The MPV space in India has never really fully developed. In India what we used to call Multi-Utility-Vehicle or MUV has now fashionably become MPV - which of course is a multi-purpose vehicle. Two names for the same animal. And the reason I say it has not been allowed to fully develop is because the product we got have always been about two things only - low price and cost of maintenance and people moving capacity. They were never gorgeous, flamboyant, sporty, versatile, and definitely never desirable. So while the workhorses like the Tata Sumo gave way to the Toyota Qualis like benchmark, it was really the arrival of the first Innova that helped define the space. Since then many have tried to pry Toyota off the MPV pedestal with their version of an Innova, a cheaper Innova, a more compact Innova, dare I say what they thought was a beautiful Innova! But to no avail. And with the Crysta that pedestal went higher - on price and on capability, comfort and overall prowess. The Maruti Suzuki Ertiga is a distant second in the market, with a new generation just round the corner. But it is a smaller car, and closer in size to the Honda BR-V or Renault Lodgy.
Also Read: Mahindra Marazzo Review
And then you have the newbie. Yes it was a bring-out-the-trumpets moment when Mahindra launched its Marazzo - rarely do we get new models in the MPV space! The Marazzo too is closer to the Ertiga in size and price terms, and so that would be its real hard core rival. But the public perception benchmarks in this segment - and indeed more so for individual buyers over fleets - is the Innova isn't it? So while we will wait for Maruti to roll out its new 2nd gen Ertiga in November, we cannot wait to pit the Innova Crysta against the Mahindra Marazzo. On size the two are not comparable, and the Innova is easily the larger, taller, bigger car. But step inside and the Marazzo will surprise you with its space.
(Innova's cabin is well-finished but is a bit cheesy in terms of equipment and palette)
The Toyota cabin is always good on quality, but a bit cheesy on palette and equipment. The Crysta is no different, though the dash layout and touchscreen at the high-end does help it seem less van like. The Marazzo's cabin is fresh, light, and an absolute revelation on its plastics and fit. Seat comfort on the Innova has always been good, but the Marazzo's seats manage to give you great support and posture despite having less bolstering. The second row captain seats fold very neatly and easily to allow access to the reasonably comfortable third row. Yes like all third rows these are best for kids, but are about as good or bad as the Innova's for adults. The Innova despite its bulk still has a marginal third row anyway. Mahindra claims best in class shoulder room, and though I have not tested that claim scientifically - I can tell you the sense of space in the Marazzo is terrific.
The Marazzo has 'surround cool technology' which is Mahindra patented new roof mounted AC vent system for rear passengers. Instead of having lateral roof vents or vents in the B or C pillar, the Marazzo has a large AC duct unit that is longitudinal. It helps disperse cool air more effectively and evenly says M&M. I have to agree it does seem rather efficient, and you can avoid having to endure the blast of cold air in your face. Nice little USP. The car also gets a 7" touchscreen with connectivity, nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. But that's only in the top two variants. The second from below M4 variant gets a 4.2" screen, with Bluetooth, while the base M2 gets neither. The Crysta's top two variants do have a touchscreen, but with only Bluetooth connectivity. But it does have a start stop button that the Marazzo does not. Both cars get steering mounted controls, but the Marazzo has a pull-up sunshade in the second row - which is a great idea that chauffeured owners will love.
The Mahindra Marazzo has an all-new drivetrain - a world first according to the company for its transverse FWD layout. The 1.5 litre engine makes 120 bhp and gives you 300 Nm of torque. It is very refined, has very linear power delivery and is surprisingly silent. The Innova Crysta has more powerful 2.4 or 2.8 litre diesels, but also has to huge trump cards over the Marazzo - there is also a 2.7 litre petrol engine option, and both fuel types are offered with a 6-Speed automatic option. Mahindra says it is working on both petrol, and an automatic but these will only be here by 2020. An AMT diesel is likely next year though.
The Marazzo's clean and simple, light and quick performance will surprise anyone expecting a typical Mahindra. The Innova will feel bulky and its diesel engines suffer from more lag, giving the Marazzo an edge. Neither car is very fast from standstill, but the Innova will build speed quicker thanks to its bigger and more powerful engines. The ride quality and handling are also a revelation. While ride comfort on the Innova will remain its benchmark, the Marazzo does very well to manoeuvre more easily while maintaining its composure on bad roads and in tight traffic. Its light clutch will also help cut fatigue on long drives, though a good automatic would have really bit the spot. Mileage claims on the 'shark' stand at 17.3 kmpl, while on the Innova diesel manual it's 15.1 kmpl.
And finally the looks on both. Neither is pretty, and in fact Mahindra had a good chance here to go with very desirable looks - a chance squandered away. Still the material quality, fit, shut lines and overall finish on the Marazzo (and the storyline of how it's shark inspired too!) make it rather attractive overall. The Crysta is nicer looking than the previous Innova - and does have a nice butch face, but that's it. Looks are subjective, but I have to go with the no-fuss, bold and SUV-like design on the Innova Crysta - especially in its Touring Sport edition in wildfire red! While playing safe, the Innova Crysta still delivers some style at the top end to help justify its prices. The top spec also gets 7 airbags (dual airbags and driver-knee airbag are standard) and ABS. The Marazzo gives you dual airbags and ABS, as well as disc brakes all round. There are also isofix child seat anchors as standard. On crash capability, we have been told by both manufacturers that the cars will exceed the new crash norms the government has put in place - which is very encouraging.
And that is the last area to compare. And then there is no comparison really. While the petrol Innova Crysta starts at ₹ 14.65 lakh and tops off at ₹ 20.70 lakh; the diesel sits the range of ₹ 15.77-22.01 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). The Touring Sport starts at ₹ 18.59 lakh and goes to ₹ 23.06 lakh across two variants each on both fuel types. By comparison the more compact Marazzo is priced between ₹ 9.99 lakh and ₹ 13.90 lakh. Way more attractive prices for sure - with the caveat I made at the start about this being a slightly smaller car.
So which one is better? Well comparing apples and sharks is probably not the smartest thing! But given its good build and material quality, overall driveability, the Marazzo is the obvious winner for also being more affordable and yet offering good levels on comfort, features and tech. Now if we could only get that automatic variant soon, eh?