We test Maruti’s first ever 6-seater offering
What is it?
Based on the popular and successful Ertiga, the XL6 comes across as a matured, bolder looking and a muscular large vehicle. It will be sold via Nexa outlets, comes in a 6-seat configuration and prices start at Rs 9.7 lakh. Only a 1.5-litre petrol is on offer right now. So, is this a sensible and more affordable alternative to the Toyota Innova Crysta? And more importantly, is this a good family vehicle?
The new design
Do note that this is an Indian specific model and changes have been carried out keeping Indian consumers in mind. While the entire body shell is that of the Ertiga, the front gets a more ‘SUV-ish’ stance thanks to a raised hood, new prominent headlamps, a new grille and a sportier bumper. The XL6 gets proper LED headlamps with integrated DRLs. The large and flat grille adds to the muscle and the bumper also houses a silver skid plate that's more aesthetic than functional.
On the side, you do notice the matt black cladding that runs around the length and width of the XL6. These seem to be a bit overdone especially considering that the wheel and tyre size remains similar to that of the Ertiga. This makes the XL6 look under-tyred from most angles. The side profile also showcases the blacked-out mirrors, side skirts with silver add-ons and the roof rains.
At the back, the new bumper additions look way sportier and the tail lamps get a LED effect. At night, they do remind us of the Jazz’s rear. A spoiler is not standard but available as an accessory add on at the dealer level.
In all, the XL6 has more road presence than the Ertiga but we would have loved taller and wider wheels on this one.
The better interiors
We like the new Ertiga’s cabin for its spacious and airy feel and the XL6 utilizes this factor to improve on the comfort aspect. This is the first 6-seater from Maruti and this has been possible due to individual or captain 2nd row seats. This has been a hit with the Toyota Innova Crysta and is also offered with the Mahindra Marazzo. In the XL6, thanks to the long wheelbase, you have ample knee room / leg room in here (2nd row) in spite of tall driver and co-driver up front.
These independent seats have their own recline and slide function and getting into the last row is even easier. Boot space, with all three rows up, is excellent. Another change in the XL6, over the Ertiga, are the all black interiors with leather seats and cruise control being offered on the top end Alpha model.
The XL6 is being offered with only a petrol engine as of now. The 1.5-litre K series unit made its debut in the Ciaz last year and a few months down the line, we drove it in the new Ertiga too. Generating 103 bhp of power and 138 Nm of torque, this engine offers a good mix between low end torque (essential for city runs) and fuel economy (as much as 19 kmpl as per ARAI for the MT model). This engine comes mated to a 5-speed manual as standard and a 4-speed torque converter as optional.
In terms of power delivery, engine tuning or gear ratios, everything remains same as the normal Ertiga and that isn’t a bad thing as such. The manual ‘box offers a good shift quality and a light clutch and it's easy to pick speeds from as low as 20km/h in the 3rd gear. Rev it hard, and the XL6 can sprint from 0 to 100km/h in just over 12 seconds.
The 4-speed auto is the same we see in the Ciaz and the Ertiga. Don’t be fooled by the figure ‘4’ as the ratios are well spread and thank to ample torque low down in the rev range, gaining momentum in sow moving traffic isn’t tough.
Ride and handling
As expected, Maruti hasn’t altered the steering set-up or the suspension on the XL6. This means ride and handling remain similar to that of the Ertiga. For city usage, you will appreciate the high seating posture, good visibility and light controls. Even the suspension is geared towards comfort which means it is able to soak major undulations without throwing passengers all over the place. And while doing so, it remain calm and composed as long as speeds are under 80 km/h or so.
The steering, though good for city runs, is a spoiler at higher speeds due to lack of feedback and the lifeless feel that is associated with EPS or electric power steering set-ups. You need to give constant inputs and given the long wheelbase of the XL6, changes directions at higher speeds isn’t its forte either.
Design changes, an all-black cabin, leather seats, cruise control and the Nexa experience - these additions go a long way in giving the XL6 a new found appeal. Prices are very competitive with the Zeta model being just about Rs 20,000 more expensive than the similarly equipped ZXI+ on the Ertiga. In all, it's an experiment gone right by Maruti and the only two shortcomings are the smaller wheels and lack of a diesel engine. If you can live with these, the XL6 will keep you happy and satisfied