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Review: Maruti Suzuki XL6 - On predictable lines, yet promising

S Muralidhar | Updated on August 29, 2019 Published on August 26, 2019

Maruti Suzuki XL6

The new, premium alternative to Ertiga is on predictable lines, and yet promising

One of the strengths of car market leader Maruti Suzuki has been its ability to keep an ear to the ground. Notwithstanding, some of the recent pronouncements regarding the future of diesel cars, the general trend over the years has evidenced an uncanny ability to gather actionable market intelligence.

But that was before the Indian car buyer morphed into a complex being infected with newer preferences and the choice of a whole new range of options. Of course, in the meantime, Maruti has also evolved into a brand that can make premium quality vehicles with a separate NEXA sales channel. The combination of the two evolutions is what the new XL6 is meant to represent.

Also read: Maruti launches premium MPV XL6

Essentially, the Ertiga gets a pampered twin in the new Maruti Suzuki XL6. This is a premium MPV that sports the swagger of an SUV and gets some upmarket kit inside it’s doors to advance the proposition of an upgrade. In keeping with its premium positioning and its move to the NEXA sales channel, the XL6 has had a fair makeover to distinguish it from the Ertiga. But, is it enough?

Design

 

In terms of dimensions, the XL6 is marginally bigger than the Ertiga. But don’t get your hopes up too much, it is 50mm longer and 40mm wider, yet all of that comes from the new fenders and side cladding, with nothing translating into additional space in the cabin. The wheelbase continues to be the same 2,740mm as that of the Ertiga.

As the name suggests, the XL6 is a six-seater, even as it is positioned as an SUV alternative. It is tough not to see the Ertiga sitting behind the body cladding and the other new exterior features. But, there is still a likeable newness that attempts to justify the positioning. Yet, the XL6’s rear is a dead giveaway with the design being almost identical to the Ertiga. Only the LED light guides in the tail-lamps and the faux skid plates in the new rear fender offer some fresh elements.

 

The front of the XL6, however, brings it a whole new face. The hood is raised, the headlamps are completely new, as is the bonnet grille with it’s thick chrome cross-bar design element that runs in the middle and into the headlamps.

The XL6’s new identity is accentuated by the chiseled front fender with its faux aluminium underbody protector and the new headlamps. The lights are new with quad LED projectors and DRLs that are set in a sharp edged headlamp housing that sits flush with the grille. Just like the differentiators at the front, the thick, black plastic body side cladding running over the wheel arches try to lift the side profile to match that of an SUV. The finish is clean and the cladding runs around the vehicle creating layered, dual tone front and rear fenders too.

Cabin

 

The interior of the XL6 is identical in form and layout as that of the Ertiga. The flat-bottomed, multi-function steering wheel, auto climate control and the same infotainment screen are all there too. The horizontal orientation of the dashboard with the aircon vents in a line also feature in the XL6’s cabin.

The materials and colours used are different though, with black being the theme for the seats and most of the panels on the dashboard and door. Material quality is marginally better, with the stone-finish inserts on the dash and door being the best out of these new bits. Fit and finish is clean and fresh, though not nearly the level of premium that is fast being expected from cars in the Rs 10 lakh plus segment.

There are a few premium features like auto headlamps, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers and leather seats. The 17.8cm touchscreen infotainment system also gets an upgrade to the SmartPlay Studio and can connect to the cloud when paired with your smartphone.

The change that is worthy of note is the addition of captain seats for the second row, instead of the 60:40 split bench in the Ertiga. The bucket seats in the second row and the twin seats in the third row can now be adjusted for recline and in addition to the gap between the two captain seats, entry and exit from the third row is fairly easy due to the one touch fold and slide mechanism.

The seats are clad with leather upholstery, but thanks to the dedicated roof-mounted aircon, carried over from the Ertiga occupants in the second and third row will also be comfortable.

Performance

 

The XL6 gets the same K15 petrol engine that is offered in the Ertiga and in the same state of tune too. In the XL6, this 1,462cc 4-cylinder engine, first offered in the Ciaz, is BS 6 emissions compliant and also features Maruti Suzuki’s proprietary Smart Hybrid technology.

Like in the Ertiga, it generates the same 77kW of peak power and 138Nm of torque and at the same engine rpm levels. Maruti engineers say that changes to the engine calibration and exhaust after treatment have enabled this powertrain to meet the much more stringent BS 6 norm. The transmissions are also the same two options with this engine. The 5-speed manual and the 4-speed torque converter automatic gearboxes have been carried over for the XL6 too.

 

The auto still doesn’t get a triptronic manual gear selection option. The transmissions are a decent fit with the manual’s shift quality being clean and crisp, and the automatic also managing to deliver an acceptably brisk performance. Response to throttle inputs is fairly quick and kick-downs when you want a burst of acceleration are also executed swiftly.

The ride quality of the XL6 is also very similar to the Ertiga, which means that the suspension sports a good balance. There is a bit of body roll, but the XL6 (like its sibling) holds its poise over bad roads. The setting is good enough to let the vehicle sail over speed-breakers and potholes without losing its composure.

Safety kit is also identical to the Ertiga’s and includes electronic stability control and hill hold control for the automatic variants. Two airbags, ABS with EBD, reverse parking sensors etc are standard across all four variants. The XL6 will be offered only in two trim variants each (Zeta and Alpha) for the manual and auto transmissions.

Bottom Line

This is an upgraded experience for a Ertiga owner and is targeted at buyers who are looking for a vehicle that offers some newness, a few visual differences compared to the neighbour’s car and some SUV-like design breakaway for what is essentially a MPV. The XL6 is still an attempt at staying within a safe framework and at shoring up volumes with two versions of the same vehicle.

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the XL6. It is a good alternative for potential Ertiga buyers and may be a few others too. But what it doesn’t represent is a departure for Maruti Suzuki from being predictably predictable. On the contrary, what it could have been is a bigger, genuine move towards creating a truly inspiring, new, premium vehicle that pleasantly surprises buyers for a vehicle coming from the brand, even while the Ertiga gets its emissions upgrade and continues to stay in its cozy, volume-generating corner. That then would have been the paradigm shift that Maruti truly needs for taking on the new generation of competitors that are already here and on their way.

In the meanwhile, if you are in the market for a more premium, more stylish peoples mover which is a better alternative to the Ertiga, the XL6 is a good choice with prices ranging from Rs 9.8 lakh to Rs 11.46 lakh.

Published on August 26, 2019
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