Toyota says its new Innova is bigger, bolder and more capable. But just how big a step forward is it? We drive India’s most popular MPV in Indonesia.
MPVs, or people movers, don’t really get the pulse racing. Engineered to provide mobility for seven, and not much else, they are practical, utilitarian and a bit boring. Unlike SUVs or executive sedans, these are not cars you buy with your heart.
Toyota’s new Innova, however, is different. To begin with, the Japanese car maker has truly put in huge efforts to make it look appealing. Configured to deliver more than just ice-cold efficiency, it is flamboyantly styled and lavishly equipped – a substantial departure from the current car.
Toyota’s willingness to take the Innova up a class is also understandable. It wants to appeal to buyers looking at both practicality and desirability. And from the look of things, it seems serious about it. What’s also undoubtedly added impetus is the fact that many car owners in the region finally seem willing to put money down for the practical car they really need, rather than just the attractive car they want.
We exit Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and wade into a sea of MPVs. There’s almost every version of the Innova and its forebears here – from the early upright people-carriers through to the current Innova. And the fact that there are so many still ‘hard at work’ speaks volumes about their longevity. What’s even more fascinating is the scale of the evolution, or the Darwinian transmutation. The new Innova, however, promises to be the biggest step forward of them all. Question is, will buyers be willing to pay the 15 or 20 percent extra? Is the car good enough to justify the premium? Is it a bridge too far? These and other questions come hard and fast. I can’t wait to get some face time with the new Innova.