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Maruti Suzuki XL6: When an MPV meets an SUV

Vikram Chaudhary

There are bound to be comparisons between the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga and the XL6, launched last week, but they are like chalk and cheese. According to Maruti, while the Ertiga caters to a pure MPV customer, the XL6 caters to a customer who likes a body shape that is bolder, sportier and has SUV characteristics, i.e. a customer who desires an SUV, but doesn't want to compromise on the comfort and utility an MPV offers. Does the XL6 meet such unique requirements? We drive it.

How good is the XL6 as an MPV?

The Ertiga-with decent legroom and shoulder room, loads of headroom, and a flexible luggage area-is quite a good MPV. The XL6 builds on Ertiga's utility, and adds premiumness to it. Unlike Ertiga's seven seats, the XL6-'XL' stands for exclusive, and '6' stands for a six-seater vehicle-has six seats. Its second row has two captain seats, which offer a lounge-like seating experience with an armrest, and these are far more comfortable compared to what you find in any similar vehicle. The third row seats, however, don't have an armrest.
An area where the XL6 stands out is intelligent storage, so you have air-cooled cup-holders, and bottle-holders and accessory socket in each row. (Few people have this habit of keeping phones in cup-holders; you shouldn't do that in the XL6, else the phone will freeze.)
More utility features include height-adjustable driver seat, sliding armrest with utility box (front row), adjustable headrests in all rows, and an overhead console with lamp and sunglass holder. And then there is a large luggage storage space (with the third row backrest lowered).

How good is the XL6 as an SUV?

Make no mistake; the XL6 isn't an SUV in the same mould as, say, the Jeep Compass or Hyundai Tucson 4×4, which are far more expensive vehicles. On the contrary, it is an MPV with an SUV-like stance, i.e. it has SUV-like body claddings, SUV-like tyres (185/65 R15), SUV-like aggressive front grille, SUV-like roof rails, and SUV-like seating position. While it's definitely not an off-roader, it has a good ground clearance and a powerful engine.

How good is the XL6 as a vehicle?

Moving beyond MPV and SUV features, does the XL6 offer you something that all modern vehicles need to offer-i.e. premium features, fuel-efficient and powerful engine, and a comfortable cabin-and still is value-for-money?

Premium features: These include LED headlamps with DRLs, luxurious interiors, leather seats, automatic AC, cruise control system (activates above the speed of 40kph), LED fog lamps, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and phone calling buttons, and auto-folding ORVMs (outside mirrors). The central touchscreen, however, reflects a lot of sunlight when you look at it from certain angles.
Engine: First, there is no diesel engine as an option. Without going into the broader argument for and against diesel, from a driver's point of view the petrol engine makes sense. This 1462cc engine develops peak power of 77kW (103bhp) and torque of 138Nm.
Like most Maruti engines, this K15B Smart Hybrid unit is peppy to drive as well as fuel-efficient (claimed 19.01kpl for manual and 17.99 for automatic gearbox). And it is BS6-compliant. What adds to fuel-efficiency and engine performance are features such as vehicle idle start-stop, brake energy regeneration, and torque-assist during acceleration (i.e. energy stored in a lithium-
ion battery adds to overall pick-up during acceleration).

Cabin: The cabin, while spacious and comfortable, has very low NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels. Value-for-money: The manual XL6 Zeta variant is priced Rs 9.8 lakh, and the automatic Zeta is priced `10.9 lakh (the Alpha manual variant is priced Rs 10.36 lakh and the Alpha automatic is priced `11.46 lakh). That makes the XL6 a bit more expensive than the Ertiga, and the most expensive Nexa car.

The Nexa sales channel already has a crossover SUV (S-Cross), a sedan (Ciaz), a premium large hatchback (Baleno) and a premium small hatchback (Ignis). The XL6, which straddles the two segments-pure MPV and pure SUV-completes the Nexa portfolio as well.

(Prices are ex-showroom, Delhi.)