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Car India - - FIRTS DRIVE - Story: Sar­mad Kadiri Pho­tog­ra­phy: San­jay Raikar

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

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