Why would I buy it?
- Relatively easy to drive
- Multi-seating capability
Why would I avoid it?
- Steep price
- Scarce boot-space with all seats in use
Engine and Performance
First off, within a few minutes, I find it hard to ignore that Mahindra has actually done a great job with this MPV. Yes, this ladder-on-frame chassis iteration drives quite unlike one, but I won’t spill the beans just yet. For the record, Mahindra says using a transverse engine with a front-wheel-drive layout has aided with not just in reducing weight and improving NVH, but in also making its Marazzo more fuel-efficient. Although we’d have to put it through our frugality tests to comment on the last bit, the outcome of the rest is apparent the moment one sets off in it.
For one, the great noise insulation instilled is apparent since it’s extremely quiet on the inside, despite being a diesel. The engine refinement is quite impressive with barely any vibes felt, unless of course, you rev it to the red-line. Then, the clutch and gear shifts too, are light and enjoyable for what is a large people mover. While the 1.5-litre, four-cylinder diesel motor makes a handsome 120bhp, most of the 300Nm of torque is made from a low 1,300rpm which peaks at 1,700rpm and stays flat till about 2,500rpm. At least on paper, these figures can easily get the people carrier job done.
In real life, the Marazzo pulls along happily with four occupants at legal highway speeds. Unfortunately, it doesn’t portray the sense of urgency you’d expect. And, as the revs drop below 1,500rpm, this Mahindra begins to feel lethargic even over the faintest of inclinations. Dropping gears and revving becomes the order of the day under such circumstances. Thankfully though, the gears slot in well, albeit in a rather notchy fashion. Now, as the revs skim past 1,700rpm, power delivery quickly normalises.
Ride Quality and Handling
Like we’ve hinted earlier, in spite of the Marazzo’s ladder-on-frame credentials, it doesn't feel heavy. In fact, the turning radius is quite tight for its size. Plus, the ride at slower speeds is quite absorbent with hardly any suspension noise. Yes, it jiggles about a bit but not overly so, like most other ladder-frame cars. Due to this, rear-seat occupants aren’t thrown about when the roads go from bad to worse.
Keeping up with the surprising road manners is its handling capabilities despite it being tall. I’m not saying it doesn’t roll but with the steering being light, reasonably direct, and feel-some, you can throw it into a fast corner without it understeering uncontrollably or you squandering about to keep your wits at bay. It’s quite manageable, unlike others from the Mahindra stable.
Comfort, Convenience, and Features
The Marazzo’s cabin is a spacious one, to start with. The one here is a seven-seater that gets captain seats in the middle row. With the driver’s seat adjusted for my posture, there’s plenty of leg-room in the middle row. Even so for tall blokes as it can slide back and forth. But when the middle seat is pushed all the way back, only kids will find the last row comfy.
As for comfort, the first and second-row seats are large and well-cushioned to provide a comfortable experience even for long journeys. Now that isn’t the case with the rearmost seats, but they won’t leave you cursing them after a drive.
As for the cabin design, it’s a smart one with lots of logically placed storage options. But you wouldn’t term it as an eye-catching one. Sure, it’s pleasant to look at, is practical, but in overall terms, the design elements and touchscreen infotainment system look ordinary at best. On the downside, the plastic used lower down in the cabin looks cheap, which doesn’t go down well for a car that costs Rs 14 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai).
When it comes to the boot, there’s not much to talk about with all rows of seats in use. Features wise, the top-end variant gets climate control, a multifunctional steering wheel, driver information system, and an eight-way adjustable driver's seat. The infotainment system gets Bluetooth functionality, android auto, maps, voice command, and the screen doubles up as a reversing camera display.
In terms of safety, there are dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, discs on all wheels, and ISOFIX child seat anchoring. There’s a rear camera with steering adaptive parking guidelines, impact/speed sensing auto door unlock, engine immobiliser, car theft alarm rear defogger, and adjustable head restraints.
Although the Mahindra Marazzo sure looks like an MPV, the carmaker has done well with its proportions and styling elements to give it a more premium stance. A design that undoubtedly flows well from end to end. While we admit that the crease on the front fender/doors hasn’t been overdone, it subtly adds an extra zest of character. Even the large 17-inch alloys do well to prop up its posture.
Finally, the Mahindra Marazzo is an MPV to recommend for the masses. It benefits from a comfy cabin, offers great visibility, has light controls for easy drivability, is relatively dynamic and reasonably peppy too (given the revs are kept north of 1,500rpm). On the flip side though, the Rs 17 lakh (OTR Mumbai, top-end variant) price tag makes it a tad pricy. If you always intend to use the seven seats, then the Marazzo is the MPV for you, else, there are better five-seater cars out there for the taking.
Pictures: Kaustubh Gandhi