Maruti Suzuki XL6 review, test drive
25th Aug 2019 8:00 am
You like the Maruti Ertiga but don't find it premium enough? If so, the XL6 could be the MPV for you.
What is it?
In a nutshell, the new Maruti Suzuki XL6 is a premium derivative of the Ertiga MPV. The 'XL' in the name expands to 'exclusive' (not 'extra large'), while the '6' is there to communicate that this is a pure six-seater. There are other changes inside and out, too, and to add further distinction to the proposition, Maruti will retail the XL6 through its premium Nexa network. There are no diesel engines on offer but the XL6's BS6 petrol motor does feature mild-hybrid tech and is available with the choice of manual and automatic transmissions.
What's it like on the outside?
The XL6 looks like an Ertiga set for an outing in the television show Man vs Wild. It's more rugged in looks, so to speak, and what also adds some distinction to the XL6 is its redone front end. A raised bonnet line, a larger and bolder grille, and a scuff plate give the XL6 a pseudo SUV face. Also new and unique to the XL6 are its full-LED headlights.
Generous doses of cladding on the bumpers and at the sides give mass to the design but there's a clear visual mismatch with the wheels. The 15-inch rims, finished in black, just look puny under the exaggerated wheel arches; 16-inchers with chunkier rubber would have done wonders for the XL6's stance. Roof rails, a rear scuff plate and dual-tone tail gate are elements exclusive to the XL6, but to the untrained eye, it'll be hard to tell one from an Ertiga, at least from the sides and rear.
The XL6 is available in six colours and you can also personalise the look of your vehicle by dipping into Maruti's accessories menu.
What's it like on the inside?
On the inside, the XL6 feels like the premium Ertiga it is. Sure, the dashboard and even the dials are carried over from the Ertiga but the XL6's all-black interior theme does give it a more upmarket look. The faux black ash wood finish, the leatherette upholstered seats, and even the knitted roof lining are other elements that uplift the experience. Front seat comfort is good, even if the leatherette seats are slightly firmer than the Ertiga's fabric seats.
Of course, among the main talking points in the XL6 is its middle row. Out goes the Ertiga's bench and in come a pair of individual captain's chairs. The XL6's middle-row seats are easy to get onto and you have the option to slide them further back to make ingress-egress even easier. Seat comfort is largely good too, though taller occupants will find thigh support a bit lacking. The seats recline to a fair degree as well, but you can't adjust the position of the armrest, which is a bit of an irritant when you want to sit back and relax. What are also missed are sunblinds for the massive rear windows. Still, it's a nice place to come to after a long day at the office.
As on the Ertiga, the XL6's middle-row seats don't tumble forward, so you'll have to duck-walk your way onto the third row. Again, like on the Ertiga, you'll be surprised by the space on offer at the very back. It's easy to reach a kneeroom compromise with middle-seat passengers, headroom is adequate for an average sized adult and the seating position is also quite nice, as third rows go. Adjustable backrests also make a world of a difference in the back. What's also handy is that the rearmost seats split and fold to sit flush with the boot floor, to take luggage capacity from 209 litres to a useful 550 litres. Do note that the XL6's middle seats don't fold flat as the Ertiga's.
Maruti has launched the XL6 in Zeta and Alpha trims, and both get plenty by way of features. In addition to auto climate control, keyless entry and go, and electric fold mirrors that top-spec Ertigas come with, the XL6 gets much wanted additions like LED headlights with DRLs, and cruise control. Leatherette seats and a reverse camera are exclusive to the XL6 Alpha trim, though Maruti should have added an auto-dimming mirror too. The XL6 also goes one up on the Ertiga by deploying Maruti's new-gen SmartPlay Studio infotainment unit. The 7.0-inch touchscreen-based system is fairly slick, well laid out and comes bundled with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. You can also add in Suzuki Connect as an option, which brings in e-SIM-based connected tech with features such as geofencing and real-time driving alerts.
What's it like to drive?
If you've driven a petrol-powered Ertiga, you've driven the XL6. Maruti hasn't tinkered with the engine and suspension in any way. The 1.5-litre petrol engine, now updated to BS6-spec, features mild-hybrid tech, with the setup comprising an integrated starter generator and a secondary lithium-ion battery pack. The motor gives some assist under heavy acceleration but there's no pure-electric mode.
Initial responses on the XL6 are good and if you hold gear you'll also appreciate the borderline sporty top-end. What's more, the engine also sounds quite throaty above 3,000rpm. However, the mid-range is flat so you'll have to shift down a gear if you want a quick overtake. There is fair power for driving with a full load and cruise control helps maintain a steady clip too, but drivers used to torquier turbo-diesels will find pulling power a bit lacking here.
The XL6's 5-speed manual gearbox is easy to use and the clutch is well-weighted too. Also on offer is a 4-speed torque converter automatic. The unit is likeable, shifting smoothly in average town driving. Pressing down harder on the accelerator has the gearbox drop down a ratio or two and it gets the engine all riled up, often when you don't want it to. The automatic's average fuel economy is also a bit of a downer (for reference, the Ertiga auto delivered 7kpl in our city cycle).
The XL6's low-speed ride comfort is good, with the suspension rounding off the bumps with ease. Large potholes do thud through into the cabin at high speeds but, like the Ertiga, the XL6 feels surprisingly well-planted out on the highway. The steering is also one of Maruti's finer efforts of recent times, with a good deal of weight to it. However, there's quite a bit of road noise at 80kph and upwards in the cabin and this takes away from the premium feel this car is trying to establish.
Should you buy one?
Priced from Rs 9.8- 11.46 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the XL6 range starts where the Ertiga range tops off at. The petrol-manual XL6 Zeta costs about Rs 20,000 more than the comparable top-spec Ertiga ZXi+, which makes it a fairly good deal. The petrol-manual Alpha trim (Rs 10.36 lakh) is a sensible buy too but there's a significant premium to pay for the autos (Rs 10.36-11.46 lakh). That said, with the majority of Ertiga sales concentrated at the top end, Maruti shouldn't find it too hard to convince buyers to upgrade to the XL6.
The XL6 builds on the Ertiga's strong fundamentals and adds in a fair dose of premium-ness to the package. Practical and reasonably upmarket too, the XL6 sure has its charms.It’s a pity Maruti’s brilliant in-house 1.5 diesel is not an option. That would have only added to this very capable and competent MPV’s appeal.
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