One of the most loved food brands in India is undoubtedly Maggi. I mean no one asks for instant noodles instead one asks for Maggi and no one can really compete with the brand strength that it enjoys. In the same way instead of asking for a comfortable MPV one just says ''I want an Innova''.
The brand loyalty that this car enjoys is unbelievable and no one has managed to dethrone this car. The new Toyota Innova has been the cash cow for Toyota in India for as far as we remember. Rivals have come and gone and rather than competing directly they are finding a segment space below it, operating under the compact MPV category.
Why this success? It is simple as the Innova does the basics so well of being a comfortable MPV that is also luxurious and has car-like dynamics. No one wants a crude people mover instead they want a comfortable, safe car that they can entrust to put their family in and go for long drives.
So naturally there has not been a flurry of facelifts, changes done to this car and the last big change was done 2 years back. Now Toyota has once again given its star performer a facelift and kept the basic recipe intact and making more up market than before. Toyota has added a new flagship 'ZX' variant which we have tested here.
The majority of the changes done to the new Innova are at the front. Now looks are subjective and while the jury is out on the looks of the new Innova, I think it gives it more presence. The new grille along with large doses of chrome give it a more aggressive look and during our drive it turned heads while standing out among the sea of other sober coloured Innova's.
The list of changes include big chrome grille, new fog lamps and also chrome surrounds for the fog lamps. The rear also gets more chrome with a thick chrome strip (called as 'Chrome back door'). There are also body graphics, rear spoiler and the top variants gets 'Z' badging. Overall the Innova has presence and hides its visual bulk very well, the build quality too is excellent.
Egress and ingress is easy in the Innova and once inside you really get to know why the Innova has been so successful. Build quality is excellent and miles ahead of other MPV's plus the light colours used inside adds to the sense of space. The dash lay-out and design is the same as before but there some minor changes to make it more premium than before.
There is wood and silver finish on the dash plus the wood finish also extends to the armrest panel and gearknob. The equipment includes audio system with 2DIN, LCD Display, DVD, Bluetooth, USB, Aux-in, Touch Screen plus safety kit includes ABS, Driver and passenger airbags.
There are dual tone leather seats too which as usual offer very good comfort levels. The space is excellent and the top variant which we drove had two middle row seats which makes it a great option for chauffeur driven owners also.
The Innova continues with the 100 bhp diesel engine here. This engine has 200 Nm of torque which means performance is accessible with near zero turbo-lag and in the city you do not have to do many down-shifts. Out in the highway the performance build-up is strong but at higher revs it gets noisy, best cruise here.
The Innova has the 5-speed manual gearbox which is easy to use despite a long throw but what plays spoilsport are the vibrations which robs some of the driving experience. When it comes to handling despite the hefty 1700 kg kerb weight, the Innova handles very well (for its size) and is easy to drive in the city. You get used to the size quickly plus while parking the rear camera also makes it easy. The ride though is the best bit regarding this car as it gobbles up bad roads with ease and overall this is the car for munching miles.
Price and Value
Do note that facelifted model is however not available in 'E' and 'G' variants and thus the old one will continue in these trim levels. The GX variant 8-seater is priced at Rs 12.50 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) while going all the way to the top of the line ZX at Rs 15.06 lakh (ex- showroom Delhi). The flagship variant tested here comes only with the diesel and in 7-seater guise. The GX trim does not have an audio system or the steering controls but has safety features. For all the features the VX and the ZX is the one to go for.
The talents of the Innova remain unchanged and the fan-following that it enjoys will mean this new one will be welcomed with open arms. The Innova continues to be the only choice for large families and for ferrying 7-8 people in comfort. The reliability, Toyota after sales are some factors that further make it a great buy.
Words- Somnath Chatterjee Photography-Rajeev Bhendwal