Four years ago country’s leading car maker Maruti Suzuki started a new premium retail channel and called it the Nexa. It got off to a sluggish start but from then on cars like the Baleno and Ciaz have held sustained the brand in a very strong manner. The XL6 is another addition to the Nexa list making it the fifth car to retail through the channel. It is of course based on the Ertiga MPV which is retailed through the original Maruti dealerships now called the Arena. But in the form of the XL6 how premium has the Ertiga become? We found our answers in the pink city of Jaipur where the company organised the first drive for the media.
In terms of exterior attributes there is a lot that differentiates the XL6 from the Ertiga. The grille has seen a transformation with the big chrome bar running through it. The Quad LED headlamps along with LED DRLs present a stylish picture. A lot of SUV traits can be seen on the car which includes body cladding, skid plates and roof rails. The tail lamps are quite similar to the Ertiga but here they come with LED light guides. Use of chrome is generous on the rear too. Black alloys also lend a sporty touch to the car. Overall, the XL6 looks more than just an Ertiga cross and is premium enough to stand out on the roads.
An all-black cabin welcomes you inside the XL6. The seats are bolstered with good quality leather upholstery. The stone finish and silver accents on the dash add to the premium appeal. The car gets a leather wrapped flat bottomed steering wheel and the big instrument cluster provides a lot of information. The smart play infotainment system seen on a lot of other cars from the brand is here too but the difference is that on the XL6 it comes as standard. The all-important second row gets captain seats along with roof mounted AC vents making it a rather comfortable place to be in. The seats can slide forward and recline to provide easy access to the third row. There too the seats can recline and come with adjustable headrests. With all three 3 rows in use the MPV still provides a luggage space of 209 litres.
Unlike the Ertiga the XL6 comes in only Petrol engine avatars. With deadline for switch to BS6 emission norms fast approaching the company doesn’t seem to be too bullish on diesel engines. The 1.5 litre engine on the XL6 churns out a maximum power of 103 PS and a peak torque of 138 Nm. There are two trims on offer and both come with 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission options. This engine though is BS6 compliant and comes with with Smart Hybrid technology with Li-ion battery. This ensures your drives get a little more economical. Maruti claims a mileage of 19.01 kmpl for the manual and 17.99 kmpl for the automatic variants. The choice is pretty simple; if you’re looking for a more spirited drive go for the manual and if it’s about relaxed drives in the urban chaos the Automatic will suffice very well.
Ride & Handling
The XL6 is built for one primary purpose—that to transport a big family in absolute comfort. That job this car does very well. Yes the comfortable seats help but the suspension is tuned in a way that is able to handle all the road conditions very well. Irrespective of which row of seats you have occupied you are guaranteed a plush ride inside the MPV. But the perils of being an MPV is the existence of body roll. It doesn’t go to high levels of instability and doesn’t take too much time in getting used to. At high speeds the car feels quite solid and that works in its favour. The car also comes with hill hold function in automatic variants, however, it only comes with 2 airbags is a bit of a downer.
The XL6 feels like yet another successful attempt by Maruti Suzuki to give you a sensible, practical car, one that will serve many purposes. The good looks also work in its favour, so does a premium cabin. Price starts at Rs 9.69 lakh (ex-showroom) for the manual Zeta variant and round off at Rs 11.46 lakh for the Alpha Automatic. That makes the car a good value for money option that comes with a premium appeal. And looking at the XL6 one can only expect Maruti to come up with more luxurious variants for some of its other cars sold through the Arena channel.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars