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First drive: Mahindra Marazzo

It’s been a bit of a mystery this end of the market – the people mover/ large family vehicle. There have been a great many attempts at it, including Mahindra’s very own Xylo, but somehow no one has really managed to find a formula that works. One end of the spectrum is occupied by Maruti, with the Ertiga, while the other end of has been dominated by Toyota with their Innova. Mahindra comes back to the party with the Marazzo to attempt to fill in the massive gap that lies between the aforementioned pair. So, what have they done differently this time around?

For starters, a quick look will tell you that Mahindra has stepped away from their usual design formula. There aren’t any square lines, neither are there overly sculpted surfaces. The Marazzo, designed by Pininfarina and Mahindra’s design centre uses sleeker lines than we are used to create a contemporary design. While the front is distinctly Mahindra (I wish they had rethought the grille), the steep A-pillar, large glass surfaces and chiselled side complete a clean design. Even at the rear, the surface is broken up nicely between the tail lamp and the creases on the boot lid. 17-inch alloys on this top-end Marazzo adds to the overall appeal of the car.

Thanks to the large glass area and the light-coloured upholstery and beige lower half of the cabin, the Marazzo feels spacious and airy. The dashboard has plenty of colours and textures with a 7-inch, touchscreen infotainment screen parked in the middle. You get a glossy finish in the middle of the dashboard, with beige at the bottom and a dull grey at the top. There are even inserts in the middle and some chrome to line the vents. The steering is just the right size and the controls are well laid out. Even the new instrument cluster looks good with the multi-info screen in the middle reading out essential information including turn-by-turn navigation.

There are plenty of spaces to put away things along with a removable cup holder insert, a deep recess at the top of the dash and large bottle holders in the door pockets. For the short stint that we had with the car, the seats felt supportive and comfortable, especially with the armrests set in place. Space in the second row is great and the diffused aircon system for the passengers looks cool and works well. While there is enough space in the third row, it may not be the most comfortable place to be for an adult and the passage of air through the D pillar for the aircon makes it incredibly loud too. With all three rows in place, there is room for a couple of small bags in the boot, but the easy to fold seats can sort out that problem with suitcases for the entire family being gobbled up.

Engine and performance
With the Marazzo, Mahindra has utilised their global resources not only for design, but also to develop the car. This one has been extensively tested and developed in their North America facility along with their Indian counterparts. They have chosen to stick to a ladder on frame design, like the Innova, but with a new 1-5-litre, diesel motor and a front-wheel-drive layout. This new 4 cylinder motor makes 121bhp and 300Nm of torque and dispenses power using a new 6-speed manual transmission.
On the move, the Marazzo is easy to get off the line with most of the torque coming in at a low 1500 revs. If you happen to keep your foot down, you feel another spike in power as the tacho needle crosses 2000 revs. There is a slight pause when you shift through the ‘box, but there is enough power at hand till you are past 3000 revs. You are best off keeping it within this range as the motor gets noisy at the top of the rev range. Shifts felt precise even on this brand new car, although a shorter throw of the gearstick may have made it more slick.

Ride and handling
There isn’t a lot of real world conditions to be experienced at a test track, but having used the skid pad and the speedbreakers to their maximum effect I’d say the Marazzo has been set up pretty well. It manages to arrest bumps well and dampen them out instead of the somewhat bouncy ride that some cars have. There is body roll for sure, but it manages to hold its line through a corner, even if you have the wheels squealing in protest. However, in an oval, the corners go only one way, how the Marazzo would react to quick changes in direction we will need to see. Also real world potholes, especially in a city like Mumbai has plenty to throw off even the best. I do wish the steering was more direct, especially at lower speeds to make navigating tight spaces easier. However, a closed track also meant that I could launch it for a dash to 100kph and slam the brakes in the middle of the road. While the sprint times we shall confirm once the V-Box has been strapped on the car, the braking performance has been excellent with the car coming to halt in a straight line regardless of the speed. Disc brakes all around and ABS sure help, but while the car is stable, we’ll have a better idea of how effective they are with some figures to tally them against.

Mahindra isn’t holding back any punches with the Marazzo. They have used their global assets and technical centres including Pininfarina and their North American technical centre to extensively develop the Marazzo and deliver a contemporary product. The Marazzo marks a brand new platform, a new design language, a newly developed 1.5-litre diesel motor and a six-speed transmission. Newer materials and higher strength steel also works to help save weight with the new car. There are some cool features in spacious cabin to make journeys a breeze. While the diffused aircon blower for the rear passengers is a definite highlight, the dash has also been neatly designed and you definitely cannot miss the park-brake lever. Mahindra has also made sure safety has been dealt with properly. You even get ABS and dual front airbags as standard equipment. Moreover, the front seat belts have been given a special pyrotechnic pre-tensioner system to make sure you are pulled back in to your seat in the event of a crash for maximum occupant safety. Add to that improved dynamics and ride quality and the Marazzo really makes a compelling case for itself at Rs 13.9 lakh (ex-showroom) for the top-of-the-line M8 variant that you see in pictures here, while the range starts at Rs 9.99 lakh (ex-showroom) for the M2 variant.

Rating: 7/10
Specs: 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder, 121bhp, 300Nm, 6M, 1630kg

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