Call of Duty
The combined efforts by Mahindra’s R&D centres in Detroit and India along with Mahindra-owned Pininfarina gave the Marazzo just the perfect nudge. With a refined diesel engine, car-like dynamics, and a tempting price tag, the MPV ably fills the gap between the Crysta and the Ertiga
The Mahindra Marazzo looks quite different from its siblings and credit for this has to be given to Mahindra-owned Pininfarina SpA. The sharper, shark-like silhouette of this MPV has been developed with inputs from the renowned Italian car design house, just like several other bits that 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 multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) number with a stretched wheelbase and elongated stance. The A-pillar has been stretched and brought forward to carve out greater 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 convenient for the second and third rows. We drove 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 upright 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 boot-lid which creates a decent size opening to the luggage area. I would have liked to see the boot unlocking button hidden neatly under the chrome strip just below the rear windscreen instead of being positioned in a prominent cavity further below.
For a large MPV with three rows of seating, the Mahindra Marazzo manages to steer away from a bulky or gawky appearance, but it doesn’t look radical or futuristic either. Without ruffling any feathers the sober design has a friendly and approachable appeal.
Its high ground clearance makes getting into the Mahindra Marazzo easy even for the elderly. Since this segment is all about driving with the entire family or a group 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 that 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 things like loose change or toll tickets. The lower half is beige and has a floating centre console which houses the a-c controls and the gear-shift. 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 greater 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 an aircraft-inspired hand-brake lever which isn’t the most convenient to use, though. 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 a bit, which can rub against the knees of taller drivers.
The Marazzo is available in seven and eight seat options; we got to drive the sevenseater 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 rows 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 myself 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.
The all-new Marazzo is offered in four variants, the base being the M2, followed by the M4, M6, and the top-end M8 that 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 smartphone 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 AU X port. The second row passengers get one USB port but there are none for the third row.
The MPV also gets automatic air-conditioning with unique aeroplane-like ceilingmounted vents running vertically through the cabin. The air draft can be directed on to
passengers or can be deflected as in an aircraft. The second-row passengers also get window-blinds and reading lights and ISOFIX child seat mounts. The driver gets a goggles 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 with 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. I wish it also came with a push-button start. With these features, the Marazzo claims to meet safety regulations of October 2020.
Whereas the Mahindra Design Studio took styling inputs from Pininfarina in Italy, the engineering of the MPV was done in yet another continent: the US. The Marazzo is the first product from the company to be jointly developed by Mahindra Automotive North American (MANA) and Mahindra R&D India. This three-nation joint effort, according to the Indian auto major, has helped in overcoming the steep learning curve it needed to make a better quality and more premium car. 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, most 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, besides me in the driving seat, and, much to our surprise, this compact oil-burner — which 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 over-speeding 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, resulting in reduced diesel clatter. This also gets great sound insulation that has made the cabin pretty quiet and,
in turn, more premium. These newly introduced 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.
Since the Mahindra 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 gets the tested double wishbone at the front and twist beam rear suspension set-up but these come with isolators to keep the cabin comfortable even over bad road surfaces. We didn’t get to drive the Marazzo over challenging roads since we were restricted to the smooth test-track, but over the few speed-humps, the MPV didn’t bounce around nor did it feel too stiff. For the most part it remained comfortable, though we will be able to give a more detailed ride report once we get the car for a longer duration on public roads.
What we can confirm is that 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 frontwheel-drive cars are prone to. The suspension, which has been tuned for comfort, also tends to feel soft and gives rise to a fair amount of body-roll while negotiating fast bends. Having discs on all four ends ensures a strong bite, but one can feel the vehicle pitch during hard braking, courtesy the soft-sprung suspension.
The Mahindra Marazzo base M2 seven-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 our M8 variant had, with its premium sticker of Rs 13.90 lakh. This brings the top-end Marazzo close to the base version of its biggest rival, the Toyota Innova Crysta.
However, the launch timing isn’t ideal as many a buyer might wait for the soon to be launched new Maruti Suzuki Ertiga, which is expected to be more premium and less expensive.
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, according to me, is a big setback for this otherwise strong product. The joint forces of Detroit, Italy, and India have ensured that this new MPV from the company is the best Mahindra yet.
( Top) Overkill of textures in the otherwise good looking cabin ( Left) The touchscreen and UI is easy to navigate through
( Top) The armrest interferes with the gear shifts and accessing the storage below ( Above) The aircraft-inspired hand-brake lever isn’t convenient to use
Mahindra Marazzo M8 Price: Rs 13.90 lakh (ex-showroom) Engine: 1,497 cc, in-line four, turbo-diesel Max Power: 123 PS at 3,500 rpm Max Torque: 300 Nm at 1,750 rpm Transmission: Six-speed, manual, front-wheel drive Suspension: Front double wishbone, rear twist beam Weight: 1,680 kg
( Topright) The transversely-mounted engine makes way for a spacious cabin ( Right) All four wheels get discs; don’t miss the shark-toothinspired wheel
( Top) Airplane like ceiling-mounted vents run vertically through the cabin ( Above) Even the third row seats are comfortable with adequate knee- and head-room