From the first time we got behind the wheel of the Marazzo, it was clear that this is the most complete product Mahindra has ever made. It drives well, feels well-built, is comfortable and is pretty well-priced too. Mahindra has also placed the car in a price bracket where it sits right in between the Maruti Ertiga and the Toyota Innova, the only two popular MPVs in India. We have compared it to the Ertiga as well, which you can read here. But in this story we will find out if the Mahindra is good enough to disturb the might of the Toyota Innova. Sure the Innova is much more expensive, so to keep things fair we are going to compare them purely as products and tell you if the Mahindra Marazzo manages to be a giant killer.
Where the Marazzo costs Rs 16.67 lakhs on-road Mumbai, the Innova Crysta is priced at a whopping Rs 25.35 lakhs for the top diesel manual variant.
So, which of these XXL cars would make for the perfect family vehicle? Read-on to find out.
Climb up into the driver’s seat of the Marazzo and you get a commanding view of the front. The low dashboard and huge glass area gives you an unobstructed view, which makes driving in traffic easy. The fit and finish of the interior is also clearly the best we have seen on a Mahindra product yet. Plastic quality is much improved, the pieces of trim fit together well and the stalks are nice and chunky. In fact, when put it beside the Toyota, surprisingly it’s the cheaper Marazzo that exudes more consistent quality levels. Where the Marazzo could have been better is in terms of ergonomics. The cup-holders under the front armrests are difficult to access and the stylish yacht-like handbrake lever makes reaching USB ports difficult. The touchscreen infotainment screen is a huge improvement over old Mahindra’s, as the graphics and software look premium enough.
In comparison the Crysta’s dashboard looks more modern, is well detailed and the swooping dash top that looks great without being overdone. Details like the single piece of metal strip which runs across the top of the dashboard look premium and classy. Visibility from the high front seats is good and this makes it easy to drive especially in traffic. Despite the swooping dash, ergonomics are spot-on and everything from the touchscreen to the air-con controls are tilted upwards for ease of use. The touchscreen is intuitive to use and displays various information like satellite navigation, eco display (which shows how efficiently you are driving), Bluetooth telephony and music system controls. On the downside we would have preferred the volume control to be a knob for easier access while driving.
Overall quality especially on the upper portion of the dashboard is quite good. But considering that it’s an expensive car we expected better consistency especially lower down in the cabin. The sea of black hard plastics around the glovebox, cupholders and doorpads look shiny and the graining could have been better too. Even the air-con buttons are too small and the chrome finish doesn’t look very convincing either.
Despite the smaller dimensions, the Marazzo proved to be surprisingly more spacious than the Innova. Thanks to the transverse engine placement and front wheel drive layout, Mahindra engineers had more room to play with as there isn’t any transmission tunnel intruding in the cabin.
The spacious front seats of the Marazzo are comfortable and visibility is fantastic too. The Innova doesn’t do too badly for front-seat comfort either. In fact, the seat is very spacious and visibility from the slightly higher perch is better still.
Shift your focus to the middle row and the Marazzo is the more spacious of the two. It has 3cm more kneeroom and a massive 6cm more headroom. Even the captain seats are better contoured than the Innova’s. In the all-important third row, the Innova fares slightly better than the Marazzo. The seat is a tad higher and there is more kneeroom and headroom on offer as well. Although both Mahindra and Toyota claim to be able to accommodate three passengers in the third row, the restricted width makes them best for two. Here too, the Innova, thanks to better width, adjustable headrest and three-point seat belt for the centre passenger makes a better case for accommodating three adults than the Marazzo.
Both cars have large luggage bays with the third row folded. But the Innova Crysta has a flat loading bay and lower loading lip. The Marazzo’s third row folds, but doesn’t tuck away like in the Innova and the intrusion makes loading and placing luggage a chore.
The Mahindra Marazzo, despite being the newer car, is still a little sparse as far as standard equipment is concerned. It does get the basics right, but even then, you get a lot more in the Crysta. Things like powered driver’s seat, auto headlamps and keyless go are missing on the Mahindra. You get Seven airbags on the Innova as compared to just two on the Marazzo. Even when you consider the lower variant of the Innova, you still get more features than the Marazzo.
On The Road
Displacing 1497cc, the 121bhp Marazzo engine is a whole size down on the Innova’s 2393cc 148bhp powerplant. But despite the displacement and power deficits, the front-wheel-drive Marazzo is quick enough with it posting times of 14.15 seconds to 100kmph which are just more than a second off the Innova and in-gear timings aren’t too bad either.
But performance numbers aside, the rear-wheel-drive Innova actually feels a bit better to drive. Power delivery is very linear, but what makes the difference in city traffic is the ample pulling power that is available from as low as 1200rpm. This, along with the broad spread of power and well-chosen gear ratios, makes the engine very flexible. As a corollary, you also have to make fewer gear changes, which is a good thing, because the Innova’s gearbox is quite notchy to use.
Out on the highway, the Marazzo cruises better than the Innova, thanks to the tall fifth gear and refined engine. While gearshift quality is better on the Marazzo, gear changes are still not very precise, as action is quite long and the gate between third and fifth gears is quite narrow.
Unlike the Innova, the Marazzo feels a bit weak at lower revs and the engine tends to get bogged down on uphill roads so you will need to keep shuffling between third and second gears to maintain momentum. It also tends to stall easily if it is not given enough revs which isn’t the most ideal when driving in traffic. And the driver needs to maintain the revs between 1700-3600rpm to get the most out of this engine.
An area where the Innova trails the Marazzo is engine refinement. The Mahindra has impressive sound deadening with precious little noise from the engine, road and wind penetrating its cabin.
Another area where the Marazzo is simply better than the Innova is in terms of ride and handling. The way the Marazzo simply glides over the worst of potholes is remarkable. High-speed manners are good too, with no undue vertical movements and fine straight-line stability. The Innova feels nowhere near as absorbent as the Marazzo at low speeds, with a pronounced thud felt over sharper bumps. The choppy ride also means middle and third-row passengers get tossed about quite a bit. Things do improve as speeds rise, but still the Marazzo feels better here too.
The Innova thanks to its higher centre of gravity and girth doesn’t like sudden changes in direction and the steering too is on the heavier side and not as precise as the Marazzo’s. The Marazzo may not be very exciting to drive either, but its lower stance and well-judged controls give it better dynamics than the Innova.
Both MPVs come with steering abilities that are light enough at low speeds, which helps to negotiate through crowded city roads. But the Marazzo’s smaller dimensions and tighter turning circle make it more manoeuvrable, especially in tight parking spots.
Going up against the might of the Innova Crysta was supposed to be a tough task for the Mahindra Marazzo. But not only has it given the Innova a tough time, it has come out on top of the Toyota by a healthy margin. This surprising result is thanks to Mahindra producing a product that doesn’t have any major flaws and is priced reasonably well too. It drives better than the Toyota and despite being smaller on the outside, it has more space on the inside, is more refined, has better comfort and is more efficient too. The only areas where the Marazzo falls short of the Innova is in terms of equipment. But then the price difference is huge. Purely as a product and as an MPV, the Marazzo does most things better than the Innova. So, unless you are after the badge, the Marrazo makes more sense as you will save almost a million rupees.
Pictures by: Kaustubh Gandhi