It has, by now, become public knowledge that the Indian auto sector has been going through its worst-ever sales slump in recent times. In fact, things actually look grim, with almost every mainstream carmaker registering some significant sales dips on a YoY basis. Thankfully, the manufacturers have pretty much refused to bow down to the troubled times and hope to revive their sales performance by introducing new nameplates in the market. To this effect, Maruti Suzuki, the country's largest carmaker by volume, has launched the Maruti XL6 - an Ertiga-based crossover-ish MPV that retails through the Nexa chain of premium outlets. At first look, one would perceive the Ertiga Cross, nay, the XL6 to be much like its donor model, but our rendezvous with the new offering did reveal the all-new dimension that the XL6 brings to the table. Our Maruti XL6 test drive review here should provide you with an in-depth analysis of the same.
To the uninitiated, the Maruti XL6 would perhaps come across as a slightly jazzed up Ertiga with a more aggressive-looking nose. A closer look, however, reveals various bits that come together to help the XL6 enjoy a distinct identity. Of course, the most notable changes can be found on the front fascia, which gets an all-new bumper, a bigger and a more upright grille, sleek quad-LED headlamps and the quintessential faux skid plate.
Maruti-Suzuki has even made changes to the body-in-white, with the XL6 getting a raised hood. The side profile gets a handful of new soft parts. The highlights here include a black plastic-cladding in the lower section of the body, faux scuff plates on the side skirts, blacked-out ORVMs, rather large silver-finished roof rails and black-painted alloy wheels.
The rear-end is where the XL6 looks almost exactly like the Ertiga, with the only differentiators being a more rugged-looking bumper with a faux skid plate, black trim for the tailgate and new badges. All these changes do make the XL6 look tougher and, arguably, more flamboyant than its donor model. In fact, when viewed from certain angles, the XL6 would even remind you of the second-gen Subaru Forester, especially when draped in the Nexa Blue exterior paint shade. Speaking of grouses, well, the new model could have looked a tad more upmarket with bigger, diamond-cut alloy wheels instead of the 15-inch rims from the Ertiga. Also, it may be noted here that the XL6 is 50 mm longer, 40 mm wider and 10 mm taller than the Ertiga, which is due to the various variations it sports. The wheelbase, at 2,740 mm, however, remains identical.
Akin to the exterior, the interior of the Maruti XL6 shares aplenty with the Ertiga. However, here, once again, there's enough to separate the new model from its donor. The biggest highlight of the XL6 is its six-seater layout, which is courtesy of twin captain seats in the middle row instead of the bench-type setup of the Ertiga. Also, the cabin has received an all-black colour scheme with Black Stone and silver inserts.
Even the instrument console gets a slightly different look due to the usage of a colour TFT MID that offers a plethora of information, including details about the working of the vehicle's SHVS mild-hybrid system. The captain seats in the middle row are highly supportive and should keep the occupants happy over long journeys. They can be slid and reclined forward to access the third row of seats.
The Maruti XL6 is available in Zeta and Alpha trims, both of which are comparable to the ZXI and ZXI+ trims of the Ertiga, albeit, with a few additions. Both the trims come with the company's SmartPlay Studio infotainment unit, which offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, Bluetooth and telephony. The unit even doubles up as the display for the reverse camera, which, by the way, offers a slightly pixelated image. Other notable features of the top-spec trim include automatic climate control with rear AC vents, passive keyless entry with push start/stop button, cooled cup-holders, automatic headlamps and cruise control. The automatic versions even get ESP and hill-hold assist. The standard safety net comprises dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, rear parking sensors, speed warning system and driver and front seat-belt reminders.
Powering the Maruti XL6 is the same 1.5-litre K15B naturally-aspirated petrol engine that debuted on the Ciaz and is even available on the Ertiga. Transmission options include a 5-speed manual unit and a four-speed automatic unit. The motor outputs 105 PS and 138 Nm and comes mated to the company’s SHVS mild-hybrid system. The motor feels sufficiently refined, and it comes into its elements around 2,000 RPM and offers a punchy performance until around 5,000 RPM, post which, the power starts tapering off quite abruptly.
As is the case with most Maruti Suzuki products, the gear ratios of the manual transmission are well-defined and offer decent driveability. The four-speed automatic unit, though dated, offers slick shifts. There is an overdrive off button that can be used to keep the car in the first three gears, while there’s also an ‘L’ mode that keeps the gearbox in the lowest gear possible. These modes come in handy when in a hurry or when building momentum on an incline.
Akin to the Ertiga, the XL6 comes with a pretty light steering, which, while not too engaging, is a boon on congested streets. It’s actually quite easy to drive this MPV through a city street dotted with mindlessly-parked vehicles and unruly two-wheelers cutting into your lanes. While far from sporty, the steering isn’t lifeless and responds perfectly to even minor inputs. There is some body roll, especially during quick lane changes, but it’s nothing that one won’t expect from a vehicle as tall as the XL6. The ride quality is definitely the Ertiga-based MPV’s forte. The XL6 easily glides over broken patches of roads without causing any sort of discomfort to the occupants. In fact, the ride quality is so good that even the occupants in the third row of seats will nary complain of discomfort over bad roads.
The Maruti XL6 is all things Ertiga and then some. Like its donor vehicle, it comes with a powerful-yet-frugal petrol engine that is even high on the refinement levels. Moreover, the new soft parts and sheet metal changes infuse the quintessential SUV DNA into what is basically a small MPV. While slightly larger alloy wheels with a machine-cut finish would have made the XL6 look more upmarket, the aesthetic package is such that it leaves us with little else that we can point a finger at.
Of course, it's the interior that is the real talking point of this vehicle. The captain seats in the middle row, combined with the great ride quality, make the XL6 a perfect option for all those who're in the market for a spacious, fuel-efficient and sufficiently premium MPV. The new model is even a great option for potential Ertiga-customers that crave for SUV-ish design cues. Maruti Suzuki's wide service network and low maintenance costs are icing on the cake.
Maruti XL6 - Prices*
- Zeta MT - INR 9,79,689
- Alpha MT - INR 10,36,189
- Zeta AT - INR 10,89,689
- Alpha AT - INR 11,46,189