Toyota Innova: Delivering yet again

The Crysta is spacious, with improved interiors.

The Crysta is spacious, with improved interiors.

There’s a lot that other car makers can learn from Toyota and the way its Innova vehicle has been developed over the years. It was initially the successor to the Qualis, a car that tasted success despite its unappealing look and basic interiors. That’s because its core values—space, comfort and reliability—were so strong that people forgave everything else. When the Innova multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) came along, it built on those strengths and added a bit more desirability. People were sceptical initially but soon flocked to the new MPV despite the hefty price, which has risen by 60% over the car’s 11-year life span.

Now Toyota’s done it again with its new Innova, which costs a whopping Rs.13.84-20.78 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai).

Called the Innova Crysta, this all-new MPV is in a class of its own. It’s larger than the car it replaces, except for the wheelbase—the distance between the front and rear wheels—which stays the same. The look is a lot more aggressive, with a gaping grille, large projector headlamps with LED running lights and some rather prominent lines down the side. It also rides on large 17-inch wheels that help mask the car’s girth.

There is significant improvement in the interiors as well. Not only is the vehicle more spacious, it’s more comfortable and flexible too. The seats are big and supportive, even in the second row, and these ones also slide—folding down and flipping forward for better access to the third row. The last row is set on the high side but is rather comfortable, just like its predecessor. Living up to its promise of a long-distance family car, the boot can take one large suitcase with all the rows in place, and a whole lot more with them folded down.

The Innova’s cabin is also a huge step forward in its ambience and quality. It feels almost as good as the much more expensive Toyota Camry luxury sedan, with high-quality plastics, leather upholstery, rich wood trim and faux brushed metal. The design is also less utilitarian and more car-like, with flowing surfaces on the dashboard and some cool details, like the band of LED ambient lighting that runs around the roof-mounted AC vents at the back. The equipment list has also been moved a class ahead, with top-specification variants getting features like an electric driver’s seat, auto climate control, a rear-view camera and sensors, keyless entry and a push-button start if you have the car keys in your pocket, and a feature-rich, touch-screen infotainment system.

The old car’s 2.5-litre diesel engine has been swapped for a new 2.4-litre unit and the power and torque outputs have gone up from 102 hp and 200 Nm to a whopping 150 hp and 343 Nm. Start it up and, like the old car, it makes quite a racket before settling down into a decently quiet idle. Rev it some more though and the noise and vibrations soon become apparent; it’s best to stick to low revs.

The diesel motor is responsive right from the word go. It does 0-100 kmph in just 13.1 seconds, which is 4.4 seconds quicker than the old car. It’s also been tuned for a broader spread of power, and is much better now as a highway cruiser. Still, a sixth gear would have made it even better. The gearbox is a little heavy to operate, as is the clutch.

There are no such problems, of course, in the new range-topping automatic version, which uses a more powerful 174 hp, 2.8-litre diesel engine allied to a six-speed gearbox. It is, expectedly, even faster, doing 0-100 kmph in just 11.5 seconds. The gearbox is smooth enough, but perhaps a little too eager to shift gears; it sometimes does so even when not required.

The Innova Crysta retains its predecessor’s all-conquering ride quality. It’s capable of cushioning most bumps and rough patches without fuss and is incredibly stable on the highway too. You might feel a few jitters over sharp bumps, possibly because of the big 17-inch wheels—it’s common in cars with SUV-like “body-on-frame” chassis. It’s not as nimble as the previous car, and it can feel ponderous around corners. The steering feels a bit heavy and requires effort at low speeds.

The Crysta is a drastic repositioning of the Innova, taking it out of the league of conventional MPVs and into the realm of seven-seat luxury SUVs. The good news is, it has done a lot to justify its higher price, improving in just about every way from its predecessor. It still has its niggles, but its core strengths have only been amplified. For those loyalists who understand why the Innova is the best at what it does, the premium will be worth it.


Random Posts