The second generation Ertiga is a very good car and a strong seller, but what do you do to make it more appealing to the SUV loving customers out there? Well, Maruti has given it a raised bonnet line and kitted it with a lot of SUV elements and called it the XL6. It is broadly similar to what Honda did with the Mobilio when they created the BRV. The name XL6, which to most, brings back memories of the old Grand Vitara XL7, stands for ‘Exclusive’ and ‘6 seater’. And since it is a premium offering, it will be sold via Nexa outlets.
The XL6 has SUV inspired styling with a more butch face and bolder styling. The wheel arches are made to look bigger but since they were working on a constrained budget, Maruti hasn’t reworked the suspension or given it bigger wheels. The front styling is characterised by larger trapezoidal grille and LED headlamps. The bumper gets skid plate and black trim around the fog lamps. From the sides, the 15 inch wheels that are the same as in the Ertiga, look small. The rear is very similar to the Ertiga save for new rear bumper and black trim under the rear glass.
The biggest improvement in the XL6 is the cabin. You get black interiors and leather seats that are way classier than the Ertiga’s. We hated the wood trim in the Ertiga, and here you have better finished trim that’s inspired by granite and aluminium. Also instead of a middle sofa, you now get two individual arm chairs that also recline and slide back and forth. The large glass area, the ample legroom, the flat floor and the tall roof made sure I spent most of my time here. If you are going to be chauffeur driven, look no further than the XL6. It is less than half the price of an Innova and the petrol engine’s refinement is in a different league. The third row seats are better too, since it now lets you sit with your legs extended towards the centre of the middle row.
The familiar Bosch infotainment unit is replaced with one similar to that of the new WagonR, with customizable menus and all, but isn’t as bright and suffers from sunlight readability. The XL6 gets cruise control in the top spec while the rest of the dashboard is similar to that of the Ertiga. The flat bottomed steering is good to hold and the driving position is excellent. There are two cup holders lower down in the centre console and they have an AC vent with flow control to keep your beverages cool. Boot space has also been improved with 209 litres with all three rows in place, 550 litres with the last row folded and 803 litres with both rows down.
The XL6 gets the same 105bhp and 138Nm,1.5 litre petrol engine as in the Ertiga and facelifted Ciaz. It also gets the additional Li-ion battery pack for the hybrid system, although in real life, you can’t tell when it is providing any assistance to the engine. The engine also gets a stop-start system which, coupled with the refinement of the engine, works like a treat. The engine does offer good tractability and low end. It is very easy to drive around town and you can maintain a decent cruising speed on the highway. It labours its way to 6200rpm and overtaking calls for a quick downshift or two. Fortunately, the clutch is very light and the gearshifts are snappy. The XL6 also gets an automatic variant, but it is a 4 speed torque convertor which is best suited for city driving. There is no diesel variant as such and if your running needs one, you are better off buying an Ertiga.
The XL6 has the same suspension as the Ertiga which was a neat handler. The steering could do with a bit more feel, but it grips better than before and is very sure footed through the corners. Yes, it rolls a little but you can drive it fast for an MPV. And this isn’t at the expense of ride quality either. The suspension irons out most vertical movements and the cabin feels very well insulated from the surface underneath. You can drive it fast over broken roads without discomfort. Brakes are confidence inspiring as well.
With the XL6, Maruti has taken the Ertiga and made it that little bit better. It might seat only six, but offers more comfort, better premium feel, more equipment etc. while retaining the core values that made the Ertiga so good. It costs approximately Rs.70,000 to Rs.1 lakh more than the Ertiga and is definitely worth the extra cash.