As far as we, i.e., journalists, are concerned, this is where the proof of the pudding lies. And we will stick our neck out and say Mahindra has done a good job here. This is a body-on-ladder MPV. But, it uses a transverse engine and a front wheel drive layout. Now, Mahindra says this has helped with many things including reducing weight, improving NVH, and making the Marazzo more fuel efficient. And, the positive outcomes of that are obvious from the moment you start it up and get going.
It is quiet on the inside for a diesel. It also has light controls, be it the clutch, the gear shifts, or the steering. What's more, even though the steering is light, it doesn't feel vague and isn't completely mute either. The gear shifts too, though a tad notchy, slot in well. The Marazzo overall doesn't feel heavy like a large, ladder-frame based vehicle generally does, when on the move. It responds well to steering inputs, it has a relatively tight turning circle, and it doesn't have pronounced body movements over bad roads, again unlike a typical body-on-ladder car.
The ride though, is a mixed bag. The Marazzo handles the smaller stuff well. It absorbs most bumps without being noisy, and it rarely 'thuds' through stuff. But, it does jiggle about a bit, which is more UV than car-like. When the road really deteriorates, the high ground clearance comes in handy. As does the Marazzo's tighter body control that prevents the second and third row occupants from being thrown around.
Handling was another pleasant surprise. Now, like any tall car, the Marazzo does roll when you chuck it into a corner. And like any front heavy car, its first reaction to a pronounced direction change at speed is understeer, followed of course, by oversteer. But, it doesn't do any of this at an alarming rate. Which means, one can control, rectify and indulge in it if one chooses. The Marazzo then is one of the few Mahindra cars that actually feels confident and happy to take on corners, even a quick sequence of lefts and rights.
The engine is a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder diesel with ties to the KUV's three-cylinder unit. It develops 120bhp at as low as 3,500rpm. And that's quite handsome for a small diesel. The torque at 300Nm is good too. Most of it is available from as low as 1,300rpm but it peaks at 1,700 and stays flat till 2,500. As you can tell, for a people carrier, these figures are more than acceptable.
On the road, the engine impresses with its refinement. One can barely feel any vibes inside and the engine doesn't sound coarse either. Unless you rev up to its redline. Then, with four people on board, the Marazzo pulls along quite nicely even at three digit speeds. But, it doesn't pick up speed in a hurry. In that sense, it lacks that big engine feel.
And, once the engine revs drop under 1,500rpm, the Marazzo simply turns anaemic. So much that it fails to take on even the slightest of gradients. In fact, one needs to rev it quite a bit to get going on an incline. And being a front wheel drive, this results in more wheel spin than actual movement. Also, when you do go past 1,700rpm, the surge is sudden, if not strong. It's almost like someone has flicked a switch on; it can catch you unawares.