2023 Mahindra Scorpio-N Z8L Review

Diving into the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio-N: Impressive driving meets lack of safety tech. A surprising package?

Jacob Brooke
Expert reviewer
Updated on
February 9, 2024
Saucey score


  • Surprisingly compliant drive with good handling
  • Comfortable and well-appointed interior
  • Great off-road credentials


  • Absolute lack of active safety features
  • Lackluster interior storage
  • Currently has no Apple Carplay
Car specs

129kW + 400Nm

$44,990 Incl. On-roads


No ANCAP Score

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No Obligations, Hassle Free.

Kicking off Mahindra’s thrust into the Australian market is the Scorpio - an off-road-focused six-seat SUV based on a body-on-frame architecture that is designed to appeal to Aussie city slickers. Dating back over 20 years in the Indian market, the Scorpio has a lot going for it in this latest third-generation - but it's certainly not all roses, and today we’ll be looking at what it gets right, and what it frankly drops the ball on.

How much does the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio-N cost?

Similar to the 7-seat Mahindra XUV700 - the Scorpio is available in just two trims at the time of its launch here in Australia: the entry-level Z8 comes in at $41,990 including on-roads, while the Z8L (tested) will set you back $44,990.

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What do we think of the exterior looks of the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio-N?

The Mahindra Scorpio has a masculine, boxy design which may not appeal to everyone though I must say it is a handsome-looking SUV. At the front, you get LED headlights as standard with LED daytime running lights, fog lamps, and even sequential indicators which make it look premium on the road.

The grille is not oversized and features the new Mahindra badge proudly, with a front-facing camera on the Z8L. On the side, the Scorpio has 18-inch wheels with all-season tyres, adequate for off-roading. From the side as well is where you can see just how short the wheelbase is, and combined with its tall and narrow stance, it has quite a distinctive look. A shorter wheelbase also helps with off-road credentials which is a nice plus. Adorning the side skirts are metallic side steps, another great feature for the adventurous Scorpio owner.

You also get keyless entry and go, and some cool detailing on the rear side mirrors that looks like a ‘Scorpion Tail’ - a fitting design feature given the model name. Unfortunately, the rear windows don’t get any factory tinting which is a typical inclusion on most SUVs.

At the rear the Scorpio-N has tail lights with 3D effect LED lights, that mirror those of the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, a slightly more expensive competitor. You’ll also notice the sideways opening tailgate, a personal favourite of our main presenter, Matt, and the ‘4XPLOR’ badge - indicating that the Scorpio-N is indeed a 4WD. Finally, the full-size spare wheel residing under the car is a good touch.

Overall it is a unique-looking SUV with its tall and slender dimensions, and it will most likely get a few heads turning on Australian roads as we start to see more of them driving around.

What’s the interior and connectivity like of the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio-N?

Coming inside the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio-N reveals a visually appealing design with contrasting materials, and touching around the cabin, there are quite a few nice soft-touch surfaces, while the dash and door have a few hard scratchy plastics, which is to be expected as this price point.

The steering wheel has a good feel and buttons to control the driver’s display between the analogue gauges - which is functional and shows plenty of information, and on the Z8L is a 7-inch colour display. The infotainment screen is a good size, however, at the time of testing, it did not support Apple Carplay, with a future update promising to add this functionality. The infotainment also lacks any in-built navigation.

The climate controls are physical buttons and are easy to use just like the media controls, which are laid out in a row along with the auto start-stop toggle. For reasons explained in the driving section, we will definitely be keeping that disabled.

The seats are soft and finished with perforated faux leather, and they offer considerable leg support despite not featuring any leg tilt adjustment. Storage in the cabin is limited with only a single cupholder in the front, and the door bins are unsuitable for cups or large bottles.

Despite the limited storage space, there is a wireless charger, two USB-A ports and a nice padded centre armrest with some space inside for small items. The Mahindra Scorpio definitely feels more compromised than the XUV700 we also reviewed recently.

Where this SUV feels less compromised is the off-roading capabilities, and the Scorpio comes with a 4WD controller in the centre console, a low-range transfer case, as well as numerous drive modes for different off-road and on-road conditions.

What about the Back seats of the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio-N?

Unlike many other ladder-frame chassis vehicles in the class, the back seats are easy to access, this is because most ladder-frame SUVs have a very raised floor, and we didn’t find this to be the case - as much - in the Mahinda Scorpio.

As far as space in the second row goes, it is quite good with ample legroom, toe room, and headroom. The second row also gets captains' seats, meaning there are only two seats, both of which are full-sized and come with a central armrest. While in the Australian market we are used to seeing a bench in the second row, this seating configuration may be preferred by some due to easier access to the third row.

The materials in the back aren’t the nicest, the seats are nice and soft - the same as upfront but the doors and rear of the centre console are all hard scratchy black plastic. Thankfully, you do get air vents in the second row, with a fan speed controller, and interestingly the USB-C port has been relegated to the second-row passengers.

Another thing to note is that due to the captains’ chairs, there are no cupholders in the second row, apart from the door bins.

Overall, comfort in the second row is quite good given the seats, which are supportive and also have a reclining function, as well as the plentiful space and airflow. There are just a couple of areas of compromise in the way of cupholders and a middle seat.

What about the Third row of the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio-N?

The third row is great in a pinch, the legroom is limited unsurprisingly - given the short wheelbase - but can fit an average-sized (5 foot 11 inches) male adult if required. It is also easier to access due to the gap between the seats in the second row, so you won’t be needing to fold any seats to access the back.

Despite short legroom, there is decent toe room and headroom is adequate. For its relatively compact size, the Scorpio does a great job fitting this third row.

How does the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio-N perform off-road?

While we reserve our judgement for a comprehensive off-road test of the Mahindra Scorpio - it does come well equipped with off-road kit and capabilities.

The car has a 4WD system that can be switched while driving - up to 80km/h - between 2H and 4H modes, as well as a 4WD low-range transfer case. Additionally, it is equipped with a bunch of off-road drive modes, Mahindra calls this their “4XPLOR” system - and it includes Normal for on-road, and off-road modes are Snow, Mud and Ruts, and Sand. These slightly tweak the engine, transmission, and traction control responses to best fit the terrain.

The Scorpio also comes with a brake-locking differential and a self-locking mechanical differential at the rear. The Z8L top-spec variant also comes with a front-facing camera which can prove useful.

A noteworthy feature that aids in ride compliance is what Mahindra calls “Frequency Dependent Damping” which can adjust damping force depending on the frequency and amplitude of bumps, essentially allowing it to have a comfortable ride in a wide variety of conditions, both on and off-road.

How much can the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio-N tow?

The 2023 Mahindra Scorpio has a maximum braked towing capacity of 2500kg, with unbraked towing up to 750kg.

How much can it fit in the boot of the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio-N?

The Mahindra Scorpio has a side-hinging tailgate, which is handy in some situations but will require some forethought if parking in a tight space. Coming inside, with all three rows in place the Scorpio has very limited capacity. Folding the third row will open up 686L of cargo space, and the seats can also be tumbled forwards and hooked onto the back of the second-row seats, which brings the cargo space to a total of 756L.

The boot doesn’t have a flat loading floor due to the fact that there is a full-sized spare wheel stowed beneath the car, and the seats cannot be folded completely flat, however, it is definitely a usable size.

What’s under the bonnet of the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio-N?

The 2023 Mahinda Scorpio has a 2.2-litre, 4-cylinder turbo diesel engine that pumps out 129kW of power and 400Nm of torque. While these numbers are far from inspiring and trail most other cars in the segment, as we’ll see in the driving segment; the Scorpio packs a punch.

This power is sent through to the part-time 4WD system via a 6-speed Aisin automatic transmission

How does the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio-N drive?

When we first got behind the wheel of the Mahindra Scorpio, the first thing that struck us was how surprisingly responsive the drive felt. Despite being powered by a 2.2-liter turbo diesel 4-cylinder engine, which on paper is less powerful than its rivals, the car didn't feel underpowered. The 6-speed automatic transmission worked smoothly, dropping gears effectively, and power build-up was more than adequate.

On the road, the Scorpio's driving dynamics completely disguised its body-on-frame construction. In fact, it felt strikingly similar to vehicles with a monocoque design. Credit must be given to the Australian suspension tuning, and the double wishbone configuration at the front, which resulted in impressive handling and robust structure. The steering weight felt almost perfect, providing responsive control and precision on the twists and turns of the road. Body roll was kept to a minimum, which, coupled with the well-balanced damping, delivered a comfortable ride in city driving and admirable composure at highway speeds.

However, not everything was perfect. The auto stop-start system was overly intrusive, often holding around 1000 RPM and requiring the removal of your foot from the accelerator to cease. The Scorpio's traction control system felt overzealous, potentially being hard on the brakes over time. More concerning, though, was the lack of active safety features - an oversight that might give some potential buyers pause. Furthermore, there was an apparent software bug in the auto stop-start system, which could cause the car to not turn back on if the auto stop-start was deactivated after the car had stopped - an issue that Mahindra should undoubtedly address promptly.

For the most part, however, we were impressed by the Mahindra Scorpio, with its agile performance and comfortable ride, despite some concerns around the stop-start system and lack of active safety features.

Is the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio-N Safe?

While the Mahindra Scorpio hasn’t received an ANCAP rating yet, it scored a 5-star rating according to Global NCAP.

It also doesn’t have any active safety features. Mahindra promises these will be added in a life cycle update, in order to meet standards in Australia that will soon be demanded of new cars.

Standard safety kit includes:

  • Rear parking sensors
  • Reversing camera
  • Tyre pressure monitoring
  • Front, side, and curtain airbags

The Z8L adds front parking sensors as well as a front-facing camera.

How much does the 2023 Mahindra Scorpio-N cost to service?

The Mahindra Scorpio is covered by a 7-year, 150,000km warranty, including roadside assistance. No capped price servicing has been confirmed as of writing this article.

Final thoughts - should you buy a 2023 Mahindra Scorpio-N?

The 2023 Mahindra Scorpio-N displays a good blend of off-roading capabilities, coupled with a responsive and surprisingly agile drive. However, it's not without its drawbacks. An intrusive auto stop-start system and a noticeable lack of active safety features significantly let down the Scorpio-N.

Despite an appealing interior design, there's evidence of compromise in areas such as storage and connectivity. A lack of Apple CarPlay, built-in navigation, and the prevalence of hard plastics are downsides not to be overlooked. However, the most disappointing factor lies in the absence of active safety technologies, which could potentially be a deal-breaker for many prospective buyers, especially with impending Australian regulations necessitating these features.

In conclusion, if off-road prowess, unique styling, and impressive driving dynamics are your priorities, the Scorpio-N can be a compelling choice. However, for those who place a high emphasis on safety and modern creature comforts, it may be worth waiting for Mahindra's promised updates or considering alternative options.

Saucey score breakdown

Maintenance Costs and Warranty
Fuel (or EV) Efficiency
Interior Design and Features
Value for Money
Technology and Innovation
Is it fit-for-purpose?
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Jacob Brooke
Jacob Brooke, a respected voice in the world of automotive journalism, brings a wealth of knowledge and insights to his reviews at CarSauce. His keen eye for detail and passion for all things cars shine through in his in-depth analysis and honest evaluations of the latest models of cars. Join him as he guides readers through the car-buying process and explores the exciting world of motoring.
Car specs

129kW + 400Nm

$44,990 Incl. On-roads


No ANCAP Score

Buy a Car!
No Obligations, Hassle Free.

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