The Innova Crysta has been a runaway success since its launch in May 2016. With two strong diesels and an automatic transmission, Toyota got all the important bases covered with this MPV. So why bother bringing in a petrol variant which, as history has shown us, had very few takers? It was the only way to sell the Innova in Delhi-NCR which, because of the ban on diesel engines over 2,000cc, could not be launched in this key market. The diesel ban has been lifted for now, but with anti-diesel sentiments being at an all-time high in the country, car companies are introducing petrol variants of their major models more as insurance.
Toyota has made its petrol proposition as tempting as possible by offering the Innova with a 166hp 2.7-litre unit with the option of a five-speed manual and a six-speed automatic gearbox.
What’s it like to drive?
The Crysta's 2.7-litre VVT-i motor is the same one that does duty in Toyota's range of pick-up trucks, and this means the MPV can haul loads. As expected from any petrol motor, this four-cylinder unit feels smooth at idle and is quite responsive too. It pulls quite nicely from as low as 1,400rpm and all the way to its rev limiter at 5,900rpm.
Though the petrol Innova weighs 80kg less than the 2.8 diesel auto, it’s not quite as quick as its torquier cousin. Still, with a 0-100kph time of 12sec – just 0.54sec shy of the diesel automatic's time – it is pretty quick for a 4.7-metre-long MPV weighing 1,790kg. Owners are sure to appreciate the refined performance of the petrol Innova.
Toyota’s six-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and is fairly quick for a torque converter too. However, there’s a distinct pause when you demand a quick downshift at slow speeds, and that can be annoying. Also, if you are expecting a silent cabin experience, you will be a bit disappointed; this motor is not the quietest around. You can feel it at work even at low revs. Toyota could have insulated the cabin better to make it more quiet.
The main concern, however, is the fuel consumption. A large-capacity petrol motor coupled with an old-school automatic transmission is the perfect recipe for a gas guzzler. The on-board computer suggested the car returned 6.62kpl in the city in mild traffic. The fuel gauge also dropped at an alarming rate and that means frequent visits to the gas station and to the ATM.
No change has been made to the suspension, and so the petrol Innova rides just like the diesel models. On fast motorways, it feels stable at even three-digit speeds, and in the city, the suspension makes mincemeat of potholes and speed bumps without much fuss. The ride, however, does get jittery over rutted surfaces and there's some side-to-side rocking movement on uneven roads, but it’s not to the extent of being uncomfortable.
Just like the ride, handling too hasn’t changed. You still feel like you’re hauling a 2BHK apartment in to corners; it's heavy and there’s plenty of body roll. Also, the steering feels quite heavy at parking speeds and a little bit more power assistance could have made squeezing this behemoth into tight spots much easier.
What’s it like inside?
Be it the dashboard design, the quality of materials used or the levels of fit-finish, all are really good for an MPV. The big and comfy seats, the 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system and the roof-mounted dual-zone climate-control system for the back-benchers continue to be the main selling points of the new Innova. For the petrol model, the sole change inside is the tachometer which now has a 5,500rpm redline, instead of the diesel's 4,500rpm.
Should I buy one?
It’s hard to make a case for the petrol Innova Crysta, especially when it comes with a brilliant diesel option. The two main reasons to buy a petrol are refinement and performance, but the petrol Innova doesn’t really excel in these areas. The price difference between the top-spec diesel automatic and petrol is automatic isn’t much, with the petrol being just cheaper by Rs 1.31 lakh.
So who should buy a petrol Innova? It’s for someone who doesn’t like the clattery sound of a diesel, and prefers the more refined manners of a petrol and won't use their car for long hauls. Also, what you lose in fuel bills you will make up for with some peace of mind – even though the petrol Innova is a gas guzzler, it’s unlikely to face a ban in the future!