First Drive Review - Maruti Suzuki XL6 - How different is it from the Ertiga?
The XL6 is Maruti Suzuki’s Ertiga based MPV that comes with refreshed styling and some added goodies. Is this a recipe that’s meant to succeed?
It might not be a sexy category but Indians love MPVs, love their space, practicality and convenience especially when it comes to large families. The Ertiga already does very well for Maruti Suzuki and now to increase its reach, and make it appealing to an audience that does not want to be seen driving a white MPV with yellow plates comes the XL6. There’s no denying the XL6 reminds you of the Ertiga, but its styling is quite distinct.
Does the XL6 look different than the Ertiga?
The XL6 has been styled rather differently, to distinguish it from the Ertiga. The front end now gets stylish LED DRL's with a plastic cladding on the bumpers with a redesigned grille. There is a skid plate at the bottom too. Towards the sides, the bigggest change is the addition of new black alloy wheels that go well with the plastic cladding all around and the added roof rails.
The rear gets the most minor of design touches that include a slightly reworked bumper, a skid plate and LED graphics in the taillamps. On the whole, the cosmetic changes do differentiate it enough visually (atleast from the outside) to look like an all-new car to buyers. The front end redesign looks rather attractive in the flesh and could be biggest selling point. The design is evolutionary and builds on what was already a good looking MPV.
All black interiors for the XL6
There are two changes over the Ertiga's interiors - all black leatherette and the addition of the two captain seats in the middle row. All the premium finishes (faux-wood inserts et al) that made their way to the Ertiga continue to exist in the XL6. The touchscreen infotainment system works just as well as in the Ertiga and we found the cabin to be quite comfortable over two days of driving in and around Jaipur.
How well is the XL6 damped?
Once on the move, the XL6, not so surprisingly, felt just as good as the Ertiga. The European feel of the ride quality still managed to impress us after close to nine months of reviewing the Ertiga. The XL6 has a supple ride and it only gets better as the speeds increase, making it very good for long roadtrips.
The XL6 made a great case for itself over some fast highways in Rajasthan. It handled predictably and even sudden direction changes (ones necessitated by errant pedestrians or cars driving in the wrong direction) were met with enthusiasm by the chassis. Sure there is ample body roll, but we really can't fault Maruti Suzuki for it considering that this MPV is engineered for comfort and practicality over anything else.
Gets the Ertiga’s engine
1.5-litre petrol engine with mild hybrid system
The solitary 1.5-litre petrol mill that the XL6 is offered with is carried over too from the Ertiga and once again, it is immensely tractable. The MPV continues to pull even from third gear in crawling traffic easily. The 103bhp that it produces however, won't really excite the driving enthusiast in you though. The MPV, as a result isn't particularly quick. The mild hybrid technology that’s at play however saves the day for the XL6, as you can smoothly get going from really low speeds and from a standstill. The XL6's incredibly good ride allows you to cruise at high speeds with the added knowledge that broken patches or undulations won't unsettle it.
The two gearbox options aren't very exciting either and have been carried over from the Ertiga. We drove both the 5-speed manual and the 4-speed torque converter and found that the manual was easily the pick if you wanted to get a move on. The well weighted clutch and the precise gear lever gates make it particularly easy to drive too. The autobox, although making it far easier to drive in traffic and might be an option most potential buyers consider as the two variants are priced not too far apart. However, the unit itself gets particularly noisy when you push it and even when we drove with overdrive off(the last gear is an overdrive gear), it didnt help things.
That being said, it is an extremely smooth(albeit slow) unit and there were no jerks of any sort that we could feel.
Impressive set of brakes
Somehow, not much has been said about the Ertiga's brakes, even though they are certainly among the very best in and around the price range (across segments). The brakes have tons of bite and enough feedback and, for lack of a better word, a certain European feel that buyers must certainly appreciate. The XL6 too gets them and during our test period, we found it extremely easy to haul the Ertiga back from triple digit speeds.
In conclusion, the XL6 is a good MPV and being based on the Ertiga only adds to its appeal. It’s stylish, practical and costs Rs 70,000 more than the equivalent variant of the Ertiga. The only down side is the slow automatic gearbox and the fact that you do not get a diesel variant of the XL6. Otherwise, if you were in the market for an MPV and wanted something distinctive, head over to the Nexa dealerships and check out the XL6.