Indian built Mahindra scorpio is a compact four-wheel drive station-wagen about the size of the Jeep Cherokee Sport. The Scorpio hasn’t found the huge following I thought it might because it must rank as among the best value 4×4 SWs on the market. The turbo-diesel goes reasonably well, not overly powerful, not as noisy inside as it is out, and a bit on the thirsty side for a turbo-diesel. But hold on! This vehicle is about two thirds the price of a the Jeep. The Scorpio will easily match it off-road where it is fun to drive, its clearance being better than the Jeep’s. Road handling is also good for a vehicle with a relatively short wheel-base, although the steering is a little vague and so its handling is not as crisp as the Jeep. On the down side, fittings, finish, interior fabrics and switches feel a bit cheap and the fuel tank is a miserly 53 litres. The ride is really quite good on tar but a brittle on rough gravel, and bone jarring on rough tracks, where engaging four-wheel drive improves things a bit, but it’s not much fun to drive long distances on rough surfaces. It has electrically-operated four-wheel drive with low range. Suspension is coil springs and live axle at the back, independent torsion bars at the front and a 4-cylinder, 2,6-litre engine producing 77 Kw at 3800 rpm. I really think that the Scorpio SW has a lot going for it, and it’s mainly the price. By mid 2009, when this was written, spare parts supply problems in South Africa had become a concerning issue.

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