Last Updated at
- 12:11 am, May 20, 2012
We drive the two most sought after people carriers in the country to see which one does the job with perfection.
The Innova has been the undisputed king of MUVs in India – thanks to the Qualis bloodline that it belongs to. It has been around for quite a while now and has become the most preferred choice amongst fleet operators and the families alike. However, the MUV space has seen quite some action in the past few years and one vehicle that has managed to be the proverbial thorn in the Innova’s arm, is the Mahindra Xylo. It wasn’t the best looking car in its segment, but its VFM-factor certainly gave it enough boost to amass big numbers in little time.
But with competition toughening even in this niche segment, especially since Maruti Suzuki and Nissan announced their respective plans of the Ertiga and the Evalia, Toyota and Mahindra had no option but to refresh their wares to prepare for the new upcoming kids on the block. But since, the Ertiga is still quite nascent and small in size and because the Evalia is still some time away, we decided to pit the Xylo and the Innova against each other to see how well-prepared they are. Read on...
The Mahindra Xylo has undergone the most significant change in the design department as compared to the Innova. The front end was subject to criticism right from the day the Xylo was launched and therefore the new one gets a complete redesign. The headlights have the same outer shape as that of the earlier Xylo, however the new one now gets chrome lining and revised detailing which aid in making the front look wider and more aggressive. The bunny-tooth grill too has been modified and is now slimmer than the earlier model. The Mahindra logo now sits independently on the redesigned, flatter bonnet and lends the front end a cleaner look. The front bumpers add to the aggression of the new design with gloss-black extensions at the bottom.
The side profile gets minor changes too. Mahindra has blackened out the B, C and D pillar to give the Xylo a ‘floating roof’ design. The doors get flat, chunky and straight-ish rub rails that make the Xylo appear like a conventional SUV. The sporty roof-rails add to that effect. The tailgate has minimal changes – the taillight cluster has a clear-lens treatment and the turn-blinkers are now transparent unlike the amber shade on the earlier model. There is a new variant too – the E9 – and this badge could get more common on the road, considering the advancements that this variant provides over the earlier line-up.
The Innova has got its second facelift now with the new design that you see here. However, compared to the earlier models the new one has a completely new fascia. To fall in line with Toyota’s current design language, the curvy eye-shaped headlights have made way for horizontally mounted trapezoidal headlights. They wrap around the front apron and stretch significantly backwards to give the new Innova a wider stance. The grille and the front bumper has been re-designed too and have the same focus – making the Innova look wider than it actually is.
The side profile has very few changes that will be visible only to the keen eye - the turn blinkers are mounted on the outside rear-view mirrors and the Innova now uses a new design for the alloys on the top end model. The backend is more or less similar to the earlier model with same design for the taillights – albeit with a rearranged cluster.
Out of the two, the Innova has a more cleaner and conservative design that most will appreciate. The Xylo though, looks aggressive and way better than what was being sold in India all this while. My money is on the Innova though.
The Xylo’s interiors have been given a few nips and tucks to make it more appealing as compared to the earlier model. Though largely similar to the previous Xylo, the new dashboard has a smoother flow a slimmer multi-information display unit above the centre console. The centre console itself remains unchanged and the E9 variant gets a conventional double-DIN audio system. Since it is not integrated within the design, you can always replace it with a better system if the need be. The cup holders too have been redesigned and now accommodates a conventional 1-litre pet bottle.
The party-piece though is the voice-command function that you get on the E9. With the push of a button, you can ask the Xylo to lock or unlock doors, play with the headlights and turn the blinkers on or off. Don’t expect something as advanced as Siri, but guess what – this system understands most Indian accents without a hiccup! The switches on the steering wheel look and feel like an afterthought though and the 12V socket is placed awkwardly if you are the type who plugs in a cell-phone charger in the car every now and then.
The Innova’s interiors will feel plush and roomy the moment you enter the car. Its light beige and grey combination as opposed to the Xylo’s dark brown, helps this cause. The Innova’s centre console has not been redesigned too. The fake-wood trim has made way for a sportier, brushed-aluminum finish. The top-end model gets a big touch-screen system too, which plays DVDs but misses out on satellite navigation. The centre console does tend to look out place, thanks to its metallic finish, but it is just a matter of getting used to it.
The switches do not feel clumsy and the steering wheel, which comes from the refreshed Corolla Altis, feels great to hold and operate. The ergonomics too feel much better in the Innova than in the Xylo. The overall look and feel of the Innova’s interiors feels a lot more up-market and in a way, justifies the extra money that Toyota charges for this people carrier.
For the Mahindra Xylo, the changes aren’t purely cosmetic. While the lower variants continue to use the mEagle engine that powered the earlier Xylo, the E9 variant gets the mHawk engine from the Scorpio. This engine produces 120PS of power at 4,000rpm and 280Nm of torque between 2,400-2,800rpm. The engine also feels quite eager throughout the rev range. However, it is noisy and the clatter is audible inside the cabin as well. Under the Xylo’s hood though, the mHawk engine feels more responsive as compared to the Scorpio. The gearshifts feel notchy and clutch feels a little heavy as compared to its Japanese competitors.
Toyota on the other hand, has retained the 2.5-litre oil-burner that has been doing duty in the Innova so far. It produces 102PS of power at 3,600 RPM and a maximum torque of 200Nm which is dialed in between 1400-3400rpm. These figures are lesser than what the Xylo puts out and on the road, the deficit is evident. The Innova tends to feel sluggish off the line but once you hit the mid-range the Toyota cruises with utter silence. The engine is a tad noisy, but you don’t hear much of it inside the cabin. The gear-shifter has long throws but the shifts are precise and quite smooth of a MUV.
I’m not a big fan of the way the Xylo handles. Its tall stance and relatively shorter track make it feel wallow-y when going into bends. So you really need nerves or steel of an empty skull to attempt any sort of high speed cornering with the Xylo. The E9 does feel marginally better than the variants – thanks to the heavier engine and the necessarily different suspension setup. The wallow-y nature and the high seating also means that passengers may suffer from motion sickness on journeys involving twisty roads. However, the softer suspension absorbs bumps and undulations with ease and on a series of bumps the Xylo will feel bouncy.
The Innova has a very car-like feel to it – from the seating height to the way the steering feels. Since, the Innova is also the shorter of the two, the Toyota MPV tackles corners better at higher speeds than the Xylo – inspite of the power and torque deficit. The steering is light at low speeds and weighs up well at higher speeds, therefore adding more confidence to your driving. The low seating also means that the passengers feel comfortable and the chances of suffering from motion sickness are relatively low. This is precisely the reason why the Innova is so popular amongst the fleet operators.
Overall, the Innova feels touter and mechanically superior than the Xylo and is our preferred choice even when it comes to performance, handling and ride quality.
Is the Innova the outright winner then? Not really. While the Innova does everything right and better than the Xylo, it cannot beat Mahindra’s value-for-money factor. The Xylo is also the cheaper out of the two when it comes to maintenance. So, picking out a clear winner is difficult. But simply put, if you are looking for outright value-for-money and also want a feature MPV, the Xylo fits the bill perfectly. But if it is outright comfort, car-like handling and better build quality that you seek, then look no further and put your money on the Innova.
First Published on 12:11 am, May 20, 2012
Rohit (Rash) Paradkar
He is called "Rash" for a reason. He loves his toys, this boy. If it's cool, he's either got it or most probably gotten tired of it by the time you've discovered it. His one dear aim is to convert every Windows and Android user into a customer for Apple.