The Maruti Suzuki XL6 is a new concept from the market leader. While others have tried to take on the MPV space at two ends - value or sheer size, this is the first compact yet premium offering in the segment. And it targets individual or family buyers who want something within their budget that is functional, plush and also has the tech and connectivity they seek. Sure the management has used SUV-like appeal or design in their product brief about the XL6, but the tagline very firmly calls it a premium MPV. That's great because that is what this car is all about. It also references the XL7 - a name Suzuki used in global markets for the long-wheelbase version of the Grand Vitara SUV in the past. So what was the motivation behind the in the first place, especially given the Ertiga already exists? For starters this could very well have been the ZXI++ variant of the Ertiga, if you will. But styling wise this car looks very different, and it isn't like the Ertiga.
On the inside, the XL6 has an all-black treatment in contrast to the Ertiga's beige two-tone. The dash gets what Maruti is calling stone-finish garnish unlike the faux wood on the Ertiga. But otherwise, it's the same touchscreen, instrument cluster with TFT info screen and climate control system. The front central cupholders have an air vent each for air-cooling your drinks! Maruti says the seats are more bolstered and of course the top Alpha trim gets them and the steering finished in black leatherette.
A reverse camera and auto headlights are also only on the Alpha trim. 3-row seating has no bench option for row two like in the Ertiga. But you do get the same roof-mounted AC unit for the rear passengers. A USB port (or two) rather than a power socket, would have better-served passengers in row two. With captain seats at the back, more owners may prefer to let their chauffeur drive, ergo the need for USB - for charging and connecting to the infotainment system. The drop-down armrest for the second row is good to have, but is only comfortable at certain angles of the backrest and isn't independently adjustable for position.
The Maruti Suzuki XL6 also gets cruise control on both the automatic and the manual variants. It is great that the auto is available on both trims Zeta and Alpha. The engine is also common - not just across variants but also with the Ertiga. The 103 bhp K15B petrol also gets the smart mild-hybrid system as standard. The start-stop of the engine is very silent and imperceptible for the most part - which adds to the refined feel on the motor. The engine is BS6 compliant already and no - there will be no diesel XL6 before you ask. If you are looking for a really fun, sporty, engaging car at this price point the XL6 is not for you. To be fair it is also not trying to be that car. The whole focus is on comfort and convenience and is you want sporty you're better off getting an SUV or better yet, a sedan.
The XL6's engine is fairly ample in its specs, but that doesn't really translate on the road. It does the job, but it is no fire starter. It is well mated to the manual gearbox and very forgiving because the gear issues have been worked out in a way you don't have to downshift too much. You can carry on in the higher gears, and in city traffic, you will really appreciate that. One of the reasons the engine feels less punchy is also due to some recalibrations that have been made for the transition to BS6. But yes the XL6 could have benefitted from different engine tuning to the Ertiga to give it a slightly higher output and more torque.
Overall the car's performance will feel similar except that the automatic is even less responsive than the manual. However, the reasons people will opt for the automatic in the first place - convenience and comfort, ease of driving in city traffic, will negate any performance issues for the most part. The car also benefits from a relatively quiet cabin due to added work on sound insulation. We have to say this does convey refinement and plushness to the experience.