Muscular and seriously bush business-like
11:45 (GMT+2), Fri , 16 October 2015
 This past long weekend we emigrated to Dullstroom for a spot of rest and relaxation, fresh and clean air, window-shopping at numerous quaint and arty shops, as well as trying my hand at fly-fishing for the first time. The jury is still out on the latter though, but I will get the hang of it in due time.

Our travel companion was my favourite SUV, the Mahindra Scorpio. Only this time she came in a slightly modified standard shape. And what a wonderful surprise it was! With the event of the Land Rover Defender’s current shape being under attack, the Scorpio still offers the rugged looks and design of a real 4x4 - square and boxy and not unlike the original Land Rover Discovery.

This Scorpio came kitted with a number of aftermarket accessories - snorkel, larger wheels, off-road front bumper/bull bar, the suspension was lifted and the engine received what I believe to be a very good fine tuning with excellent results in terms of increasing its power output and just the general overall driving experience.

In standard form the 2,2-litre Mhawk Euro II Turbo Diesel delivers 88kW and 270Nm which in itself offers more than adequate performance for the Scorpio. This powerplant is linked to a five-speed manual gearbox. Gear changes are precise and smooth and the rev ratios are such that one can comfortably run through the gears in quick succession to happily cruise at 60km/h in fifth with no stress on the engine. The effortlessness with which this Scorpio engine performed throughout the weekend, up and down the Lowveld hills, was impressive. My fuel consumption indexed at 12km/litre - excellent considering the extra weight of all the accessories.

Mahindra claims that the Scorpio’s design reflects its brute power. I do not necessarily agree with the brute power bit. However, it certainly reflects the rugged, go-anywhere capability and durability of the vehicle. The imposing grill, bonnet with air intake and light-cluster design, is muscular and seriously bush-business-like. To protect the vehicle from serious scratches and the rest, the sides come equipped with side cladding which can be ordered colour-coded to enhance your vehicle.

The test vehicle was an eight-seater but we removed the third row bench to make space for our luggage. The seven-seater version, which offers two separate fold-down seats in the third-row position, is more practical as the access to the third-row bench - eight-seater configuration - is not at all comfortable.

I love the upright no-nonsense ergonomics of the interior design: the fascia and the seating position, legroom, headroom and elbowroom is ample and the armrests on both front seats are simply a must-use when driving long distances. Instrumentation is clear and uncomplicated and the Scorpio offers some satellite controls on the tilt steering wheel.
En route to Dullstroom we drove via Bambi and although the road surface proved to be absolutely shocking and under construction never allowing us to go faster than 60km/h, the Scorpio’s suspension proved able, willing and exceptionally comfortable. We were nonetheless glad to eventually turn onto the Dullstroom road for the last stretch.

I did not go off-road in order to test the 4x4 capability on this trip. I have driven the Scorpio on challenging 4x4 outings before and it is more than just capable and able to outperform much more expensive and glamorous 4x4s. Engaging high or low range is a simple matter of turning a dial situated between the front seats.

What also impressed me on this trip was the quietness inside the cabin despite the wind noise, mostly (I suspect) generated by the large side mirrors. It was easy to have a conversation or listen to music.

The Scorpio is kitted with many safety features including ABS and airbags, and in my view, makes a perfect family vehicle - or if you want to challenge the rough stuff - she will not disappoint you. All of this comes at a fair price and with a proven record for durability.

And as with this test vehicle, it will allow you to individualise and kit to your heart’s content for even more rugged looks and performance. And finally, you’ll have to agree, this one looks pretty darn mean! Me, I love it!

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