Mahindra Scorpio vs Tata Safari – war of the SUVs

Its being quite some time since I have checked out SUVs in India and especially the homegrown ones. Not that there are many as of now but then in the preview section, we have shown many upcoming new SUVs from the likes of Ssangyong, Mahindra, Tata and also Renault. Inspite of all these things happening out here, we Indians are left with only two choices as far as the SUVs are concerned and those are the Mahindra Scorpio in India and the Tata Safari in India. Both these SUVs are homegrown products and within the Rs 13 lakhs on-road budget. So today, I have on one hand the Mahindra Scorpio whereas on the other, I have the Tata Safari. Now, which of these is the better one? Certainly not an easy task. But then comparisons were never easy and so here comes the story of Mahindra Scorpio vs Tata Safari.

Looks

Mahindra Scorpio :

The Mahindra Scorpio in India was launched in 2002 and immediately caught the fancy of the SUV buying public who welcomed it with open arms. The design can be described as truly butch with that big Mahindra grille and typical SUV style head lamps. The high set bumper and those flared wheel arches coupled with the typical aftermarket like looking tyres really help take things into perspective. However I personally feel that Mahindra could have done better in giving the Scorpio a better pair of shoes and a tad bigger. The Christmas tree tail lamps at the rear are nothing new and it was only recently that the tail lamps have gone the LED way.

Tata Safari :

The Tata Safari in India has been around for more than a decade and half. Its an old soldier for Tata Motors and one which has got a success story of its own scripted. Its looks have vastly remained unchanged except for some loss in weight from the years of attending gym sessions. While the Scorpio is all muscle, the Safari is all lean. The Scorpio is one design which all the manufacturers must have thought of but then could never bring into paper or rather production. The Safari on the other hand is more of a design which every  manufacturer has copied from. The Safari’s tail lamps also look and feel dated. Unlike other Tata cars which have a problem of tyres not filling up the wheel arches well, the Safari has got no such problem.

The Mahindra Scorpio wins this round purely because of its styling and the all essential road presence.

Interiors

Mahindra Scorpio :

The Scorpio has got interiors which look very much like the ones in the Tata Safari. I remember the earlier Scorpio having interiors which looked better than the others in its class however as of now, the Scorpio gets the same interiors as the Tata Safari and there is hardly anything that can differentiate the interiors of both. Toyota Innova however has been removed from its pedestal wherein it boasted of one of the best in class interiors. Now, the Tatas and Mahindras have more than made up in giving the customer the impression of feel good materials. A recent addition is the use of a 4 spoke steering wheel with audio controls, darkness sensing lights, cruise control, tyre pressure monitoring system, driver information system, parking sensors, 4 speaker audio system and powered goodies. The middle row of seats can be ordered with Captain chairs as also with a bench option. The last row of seats boast of seating only for kids or someone below the height of 5 ft 5 inches. The last row of seats can be folded away to increase the loading space. The entire cabin looks upmarket however some quality issues seem to be there.

Tata Safari :

The Tata Safari has undergone many more changes in the interiors than the Scorpio but what has remained a constant is the very comfortable seats. Meanwhile, equipment levels remain fairly constant with the Scorpio eclipsing it in the features level. The steering wheel doesn’t have audio controls while the central console is made of faux wood like the one found on the top end variant of the Indica eV2. The stock audio system as also the DVD system with rear head screens look and sound good. Tata have also done enough to kit the Safari with a rear parking camera. The rear opposite facing seats are a wee bit more comfortable than in the Scorpio. Quality levels have improved by leaps and bounds but then the construction of the Safari is not a patch to the one of the Scorpio. The Safari claws back lost ground by offering more space than the Scorpio.

Tough one but I would give it to the Safari for giving in more user friendly equipment plus loads of space.

Handling and ride quality

Mahindra Scorpio :

The Mahindra Scorpio’s suspension package has been time and again tuned by Lotus and as a result, the SUV has become more of a confident handler. It can now handle at a fairly good clip and at the same time provide enough thrills to the driver. The heaving and pitching action has been reduced to a great extent. However the ride quality for which the earlier Scorpios were cursed for, is still very much the same. I did get the same bouncy feeling as the earlier Scorpio from the first batch. NVH however is on the lower side and don’t know why, I am happy seeing all those rickshawallahs just fleeing away from my way when they see a big black Scorpio thundering down their way.

Tata Safari :

The Tata Safari in India has been always known for its very absorbent ride quality and thankfully enough, this has been retained across all the models. But then the handling however takes quite a beating here. Due to its higher center of gravity than the Scorpio’s, the top heavy Safari does roll a fair bit. While there may have been many mechanical inclusions inside the engine, none of them can keep the NVH down. Maybe Tata needs to take a leaf out of its own pocket, from the Tata Indica eV2, and make this engine silent. The NVH levels get exhausting after a certain point of time. The vibes from the engine bay are also disconcerting enough.

The Mahindra Scorpio wins this round because of the very fact that it is a better all round package than the Safari.

Engine, performance and fuel efficiency

Mahindra Scorpio :

The Mahindra Scorpio in India now gets a 2.2 liter diesel engine which replaces the older and bulkier 2.6 liter diesel engine. This engine now makes more power and the power figure now reads as 121 Bhp and 290 Nm of torque. A 5 speed gearbox is also offered but the Scorpio has an ace up its sleeve in the form of the 6 speed automatic transmission which isn’t there in the Safari. The clutch action for this car is really light and very un-SUV like. However the puppy like eagerness from the old 2.6 motor is missing. The transmission though not exactly eager perfectly mates with the ratios of this new motor. However as suspected, the initial tardiness of the motor takes a toll on its performance as it races from 0-100 kmph in a leisurely 16 .2 seconds while the top speed is close to 158 kmph. Brakes from the earlier Scorpio needed a bit of sorting out and the new one has got better bite. It also gets the much needed ABS. Safety aids are in the form of 2 air bags, side intrusion beams and a collapsible steering column. Fuel efficiency is also good at 10.9 kmpl in city and 15.2 kmpl on the highway.

Tata Safari :

The Tata Safari carries on with an age old 2.2 liter DICOR engine with minor tweaks to its intake geometry and various other components. The power is significantly more now, with the revised engine now making for 140 Bhp and a good 320 Nm of torque. The 0-100 kmph mark is dispatched in only 15.8 seconds whilst the top speed is similar to the Scorpio’s. Though the Safari is and feels quicker, it is not that easier to drive and hence loses out on the driveability quotient. Brakes were for Safaris always had a problem and even this one was no different. It needs a firm shove to stop things. However Tata has provided ABS as also EBD to sort things out. Safety aspect is similar to the Scorpio’s. Fuel efficiency is also higher thanks to the engine revisions and it now stands at 11.4 kmpl in city and 16.7 kmpl on the highway.

The Tata Safari for its all round abilities.

Verdict

The Tata Safari as also the Mahindra Scorpio are equally winners out here. If one scores on driveability, the other on fuel efficiency. If one outdoes the other in handling, the other fights back with better ride quality. This question as to which is the better SUV still hangs in the air. However thinking of the bigger picture, both the cars here are made for different clientele. However since I have to choose a winner, it would be the Mahindra Scorpio in India. Simply because it seems to be a better engineered product plus the only homegrown SUV to have automatic transmission. If the prices are compared, then the Mahindra Scorpio price in India stands at Rs 11.51 lakhs (on-road, Mumbai) while the Tata Safari price in India for the top end variant stands at Rs 12,23 lakhs (on-road, Mumbai).

15 Replies to “Mahindra Scorpio vs Tata Safari – war of the SUVs”

  1. If you compare to the price list Tata Safari is more affordable than Scorpio, As Safari has good looks, features, interiors & exteriors, excellent suspension, 4×4 drivewhich is better than Scorpio. So I think Safari is much better deal to go for.

    1. I am PROUD Owner of Tata Safari,no issues back till 9 months…..except some that is changed under warranty….their is nothing to compare with Tata Safari when it comes to the looks….. a decent and a cool SUV…….a massive road presence……for dicor…….At the End I will only say…………if u have a SAFARI u r a King………………………thats true

  2. Well there is no doubt safari got a good comfortable seats with 60:40 split seats features but if u talk about spare parts availability,servicing,resale,versatility then scorpio is winner.driving scorpio is effortles as compared to safari .even if u see the cutting angle scorpio is much better.

  3. I think Mahindra scorpio is too good for rough and tough road, better performance, its engine sound like a lion. So, Scorpio is winner

  4. Why does everybody compare the Mahindra Scorpio with the Tata Safari? I think the Scorpio should be compared only with the Tata Sumo.

    The Scorpio is not a true Sports Utility Vehicle.

    Here are some basic characteristics that one expects from an SUV

    1. 4 wheel drive: The Scorpio does not have it while the Safari does.

    2. High ground clearance: At 185mm the ground clearance of the Scorpio is lower even than the Maruti SX4 sedan (190mm) not to mention the Ford Fusion (198mm). The Safari has an immense 205mm which is well in the league of international SUVs.

    3. Spare wheel on tail gate: No doubt this is cosmetic but even this is missing on the Scorpio. Instead it has a fake air scoop on the bonnet. How juvenile.

    The shape, wheel base, (bouncy) ride quality etc of the Scorpio are all very similar to the Sumo and hence I feel this would be the right comparison. No doubt the Scorpio has a better look than the Sumo but park them side by side and take a look from the front, back and sides and the similarities will be all too obvious.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the Tata Safari is a true blooded SUV unlike the Mahindra Scorpio.
    () Thanks

  5. if you want a ride quality like sitting on an elephant than i prefer you
    you to buy the tata safari it has amazing ride quality and a perfect road grip and perfect road presence

  6. i think we should not compare safari with scorpio because if we see the interior and exterior then we find out that there is a great deference between them.
    so that i think safari is the real SUV.

  7. hi,
    I think there is nothing compare-able between safari & scorpio.
    I drive safari since 1998 & i am fully satisfied with it. it is a great SUV.
    You will feel like a king on the road.

  8. I dont know about comparisons. I am using a Tata Sierra 1993 std. I had a test drive of sumo,safari,scorpio and bolero. The main factor i noticed is the power that safari delivers even on first gear. It gives you a feel that you are sitting in an airplane on runway to take off. I have not experienced this in any other vehicle. I am basically an off roader and vote for a safari. I am buying one by december.

    1. I would like to ask the following things from your guys:-

      1. Which is an overall better SUV; purely 4X4 credentials
      2. Reliability? I don’t want my SUV to stop in LEH with none to help me
      3. Any idea about upgraded Safari later this year? What are the changes expected?
      4. Will they last till 100,000 kilometers?

  9. I,m driving the safari since 2005, and as far as looks, space and ride quality is concerned, scorpio stands nowhere near it. it really is like a king on road.

  10. As per the talks that one can read out here, i don’t really follow the train of thought, how does,the spare wheel on the rear door or ground clearance define a SUV, because if that might be the case, Hummer just makes every other thing in front of it look puny. Personally I like both the cars for what they are, safari is the absolute car to own if your requirement is space, it definitely is a plus for those long drives , where that extra leg room really matters, but given a lot of us being city folk , we use it for driving it in city and the occasional out of city trips , i think Scorpio is better , has a sharper turning radius for city, whereas the ride doesn’t disappoint on the highway as well. to be very honest the ride quality of both cars isn’t exactly that good to begin with at high speeds, where Scorpio is bouncy , safari has tremendous body roll.

    P.S : I personally think the quality of material used for interiors is better in Scorpio.

    Scorpio emerges as the winner here i believe.

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