Jostling for share of hard-earned money of Indian consumers is becoming increasingly strenuous with each passing day. In SUV space, Mahindra Scorpio and Tata Safari have been arch rivals for more than a decade with each trying to outshine another in race for top slot. For years Mahindra Scorpio has proved more consistent in luring the customers’ and even emerged as better vehicle on holistic front of comparison between these two homegrown offerings. But then things started to change as Tata stretched like a big cat and launched new Safari Storme featuring massive mechanical and cosmetic up gradations. These alterations did change the fortunes of Safari as finally Tata successfully made a dent in Scorpio’s sales. Mahindra did try to fend off this renewed and vigorous aggression through some cosmetic up grades though Scorpio’s continuous decline warranted company to do something radical. Launch of new second-generation Scorpio is exactly what doctor ordered and now Mahindra is ready for hand-to-hand combat with its arch rival Safari Storme. This has once again flares up the time-honored debate: whether new-gen Scorpio prevails over or Safari Storme emerges as victor?
BUTCH AND MANLY
Mahindra has given a thorough makeover to Scorpio not only cosmetically but on mechanical front also. Mahindra has used new chassis and suspension to underpin Scorpio for better driving dynamics and safety credentials. Company claims to have literally used new body panels except the one on doors and roof. Frontage of Scorpio wears a new rugged yet sophisticated looks. Use of number of character lines, beefy arches, newly designed grill and bumper give Scorpio a new and refreshed appearance. In profile bigger 17” tyres, faux air mash and liberal use of Scorpio badging in black chrome finishing highlights Scorpio character. Glass area however remains unchanged and so is the overall stance featuring a bit boxy and upright outlook. Scorpio features a large black cladding running across the rear that helps to mask bulk of its large square-ish tail gate. Subtle addition of chrome aids the visual appeal and so is done by nicely crafted tail lamps.
New Scorpio: Muscular and Butch
Tata Safari Storme in comparison is less audible in terms of change sloganeering as it shares uncanny similarity with original Safari. In fact the inability of Storme to distinguish itself from its roots has proved Achilles heel for this big SUV. Further the changes made by Tata Engineers are not in-line with its SUV theme of ruggedness and butch credentials. In fact the frontage of Storme feels rather feminine and dainty. In profile Safari Storme follows similar silhouette as of Safari with same glass area. However rear of the Storme is quite a neat touch as tail mounted spare wheel has now been located under the belly. A thick grey plastic band with engraved Safari Storme is a clean touch though it pales in front of modern and funky looking Scorpio band.
Safari Storme: Feminine and sophisticated
Dimensionally Safari is longer and wider while Scorpio is taller and comes with longer wheelbase; 30 mm more than of Safari. With ground clearance of 200 mm Safari turns up with better off-road credentials while new Scorpio chassis made it sits quite lower i.e. 180 mm off the ground. Fuel tank capacity of Scorpio is 60litres while Storme can store 55 litres of fuel in a tankful.
Scorpio: 4/5 Safari Storme: 3.5/5
CABIN AND SPACE
New Scorpio comes with thoroughly overhauled cabin and interiors that make it feel more up market than before. Layered double-tone dashboard with improved lay-out and quality centre dash lends an air of sophistication to the Scorpio interiors. Touch-screen infotainment system, new steering wheel, smart dials and long equipment list are some of key strengths Scorpio is banking upon to hook the prospective customers. On space front too, Scorpio presents a decent choice with ample amount of room at both front and back bench. Thin and wide rear seat offers ample space for abreast even three fully-grown adults though the ingress-egress still remains a laborious affair. There is provision of two jump seats at the back though these are good only for small kids and short distances. Seats flip down and releases humongous boot that can accommodate large volumes of luggage without any complaint. That said there are still some ergonomic glitches that Mahindra must have sorted out before its release. The door pockets and driver-height adjustment is not at all accessible once the doors are shut. Front driver arm-rest has no height adjust making this absolute useless in practical conditions. Material quality across the cabin especially on dashboard is not of high class though it feels hardwearing.
New Scorpio: Revamped interiors
Tata Safari Storme scores some brownie point as the overall lay-out and quality of cabin is notches higher than of Scorpio. High quality dash board, simple yet ergonomically correct lay-out and spacious interiors make sure than Safari Storme still feels best in class. High driving position, comfy and cushioned seats and all-around visibility like strong traits have been intact in Safari Storme. Use of faux wood that run across the dash board while intersecting centre console at the middle is one classy highlight of Safari cabin.
Tata Safari Storme: Roomy and luxurious
Space at both front and back is substantial and more than what is required by average Indian family. Seats are well-cushioned and extend good thigh support too. Leather wrapping up the luxury quotient of the SUV though these are more prone to dust than Scorpio’s interior. Jump seats too here feel more substantial and comfortable as these feature large squab than ones featuring in Scorpio. However on equipment front Safari takes a beating as Scorpio top of the line variant S10 is far healthier than Safari in terms of equipment.
Scorpio: 3.5/5 Safari Storme: 3.5/5
UNDER THE HOOD
Both Scorpio and Safari Storme come with 2.2-litre, 4-cylinder, 16-valves, turbocharged diesel engines though it is Safari here that holds the advantage of offering more performance. In comparison to 120PS/280 Nm of Scorpio Safari Storme churns out 140 PS and 320 Nm of max power and torque respectively.
These extra horses do help the Safari in mid-range performance where it feels far more powerful than Scorpio. Acceleration is more brisk in Safari and so is the shove of the extra force that is available progressively in Storme. Scorpio however makes better case in city driving where it feels extremely drivable and sure-footed. Scorpio mHawk engine starts dishing out the force right from start and this makes driving Scorpio far more enjoyable in start-stop traffic of city. The same doesn’t hold true for Safari that feels a bit jittery at the slow speeds.
New Scorpio: Refined and Drivable
Safari shows a bit hesitation at low rpms’ though once it climbs up the rev, the push of the torque is more addictive. The turbo spool takes some time and then reward the driver with solid brisk acceleration. Combined with high seating position Safari delivers commanding view of the road ahead. In terms of refinement both the engines are closely matched though Mahindra has got their nose ahead as mHawk behaves more silently than Tata VariCOR.
Safari Storme: Mid-range punch
Both the engines in Safari as well as in Scorpio come mated with 5-speed manual transmission. Both these gearboxes are notchy and can be safely termed as mediocre in their shift quality. Mahindra claims to have replaced Scorpio gearbox with new modern transmission though still the new unit is not perfect. Throws are not crispy short and still requires direction shove to slot in desired gear. Safari too suffers from being notchy though the throws seem a bit more assuring than of Scorpio. Further we feel that long transmission stick in Scorpio also accomplices in the rough feel it dispenses to driver.
Scorpio: 3.5/5 Safari Storme: 3.5/5
RIDE AND HANDLING
Mahindra has endowed Scorpio with brand new chassis and suspension system in order to sharpen its driving dynamics. And indeed the new hardware has made a considerable difference in the way Scorpio glides over rough patches and absorbs the undulations. The heavy squealing of the tyres and tossing around of old Scorpio has now been a thing of the past with new Scorpio handles the road obtrusions with new-found maturity and suppleness. Absorbent ride has become more cushioned now and even the high speed stability has gone up. Handling too has shown considerable amount of improvement with Scorpio behaving more like an obedient fellow than outraged colleague.
New Scorpio: Matured Suspension
Safari Storme too have made progress in terms of its driving dynamics and though on ride it feels on par with Scorpio, handling left it behind Mahindra by few notches. In comparison to new Scorpio, Safari feels a bit lower in terms of its overall handling prowess. There is still good amount of body roll that Safari gets once it is thrown about corners. However straight line stability of the SUV is quite impressive even with smaller 16” tyres compared to 17” of Scorpio.
Scorpio: 3.5/5 Safari Storme: 3/5
Scorpio has been favourite SUV for a long time and with this new second generation; Mahindra has raised the benchmark in almost all the areas. New Scorpio looks attractive, has quality interiors and roomy cabin, feelmore refined and dynamically sorted too. Even on pricing front Scorpio pulls off a feat as each and every trim of Scorpio priced lower than that of Safari Storme. Top variant of Scorpio that is filled to the gills is priced at Rs 13.05 lakh while Safari Storme though skimped on features cost higher at Rs 13.73 lakh (both prices, ex-showroom, Delhi). The new generation Scorpio has really moved the goal post forward and it has now turned the tables. Safari Storme that made a big splash with its improved version is falling behind the Scorpio as Mahindra latest efforts to make Scorpio a better vehicle have paid off. Further in order to hit back Tata now needs a thorough makeover of Safari Storme rather than infusing the little hints of modification that it infused last time to Safari to churn out Safari Storme. So Mahindra has set the cat among pigeons and it’s now the turn of Tata to take the challenge head on. As far as this road test comparison is concerned, Mahindra comes up tumps.
Scorpio: 3.5/5 Safari Storme: 3/5