Since the launch of the Mahindra Marazzo, almost everyone seems to agree that the seven-seat MPV is well priced. The Marazzo starts at Rs 9.99 lakhs ex-showroom, is available in four trims, with the most expensive version, the M8, priced at Rs 13.9 lakhs. Again, ex-showroom. That puts it right between the Ertiga and the Innova, but closer to the Maruti in terms of affordability.
The question I am battling with is – whether the Marazzo needed to be priced lower still. But, to answer that, I will need to get a little verbose. Apologies.
Down to basics
Let's go into a few details to begin with…
The Marazzo is only available with one engine. A 1.5-litre, four-cylinder diesel that pumps out 120bhp and 300Nm of peak torque. The engine is mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox, and in what is a first for a body-on-ladder vehicle – ever – the engine is mounted transversely and it drives the front wheels.
Equipment wise, the Marazzo is decently equipped. Now, let's just focus on the top-spec M8 trim here, because truth be told, we Indians only really want to buy the most expensive version. The M8 gets a single zone climate control system with a separate rear aircon unit. There's a multimedia system complete with touchscreen, voice command, and android auto. There's a reversing camera, height adjustable driver's seat, electric ORVMs with fold function, a cooled glovebox, and loads and loads of space.
The Marazzo costs Rs 13.9 lakhs. And, I am constantly bringing up the price because that's what this piece is all about. So, on the road, in Mumbai, one is looking at a figure of around Rs 16.7 lakhs! And that means the Marazzo is almost as expensive as the Hyundai Creta; the Creta SX diesel specifically.
But, why the Creta reference, you ask? Well, I am using it more as a benchmark in this story for five-seaters at this price point. The Creta is after all a highly sought-after SUV. And SUVs is what we all want, right?
Now, if one wants three-row seating, the Marazzo or the Ertiga or even the Honda BR-V would be obvious choices. But, the ratio of buyers who MUST have a seven-seater to those who WANT one is small. The latter can do with a five-seater. But, that group likes the potential, the opportunity, and the convenience, a seven-seater offers; no matter how rarely they might use those extra seats. And that’s where a big opportunity for the Marazzo lies.
So, getting back to the Marazzo vs Creta question, the Mahindra has a lot to live up to. The MPV does start off well by offering more space and two extra seats. But, the bigger questions are – is it also equally upmarket? Does it offer equally high levels of comfort and convenience? And does it score as well on safety and performance?
To begin with not only does the plastic used in the Creta’s interiors look more upmarket than the Marazzo’s, the finish all round is better and more consistent too. There’s additional equipment on board as well, like automatic headlamps and wipers, and keyless entry and start. But, on the flip side, the Mahindra gets leatherette seats, and a more detailed driver information display.
As far as performance goes, the Marazzo and the Creta have similar engine capacity – 1.5-litre for the Mahindra against 1.6-litre for the Hyundai. Both are powered by diesel, use modern day tech, and run four cylinder configurations. There’s also no real difference in the horsepower figures either.
The Creta makes 126bhp while the Marazzo’s max power is rated at 121bhp. So, in that sense, the Marazzo’s asking price seems justified. But, start rolling and the Creta gets to 100kmph from a standstill in less than 11 seconds while the Mahindra takes over 14 seconds to do the exact same task. The Hyundai is also the better car dynamically, be it tackling winding roads or under hard braking.
While most of us looked at the Innova and decided that the Marazzo was well priced, it’s doubtful that the Innova buyer would truly consider the latter. But, the Ertiga buyer – especially with a price difference of around Rs 3 lakhs – would certainly be keen to upgrade. Whether his or her budget allows that is a different story.
There’s another segment where the Marazzo will draw in numbers from. A segment that’s been seeing high volume and decent growth. A segment that is populated by big nameplates in both sedan and SUV guise. But, only five seats. A segment that includes the Hyundai Creta and the Honda City. And, the Marazzo is priced almost identical to the former two.
Together, the Creta and the City sell around 13,000 units a month. Add in the likes of the Ciaz and the Verna and that’s another 10,000 units. So, clearly, the Marazzo with its seven-seats and refined ride, not to mention palatable looks and its easy-to-drive nature, has a very good chance to not only penetrate this class, but garner good sales numbers as well.
But, what if the Marazzo was cheaper by Rs 1.5 lakhs? That would put its top-of-the-line M8 version under Rs 15 lakhs. Not only would it have been a low hanging fruit for Ertiga buyers, it would have seemed like tremendous value even to prospective City and Creta buyers; you know the growing lot that desires a plush, capable, and affordable seven-seater.
It would also have been a worthy upgrade for the Swift and Dzire owners at this price. And that in itself, is a huge pool. Mahindra wants to sell 5,000 units of the Marazzo every month. And maybe it will in the initial months. But, will it be able to keep the momentum? At a lower price tag, I would have stuck my neck out to say yes. But, at this price, only time will tell…