Mahindra XUV500 Facelift : First Drive Review
- Apr 18, 2018
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Mahindra’s new Marazzo has ruffled quite a few feathers. The most affected are the ones you see jostling for room in the frame. Sure, we know the Ertiga is missing here, but we’re giving it the ‘get out jail free card’ for now. There’s a new one coming around Diwali and its first big test is squaring off against the Marazzo. We’ll make that happen then, promise.
Back to jostling for room — that’s going to be our primary focus here. Which one of these cars can seat the family, their luggage and drive around comfortably? There’s a lot differentiating these cars on paper, one has a massive 2.8-litre engine, one has a piddly 1.5. One of these can be had with proper 4x4 tech, while one is as van as cars get. So, as you can clearly see, there’s no point comparing outright performance here. Instead, we’ll try to figure out if they are adequate enough for lugging the family around town. Right then, let’s get on with it.
Keeping the Saahab happy
If you’re likely to be spending most of your time in the second row of the vehicle, the Lodgy wouldn’t particularly please you. While it has no issues with accommodating people with small frames, people who are generously sized will find it lacking in space a fair bit. The primary issue is that the seats are pushed out towards the door pads, which means there’s very little space between you and the slim door pad. Second, the lack of width really makes itself apparent in the Renault. While the testers never got to the point of rubbing shoulders, everyone agreed they felt a bit ‘hemmed in’ in the second row. Third, unlike all the other cars in the comparo, the second row of the Lodgy is fixed. It does reap other dividends, but we’ll get to that in the next section.
The Renault, then, is the most utilitarian of the lot. What is the diametric opposite, is Toyota’s Innova Crysta. After spending some time in the rear bench, we understand why so many of us buy this MPV by the thousands every month. The seats are the biggest of the lot and come draped in really good quality leather too. Smaller aspects like the faux wood panelling and the ambient lighting do their bit in uplifting the experience here. We also like the high seating position that makes you feel special. And while kneeroom is plenty sufficient, it still isn’t the best one around.
Which brings us to Tata’s rockstar, the Hexa. There’s a lot going for this big brute, including the fact that the seats are easily the best in this comparison. The kind of support it offers isn’t paralleled. You can properly stretch out here. And you’ve got enough space under the front seats to tuck your feet under as well. Awesome! It scores very well in terms of width as well. Even with the biggest members of the team seated here, we had absolutely no issues. Where there was a hiccup was the headroom. It’s tied with the Innova Crysta for last place as far as headroom is concerned. If you can ignore that fact, the second row is practically faultless.
And to better that, Mahindra must’ve really struck some pot of gold somewhere. Where the Tata wears black, the Marazzo wears a light beige. Couple that with the large windows and the sense of space is crazy good. This is backed up by actual, measurable space as well. In terms of headroom, there’s no beating it. It even manages to nudge past the Tata (only just) as far as width is concerned. There are a few secondary factors too, because of which we’d prefer spending time in the Mahindra compared to the Tata. The seats, for example, are a lot softer (but not too soft to cause backaches) when compared to the Hexa’s. This way, even if you’re really tall and have to rub knees with the front seats, neither you nor the front occupants would mind. There’s also the way the air-conditioning is set up in the Tata. They do a fantastic job… of chilling your knees. With the roof-mounted setup of the Mahindra, you find yourself more at ease. Finally, there’s the height from the ground. In the Hexa, you really have to CLIMB inside the cabin, whereas in the Marazzo, you only have to walk in. Older folks amongst us will appreciate this aspect a whole lot more.
For the little ones
That’s the only purpose of the third row, right? Not with this lot, at least. You can fit full-sized adults here, no questions asked. Sure, a few fare better than the others. And that’s exactly what we’re diving into next.
Prepare to be surprised, the best third row here is in the smallest car of the lot - the Renault Lodgy. We had three of our team members sit in there, and none them complained about being claustrophobic. It’s the sheer amount of shoulder room on offer here that makes the experience that much more comfortable. In the Stepway version we had, there was enough room for the middle occupant to stretch his legs between the two captain seats.
Both second-row seats fold, but they don’t tumble ahead on their own. That isn’t too much of a bother, and getting in and out of the third row is by far the easiest in the Lodgy.
In second place in this round is the Marazzo. Unlike the Lodgy, the second row tumbles only on the left. A wise move considering one should never be exiting the vehicle on the side of oncoming traffic. Once you’re in the third row, you’d notice a very unique problem. If you’re seated on the co-driver’s side, you’d have more room for your shoulder when compared to sitting on the driver’s side.
Mahindra had informed us that the second evaporator coil sits around the right D-pillar. The interior panel protrudes out a bit, which eats up a bit of room. Again, the roof-mounted AC makes its presence felt, but the middle occupant will feel a bit hot. There’s next to no air flow when you’re sitting there, and you patiently wait for the cabin to cool down before switching the AC to ‘Diffuse’ mode to feel comfy. It’s got the most amount of kneeroom here, which isn’t surprising considering even six-footers from the team didn’t whine about sitting there for a while.
Next up, is the Toyota Innova Crysta. On paper, this has the most amount of shoulder room. But the experience here is the opposite of what the numbers suggest. While the upper half of the cabin is wide enough, the seat base is quite narrow. That means the three folks sitting there will end up getting quite, erm... intimate. And unlike the Lodgy where the middle occupant had room to stretch, the wider second-row seat backs make that near impossible in the Innova’s cabin. The ones sitting at either corner had their shins touching the seat as well, which can get a bit annoying over longer journeys. That said, there are positives too. For instance, Toyota has thoughtfully provided a headrest as well as a proper three-point seatbelt for the occupants, while ingress and egress is a hassle-free affair as both seats tumble forward with a single tug at the lever.
Sadly, that’s not the case with the Hexa. There’s a separate lever under the seat base, which is not only slightly tricky to find, but also requires a bit of muscle to operate. Then there’s the big kicker - the second row doesn’t tumble forward at all, it merely leans forward. Considering one has to climb into the third row in this rather tiny space, things do get a bit tricky. You’d be better off climbing into the second row and simply walking into the third row.
When you do get in, you’d find yourself hunting for more room. There’s not enough room for your feet or your shoulders. Did we mention you absolutely can not get three in here? Don’t even bother trying. The hint is in the name - HEXA!
Brimming them up!
No, we don’t mean the tanks. Instead, we set out to check how much luggage you could realistically carry while running a full house. With the Hexa, the answer is - not too much. There are a couple of complications, which begins with the height of the boot floor from the ground. You really have to lift those bags high to get them in. The boot space is the lowest of the lot here at 128 litres, and it shows in the real world too. You can get in a couple of cabin bags here and maybe stuff in an extra backpack too.
Yet again, it’s the Lodgy that goes against what the numbers suggest. The problem here lies with the recline angle of the third-row seats. While it makes sure that occupants are plenty comfy, it eats into the available space. This also means stacking a couple of bags on top of each other is quite hard. That said, you can remove the third row entirely (and pretty easily too) and have enough space to sleep there. Trust us, we tried.
We were surprised to see how the Marazzo managed to swallow luggage with all seven seats up. The trick here is the lower boot floor that gives it some additional height for storing tall bags. On paper, the Mahindra’s 190-litre boot is smaller than the Lodgy’s 207-litre trunk. But in terms of usability, it scores higher. Getting up to four medium-sized bags in here is going to be quite easy.
Finally, there’s the Innova Crysta that shows the kids how it’s done. At 300 litres, there’s enough space for a weekend’s worth of luggage for all seven occupants. In true Toyota fashion, the basics are spot on. The boot floor is low, while the opening is wide. It was the only one that managed to swallow the biggest suitcase we had and still had enough space to gobble up some more bags. This is definitely the boot you want if you’re heading out on a road trip!
Munching miles in comfort
That’s something the Innova Crysta can do, no questions asked. The motor has enough punch, and the driver won’t feel tired too soon either. But, there’s a massive caveat here. We aren’t too fond of the way the Crysta rides, especially on these 17-inch wheels. If it's just you and your chauffeur, you should be fine for the most part. It will still feel slightly stiff and you’d hear the thuds as you go over imperfections. But load up the Crysta with seven occupants and there’s a bucketful of bounce awaiting you. This is especially prominent in the third row, so make sure your kids are buckled up no matter how much they whine. Also, ensure your tyre pressures are set right. Even a small deviation in tyre pressure tends to amplify the stiffness of the suspension.
Tata’s Hexa, too, is an awesome road-tripper. Again, you’d never be left wanting for more power and the high seating position just makes the experience so awesome. It’s personality though, is the opposite of the Crysta’s. Under full load, the ride is f-l-a-t. It doesn’t bob about, nor does it feel nervous at any point of time. But take four passengers out, and you’d find yourself rocking about side to side over small undulations. Weighing the rear down with luggage or people seems to be a quickfire way of ensuring the Hexa has a plush ride.
Coming to the other two, they take joint top honours, albeit for slightly different reasons. Renault cars have been known for their awesome ride quality, and the Lodgy is no exception. Even in the third row, over harsh undulations, the cabin regains composure almost immediately. Inside the city too, over those nagging expansion joints or rumble strips, it’s the Lodgy that’ll dismiss them without a second thought.
The Marazzo was a pleasant surprise for it managed to deliver a nice cushy ride irrespective of whether you drove solo, had one passenger, or were running a full house. Ride in every single row is possibly the best we’ve seen from a Mahindra yet. It takes out the edge from the sharp bumps and manages to cushion small craters that litter our roads as well. Yes, there’s a mild judder through the floorboard that is apparent if the road surface isn’t even, and expectedly there’s a little bit of bounce in the third row when you hit craters at high speed. Take that out of the equation and we don’t have much to complain about because the first bit isn’t really the car’s fault, and the second, well, will be yours. We did have apprehensions at the first drive where we wondered if it’d be able to pull clean with a full load of passengers. But they’ve been laid to rest now. It does feel a bit underpowered when you have to gun past the car in front, but for all casual road trip purposes, you should have no qualms whatsoever.
In fourth place is the Renault Lodgy. It’s easily the most city-friendly MPV here, and surprisingly offers enough space for seven grown-up humans. What takes away from this package is the cabin experience - it feels a bit ‘built-to-cost’. Also, since the second row doesn’t slide, taller occupants will have a proper problem here.
Coming in third is the Tata Hexa. Most of the team agreed it would be this car they’d happily take home for its strong design and punchy engine. Sadly, in the context of this contest, it doesn’t prove to be a good family car. The third row is best left to kids and that too for shorter journeys. Pick this one if you know third-row usage is going to be limited and you need a big and powerful car to make a statement.
Toyota’s Innova Crysta bags the runners-up trophy. For over a decade, the Innova brand has proved to be a beacon of reliability and dependability. That is unlikely to change with this one. Also, out of all the options here, it’s the only one that delivers on the sense of luxury. It is genuinely practical too with ample (but not the most) space for seven as well as their luggage. Yes, the ride quality could’ve been better and that does take away a whole lot from the Crysta, especially when you compare it to the Innova that preceded it.
That brings us to the winner of this contest — the Mahindra Marazzo. To us, this plucky Mahindra is a lot like the old Innova. Thoroughly practical, spacious and comfortable. Yes, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles you expect at this price point, but it doesn’t really give you much to complain about either. What seals the deal for us is that the Marazzo gives you the big car experience without ripping a hole in your pocket. While it may not be the absolute best at everything, it certainly strikes the right balance you’d want from a family car.
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