In a bid to offer prospective customers a more ‘premium’ alternative to the Ertiga, the Maruti XL6 was born. This also means that it makes inroads to the car maker’s acclaimed Nexa set of showrooms. But as a product, other than being based on the Ertiga, the XL6 gets the unique crossover makeover that’s more arresting of sorts and is offered with the Ertiga’s 1.5-litre petrol motor with the choice of a manual or automatic gearbox. Here’s our detailed review.
Undeniably, it’s the XL6’s wide range of colour options that make this tidied-up Ertiga look the part. But we have to admit that there’s more to it. Like the nose, for instance. A larger grille with loads of chrome can be seen splitting the new quad-LED headlamps with DRLs apart. There are beefier bumpers too, front and rear, complete with faux bash-plates that look sportier. And in profile, one can also spot the thick body cladding, new roof rails, and rather small 15-inch black alloys. Frankly, it’s the XL6 for me over the Ertiga any day.
Unlike the light colours of the Ertiga’s cabin, the XL6’s is a dark one owing to the use of black materials predominantly. This, combined with the glossy stone finish on the dashboard lends it a gorgeous blend of premium and sportiness. The only ergonomic flaw we came across is that access to the MID display is via two knobs behind the steering, when it actually should have been mounted on the steering. As such, also differentiating the XL6 from the Ertiga is the second row which offers two leather captain seats that are similar to the front ones.
So, in addition to matching the superior levels of support, one can also expect very good head- and knee room. But that aside, they could have offered more under-thigh support. Practicality-wise, the middle row reclines and slides back/forth for fair access to the third row. Now, since the aim of having captain seats in the second row is to attract the chauffeur-driven, we expected features such as window blinds, extra USB points or even individual cup holders here. But what you get is the roof-mounted AC vents, 12V socket, and 1.0-litre bottle holders in the door pockets and armrests (already in the Ertiga).
As for the third row, just like the Ertiga, the seats can recline for comfort and also fold flat to liberate more boot space. But there’s no running away from the fact that they are best suited to children. Features-wise, the XL6 gets power windows and mirrors, a sunroof, reverse camera, and a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple Car Play/Android Auto, as well as Maruti’s own dedicated smart play app that lets you access things like media, maps, geofencing, and even car health information. Besides that, the XL6 comes with safety features like dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, ISOFIX child seat mounting points, and three-point seat belts for all occupants.
Powering the XL6’s front wheels is the lone engine option; a 103bhp/138Nm 1.5-litre hybrid petrol engine with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic gearbox variant like the one we have for this review. Hybrid duties are carried out by the SHVS smart hybrid system, wherein a lithium-ion battery provides an auto stop-start function and some torque boost. Off the mark, the energetic response lower down in the rev range is not hard to notice. This strong bottom-end means most city commutes are executed without extracting much from the engine. Truth be told, as it crosses the 2,000rpm mark, this rev-happy motor comes into its own, but sadly, this is also where the old school torque convertor gearbox lets it down.
So, as much as the city driving is fuss-free, the minute you want to make a quick overtake and floor the throttle, there is a noticeable lag before you see any action. This can also be seen in our tests of overtaking capabilities, the 20-80kmph/40-100kmph runs in kick-down, which takes a decent 7.54 seconds/9.60 seconds. For the record, while the 0-100kmph sprint took all of 12.67 seconds, the engine can get extremely vocal. Moreover, there’s no manual mode, so if you’re on a challenging incline, there’s the option to slot the gearbox into ‘2’ or ‘L’ for enhanced grunt; the latter meant for the more severe inclination/load.
Now, being mechanically similar to the Ertiga means that the XL6 also benefits from a tremendously absorbent low-speed ride. The only downside being the marginal suspension noise once the bumps get harsh. As the speeds increase though, the XL6 feels surprisingly planted with just the right amount of heft to the steering. Nevertheless, the tall roof also means there’s more than expected body roll when you try going fast around bends. Be that as it may, at city speeds, the steering (2.5 turns from lock-to-lock) is fairly light, which makes manoeuvring and parking even in tight spots a breeze.
If it’s a premium Ertiga that entices you, then the Maruti Suzuki XL6 which ranges from Rs 11.46 lakh to Rs 13.72 lakh (OTR Mumbai), could as well be the one for you. Agreed that it lacks some fancy features and the gearbox feels dated too. But on the flip side, the XL6 has a lot going for it. It is based on a strong product (read Ertiga), has a different identity, is fairly spacious, comfortable and practical, and has everything to benefit from the carmaker’s sales/service network and re-sale value. Driving-wise, if control matters more to you than two-pedal comfort, then we feel that the five-speed manual version will better suit you overall.
Pictures by Kapil Angane