The new Ertiga has gone on to become a runaway success for Maruti Suzuki. But India’s largest car maker’s ambitions are always higher than just sales success. The company is known for having multiple cars within the same segments, something that’s always been the key to their total market dominance. Enter a more premium version of the Ertiga – the XL6.
If you have watched or read our review of the second-generation Ertiga you would know that we were quite impressed by its evolution. We were even pleasantly surprised at how the Ertiga is one of the very few cars on the market that has usable and comfortable third-row seats. The only weak link here was that despite an incredible amount of space for the second row, seat cushioning wasn’t quite adequate and we definitely wished for better second-row seats. It would appear that Maruti Suzuki too has had similar thoughts, for the highlight of this new XL6 model are those new second-row bucket seats. At this point, you are probably wondering why Maruti Suzuki simply didn’t offer the option of these new bucket seats on the Ertiga instead of coming out with a new model altogether? The answer to that question lies in my introduction to this story where I mentioned Maruti Suzuki’s market strategy of total dominance.
New seat talk
With the launch of the XL6, Maruti Suzuki is aiming for a more upscale MPV buyer. One who also likes to be chauffeur driven. So the XL6 features some nice premium touches such as all-black interiors with black leather seat upholstery, a more recent infotainment system, automatic headlamps, auto folding ORVMs and cruise control. But most important of all here are the new second-row bucket seats. Thanks to the big doors, ingress is very easy and you can comfortably slide into the rear seats. The moment you get in and close the door you, will notice just how high you’re sitting. Maruti has given the middle row occupants a very high seating position to give them a more commanding view out of the cabin. And I have to say that it works very well, for I feel like I am sitting in a much taller car than an Ertiga, whoops I mean XL6. And since there was so much headroom to begin with, even 6-foot tall occupants can sit comfortably on the new seats. Coming to the seats themselves, they are far more supportive now, thanks to the firmer seat cushioning that provides good under thigh support and there is a certain amount of lower back support too. But I would have really liked for the back rest to be better contoured to offer upper back support which is missing. But where the XL6 makes up is in terms of egress. As you are sitting this high, one expects that stepping out of the car is going to require some effort in stepping down from the car. But since only the seat is positioned higher and the floor and ground clearance remain unchanged, you can simply walk out of the seats and onto the road with perfect ease. There are also arm rests for the rear seats on the inside while you can rest your other arm on the door pad arm rests. Meanwhile, the second-row air vents continue to be positioned overhead between the B-Pillars.
More than just new seats
But it’s going to be tough to bring a buyer and explain the new seats on their own. So to let the XL6 do the talking for itself, Maruti Suzuki has given it an all-new face that comprises of a more upright nose thanks to a taller front grill, a re-profiled bonnet, new LED headlamps with daytime running lamps and a tall front bumper housing LED fog lamps and a faux skid plate. Move over to the side profile and you notice that Maruti has given it plastic cladding and roof rails to give it a more imposing stance. Meanwhile, the alloy wheels and ORVM casings are now painted black. The rear profile, unfortunately, remains unchanged, apart from a new gloss black plastic section between the tail lamps and a faux rear skid plate in the bumper.
What If I want to get into the driver’s seat?
You won’t have anything to complain about in that case for the front seats get firmer cushioning like the rear ones and are therefore more supportive. I really like the all-black dashboard as it looks more high rent, even though the quality of materials and fit and finish remains the same as the Ertiga’s, which is no bad thing. Everything else remains the same here too, visibility out of the cabin is great and all of the controls for the driver are really light in terms of the steering, clutch operation and gear shifts.
Maruti is offering the XL6 at this point with a sole petrol engine option. The motor in question is the Ertiga’s 1.5 litre, four-cylinder naturally aspirated unit that’s good for 103bhp and 138Nm. You do get a choice of a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic gearbox though. The manual model is very easy to drive as this engine has great low end response and you can accelerate from as low as 800rpm. This is undoubtedly going to result in good fuel efficiency as you can potter around town without ever having to even go near the 2,000rpm mark. Should you choose to extract more power on open roads, this engine’s mild mid-range and rising NVH tends to be the only weak link here. If you are really serious about extracting more power from the engine, you will have to breach the 4,000rpm mark at which point variable valve timing kicks in and the engine’s characteristic changes, so you get stronger acceleration and a more pleasing engine note. This surge of power will stay with you all the way to 6,000rpm. The manual model will rev to around 6,250rpm while the automatic finds the next gear at 6,000rpm.
Speaking of the automatic model, I quite like the gearbox despite it being only a four-speed unit. The ratios are well spaced and you get decent acceleration out of the system. Upshifts and downshifts are fairly smooth while kickdowns don’t take so long that you are left in anticipation. Once you get used to the car, you can in fact just prepare for them by mashing the long pedal and timing for the light delay before the downshifts kick in. The only time you notice downshifts is under hard braking. Upshifts are delivered in a timely manner under hard acceleration and otherwise, so you really don’t feel the need for a tiptronic mode or paddle shifters to change gears manually.
One of the biggest strong points of the Ertiga is its ride quality, it is simply sublime as the suspension absorbs bumps in a very unobtrusive manner and it’s pretty quiet in operation too. The XL6 though feels like it has a stiffer suspension setup that results in a slightly bumpier ride. But then again, it’s nothing to really complain about as the ride is still pretty good.
Should I get one?
Personally, I would say that Maruti Suzuki has done a perfect job at transitioning the Ertiga into the XL6. It definitely has more road presence now and it definitely looks more premium. Step inside and it feels more high rent too because of the all-black interiors and leather bucket seats front and back. So if you are looking for a comfortable, spacious and practical chauffeur driven car that you wouldn’t mind driving yourself either, the XL6 makes a strong case for itself.
- Maruti Suzuki XL6
Engine: 1,462cc / 4-Cylinders / 16 Valves / DOHC
Power: 103bhp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 138Nm @ 4,400rpm
Transmission: 5-Speed Manual / 4-Speed Auto / Front-Wheel Drive
Price: ₹10.36 / ₹11.46 lakh (Ex-showroom, India)
X-Factor: The XL6 adds a touch of opulence to the MPV segment.
Also read - Maruti Suzuki XL6 launched at ₹ 9.80 lakh