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Shark or Bait?

S Muralidhar | Updated on September 16, 2018 Published on September 06, 2018

Rated mileage is 17.3 kmpl

Comfy cabin The second row gets retractable sunscreens for added comfort. - S MURALIDHAR

Mahindra’s new MPV Marazzo will attempt to take on the mighty Innova and the Ertiga

The Indian car buyer can seem very unforgiving with their choice of model and brand. In specific instances it may seem like they are making an unadventurous choice by opting for the market leader. But, in many categories of the car market, it could also be the scenario because there is a lack of strong challengers. The dominance of the Toyota Innova in the multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) market could be one such example. Despite progressive price increases from one-generation to another, the Toyota family van (Innova Crysta now) continues to literally own the segment. Even the much-improved Tata Hexa hasn’t been able to make much of a dent. At the middle rung of the MPV market, Maruti Suzuki’s Ertiga pulls in all the numbers. Mahindra & Mahindra has had its share of success with the Xylo, but that is still nowhere near as impressive as the Innova. The problem could well be the lack of a reliable, refined MPV in the sub-₹15 lakh segment that can take on the Innova Crysta. The new Marazzo could be the answer for Mahindra, as also for scores of customers who are currently staying away from seven-seater MPVs or choosing the Innova by default.

Design

Mahindra has used its expanding global footprint of operations to seek a completely fresh new path for the Marazzo. In-house design and engineering departments have had collaborations for design with legendary Italian design house Pininfarina and an engineering and product development collaboration with Mahindra Automotive North America (MANA).

 

 

 

The extra efforts and inputs can be seen in the jump in overall fit and finish quality of the new Marazzo, both inside and out. Mahindra stands in a unique position when it comes to UVs and MPVs in its portfolio because it is happily stuck with the image of a manufacturer that is almost exclusively only in this category of vehicles. Yet, the Marazzo’s aerodynamic, cab-forward design and sleeker, squatter stance has the potential to change the company’s image of being a maker of hulking, gawky SUVs. The Marazzo is not small though; at about 4.6 metres and weighing in at about 1.6 tonnes, it is just a shapelier hulk. Mahindra’s marketing machinery claims that the Marazzo is inspired by the shark and its bonnet grille is inspired by shark teeth and the tail-lamps draw design inspiration from the shark’s tail fin. Large headlamps with conventional lights, LED DRLs integrated into the fog lamps and some chrome elements in the fender give the Marazzo a relatively aggressive, but pleasing front profile. The Mahindra design signatures are there like the toothy grille, the curved edge of the bonnet and in the oversized stalked door mirrors. From the side, the Marazzo’s MPV genes are very clear, but with its gradually sloping up A-pillar and roofline, this is obviously a modern van. The company says that the Marazzo has been built on a new, patented hybrid platform that is a cross between a ladder chassis and a monocoque. The body-on-frame configuration is probably the reason for the relatively easy driveability, while it still delivers the raised stance and unruffled ride on bad roads. But I wonder if it is also the reason for the kerb weight still being so high. The side character lines, the high-set waistline with the chrome accents and the gradually rising shoulder line also contribute to delivering an image of the Marazzo being nimble and aerodynamic. At the rear, the heavy tailgate hinged at the roof cuts deep into the fender, offering a low loading lip. The fin-shaped tail-lamps are connected by a thick chrome garnish enhancing the perception of width. Fit and finish quality is certainly a new high for a Mahindra vehicle. Panel shut lines are tight, except in a couple of spots where plastic meets metal.

Cabin

The Marazzo’s cabin is another surprise in terms of its clean fit and finish. The dashboard is upright, but very sedan-like in terms of finish and choice of trim. The interior colour theme is dark grey and beige with black plastic panel trim and chrome highlights. The multi-function steering wheel includes controls for cruise control and my M8 variant test mule also featured a touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto connectivity. The instrument cluster also features a digital info display in the middle. Centre console storage is minimal, but there are enough storage options on the door pockets. However, second row occupants will need to open the door to access the bottle holders on the door panels.

One of the highlights in the cabin is the new, patented aircraft style handbrake unit. It is novel, but is inconsistent with the way it engages and disengages. The leatherette seats were great though, offering good support and featuring shapely bolsters. The cabin’s overall fit and finish quality is good, though the quality of materials was a mix. For example, the textured plastic panels at the top of the dashboard were good, though the same can’t be said about some of the centre console panels and the handbrake. However, the Marazzo offers great legroom in all three rows of seats. The M8 variant featured captain’s seats in the second row and a slightly lower set bench for the third row. The attention-to-detail feature that I liked in the cabin was the curved flip out ‘Mom-mirror’ that lets the driver get a view of all the occupants. Automatic airconditioning with a patented roof-mounted vent system for the second and third rows is also standard.

Performance

The Marazzo gets a new four-cylinder diesel engine, which is derived from the mFalcon that is already offered in a few Mahindra vehicles. Code-named the D15, this 1,497 cc engine, in terms of construction, features the addition of a fourth cylinder to the original’s three pots. The engine now delivers 121 hp of peak power and 300 Nm of peak torque. This unit is not just less rough and harsh compared to the three-cylinder, but is a big step up in terms of refinement. Extensive NVH measures have also been taken to ensure that the idling diesel clatter that you hear outside is not transmitted to the cabin. Engine noise does get a bit loud in the cabin after the needle crosses the 3,000 rpm mark. Vibration reduction is much more effective with no transfer on to the gear stick. The engine is paired to a manual six-speed gearbox. The tall stick has a fairly long throw, the gating is clean if not precise and tight; there is also only very little play of the stick while in gear.

The new 1.5-litre engine is a leap in refinement, but it still feels underpowered compared to the more free-revving and quick spooling D4D unit of the Toyota Innova. Maybe they are not in the same league, but even considered independently, the Marazzo mill is weighed down by a fair bit of turbolag. Measured power and torque delivery was an issue during overtake manoeuvres where keeping the engine on a boil to quickly shift up was necessary. Also, while the redline is marked at 5,000 rpm, the rev-limiter was set at about 4,300 rpm in my test mule. I was alone in the vehicle with no luggage either, so a fully loaded Marazzo may feel more underpowered. Inherently it is still a fairly heavy vehicle and that also influences the powertrain’s behaviour. But the light clutch and the manual gearbox was a much better combo than in most other Mahindra vehicles.

Bottom Line

The front wheel drive Marazzo also gets a new all-aluminium front suspension, which Mahindra says allows it to offer more agile turn-ins. I found the suspension to be expectedly wallowy and there is a lot of body roll too. However, the suspension is better at soaking up bad roads and the Marazzo doesn’t thud through potholes leaving occupants shaken. The light steering weighs up a bit at higher speeds, but is still vague and lacks feel. With three turns lock to lock, the wheel itself could also have been a bit smaller in diameter. What I felt had benefited a bit from the new suspension is high-speed stability and the composed way in which the Marazzo can manage lane-change manoeuvres at high speeds. A positive is the fact that there is a lot of safety equipment as standard fitment including dual airbags, ABS, disc brakes and ISOFIX child seat mounts.

Word on the street is that the Marazzo could be offered with a petrol engine and other transmission options in the future, though it only gets the diesel with manual tranny right now. This is still Mahindra’s best effort at taking on the competition in the MPV segment. The Marazzo is offered in four trim variants and prices start from ₹9.99 lakh.

Published on September 06, 2018
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