What is it?
Why I would buy it
Easy to drive, looks pleasant, and can seat seven.
Why I would avoid it
Doesn't feel true to its price, no boot space with all seats in place.
The Mahindra Marazzo is an MPV. It is different from an MUV, which was the Xylo. Now, the two might be separated by just one letter, but, the difference between them is huge. U is for utility. And therefore, the Xylo - based on a ladder frame - was more about hauling load, and being rugged and tough. Sure, it had a bunch of features, yet it was anything but car-like or plush or dynamically able.
The Marazzo is also ladder-frame based. But, with its P - which stands for Purpose - it is everything the Xylo was not. It looks good. It has a whole list of features - comfort, convenience and safety included - which are very car-like. And, according to Mahindra, the Marazzo is not just the most dynamically able vehicle it has ever produced, it's also plush and pampering when it comes to the occupants. Tall claims. But, before we go verify them, let's take a quick look at the MPV's exteriors.
To begin with, it comes in six colours, among which we would settle for either the black or the maroon. But, in terms of proportions, Mahindra has done well here. The Marazzo does still look like an MPV with its monospace design, but the design elements give it an upmarket feel. Moreover, with its short hood, a mildly sweeping down roof line, and a rear that's anything but abrupt, the design flows well. There are also no over-the-top styling cues on the Marazzo. Sure, there's a pronounced line on the front fender, a strong shoulder line, and a chrome strip that runs along the window line. But compared to what we have seen from Mahindra in the recent past, this is not just palatable, it's quite likeable. And it has big 17-inch good looking alloys to prop-up its stance.
Now as far as measurements go, the Marazzo is a large car. It measures 4585mm in length, 1866mm in width and stands at 1774mm in height. The wheelbase at 2760mm is long too. This makes the Marazzo bigger than the Ertiga in almost every direction, but smaller and shorter than the Innova. Having said that, the Mahindra does have a longer wheelbase than the Toyota.
How is it on the inside?
Well, for starters, it is spacious, undoubtedly. We have the seven seater here, which means captain seats for the second row. With the driving position set for me, I still had plenty of knee-room in the second row. And the second row slides as well. So, with the second row seat in its rear most position, the last row is pretty good for kids. As for me, well, my knees touch, but it isn't really uncomfortable.
In fact, the Marazzo does comfort well too. The seats, both at the front and in the second row are large and cushy, and should prove comfortable over long drives. Even the last row of seats aren't bad. For one, you aren't completely sitting on the floor, and at 5'9" with heavy thighs, I get some sort of thigh support from the seats too. As for getting into the last row, you can only do so from the left side of this seven seater because that's the captain seat that tumbles.
Design wise, the Marazzo's interior is a smart one. Lots of storage, and logically placed ones at that. There are bottle holders on all four doors and for the last row of passengers. There are a couple of cup holders as part of the central storage area. And the central storage itself is a covered one.
Visually though, the insides aren't over the top. These are easy on the eyes and practical. The dash is high and slab-like and it houses ordinary looking aircon vents, buttons and knobs, and even the touchscreen doesn't look anything extraordinary. Ditto for the steering mounted controls and the stalks. Even the plastic used for the central storage, the handbrake, and the steering column, in particular, look cheap. And this variant costs almost Rs 14 lakh ex-showroom. The seat fabric, the head rests, and the door handles though, do exude some richness.
In terms of features, this top of the line M8 version gets a driver information system, a multifunctional steering wheel, digital climate control system, 8-way adjustable driver's seat, and an infotainment system with maps, voice command, bluetooth and android auto, among other standard bits. The screen also doubles up as the display for the reversing camera. The Marazzo also gets a separate aircon for the last two rows of passengers. In terms of safety, there are dual front airbags and ABS, which come as standard on all variants.
How does it drive?
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.
Should I buy one?
Here's the deal with the Marazzo. As an MPV it is easy to recommend. It has great visibility all around, besides light controls, light-footed slow speed handling, and enough grunt to haul people around (if you keep the revs over 1,500rpm). It is both an easy to live with and an easy to drive vehicle.
But, at Rs 13.9 lakhs for this top of the line version, it is a little pricey in our opinion. If only a seven seater will do for you, the Marazzo is definitely worth considering. But, if you are looking at seven seats just as added flexibility you think you might use sometime in the future, there are better five seater options available.
Where does it fit in?
At Rs 13.9 lakhs, the Marazzo is significantly more expensive than the Ertiga. But, it is also significantly cheaper than the full-sized Innova. The closest rivals for the Marazzo then are the Honda BR-V and the Tata Hexa; the BR-V in its top of the line VX trim, and the Hexa in the mid XM trim. Both can seat seven, both are around the Marazzo's price point, and both are MPVs in SUV clothing.
Pictures: Kaustubh Gandhi