Spied: Mahindra Scorpio Automatic plans to turn the heat on the Tata Safari Storme SUV

From the middle of last year, Mahindra dealers across the country had stopped taking bookings for the Scorpio Automatic variant following supply disruptions at the Australian transmission maker MSI, which supplied Mahindra with the 6 speed automatic gearbox used on the Scorpio AT. Back then, Mahindra was scouting for a new automatic transmission with Hyundai’s name popping up as one of the possible new suppliers of automatic gearboxes to Mahindra. Out of the blue, a Mahindra Scorpio Automatic test mule has been spotted and to confound things further, the test mule in question seems like a base variant of the Scorpio.

Now, automatic variants of cars sold in the mass market segments in India usually sit at the very top of the variant line up, owing to the added cost of the automatic gearbox and lower sales which means that car makers don’t have much incentive of pricing automatic variants any lower. So, it is quite surprising that Mahindra is testing a lower variant of Scorpio Automatic. As they say, looks can be deceptive and this is more so when it comes to test cars. Car maker routinely mix and match parts on test cars and we wouldn’t be too surprised to find out that the automatic gearbox could be in the lower Scorpio variant solely for testing purposes.

Any which ways, the big takeaway from this latest spyshot is the fact that Mahindra seems to have zeroed in on a new transmission maker or perhaps is testing the Scorpio with a new automatic transmission. How else do you explain a Scorpio Automatic doing testing duty if the SUV is using the same transmission unit that it originally featured, in this case the MSI 6 speed slush box. Expect the Mahindra Scorpio Automatic to make its debut in the next few months given that the Indian SUV segment currently is missing an automatic SUV despite a clear demand for such a product. With Ford India said to be readying up an automatic variant of the EcoSport crossover, the Scorpio Automatic does have a lot to play for.

Meanwhile, there’s been some talk about the Tata Safari Storme SUV being readied up with an automatic transmission, the likes of which we first saw on the Tata Aria, at the 2012 Indian Auto Expo. With Mahindra looking eager to relaunch the Scorpio Automatic, the engineers at Tata Motors better roll up their sleeves and hasten the launch of the Safari Storme Automatic. Of course, more competition is always fantastic for you, the car buyer. So, by of the end of 2013, if you have three SUVs with automatic transmissions to choose from, what would be your pick, the Scorpio, the Safari Storme or the Ford EcoSport?

Spyshot courtesy Motorbeam

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