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Mahindra's new SUV has just landed, and it's taking aim at the big players like Prado and Everest with a low-cost, high-availability approach.
It says it has enough stock to ensure customers can order and driveaway within days, which (without saying so directly) puts long-wait SUVs like the Toyota LandCruiser Prado and Ford Everest in its sights, even if it's a little smaller.
The Scorpio starts from $41,990 driveaway until June 30 for the base Z8, or $44,990 driveaway for the top-spec Scorpio Z8L, which both undercut even the base model Toyota Prado GX thatstarts from $62,830 before-on roads and the Ford Everest Ambiente's $53,290.
Both versions of the Mahindra feature a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine that makes 129kW and 400Nm, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, but are outgunned by the base models of both the Toyota and the Ford.
The Prado's 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel makes 150kW and 500Nm, while Ford's 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel unit makes almost the same in both figures, but with an extra 4kW over the Toyota.
The Scorpio's 2.5-tonne braked towing capacity falls short of the Prado's 3.0-, and the Everest's 3.5-tonne ratings, but it comes with off-road systems like a shift-on-the-fly 4WD with high and low range, a mechanical locking differential, and the brand's '4XPLOR' terrain drive system with 'Snow', 'Mud', 'Sand' and 'Normal' modes.
The Prado misses out on a rear diff-lock in its base model, but the Everest has a rear diff and push-button selectable drive modes.
Inside, as base models, both the Prado and Everest are relatively simple in their fit out. The Toyota has some old-school elements like auxiliary plugs for its nine-speaker sound system, the Everest has one speaker less, and the Prado's 8.0-inch touchscreen lacks phone mirroring.
The Everest, as a sibling to the relatively new Ranger, is a bit more up to date, with a 10.1-inch screen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. But the list in the Scorpio has both beaten.
Standard on both versions of the Scorpio is an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a smaller digital screen for the driver display, and both USB-A and USB-C charging in the first and second rows.
Stepping up to the Z8L, which still undercuts base models from rivals, adds usually high-spec features like a 12-speaker Sony sound system, a wireless phone charger, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a bigger 7.0-inch colour display for the instrument panel.
It also has synthetic leather in the interior, a six-way power driver's seat and a sunroof, which none of the usual Prado and Everest rivals have in their similarly priced base models.
Despite the long list of comfort features, and while things like engine power can be forgotten for the savings and convenience, safety is where the Scorpio falls behind significantly enough to potentially turn customers away.
It comes with six airbags, including curtains that (as pointed out in our review this week) don't quite reach the third row, as well as parking sensors and cameras, plus the required electronic traction and stability control.
Mahindra says AEB and Lane Keep Assist will come soon, but against rivals with fairly comprehensive safety suites like Toyota and Ford, with seven and nine airbags respectively and both featuring a long list of passive safety like crash mitigation and lane keep assist, the Scorpio is lacking in the meantime.
Mahindra's hope seems to be that the temptation of an immediate delivery, rather than months of waiting, will change buyers' minds.