Notwithstanding the slowdown in the automotive sector in the last three quarters, manufacturers have continued to introduce new products. In fact, the last couple of months have seen the launch of two new brands in the Indian market as well, that of MG Motors and Kia Motors. August, in particular, has been an exciting month for the market with a slew of new product introductions. One of the latest models to hit the road is the Maruti Suzuki XL6, a premium MPV based on the company's older MPV, the Ertiga.
The XL6 is a six seater MPV, Maruti Suzuki’s first three row seater to be sold through its NEXA retail outlets. In fact, the genesis of the XL6’s name lies in it being an “exclusive six seater”. The XL6 has been offered just one engine, a new BS VI compliant 1.5 l petrol engine that comes with two transmission options, a 5-speed manual and a 4-speed automatic transmission.
Let's take you on a drive around the Pink City of Jaipur and tell you what we think of this new MPV from Maruti Suzuki's stable.
XL6 VS ERTIGA
Before we get to the details of the vehicle, let’s understand how the XL6 is different from the Ertiga. The Maruti Suzuki XL6 is the carmaker's second MPV after the highly successful Maruti Suzuki Ertiga. The two vehicles, however, will be sold through separate channels. While XL6 will be sold via Nexa dealerships – aiming to cater to the more premium customers, the Ertiga will continue to be sold through the Arena dealerships.
Aimed at attracting a wider range of customers, Maruti Suzuki offers the Ertiga in three fuel options – petrol, diesel as well as CNG. The petrol engine is same as the one available in XL6, one that delivers 92 hp of peak power and 122 Nm of torque and comes paired to a 5-speed manual gearbox. There is the trusted 1.3 l, DDiS 225, diesel powertrain as well that churns out 95 hp of power, 225 Nm of torque and comes paired to a 6-speed manual transmission.
The XL6, on the other hand, gets only a single engine option – a BS VI-compliant K15 petrol engine that makes 105 hp and 138 Nm of peak torque and is offered with a 5-speed manual and a 4-speed automatic transmission. Power delivery on both variants is smooth and quick, although gear shifts on the AT might not be to the liking of many.
From a price perspective too, Maruti Suzuki has positioned the XL6 at a premium compared to its older sibling. The Ertiga retails at a starting price of Rs 7.55 lakh, while the XL6 has been launched at Rs 9.79 lakh, going up to Rs 11.46 lakh for the top end, Alpha (AT) variant. In all the XL6 get four variants – Zeta (MT), Zeta (AT), Alpha (MT) and the Alpha (AT). The Ertiga meanwhile is available across 10 variants, including a VXi CNG variant.
Although both vehicles are based on Suzuki’s 5th-generation HEARTECT platform, the all-new XL6 is marginally bigger than the Ertiga in all aspects – the XL6 is 50 mm longer at 4,445 mm, 10 mm taller at 1,700 mm and 40 mm wider at 1,775 mm. The wheelbase, nonetheless, remains the same at 2,740 mm. Compared to the Ertiga, the hood on the XL6 gets raised by a good 95 mm, and together with the newly-designed cross-bar grille, results in a heavier, bulkier look of the front. The springs on the XL6 too have been improved. The company claims the new XL6 is compliant with all Indian safety regulations, including frontal offset impact, side impact and pedestrian protection.
The HEARTECT platform, in fact, was first launched on very successful Baleno hatchback. The platform uses high tensile steel that ensures a stronger, safer and sturdier frame, yet makes for a lightweight construction with focus on improving environmental and driving performance. As we mentioned in our Ertiga review, the weight-saving technology also benefits the MPV by reducing the load on the engine, chassis, suspension and other parts that has also directly led to an increase in fuel efficiency figures. The overall changes to the design, structure and reinforcements have led to an addition of approximately 20 kg on the XL6 as compared to the Ertiga.
Maruti Suzuki has offered a good bouquet of safety features on the XL6. There are dual front airbags, ABS (anti-lock-braking system) with EBD (electronic brake-force distribution), front seat belts with pre-tensioners and force Limiters, ISOFIX child seat anchorages, high speed warning alert, reverse parking sensors as a standard fitment across all variants. In the automatic variants, ESP (electronic stability program) with Hill Hold function has been offered as a standard feature.
However, considering this is being projected as a premium MPV for families, Maruti Suzuki would have done well to add a few more airbags for passenger safety.
The biggest highlight of the XL6 is its newly designed front – as mentioned earlier, the hood has been raised by 95 mm, and the cross-bar designed grille sweeps nicely into the all-white quad LED headlamps. This unit has four reflector chambers paired with LED daytime running lights (DRLs) on each lamp. Although not quite the SUV, the XL6 does get the SUV-ish look from the front. The side profile is accentuated by the floating roof effect in the third pillar and the all-black alloy wheels, roof rails and side claddings add to the MPV’s practical appeal. The rear, in contrast, looks smaller and leaner; the highlight though being the origami-themed rear combination lights with LED light guides.
The overall exterior of the XL6 is quite appealing, and we expect customers to appreciate it together with the all-black interior Maruti Suzuki has offered to give the vehicle a premium feel. The dashboard layout is clean, has all the right details, and looks sophisticated. The stone finish and silver accents sweeping across the cabin adds to the rich look of the vehicle interiors. The flat bottom steering is leather wrapped and gets access controls as well as cruise control switches.
Maruti Suzuki has done a wonderful job with the seats as well as the seating layout in the XL6. The two captain seats on the second row are well endowed, with the right amount of cushioning for the back as well as thigh support. The armrests are nicely integrated to the seats and although they aren’t supremely comfortable, they do their job well. Access to the third row is easy through the two captain seats or by using the one touch recline and slide mechanism on the second row seats.
Talking of seats and space, the Maruti Suzuki XL6 has a boot space of 209 l with all the three rows up, while this increases to 692 l with the second and third-row folded down.
For storage, there are quite a few utility spaces, including ventilated cup holders, overhead console and a small compartment under the front row armrest. Accessory sockets have been offered on each row, but there is just one USB port to charge your smartphones or connect to the Smartplay Studio. While some manufacturers have started offering a dedicated USB port for fast charging smartphones, Maruti Suzuki could consider adding this to their products henceforth. We also felt the company could have looked at offering an auto-dimming IRVM, considering the premium positioning of the XL6.
The multi information display (MID) unit on the XL6 has been carried forward from the Ertiga, which comes with a digital graphical display for door ajar, gear shift indicator, etc. The 17.8 cm Smartplay Studio touchscreen is customisable, and allows the driver to text, call, play music or navigate using steering-mounted control or voice. It is also enabled with smartphone connectivity for seamless integration. The connected infotainment system connects the vehicle to the cloud, and displays key vehicle information such as low fuel alert and fuel economy.
While we’ve already detailed the powertrain combinations on the XL6, it also comes equipped with Suzuki’s progressive next-generation smart hybrid system. There’s an integrated starter generator that is paired with a lithium-ion battery as well as a lead acid battery, which helps regenerate braking energy and provides torque assist to the engine during acceleration.
It might interest our readers to know that Maruti Suzuki is also working on a strong hybrid vehicle as well, although it has stayed away from committing to a timeframe of its introduction in the market. This development is thanks to Suzuki’s collaborative agreement with Toyota to share hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) technology in India through local procurement of HEV systems, engines and batteries.
While driving through the city of Jaipur, we found the suspension set-up on the new XL6 to be well-attuned to various road surfaces. The set-up features a MacPherson Strut with coil springs in the front, and a torsion beam with coil springs in the rear. The front brakes are ventilated disc type, while the rear brake duties are carried out by a leading & trailing drum system.
The XL6 is an impressive and practical MPV. The powertrain on offer is neatly integrated to offer a very good driving experience. Space inside the MPV is generous for six occupants, and has the right quality of touch and feel. The materials used in the vehicle feels upmarket, and there’s right amount of connected features for the driver to engage. The vehicle offers the discerning customer looking for a practical MPV a valuable alternative at a price that is not heavy on his/ her pocket.
TEXT: Deepangshu Dev Sarmah
PHOTO: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay