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Mahin­dra & Mahin­dra Ltd. (M&M), In­dia’s premium SUV man­u­fac­turer, has launched the much-awaited Marazzo. It has been engi­neered for ex­cel­lence and comes with a smooth ride, ag­ile han­dling, quiet cabin, fastest cool­ing and lux­u­ri­ous in­te­rior space. Marazzo is avail­able at Mahin­dra deal­er­ships at Rs.9.99 lakh (ex-show­room) for the M2 vari­ant.

Anand Mahin­dra, Ex­ec­u­tive Chair­man, Mahin­dra and Mahin­dra Ltd, said, “The launch of Marazzo is a defin­ing mo­ment in the au­to­mo­tive jour­ney of Mahin­dra not only within In­dia but glob­ally as well. Be­ing the first joint prod­uct de­vel­op­ment ef­fort be­tween Mahin­dra Au­to­mo­tive North Amer­ica (MANA) & Mahin­dra Re­search Val­ley (MRV), the Marazzo aptly rep­re­sents our ‘Rise’ phi­los­o­phy in ac­tion. Our de­vel­op­ment teams have used al­ter­na­tive think­ing and chal­lenged the lim­its to de­liver a ve­hi­cle that is poised to be noth­ing less than a game changer for us. We are en­ter­ing a new or­bit and hope to de­liver yet an­other iconic of­fer­ing.”

Dr Pawan Goenka, Manag­ing Di­rec­tor, Mahin­dra & Mahin­dra Ltd said, “The Marazzo em­bod­ies Mahin­dra’s new, in­creas­ingly global ap­proach to prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, hav­ing been engi­neered in Detroit for ex­cel­lence, de­signed by our in-house team in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Pin­in­fa­rina, Italy, with the en­tire pack­age com­ing to­gether at MRV, our state of the art R&D cen­tre near Chennai. Marazzo also rep­re­sents a bold new di­rec­tion for our au­to­mo­tive prod­ucts, one that of­fers our cus­tomers an un­matched qual­ity and a truly re­fined user ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Takes up the MPV chal­lenge

The Marazzo looks quite dif­fer­ent from its sib­lings and credit has to be given to Mahin­dra-owned Pin­in­fa­rina SpA. The sharper, shark-like sil­hou­ette has been de­vel­oped with in­puts from the renowned Ital­ian car de­sign house, just like sev­eral other bits which make it look re­fresh­ingly new in the Mahin­dra line-up. The front de­sign is nar­row and sleek and helps form an aero­dy­namic shape. It still has a fa­mil­iar chrome-toothed grille and the Mahin­dra logo, which are flanked by pro­jec­tor head­lamps equipped with LED day­time run­ning lights. The bon­net has a cou­ple of prom­i­nent creases which try to im­i­tate a shark’s fin.

The side pro­file is the usual MPV num­ber with a stretched wheel­base and elon­gated stance. The A-pil­lar has been stretched and brought for­ward to carve out more cabin room. With a clean body line and a few creases on the side, the Mahin­dra Marazzo looks sober and yet mus­cu­lar. The thing you must no­tice is the mas­sive ex­panse of the glass house and, with the C-pil­lar pushed fur­ther back, the un­usu­ally large size of the rear doors. Th­ese en­sure that there is plenty of out­side light and vis­i­bil­ity for the pas­sen­gers of the Marazzo and the mas­sive door open­ing area makes ingress and egress to the sec­ond and third row con­ve­nient. We were driv­ing the top-end M8 trim which comes with large 17-inch shark-tooth in­spired al­loys wheels; the mid­dle vari­ants get 16-inch al­loys and the base

mod­els come with 16-inch steel wheels with stylish wheel-caps.

A rather up-right D-pil­lar with black high­lights cre­ates a float­ing roof-like im­pres­sion. The rear de­sign with the shape of the large tail-lamp seems very sim­i­lar to some of the MPVs in the mar­ket. The Marazzo gets a large bootlid which cre­ates a de­cent size open­ing to the lug­gage area. I would have liked to see the boot un­lock­ing but­ton to be hid­den neatly un­der the chrome strip just below the rear wind­screen, in­stead of be­ing po­si­tioned in a prom­i­nent cav­ity fur­ther below.

In­te­ri­ors

The high ground clear­ance will make get­ting into the Mahin­dra Marazzo easy even for the el­derly. Since this seg­ment is all about driv­ing with the en­tire fam­ily or gang of friends, the first step makes a good im­pres­sion. With the trans­versely mounted en­gine pow­er­ing only the front wheels, the en­gi­neers have man­aged to get rid of the in­tru­sion of the pro­pel­ler shaft. This makes the floor of the car rather flat and con­ve­nient. The only is­sue here is the high floor trans­lates into lim­ited un­der-thigh sup­port on the sec­ond and third rows of seats.

Over­all, the cabin ap­pears more premium than all other Mahin­dra MPV mod­els avail­able cur­rently. The dash­board has a pi­ano black fin­ish and comes with white sporty graph­ics and sleek air-vents. The top half of the dash is black and also has a cav­ity to stow lose change and toll tick­ets. The lower half is beige and has a float­ing cen­tre con­sole which houses the a-c con­trols and the gear shift, and there’s even a strip of off-white ceramic-like plas­tic high­light, which, per­son­ally, is a bit of an overkill. The seats are well-con­toured, of­fer all-round bol­ster­ing and are per­fo­rated for more com­fort. The driver’s seat is elec­tri­cally pow­ered and can be ad­justed in eight ways. Both the front seats come with fold­ing arm-rests and man­u­ally-adjustable lum­bar sup­port. There are de­cent sized bot­tle hold­ers on the door panel and stor­age with a re­tractable lid in be­tween the front seats. In­ter­est­ingly, the Mahin­dra Marazzo gets a air­craft-in­spired hand-brake lever, which isn’t the most con­ve­nient to use. The driver’s seat can be ad­justed for height, which again, is a small but use­ful fea­ture. The steer­ing wheel can only be ad­justed for tilt and not for reach. The steer­ing ad­just­ment latch wasn’t flush-fin­ished and re­mained pro­trud­ing out a bit, which can rub against the knees of taller driv­ers.

The Marazzo is avail­able in 7 and 8 seat­ing op­tions and we got to drive the 7-seater with cap­tain seats. A sin­gle touch mech­a­nism top­ples over the cap­tain seat to give ac­cess to the third row. The cap­tain seat be­hind the driver is fixed and can­not be folded, though. Mahin­dra have yet again man­aged to get the pack­ag­ing spot-on as the cabin is ex­tremely spa­cious and roomy. They claim to of­fer best-in-class shoul­der room for the first and sec­ond row of seats and it seems right. The large win­dows also en­sure that even pas­sen­gers in the third row don’t feel claus­tro­pho­bic.

All the seats are com­fort­able with am­ple knee- and head-room. Yes, even the third row is us­able for adults. I man­aged to fit into the third row with the sec­ond row pushed to its far­thest seat­ing po­si­tion. The draw­back of hav­ing a us­able third row in a 4.6-me­tre long car is that there is lim­ited lug­gage space of 190 litres. With all three rows in place, the boot can hold two small bags or one full sized suit­case. Fold the third row and you have all the space you need.

New fea­tures

The all-new Marazzo is of­fered in 4 vari­ants, the base be­ing the M2, fol­lowed by the M4, M6 and the top-end M8, which we drove. Our test car came with a 7.0-inch touch­screen sim­i­lar to the one seen on the XUV500. The hap­tic-touch user in­ter­face is fairly user-friendly and in­tu­itive. You can link your smart­phones via An­driod Auto and stay con­nected as you drive. Sadly, there isn’t an Ap­ple CarPlay for iPhone own­ers as of now. The screen also works as the dis­play for the rear cam­era and comes with guide­lines and park as­sist while re­vers­ing. Up front, there are a cou­ple of USB ports along with an AUX port. The sec­ond row pas­sen­gers get one USB port but there are none for the third row.

The MPV also gets au­to­matic air­con­di­tion­ing with a unique air­plane like ceil­ing-mounted vents run­ning ver­ti­cally through the cabin. The air draft can be di­rected on to pas­sen­gers or can be de­fused as in an air­craft. The sec­ond row pas­sen­gers also get win­dow-blinds and read­ing lights and ISOFIX child seat mounts. The driver gets a sun­glasses holder and an ex­tra

wide view “con­ver­sa­tion” mir­ror.

Then, there’s the con­ve­nience of elec­tri­cally-fold­able ORVMs which come equipped with turn in­di­ca­tors and En­try As­sist Lamps. An in­ter­est­ing new fea­ture is the Emer­gency Call-as­sist which alerts and shares the car’s lo­ca­tion to friends/fam­ily in case the airbags are de­ployed. The car comes with ABS and EBD, dual front airbags and disc brakes on all four wheels as stan­dard.

En­gine and per­for­mance

With the help of the minds from the Detroit cen­tre, the com­pany has de­vel­oped a new body-on-frame con­struc­tion with front-wheel drive and trans­versely-mounted en­gine: a first in the seg­ment. The prom­ise here is to of­fer the dura­bil­ity of a frame-based ve­hi­cle but with the pack­ag­ing and ef­fi­ciency of a front-wheel-drive ve­hi­cle. Mahin­dra have been suc­cess­ful to a large ex­tent be­cause the Marazzo drives more like a car and is a far cry from other MPV mod­els from their sta­ble.

Pow­er­ing it is a new 1,497-cc four-cylin­der diesel that makes 123 PS at 3,500 rpm but more im­por­tantly, the ma­jor­ity of the 300 Nm of torque comes in at 1,750 rpm. This makes the drive ex­tremely ef­fort­less and with­out the usual turbo-lag that many diesel en­gines are no­to­ri­ous for. To test it to its lim­its, we got on board five in­di­vid­u­als plus me in the driv­ing seat, and, much to our sur­prise, this com­pact oil-burner – that weighs just 141.13 kg – didn’t let us down and sprinted to 100 km/h, where the driver’s info-dis­play played spoil­sport and sounded the over­speed­ing alarm. It’s not just the out­right per­for­mance, but, thanks to the flat torque curve, it can also pull from low speeds in higher gears. Talk­ing of which, the en­gine comes mated to a six-speed gear­box which, un­like older Mahin­dra MPVs, has a car-like shift feel and short throws. And, thank­fully, the knob doesn’t vi­brate fran­ti­cally ei­ther. The use of alu­minium shift forks and shift tower mass damp­ener have re­ally helped this cause and make the Marazzo feel more premium.

Us­ing the new learn­ings from MANA, Mahin­dra have also used light­weight and low fric­tion ma­te­ri­als in the en­gine which has re­duced the diesel clat­ter. This also gets great sound in­su­la­tion that has made the cabin pretty quiet and, in turn, more premium. Th­ese new­ly­in­tro­duced tech­nolo­gies make this diesel fairly ef­fi­cient, too, with an ARAI-cer­ti­fied mileage of 17.6 km/l. Mahin­dra claim the Marazzo to be 10 per cent more ef­fi­cient than its ri­vals in real-world con­di­tions.

Ride and han­dling

Since the Marazzo is po­si­tioned as a premium ur­ban MPV, pas­sen­ger com­fort is of ut­most im­por­tance. Top ex­ec­u­tives from Mahin­dra’s Detroit fa­cil­ity in­formed us that they have em­ployed light­weight and strong alu­minium parts on the sus­pen­sion to re­duce the un­sprung weight. It is equipped with dou­ble wish­bone in front and twist beam rear sus­pen­sion setup but th­ese come with iso­la­tors to keep the cabin com­fort­able even over bad road sur­faces. Over the few speed-humps, the MPV didn’t bounce around nor did it feel too stiff. For most parts, it re­mained com­fort­able. The elec­tri­cally-as­sisted steer­ing is rea­son­ably light and has de­cent feed­back. Also, the fact that it has a good turn­ing ra­dius will make it ideal for the ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment. Mahin­dra have tried to keep the cen­tre of grav­ity low, which does make it pre­dictable to ma­noeu­vre and give it good body con­trol. Since it’s such a long ve­hi­cle, it does tend to have the usual un­der­steer which most front-wheel drive cars are cursed with. The sus­pen­sion, which has been tuned for com­fort, also tends to feel soft and gives out a fair amount of body roll while ne­go­ti­at­ing fast bends. Hav­ing discs on all 4 wheels en­sures a strong bite, but one can feel the ve­hi­cle pitch dur­ing hard brak­ing, due to the soft sus­pen­sion.

The Mahin­dra Marazzo base M2, 7-seater vari­ant has been priced at Rs 9.99 lakh (in­tro­duc­tory ex-show­room) which seems to be a bar­gain. Sadly, it misses out on a lot of fea­tures which M8 vari­ant had, with its premium sticker price of Rs 13.90 lakh. This brings the top-end Marazzo close to the base ver­sion of its big­gest ri­val — the Toy­ota In­nova Crysta.

An ur­ban peo­ple-car­rier with the chang­ing road con­di­tions needs an au­to­matic and petrol ver­sion, both of which are not on of­fer as of now on the Mahin­dra Marazzo, which looks like a big set­back for this, other­wise strong prod­uct. The joint forces of Detroit-Italy-and-In­dia have en­sured to make this new MPV from the com­pany the best Mahin­dra yet.

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