Now coming to the point why we are doing this review - the heart of the petrol Innova, which is a 2.7-litre four-cylinder dual VVT-i petrol mill. Yes, Toyota decided not to use the globally available 2.0-litre petrol unit, and instead plonked in a larger and more powerful one for the Indian market. This one belts out 163bhp of power and 245Nm of torque. On the transmission front, it comes mated to either a five-speed manual or the six-speed automatic (which we tested).The powerplant is reasonably quiet as compared to the oil-burner. This is understood the moment you start the engine. The petrol is no different. Since it’s a naturally aspirated mill, it’s mostly at high revs and has a conservative redline. So there's no hiding away from the fact that the engine is still audible at high revs, but it’s not as harsh as the clatter of the diesel mill. Then it also has very less vibrations and is refined for most parts.
Like the diesel, this petrol engine also gets two modes - Eco and Power, which can be toggled through two buttons in the cabin. In the Eco mode, the gearbox upshifts fairly quickly. On the other hand, the Power mode allows you to hold the revs till around 5,900rpm before shifting, when the pedal is floored. Seamless might be an exaggeration, but the six-speed gearbox is smooth and continuous for being a torque-converter. There are no jerks while up-shifting or downshifting. Throughout the rev range the engine response is good in both modes and the engine has a linear power delivery. So it feels relaxed but is still not as punchy and quick as the diesel. It does the 0-100kmph sprint in 12.42seconds, a second slower than the 2.8 diesel AT. However, the engine’s flexible nature is evident even with the 7.2 seconds in-gear time in the 20-80kmph in kick down run. Sure there is also a slight delay in down-shifting, but not to the extent that it becomes a point of concern. And if you think you need to quickly downshift while overtaking, then you also have the option of shifting manually. Nevertheless, the generous amount of torque makes sure there is enough of pulling power throughout the rev range and in every gear. Despite the lack of the punch like the diesel, it is good to drive within the city and also cruise on highways at triple-digit speeds.
Toyota has tuned the Innova's suspension according to the Indian road conditions and it makes for a comfortable ride overall. The soft set-up paired with a 176mm of ground clearance helps in tackling broken tarmac at ease. Passengers will feel a side-to-side movement here, but not to the extent that it is uncomfortable. Also, the shimmy is still felt over sharp potholes, which is typical for ladder-on-frame vehicles. Even at high speeds on undulated roads, the vertical oscillations are in check. So overall body control is good. But remember this is a 1790kg vehicle. Its heft can be felt while taking bends as body roll comes into the picture. But thanks to the large footprint and good grip from the 17-inch wheels shod with Bridgestone tyres, corners can still be taken with confidence. The steering feels heavy while manoeuvring but is quite direct and steers the car in the direction it is pointed. We would have loved it to be a little lighter to add to the ease while making a U-turn or parking the vehicle.