Maruti Suzuki XL6 First Drive Review
Last year, the second-gen Maruti Suzuki Ertiga set its foot in the Indian soil. While the Ertiga proved to be a gamechanger for the slumped MPV segment, the car had a few pitfalls of its own. Now, I am not saying the Ertiga is a bad proposition, it has amazing ride quality and a very usable third row of seats – a thing that many manufacturers still struggle upon. But, on the contrary, it is just too plain jane to be considered a premium product, amidst the newly launched Marazzo and the sales-mammoth Innova Crysta.
Now, it seems like Maruti Suzuki heard our prayers and launched an all-new premium version of the Ertiga, the XL6. The XL name expands to exclusive – and not extra-large – and the numerical ‘6’ denotes the car is a six-seater. And since this is a ‘premium’ product, it will be sold through the premium Nexa dealership, as the Ertiga continues to retail through the Arena stores. So, here’s a quick sneak peek from our Maruti Suzuki XL6 review.
But the Ertiga is a seven-seater!
But first, let’s address the elephant in the room. Two seats in the front, a bench that accommodates three in the middle and two seats in the last row, that’s the seating configuration of the Ertiga. Now, with the XL6, Maruti is aiming to muster up with the premium buyer. As a result, the middle row – which used to be a bench – features two captain seats with their very own armrests. What’s more, the seats are now finished in black leatherette upholstery, further oozing that premium appeal. The dashboard layout remains the same, but the all-black interior theme gives the XL6 a more upmarket look.
Getting in and out of the cabin is an easy affair. The rear door opens wide, and you can comfortably slide in the rear seats. The captain-seats offer amazing comfort and a high seating position, for that commanding view of the cabin. Compared to the fabric seats of the Ertiga, the leatherette seats, albeit firmer, offer good thigh support and a certain amount of lower back support too. There are air-con vents on the roof that offer a good flow of air, directed from the front row. The third row remains purely unchanged, and the firmer seats provide a tad bit better comfort over the Ertiga.
Taking the premium quotient, a step further
A brief brochure to brochure comparison reveals a number of new gadgetries in the XL6. Now, it’s no secret the Ertiga was a well-loaded car in the first place. The XL6, on the other hand, takes the quotient a step further. Over the Ertiga, the XL6 boasts the company’s new SmartPlay studio infotainment system, automatic headlamps, cruise control, and auto fold wing mirrors. However, for a product that aims to be a premium MPV, the quality of switchgear and controls continue to be the same.
The changes are more evident on the outside, at least at the front. The Maruti Suzuki XL6 gets a new and a more imposing face. The new face comprises of a more upright nose, a single-slat chrome grille flanked by full-LED headlamps with LED DRLs – something which was sorely missed on the Ertiga, LED fog lamps and skid plates. What’s more, the XL6 gets plastic cladding that runs through the body, gives the MPV a rugged and SUV-like stance. However, the XL6 could have done with chunkier 16-inch wheels, as the 15-inchers doesn’t bode well with the exaggerated wheel arches. At the rear, the changes are only limited to a gloss black section and a skid plate.
Behind the wheel!
Even if the layout remains largely unchanged, the front leatherette seats of the XL6 are a step in the right direction. And even if you are not chauffeur-driven, the front seats offer as much as comfort as the rear ones. Now, under the hood, the XL6 is powered by the Ertiga’s 1.5-litre gasoline engine that is capable of churning out 103bhp and 138Nm. The XL6 also borrows the transmission options from the Ertiga. As a result, there is an option of a five-speed manual and a four-speed torque converter.
Now, 103bhp might sound too conservative for a car the size of the XL6, but the sufficed low-end grunt from the engine makes it a boom to drive in the urban streets. However, the mid-range is really weak and you’ll have to breach in the top-end – that’s when the variable valve timing kicks in – to get the most of this engine. The five-speed manual is a slick-shifting unit, and it’s a boon to operate in city as well as highway. The four-speed automatic is fairly smooth in operation, and makes for smooth upshifts and downshifts while shifting gears. The only time when downshifts are prominent is under hard braking, as the gearbox seems to muddle between the ratios.
Just like the Ertiga, the ride quality on the XL6 is simply stupendous. The suspension works very quietly and absorbs bumps and undulations without unsettling the passengers. However, the ride quality feels a little too stiff as it feels a tad bumpy at times. Large potholes do filter in the cabin, but the XL6 feels supremely pliant at higher speeds. The steering, on the other hand, inspires some confidence at higher speeds – unlike some newer Maruti models.
Should you pay the premium?
There’s no denying the XL6 is demand a premium over the Ertiga. In fact, priced at Rs.9.8 – 11.46 lakh, the XL6 starts at a price where the Ertiga ends. But if you take a closer look, the XL6 is only available in Zeta and Alpha variants, which are quite loaded for the price. In all honesty, though, the XL6 does take the premium quotient of the Ertiga a notch further. Moreover, with an imposing nose, premium cabin, and crossover looks, the XL6 does sound much enticing than the Ertiga. And did I forgot to mention it’s equally as comfortable for the driver as the passengers? To read our full verdict and the extensively detailed Maruti Suzuki XL6 review, be sure to tune in to autoX.