The temperatures were bordering 50 degrees as I pensively waited outside the metro station. The anguish was made further unbearable by the grey suit that I had donned. Fortunately for me, I had decided to lose the tie in the morning as I could not find the blue one. A remarkable piece of good fortune. Never was I happier to not find something that I had looked for, especially when that meant being half dressed for a meeting. 

While I was lost in this sea of thoughts, a shiny scarlet red Ferrari 355 Spider pulled up right in front of me and offered to drive my dream machine. While I was gawking at the machine with my mouth open, someone bumped into me from behind. As I turned around, I was rendered speechless as it was none other than the God himself, Michael Schumacher. I had my dream come true on either side of my head. The Ferrari 355 on one and my lifelong hero, Michael Schumacher on the other. The day was getting insane. Just imagine two of your most coveted dreams coming true in a span of 60 seconds. 

That’s just about when I heard a loud honk. A smiling cab driver in a Toyota Camry was waving frantically at me. I was in the land of deserts and I guess mirages were not common in temperatures of 50 degree celsius. I jolted back to reality to find me on the road gawking at an elderly gentleman in cargo shorts. It took me a few moments to comprehend what had transpired. Profusely apologising to the elderly gentleman for staring blankly at him, I quickly hailed the cab who had brought my soaring dream crashing to the tarmac. I had two of my most coveted dreams broken in a span of 6 seconds. 

The AC was a welcome relief. Once I had cooled my head properly, the flashes of Red and the distinguished red racing God disappeared completely. I just stretched back smiling to myself and soaking in the possibility of that happening in reality…..someday, I thought. The smooth ride of the Camry on a silky smooth road was extremely calming. That’s when I noticed that the cabby was driving with a cheshire cat grin. Not wanting to ignore that, I casually asked him the reason for his cheery disposition. Well, you ask a question and you get an answer. But what followed was something that I was not expecting.

Ali, the cabby, was from Bangladesh. A lovely cheerful chap. He was intoxicated with the fact that he was on the last drive of the car which would be replaced with a brand new Camry at the end of the ride. SS last ride??? Not exactly. I was perplexed as the car was gliding along perfectly with the brilliant AC making it a very pleasant ride. That is when I craned my neck to check the odometer. Damn! The car had done 8,98,456 kilometers. A Dubai cab never rests. So it was constantly running two 12 hour shifts for god knows how long. And the lovely car was motoring along like it was almost new. That was my first tryst with the legendary reliability of Toyota engines. Almost a decade from then, I am still amazed at how little broken down Toyotas I have seen in my travels. 

Toyota makes really efficient and reliable machines. There’s no denying the fact that the designs can be quite mediocre at times, but the engine is never in question. Which brings me to a face-lift that I was quite eagerly waiting for, the Toyota Innova 2021. The Indian market has a place for almost anything, but to make a mark like the Innova, it had to be a special car. 

Now to the other element behind the roaring success of this great MPV. Even in the rapidly modernising India, the indispensable theme of the joint family is highly cherished, housing multiple generations under a single roof. This roof had to extend and also cover the great Indian family when on the road. The Innova redefined the art of moving large families in comfort when it was introduced in 2005. The launch of Innova, sparked off a trend that spread to quite a few other car makers over the years. The first MPV in India had found a niche; with unrivalled comfort, space and looks, combined with Toyota’s legendary Quality, Durability and Reliability, it was deeply rooted in the values of  Indian families. Over the years, the Innova has seen quite a few face-lifts, but no matter the design, the car has been lapped by adoring Indian families.

2016 saw the ‘Crysta’ badging make its debut, and again, the response was overwhelming. From being a rather basic people mover back in 2005 the car has come a long way, with features, gadgetries and styling getting progressively modern with each new model. 

The latest in the line, the Crysta 2021 has a horde of gizmos to keep the family entertained while on the road. The, so called, touch screen size that most ‘experts’ speak about is also addressed. The cabin of the new Innova Crysta has a new touchscreen infotainment system that comes with Smart Playcast with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The car also has a tad more power than its predecessor. And in true Innova fashion, all this happens quite comfortably in the rather spacious cabin. The pricing, I think,  is a little steep, but mate that to the cost of maintenance over the years and you have a winner.

The Innova is not a racer, so don’t expect the car to go round corners like a M5, or even a Polo for that matter. But what it does is the job the car was built to do. Move families around in comfort and with peace of mind that comes with the unquestionable reliability of Toyota engines. The car runs purely on the emotions of Indian buyers; space, comfort and reliability coupled with a low cost of maintenance.

The Innova still shines through as a beacon of light among the MPVs, all waiting to make their mark on Indian families. The temperatures in India might get hot. People might start seeing Ferrari 355 Spiders and Michael Schumacher around them. But, truth be told, the Innova is definitely no mirage. The reliability is real. The comfort is real. The emotions that it moves are real. The steep pricing is real; but the low cost of maintenance is also real. 

I raise a glass of finest scotch to a magnificent, ageless workhorse, the Toyota Innova. And this is real.