2022 Maruti Suzuki XL6 drive review: Premium MPV gets a practical makeover
- Spacious cabin
- Updated feature list
- Uninspiring looks
First launched in the country in 2019 as a more premium twin of the Ertiga, the Maruti Suzuki XL6 may have created more curiosity than excitement in the Indian MPV market that has for long been dominated by the Toyota Innova. But the promise of Innova-like comfort at a far more affordable price point and backed by a robust post-sales network eventually helped XL6 establish a strong foothold. In the past few years, rivalry in the three-row utility vehicle segment has heated up with the likes of Hyundai Alcazar and, more recently, the Kia Carens entering the fray. Little wonder then that it was perhaps about time that the XL6 was updated to underline its well-established credentials.
Maruti Suzuki off late has been focusing on equipping its newer vehicles with more features, a move that could help it to take on its Korean rivals better. Could you ever imagine a Baleno getting a Head-up Display? Or a 360-degree camera view? I know I hadn't bet my money on it. And yet, the focus is amply evident and the latest XL6 is yet another case in point. Maruti says the premium MPV sold under its Nexa chain is an ‘indulgence’ and we touched down in Nandi Hills near Bengaluru recently to test that claim.
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Here's our first-drive review of the 2022 Maruti Suzuki XL6:
Maruti Suzuki XL6 exterior impressions:
The XL6 may have always been a smarter version of the Ertiga but there is really no Cinderella vs evil step sister faceoff in terms of appearance. Both vehicles, even on their own, lean on a more practical design philosophy than a flamboyant one. And while that is true for most MPVs, the XL6 in its latest form factor continues to imbibe most of its design cues, now with subtle updates.
I say subtle because the changes are mostly minor. I say updates because the XL6 does now sport a reworked front grille with more chrome than before, minor tweak to the LED head light units, 16-inch alloy wheels which now have a new design and are in dual-tone, and gets a chrome bar on the slightly tweaked tail light design.
But because it may also need to appeal to a younger car-buying audience, Maruti is offering a dual-tone body colour option on the latest XL6 with silver-black, brown-black and red-black to choose from. But perhaps Maruti still feels, and rightly so, that the XL6 in solid colours would get max appeal and hence our review unit was in the trademark blue hue.
Nothing changes in terms of dimensions and the XL6 continues to measure 4,445 mm in length, is 1,775 mm wide and stands 1,755 mm tall. Most importantly, it still has a wheelbase of 2,740 mm.
|Maruti Suzuki XL6 vs Kia Carens: Dimensions
|XL6 (in mm)
|Carens (in mm)
What does that then mean for space on the inside? Read on.
Maruti Suzuki XL6 cabin in detail:
The cabin of the XL6 has always had a welcoming nature but while I won't exactly call it premium, it definitely has lots of positives to appeal to mass-market buyers. Because there is no change in dimensions, there is no change in space in any of the three rows inside the XL6. And that's fine because space has always been a strong point of this model.
While it may only be slightly smaller in terms of most dimension counts vis-a-vis the Carens, the space on the inside is almost similar. The third-row space, in fact, is at par with three-row models at much higher price brackets and getting in and out remains relatively easy. A one-touch tumble and slide functionality on the dedicated middle seats would have been a bragging point and is a miss but even the pull and slide function, carried forward from the preceding model, isn't shabby at all. The space that opens up is good enough to allow even adults to get in and out easily enough. Once packed here, the under-thigh support is the only thing that is in deficit and there is still no third-row AC vent. Other than that, the final row is as good as it can get, complete with cup holders, 12v charging point and seat with a slight recline function.
But the thrones are still the Captain seats in the middle - spacious, well-cushioned and with great amount of knee room, leg space and even head room. Each of these two seats still come with dedicated foldable armrests. There are second-row AC vents and windows which are still remarkably large which aid the airy feel of the cabin, crucial because the XL6 still doesn't get a sunroof of any size. There is also no foldable tray on the back of the front seats like you get in this MPV's Korean rivals, no air purification system, no USB charging point on the back of the center console (there is a solitary 12v socket) and no ambient lighting here. But more on the features that do make way in, a little later down.
The front part of the cabin is done smartly and is now complete with a new stone finish on the dashboard. There are plenty of storage spaces all around - on the door, on the center console, a tiny section under the armrest and a flap opening on the right of the steering - perfect for loose currency notes, change and cards.
Maruti Suzuki XL6 features at work:
Feature list is where the Maruti Suzuki XL6 is looking at now impressing more than it has ever before. And some of the features are indeed mighty cool, one literally so.
For the first time ever in a Maruti Suzuki vehicle, the front seats of the XL6 come with cooling function. The buttons are placed smartly and one can even change the intensity of cooling even if max is what most would opt for mostly. On its own, this feature isn't remarkably new at all and is seen widely in a range of car models across segments. But while Maruti did take its own sweet time to acknowledge India's hot climatic conditions, this needs to be a recurring addition across its product lineup and not just a one-off. Oh, and so does the small but nifty feature of having cooled cupholders on the center console - super for my constantly heating mobile under the clear Bengaluru sun.
What isn't a one-off though is the 360-degree camera view which was also seen inside the new Baleno. A great feature addition that aids safety, the 360-degree cam gets switched on at the press of a physical button on the right of the steering for perfect convenience in tight spots. For a vehicle of XL6 proportions, this is a great addition with clear and crisp feed on the updated seven-inch SmartPlay pro screen.
Yes, the screen is updated and no, not in terms of size but in terms of capability. While the XL6 may deserve a larger AV screen, the 7-inch touchscreen does the job deputed to it with perfection. Clear and responsive to touch, it has an easy and intuitive user interface and supports voice commands as well.
Additionally, the Suzuki Connect comes built-in as is the case in newer Maruti Suzuki models. With it, there are over 40 remote functions that can be made use of and this includes AC controls, driving analysis, vehicle health monitoring and more. The XL6 can also be remotely accessed with a compatible smart watch and through the Suzuki Connect Skill on Amazon Alexa. Again, these are crucial features that promise to bring Maruti cars closer to most rivals in terms of in-cabin offerings.
Maruti Suzuki XL6 drive:
Predictable can be a good or bad adjective depending on perspectives. In the case of how the XL6 moves, it is mostly on the former. Mostly.
Coming in under the hood is a next-gen K-Series 1.5-litre dual-jet petrol engine with Smart Hybrid technology for slightly better mileage figures. This engine is paired to the familiar five-speed manual transmission unit as well as a new six-speed torque converter automatic box.
I got the XL6 rolling first with its new AT at play and was mighty curious to also check out the paddle shifters, a first in the MPV. The engine itself is reasonably refined and builds power decently well. Still rather unwilling though to respond to aggressive throttle inputs, the XL6 ambles along reasonably well in traffic conditions. A well-balanced steering helps it to side step other, slower-moving vehicles and sharp turns at moderate speeds is also decent at best. This is, don't forget, an MPV.
The gear ratios ought to have had a wider range, however, and this is most felt on open roads where the AT still isn't quite as refined as one would want it to be. That or Maruti engineers felt the paddle shifters would anyway address any possible lack of enthusiasm. I can't thank them enough because the paddle shifters do inject a fresh lease of life to the XL6 and the control over gear change timings was a delight. But don't get me wrong, the AT is capable but just that it isn't too exciting through aggressive sprints and on uphill climbs where one would need to bring the paddle shifters to play.
Shift to the manual transmission and it is a familiar tale - linear power build up and a free flowing move beyond the 2,500 RPM mark. The shift throws aren't exactly short and crisp but refined enough nonetheless. Once the XL6 does hit the triple-digit speeds, it is smooth sailing although I continue to miss Maruti not offering an additional sixth gear option.
In terms of high-speed stability, the XL6 performs well but it is the suspension that impressed me the most. Maruti hasn't bragged if its engineers have worked on the suspension at all but somehow, I felt they ought to because the XL6 gobbled bad roads even at speeds of around 60 kmph with finesse. If it wasn't for the notable body roll on turns at similar speeds, I won't have hesitated to give absolute full marks to the drive comfort.
Overall, the XL6 moves as a responsible MPV and unless you're trying to extract some driving enthusiasm, chances are you won't find much to complain about after a drive in it.
Maruti Suzuki XL6 verdict:
The Maruti Suzuki XL6 is a confident MPV that doesn't appear perturbed by newer players in the field even if it does add on several new cabin features. The XL6 continues to back its two biggest strengths the most - space and comfort and on both of these counts, it continues to impress. No change in dimensions and only minor exterior design updates are proof of this.
It is, however, great that the feature list has received some updates and the 6AT with paddle shifters is likely to find favour among those looking at going automatic. Starting at ₹11.29 lakh for the Zeta MT, the pricing goes up to ₹14.55 lakh for the Alpha+ Dual Tone with automatic transmission (ex showroom prices). The XL6 may have rivals that are newer and bring in more wow power but this Maruti still remains a great option with the ability to lead its segment.