Maruti Suzuki XL6 builds on the Ertiga

Photography: Omkar Dhas  

The XL6, to put it simply, is a more premium iteration of the Ertiga, and Maruti has done quite a bit to give the car its own identity. It’s more rugged in looks, so to speak, with generous amounts of cladding to go around. What also adds some distinction to the XL6 is its redone front end, with a raised bonnet line, larger grille and unique-to-the-model full-LED headlamps, giving it a more of a crossover look.

The cladding gives 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 the 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.

Maruti Suzuki XL6 builds on the Ertiga

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, 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.

Maruti Suzuki XL6 builds on the Ertiga

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 middle-row seats are easy to get into 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.

Maruti Suzuki XL6 builds on the Ertiga

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 knee-room 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 lot of 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. However, the XL6’s middle seats don’t fold flat as the Ertiga’s.

On the equipment front, the XL6 does get some additions over the Ertiga, such as the LED headlights, cruise control, leatherette seats and Maruti’s new SmartPlay Studio infotainment system, replete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 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. The XL6 can be had in two trim options — Zeta and Alpha — with the leatherette seats and a reverse camera exclusive to the latter.

If you’ve driven a petrol-powered Ertiga, you’ve driven the XL6. Maruti hasn’t tinkered with the BS-VI-compliant 1.5-litre petrol engine, which continues to feature mild-hybrid tech, with an integrated starter generator and a secondary lithium-ion battery pack providing some assist under heavy acceleration.

Initial responses 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 little lacking.

The 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.

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 lot of road noise at 80kph and upwards in the cabin, and this detracts from the premium feel the XL6 is trying to establish.

Maruti Suzuki XL6 first test drive and review

Priced from ₹9.8-11.46 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the XL6 range starts where the Ertiga range tops off. The petrol-manual XL6 Zeta costs about ₹20,000 more than the comparable top-spec Ertiga ZXi+, which makes it a fairly good deal. The petrol-manual Alpha trim (₹10.9 lakh) is a touch pricey, and there’s a significant premium to pay for the autos (₹10.36-11.46 lakh) too. 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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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 12:58:46 PM |

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