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The Innova goes upmarket, may land in India next year

Toyota’s best-selling people mover has been improved inside out; may land in India next year

autos Updated: Dec 05, 2015 11:28 IST
Shapur Kotwal
The new Innova looks more like an SUV than a people mover.
The new Innova looks more like an SUV than a people mover.

The king of multi-purpose vehicles (MPV) that has ruled Indian roads unchallenged for over a decade is now set to get bigger, better and stronger.

Toyota recently revealed the all-new, second-generation Innova in Indonesia, the lead market for the popular people mover. Expected to make it to Indian showrooms early next year, the new Innova is longer, wider and taller. The design is a big step forward from the first-generation Innova. Whereas the current car is full of minimalist lines and very few details, this new one is replete with dozens of stylistic flourishes. However, it’s still identifiable as an Innova and nothing else.

It’s got the look

The focal point of the new design is the large, frameless hexagonal grille, which forms the ‘face’ of the car. Toyota has also integrated long headlamp pods with the grille that consist of two projector units per light and a cleverly-used LED cluster.

Whereas it is built on the same wheelbase as the current car, Toyota has also worked hard at changing the profile of the car to make it look fresh and new.

The upward kink towards the rear is very different from the current car’s and the large overhang at the front resembles an SUV more than a people mover. The two-element tail-lights and the large rear windshield make the back of the car look interesting.

Interiors

Like the exteriors, the new Innova’s interiors get a serious lift. They are clearly more upmarket and better equipped now. The designers have used multiple surfaces, textures and colours to make the new dash look far more premium than the current car. And what really works well is the combination of large confident curves and the aluminium finish which neatly surrounding the centre console and air-conditioner vents.

The slightly slimmer seats also seem to be a bit more space efficient. As a result, there’s more legroom in the second row, and the additional length seems to have added to the space on the third row as well. Also new is the upmarket mood lighting, the 8-inch touchscreen on which you can even use gesture-based commands. There’s even an all-colour TFT screen between the gauges on the instrument console.

Power to the people

The Innova will be powered by a slightly downsized diesel that displaces 2.4 litres instead of 2.5 litres. The big news is that there is a substantial bump-up in power to 147bhp which is a good 47bhp more than the current car. There’s a 10kgm jump in torque as well. This increase in power isn’t a big surprise as one of the weaknesses of the current Innova is the lack of power in comparison to its rivals. The upshot of this massive increase in power and torque isn’t just better performance but also better cruuising performance. The new Innova can now afford to have taller gearing allowing it to be more relaxed on the highways.

The new car will be built on a ladder frame as opposed to the car-like platforms of the new crop of MPVs such as the Maruti Ertiga, Honda Mobilio and Renault Lodgy. This makes the Innova heavier and not as fuel efficient as the competition but Toyota feels it’s a small price to pay for the durability and long-term reliability that a beefy chassis will offer. Toyota has played safe by not changing the configuration of the front suspension but at the rear there’s a more sophisticated suspension set aimed at making the ride more comfortable for passengers. The new Innova comes with safety features such as ABS and Electronic Stability Control, both of which are likely to make it to the car in India. And this time around, there will be a six-speed automatic version, targeted directly at family buyers.

When Toyota launches the new Innova in India at the Auto Expo 2016, it is likely to garner plenty of interest from car buyers looking for an attractive and upmarket MPV. The interiors are clearly a big step up over the current car, there’s likely to be more space on the inside and with more power on tap, it should be more effortless to drive.

But Toyota is expected to place the new Innova a bit higher up on the price band. The base version is expected to start at around Rs 12 lakh with the fully loaded version selling for upto Rs 16 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The automatic version could be more costlier still. Even though it is likely to be more expensive, we expect car buyers to willingly cough up more for the new Innova; the car is likely to be substantially improved after all. But let’s just hope Toyota doesn’t get too ambitious with the pricing.