Motoring

Maruti’s new XL6: Smooth and subtle

Maruti's new XL6

Maruti's new XL6 | Photo Credit: GAURAV_GT

Now that the MPV space has seen the addition of the premium Kia Carens, Maruti has updated the XL6 with some mild styling changes, and also upped its game with some interesting feature additions, with a new engine and a new 6-speed automatic gearbox. Does it pass muster?

Touch Up

At the front, the refreshed grille and a chunky chrome bar joins the LED Daytime Running Lamps in the headlamps. Over to the side, the new XL6 now gets bigger, 16-inch metal-finish wheels with new styling. They fill the wheel arches better and help the car look more proportionate. The rugged-looking black cladding remains, with the roof rails. At the rear, the tail-lamps carry over the same shape as before but get a smoked effect now. And there is a chrome bar on the boot lid as well.

Nerd Fest

Inside, the dashboard layout is the same as before, but what has changed is the faux wood panel design. Also, the steering now gets a handy mechanical improvement with a telescopic function, in addition to the tilt, which helps find a better driving position.

The 7.0-inch touchscreen too gets updated to the SmartPlay Pro UI, which gets more functionality and a refreshed UI. What is also new is the connectivity tech. The XL6 now gets Suzuki Connect App support, which opens up 40 new functions you can control from your smartphone, with Amazon Alexa integration. The other new bits include a TPMS (tyre pressure monitoring system) and a 360-degree camera.

Maruti's new XL6

Maruti's new XL6 | Photo Credit: GAURAV_GT

Lower down on the centre console are switches for yet another highlight of the updated XL6 — ventilated seats. On the top-spec Alpha+ trim, you get perforated leatherette cooled seats, which work perfectly for our hot and humid climate. Another worthwhile update is the addition of blowers for the cupholders up front, to keep your beverage cool for longer. However, what is not appreciated is the lack of USB ports. Throughout the cabin, there is just a single port at the front, and given that this is a big family car, it is a rather strange oversight for an update that is focused on new tech.

In the second row, space is plenty, with enough legroom to stretch as well as comfortable headroom. The captain’s seats are comfy, have the right amount of cushioning and offer good flexibility, which also helps adjust space for third-row passengers. The XL6 has a relatively easy ingress to the last row of seats, and once you get in them, there is not much to complain about. Sure, space is not like in the middle row, but with a little adjusting, even tall occupants can find reasonable space at the back. The backrest can be reclined, but taller occupants will find their head grazing against the roof. Sadly, there are no AC vents back here, and on a hot day, it can get a bit stuffy.

Still, if you do not wish to use those seats, you can fold them down and open up 550 litres of boot space. Maruti has also upped the XL6’s safety equipment, and while it has not been crash-tested yet, the new car now gets four airbags as standard across all variants, with ABS with EBD, ESP and hill-hold assist. The addition of ESP will go a long way in improving active safety.

Change of Heart

For the 2022 update, Maruti has swapped the older 1.5-litre K15B engine with a new K15C 1.5-litre DualJet petrol motor. It makes 103hp and 136Nm, which is 2hp and 2Nm down on the older car, respectively, but the addition of two injectors for each cylinder helps improve mileage; Maruti claims 20.97kpl, which is an improvement over the previous engine.

It still is a mild-hybrid, where the start-stop system helps save fuel in traffic, and the motor offers some assistance under acceleration. The system is seamless, and while it does get a slight nudge when poked, the engine overall is relaxed and linear. Drive it with a sedate foot and all is fine. Refinement is good, there are no vibrations, and all in all, it is a smooth driving experience.

Now, it is not as exciting or as fun as the 0-100kph time of over 15sec bears testament, but for an MPV, a calm and relaxed drive is what is expected. On the manual, the clutch is light and has a gradual bite point, and there is also a dead pedal that makes long drives comfortable. What is impressive is how tractable the car is. The gears are well spaced out and you can come down to crawling speeds of as low as 7kph in second gear.

The new 6-speed automatic, however, does give the engine a hard time, especially if you rush it. The upshifts are delayed, the downshifts take time and in no scenario does it like to be eager. In terms of kickdown, the new XL6 is over a second off pace, compared to the previous version. A dash from 0-100kph is also a lot more linear, and with a full load, it will need to wring the engine, which gets boomy and rather vocal past 3,200rpm.

Ease your right foot though, and the auto ’box gets a lot more comfortable. At city speeds, the shifts are smooth, part-throttle responses are good, and when your left leg is resting comfortably, you will not be bothered about its sluggish nature. What is a big plus is the availability of a manual mode with paddle shifters, which allows you to take total control of the gearbox. It is the ideal setting to have if you need faster responses. Just slot it in ‘M’ and take charge of the paddle shifters.

Comfy Dory

Now an engaging drive is not what you expect from an MPV designed to ferry six in comfort. Sure, there is body roll and it feels top heavy, but you never feel loss of control in the corners or any massive understeer. The steering has a hint of heft, which is unlike a Maruti, and overall, it is a reassuring handler.

What was a slight worry initially was the ride quality, as the 16-inch wheels now gets a smaller sidewall (195/60 compared to the earlier 185/65), which would usually rob some cushiness from the ride, but that is not the case. As for the ride, the spring rate for the suspension has been adjusted for the gain in wheel size and weight, so over a bad patch, it still is very much adept. Slow speed bumps are well taken care of and the sharp cuts are muted too. Some really sharp ones do make it through to the cabin, but the smaller aspect ratio of the tyres has not impacted the overall ride quality.

Is it worth It?

The XL6 has always been a comfy and spacious car, and it has certainly gotten more appealing with the new features and updates. However, with prices ranging from ₹ 11.29 lakh to ₹ 14.55 lakh, the XL6 has also become expensive, especially at the top. With the new features, connected tech and the refined powertrain on top of what is already a very spacious and comfortable car, the XL6 does plenty to make sure it is a strong contender.


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Printable version | Jun 20, 2022 7:22:48 am | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/motoring/marutis-new-xl6-smooth-and-subtle/article65390976.ece