There’s no beating around the bush about this — the ‘new’ XL6 is the Ertiga, all spruced up to look like a more butch, more premium vehicle. It’s Maruti Suzuki’s answer to the Toyota Innova Crysta, if you will, only at half the top end Crysta’s asking price. Apples and oranges? Yes, but if you set aside the fact that the Crysta is the *definitive * MPV in India, the XL6 makes a pretty solid case for itself. Much as you may think it to be the case, ‘XL’ doesn’t refer to its size – it’s Maruti’s way of saying ‘exclusive’; the ‘6’ in the name refers to its 6-seat configuration. The car will be sold at Maruti’s fancier Nexa showrooms, as opposed to the Ertiga, which sells at its Arena outlets.

Maruti likes to think of the XL6 as an SUV-like vehicle in terms of design, which it… isn’t. It looks good on the road, with its new nose – different headlights, grille, and fog lights, a higher bonnet line, scuff plates – but it’s still very much an MPV, especially in profile. The wheel arches are sorely under-utilised because the small 15-inch wheels don’t fill them out properly, but in summation, this is a far better-looking car than the Ertiga. It’s also a smidgeon bigger — 40mm wider, 10mm higher and 50mm longer — but has the same 2740mm wheelbase.

The cabin’s showpiece feature is the second row of seats, which consists of twin ‘captain’ seats. The third row is usable by full-sized adults, but they’re going to feel rather squeezed after a while; these seats are best for the kids, to be honest. They can be folded all the way down in order to increase boot space from 209 to 550 litres, which is a very useful feature when out on shopping trips and suchlike.

 

Available in the top-end trims of Zeta and Alpha, the XL6 has a feature-loaded cabin, which means that things like a 7-inch SmartPlay Studio touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, climate control, 12 AC vents, keyless entry, a reversing camera, cruise control, and hill hold control are present, depending on which variant you opt for. You can also pay extra for Suzuki Connect, which is an embedded e-SIM that has features like real-time driving alerts and emergency alerts.

 

Under the XL6’s bonnet is a very reliable and well-loved engine — Maruti’s 1.5-litre (BSVI-ready) petrol unit, with mild-hybrid technology. It’s a pleasure to use, with its smoothness, low-end sprightliness and all-round usability.

The 5-speed manual gearbox shifts effortlessly and is probably a better option than the slightly sluggish 4-speed torque converter automatic – but the auto is great for city traffic, it has to be said. Overall ride quality is top-notch, even in the third row, and the car feels rock solid at highway cruising speeds; handling and braking are par for the course.

For a little over Rs 80,000 over what you’d pay for a top-end Ertiga (albeit with one less seat), the fully loaded XL6 with an automatic gearbox makes a lot of sense, because it’s a nicer car to look at, sit in and be seen in. At a price range of between Rs 9.8 lakh and Rs 11.46 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), it makes for an ideal family car. Is it an Innova Crysta? No, but it’s a whole lot of value for your cash.

AT A GLANCE

ENGINE

                                                           1.5-litre, 4-cylinder petrol, BSVI-ready; 103.2

TORQUE

 138 NM

POWER

             103.2 BHP

PRICE

 Rs 9.8 lakh to Rs 11.46 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)

7-inch infotainment screen, captain seats, 12 AC vents, climate control, cruise control, reversing camera