The baseline here was easy to set. We have two people movers with both promising similar attributes. The new Mahindra Marazzo and the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga assure seating for seven, enough flexibility to carry the sort of luggage one would deem impossible in a sedan, ease of ingress and egress, and fuel efficiency. There’s also talk about both being easy to drive and live with, in the city.
But, there are differences.
The most obvious is the price. The top of the line versions of the two MPVs is separated by Rs 3 lakhs. That’s as much as one would spend on an entry-level Kwid. Then, the Ertiga in a bid to be light, efficient and easy to drive, uses a monocoque construction. The Mahindra is a bit old-school in this regard. It uses a body on ladder construction, which might add to its weight – the Marazzo is 415kgs heavier than the Ertiga – but it brings ruggedness. The sort of thing one needs when tackling poor or no roads. And, driving constantly with full payload.
All that additional weight of the Marazzo isn’t just because of the ladder frame. The Mahindra is also a bigger car, a significantly bigger car at that. Sit in the two cars, one after another, and you will find the Ertiga narrow, and cramped, and at least a size smaller than the Marazzo. And even though the Ertiga has seating for seven, given the shoulder room and the leg room all round (or the lack thereof), it’s best considered as a 4+2. The 2 here being kids, or seriously adaptable adults.
The Marazzo isn’t a genuine seven seater either. It’s more like a roomy six seater. But, the Marazzo has comfier seats, even in the last row. Sure, the last row on the Mahindra could do with adjustable backrests. But, otherwise, it’s actually quite good. The Marazzo in the M8 spec is also better equipped than the Ertiga ZDI+.
Both the Maruti and the Mahindra get adjustable driver’s seat, a multi-functional steering that only adjusts for rake, digital climate control, reversing camera, headrests and cup-holders all round, and electrically adjustable and retractable ORVMs. And both the MPVs also get touchscreen multimedia systems with all sorts of inputs as well as navigation and Android Auto.
But, while the Ertiga only gets rear AC vents, the Marazzo gets a separate unit for better cooling and control. The Marazzo also comes with voice command function, a cooled glovebox, and cruise control. However, the Mahindra misses out on one crucial feature that the Maruti gets – keyless entry and start. In today’s age of convenience, this one is a huge oversight.
The smaller dimensions of the Ertiga do have their upside. Helped by the low dashboard and the relatively slim A-pillars, the visibility is good on the Maruti. It makes the MPV feel compact when on the move. A short turning circle diameter of 10.4 metres - similar to the Hyundai i20 - helps as well. So, not only is it easier to find parking with the Maruti – because it’s smaller, it’s also the car which new drivers will feel more comfortable with.
The Marazzo with its larger length and width demands that you tour around a bit before you can find a parking spot big enough to fit it in. Having said that, it does feel a lot more compact than its size suggests. Again, the good visibility upfront, as well as through the C- and D-pillars helps here. And, the fact, that the Mahindra’s turning circle at 10.5 metres is similar to the Ertiga’s, makes it a lot easier to maneuver around compared to similar sized traditional ladder-frame SUVs.
Now, as odd as it may read, the Marazzo is in fact easier on your senses when driving in the city compared to the Maruti. Sure, you might not be able to squeeze the Mahindra into the same gaps as the Ertiga, but the Marazzo has the lighter steering. And, it also has the lighter clutch. Plus, it has a more absorbent, quiet and calm low-speed ride. And, for some reason if you run out of road, the longer travel suspension and the higher ground clearance of the Mahindra are certainly more handy.
Over 400kg in weight. Nearly 300mm in length. And, almost 100mm in height. That’s how much extra bulk the Marazzo carries around compared to the Ertiga. And no matter how good your engineering may be, you simply can’t cheat physics.
So, when you chuck both these MPVs into a corner at the same speed, the Ertiga feels lighter and pointier than the Marazzo at turn-in. It is also less prone to understeer. And, once the initial part of the turning is complete, the Ertiga settles back onto its suspension sooner and in a more precise fashion.
Give the two a series of quick corners, and again, the Ertiga just feels more car-like in its delivery. From the driver’s seat, it seems to roll less, grip better, and needs lesser steering inputs to get the job done. In a sense, the Maruti is less tiring to drive around a switchback.
But, like we said in our first drive report, the Marazzo isn’t at sea when it comes to turning. One has to be more sensible with corner-entry speeds, sure. But, compared to traditional seven-seaters of similar size, the Marazzo is a revelation. It’s even a significant step-up over the monocoque XUV.
No comparison is complete without hard numbers. But, let us lay out the specifications first. The Ertiga is powered by a four-cylinder 1248cc diesel engine that has been used for everything from the Swift to the Ciaz. It makes 90bhp and 200Nm of torque. That’s a power- and torque-to-weight ratio of 71bhp per tonne and 158Nm per tonne, respectively. This Fiat derived engine is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox.
The Marazzo gets a 6-speed manual, which is mated to a 1497cc, four-cylinder diesel engine. This KUV derived engine develops 121bhp and 300Nm, and should put the Mahindra at an advantage. That’s, of course, till you factor in the Marazzo’s relatively hefty 1680kg kerb weight. Putting the calculator at work, this gives us power- and torque-to-weight ratios of 72bhp per tonne and 178Nm per tonne; that’s 20Nm per tonne in the Mahindra’s favour.
Against the VBOX, the Ertiga posted a 0-100kmph time of 14.29 seconds. It takes 20.5 seconds to hit 120kmph and then takes a total of 33.78 seconds to reach 140kmph. The Marazzo takes a near identical 14.15 seconds to get to 100kmph from a standstill. But then, it begins to drop, thus registering a cumulative time to 21.41 seconds to hit 120kmph. However, a gear change puts it back in the meat of its torque which helps it reach 140kmph 2.5 seconds quicker than the Maruti.
But, it’s in the roll-ons – a reflection of a car’s ability to overtake as well as seriously cut down on the number of gear changes required just to keep motoring along – that the Marazzo truly surges ahead. Helped by the closer stacked ratio of its 6-speed gearbox and the higher and flatter torque, the Marazzo completed the 20-80kmph run in 3rd gear a second quicker than the Ertiga. And, the Marazzo completed the 40-100kmph slog in 4thgear a second and a half earlier than the Maruti.
Under ABS assisted brake test, the two MPVs posted almost the same stopping distance. Both took a little under 28 metres to come to a complete stop from 80kmph. In the crucial fuel efficiency stakes, meanwhile, the Ertiga expectedly posted better figures, both on the city and highway runs. Compared to the Marazzo’s 11.5kmpl in the city and 16.8kmpl on the highway, the Ertiga returned 13.2kmpl and 18.4kmpl, respectively.
If we were to view the two solely as products, the Marazzo has a clear advantage. It is closer to being a seven seater. It is more comfortable. It’s also more practical and flexible. It’s easier to drive, and in these top spec versions, it’s also better equipped. And then when you step back, you realise the Marazzo is also the better looking, more upmarket, and grander of the two cars.
However, the Mahindra is Rs 3 lakhs more expensive. And, it is less fuel-efficient. So, is the premium worth it? Honestly, a price difference of Rs 1.5 lakhs would have made the Marazzo the default choice. But, even at this price point, given one that buys a car and keeps it for at least five years, it makes more sense to spend that much extra and get the MPV that better fits the purpose.
Pictures by Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi
Note: The Ertiga Zxi has been used only for photography.