? That’s what we set out to determine during our recent jaunt in the top-spec Mahindra Scorpio Z8L.

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We know this is a cheap four-wheel drive, one of if not the cheapest 4×4 wagons on the new vehicle market. But just because it’s cheap, isn’t enough of a drawcard if the Scorpio can’t do what it says on the tin.

What’s the story?

The Mahindra Scorpio is the latest release for the brand. And it’s a very long way removed from the last Mahindra I drove. Their bare-bones Pik-Up ute. Which, if I’m honest, I really didn’t enjoy driving. It just felt… cheap. Which I guess it is, however, you could tell you were driving a workhorse that had been designed with the bottom line in mind. Sorry Pik-Up fans, I’m sure you love yours.  

The Scorpio, however, is worlds apart from its ute-based sibling. And when you take into account the Scorpio starts at $41,990 and tops out at $45,990, it’s an absolute bargain on paper. We’re taking the top-spec Mahindra Scorpio Z8L for a spin this time around. 

Oh, be sure to check out our World’s Shortest Review video of the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio below, too. 

Things I like about the Mahindra Scorpio 

  • Interior quality is a major part of what makes the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio a much-improved car over previous Mahindra 4x4s. 
  • Rear diff lock is automatic in operation and works seamlessly on-road. Off-road, however, it will make a noticeable clunk when the diff lock engages after detecting wheel spin. 
  • Pricing is very reasonable, making this a great choice for a first four-wheel drive.

Mahindra Scorpio problems 

  • Small 57L fuel tank capacity really needs to be addressed.
  • The automatic stop-start operation was annoying. 
  • Really needs more ground clearance to be a serious contender off-road. 

 

2023 Mahindra Scorpio Specs

Drive Away Pricing: Scorpio Z8 – $41,990 Scorpio Z8L – $45,990 

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Engine Capacity: 2.2L four-cylinder turbo diesel 

Power Figures: 400Nm between 1750-2750rpm 129kW@3000rpm 

Transmission: Six-speed automatic 

Four-Wheel Drive: Part-time – low and high range 

Chassis: Ladder frame, body on chassis 

Suspension: Front IFS with coils, rear solid axle with coils and Watt’s Linkage 

Fuel Tank: 57L

Towing Capacity: 2500kg 

GVM: 2610 

Payload Capacity: 510kg 

GCM: 5155kg 

Wading Depth: 500mm 

Approach Angle: 27.2 degrees 

Departure Angle:  21.3 degrees

Rampover Angle:  23.3 degrees

What do you get in the Scorpio Z8?

Standard offerings for the base model Z8 Mahindra Scorpio include: 

  • Six-seats – second row sees  two captain’s chairs
  • Part-time four-wheel-drive system
  • LED headlights 
  • Tyre pressure monitoring system 
  • 18-inch alloy wheels 
  • 8.0-inch centrally mounted touchscreen – Android Auto and Apple CarPlay  
  • Coffee Black leather interior 
  • Push button start with keyless entry  
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear selector 
  • Rear a/c vents as well as a USB C port 
  • Cooled glovebox 
  • Frequency dependant damping system

Is the Z8L worth the extra money?

For an extra $4000, this is what you get above the Z8 in Z8L spec: 

  • Wireless phone charging 
  • Front off-road camera – which is pretty cool
  • Front parking sensors 
  • 12-speaker Sony sound system – doesn’t sound half bad
  • Six-way powered driver seat 
  • 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster 

For a full list of specifications for the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio, click the link: https://www.mahindra.com.au/scorpio-n/

Inside the Mahindra Scorpio

Space behind the third-row seating when in use, is minimal. You’ll struggle to get much more than a few small backpacks in. There’s also the discussion about the fact this isn’t a seven-seat wagon, it’s a six-seater. So if you do need to use the available boot space, you’ll be limited to four passengers in total. 

This is going to be a limitation for some people, a deal breaker even. If it will work for your needs, however, this is where the bad news ends inside. The interior is the place to be with the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio. 

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Well-executed, comfortable, and doesn’t feel cheap. This is what I had hastily scribbled in my notebook after my week in the Scorpio. You really get everything you need, and a few extra bits on top as well. 

There’s even a sunroof for those who are so inclined to enjoy such a thing. The seats are comfortable, the dash layout is sleek and easy to operate, and nothing rattled… Mahindra has done a great job here.

Mahindra Scorpio on-road

You need to rev the Mahindra Scorpio to get the most out of it. It really struggled with the long hill climbs out the back of Lithgow. The gearbox didn’t want to change gears when pushed, instead held gears. The Scorpio just doesn’t have enough torque to pull this party trick off, with just 400Nm on offer.

Keep the revs up around 3000rpm (peak torque is produced at 2950rpm), and that small capacity 2.2L turbo diesel engine is more than competent. I personally wouldn’t want to be towing a caravan or something similar with the Scorpio, but for those with a soft floor camper trailer or similar, and want to head bush occasionally, the Scorpio more than ticks that box. It has a 2500kg maximum tow capacity for reference. 

Something that did take a bit of getting used to, was how sensitive the brakes are. Incredibly. Also, steering feel is light. This takes a bit less time to become comfortable with and could do with some tweaking from Mahindra. 

Ride quality from the suspension is firm but soaks up bumps and corrugations much better than you’d expect. Yes, I’m being picky here, but that’s my job. If those points don’t bother you, the Mahindra Scorpio is an easy 4×4 to live with on-road.

Mahindra Scorpio off-road

A little mountain goat is the best way to describe the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio off-road. It doesn’t look like it should be capable, but it is. This is really due to the automatic rear differential lock, which pushes the Scorpio forward when I absolutely thought it would say enough-is-enough. 

Gearing is also sensational in the Scorpio, with more than enough low-range reduction to feel in control on steep descents. Suspension travel front-and-rear is disappointing, though. The Scorpio loves lifting wheels. 

This doesn’t seem to stop it though. Once that rear automatic diff lock clunks into action, this is a point-and-shoot affair on rough(ish) terrain.   

It could do with more ground clearance as I found out after giving the driver’s side side step a kiss on a rock. A small suspension lift is definitely recommended here. As are slightly larger more aggressive tyres, which you’ll struggle to fit thanks to the inner wheel arch design. Especially at the back of the Scorpio. 

I’m sure there will be people willing to prove me wrong there, and I look forward to being proven wrong when it comes to fitting larger tyres to any 4×4. 

Can’t be bothered reading? We got you…

Is the Mahindra Scorpio any good?

Yep, it really is a big step forward for the brand. It’s not for everyone. Especially if you need seven-seats. I can see the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio filling a gap in the market for those not wanting a full-size four-wheel drive, but still needing a vehicle with off-road capability. 

Honestly, I recommend you take one for a drive for yourself. I had zero expectations coming into this review. Yet I walked away impressed with the overall quality. As I said in the video, it just feels well screwed together.

The interior is a great place to be, it has decent off-road ability and great drive-away pricing. For those chasing a brand new first four-wheel drive or an entry-level family wagon, I think it would be hard to beat the Mahindra Scorpio considering what you get from just over $40,000.


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