GAC and Mahindra came to impress, and for the most part, both did

Is it possible that, even with the Toyota Supra and the Ford Shelby GT500 hogging the spotlight, a Chinese automaker and its Indian counterpart stole the show at the 2019 North American International Auto Show? It’s probably not the case, but you have to give it to GAC and Mahindra for representing their brands well at Detroit when so many other established automakers — we didn’t see you there, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz — decided to skip the proceedings. Mahindra brought two notable models to Detroit, including the Marazzo, a front-wheel-drive minivan that actually has a lot of things going for it. Meanwhile, GAC pretty much brought its entire lineup to Detroit, but the real star of its booth was the Entranze EV, a futuristic electric concept van that got a lot of people’s attention. It’s hard to imagine a Chinese and Indian automaker stealing the show at the 2019 NAIAs, but both did it in their own way. And, if we’re being technical about it, both GAC and Mahindra have roots in America, specifically the latter, which has a facility in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Are we sure that they don’t consider the NAIAs their home auto show?

Mahindra Shows off the Marazzo, Gets Looks with the Roxor

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The days off us looking past and dismissing Mahindra as a second-rate automaker are long gone. The automaker, which is owned by the Mahindra Group, which also happens to own Pininfarina, went to the 2019 North American International Auto Show to showcase a handful of models. One of those models was the Marazzo MPV, and, in my eyes, at least, it’s in the running as one of the most pleasant surprises of the show. Ok, so it’s not a showstopper from an aesthetic point of view, but it’s impressive in a number of different ways.

First, it doesn’t look cheap.

The Marazzo looks like a proper minivan with unique design cues that’s all its own.

There’s a bit of the Chevrolet Sonic in the front section, but you’re not going to notice it if you don’t know what the Sonic looks like. The interior is where you’ll be surprised, though. It can seat up to eight passengers, offers ample interior space, and comes with a handful of first-rate elements and features. A 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display sits comfortably in the dashboard, and it’s available with Android Auto and Apple Car Play.

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There’s also a smaller 4.2-inch vehicle information display in the gauge cluster. It has roof-mounted vents and controls for the rear seating area. These aren’t ground-breaking features, but they’re welcome additions on a Mahindra.

The Marazzo comes with a 1.5-liter inline-four diesel engine that produces 121 horsepower.

Once again, it’s not going to blow your mind, but it surprisingly punchy for a vehicle of its size and stature.

Combine all of that, and you have a decent MPV that’s worth looking into. Do that, and you’ll discover what makes the Marazzo a legitimate piece of work. It’s not available in the U.S. market, but over in India, this vehicle comes with a base price of just 999,999 rupees. That converts to just $14,000, which is a heck of a lot cheaper than, say, the Ford C-Max, which starts at $24,000. That’s value for money right there.

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In addition to the Marazzo MPV, Mahindra’s other Detroit attendee was the Roxor, a no-frills off-roader that bears more than a striking resemblance to the original Jeep CJ. Unlike the Marazzo, the Roxor is available in the U.S. and Canada markets through approximately 350 powersports dealerships. Roxor, though, was the subject of headlines last year after Fiat Chrysler Automobiles filed a complaint regarding the Roxor’s design. Mahindra countered with its own claims, saying that FCA already consented to the company’s use of the Jeep-lookalike five front slot grille design. Believe it or not, the Roxor is actually made in the country.

50 percent of the components used on the off-roader come from India with the other 50 percent locally sourced in the U.S. Pieces coming from India are shipped to the U.S. as kits where they're assembled in the automaker’s production facility in Auburn Hill, Michigan.

The Roxor caught the eye of a lot of people in Detroit, in part because it looked like a rainbow puked on its body and because, well, it looked like a Jeep CJ.

GAC Wows the Show with the Entranze Concept

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Chinese auto brand Guangzhou Automobile Group, or GAC, as we more often call it, falls in the same category as Mahindra. It doesn’t have a presence in the U.S. market, but to GAC’s credit, it plans to change that by the end of the decade. Whether it succeeds or not is still a question, but there certainly wasn’t anything unclear about its involvement at the 2019 North American International Auto Show. GAC didn’t bring just one car to the show. It didn’t even bring two. It brought pretty much its entire auto lineup, ranging from the GE3 MPV, GA4 compact sedan, GM6 and GM8 vans, and the GS4, GS5, and GS7 SUVs. But the star of GAC’s booth was, without question, the Entranze Concept.

Designed in the U.S., the Entranze Concept is a high-riding, futuristic-looking, seven-seater van/crossover concept that takes its name from the way its four doors open.

Unlike traditional vans where the front door is independent of the rear sliding doors, the Entranze takes that configuration to a whole new level by turning all four doors into sliding glass doors that create huge openings on each side of the van. That’s on top of an incredible exterior design that, quite frankly, looks better than a lot of concept vehicles we’ve seen in recent years. It looks that good, folks.

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Not to be outdone, the concept’s interior is incredible in its own right. GAC says that 90 percent of the Entranze’s interior components are made from environmentally sustainable materials like cork. The components that aren’t made from environmentally sustainable materials left an impression, too. The dashboard layout, in particular, features a pair of OLED screens on each side instead of having just one screen in the middle. Even the lower section of the dash has a tray-like design that you almost never see in production models these days.

The Entranze isn’t headed to production anytime soon, but GAC ultimately envisions creating a model that shares the concept’s “ultimate road trip car” identity.

I gotta say, if it looks anything like the concept, it’s going to demand attention from a lot of people.

It’s an impressive concept in every which way. But what’s even more impressive is the incredible run the Chinese automaker is having as far as concept designs are concerned. This is the same company that showcased the Enverge Concept at last year’s show. That one received great acclaim, too.

Those days when we’d snicker at Chinese concepts that looked like cheap copycat versions of popular models are long gone. At least that’s the case with GAC. The Entranze Concept was probably the most stunning concept at the show, and that includes concepts like the Nissan IMs Concept and the Infiniti QX Inspiration EV. When was the last time you said that about a Chinese automaker without giggling after saying it?

Further reading

Did a Chinese and Indian Automaker Steal the Show at The 2019 Detroit Auto Show? Exterior
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GAC Brought a Weird-Looking Thing to Detroit that it Calls The Entranze Concept

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