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Maruti Suzuki XL6 test drive review: Should Kia Carens be worried?

Maruti Suzuki recently launched the mid-cycle facelift of the XL6 MPV and we drove it around the garden city of Bengaluru. Beyond cosmetic updates the premium MPV sold under the Nexa brand gets new features and a major upgrade in the powertrain department with a new six-speed torque converter automatic transmission. Naturally, with these changes the price range of the XL6 has gone up considerably, bringing it close to multiple variants of the Kia Carens. Hence, we found out what difference do the new updates offer and if they make the new 2022 Maruti Suzuki XL6 good enough to take on the Kia Carens or not.
The new facelifted Maruti Suzuki XL6 gets a considerable design update to make it look different from the previous version. The revised grille and headlamps with a generous offering of chrome lend the XL6 with a wider and more premium look. The 16-inch alloy wheels along with the strong shoulder line and the smoked tail lamps do a good job of giving the new XL6 an elegant look. Overall, despite being an MPV the updated XL6 looks quite interesting to look at.
The new XL6’s cabin gets a good number of upgrades in various areas leading to an enhanced experience for the occupant. The new 7-inch infotainment screen looks good and comes with Suzuki Connect, which gives you access to more than 40 connected features that can be accessed on your smartphone. The system also offers Alexa connectivity but I did feel that due to the dark background the visibility of the screen under direct sunlight could’ve been better. However, using a wallpaper (option included) should fix this issue. Also, there’s no wireless charger as the dashboard is the same as the previous version and it wasn’t designed to accommodate a charging pad.
The driver will now also benefit from a 360-degree camera that offers good video quality and helps tackling tight spaces. The front seats are now ventilated and the frame itself is quite accommodating. Pair it with good cushioning and side support and what you get is a seat that justifies the usage of the word ‘premium’. Do note that the seat ventilation system can be a bit noisy if you aren’t listening to music. Talking of music, the audio system does a decent job but for a premium vehicle I think the sound quality leaves some room for improvement. The captain seats in the middle-row are comfortable and can be adjusted for horizontal travel and recline. The AC vents for this row are placed on the ceiling and the overall cooling is super impressive. With ample space, comfortable seats and good visibility the XL6 also fits the bill of being a good chauffeur-driven vehicle.
Moving to the third-row, ingress and egress felt easy for a person like me with a lean body frame. With a one-touch operation the middle seats tumble down providing decent space to walk into the last row. Since the wheelbase of the XL6 hasn’t changed, the space inside the cabin is same as earlier but that’s not a bad thing at all. Although the high-seating position leaves your knees pointing upwards with little under-thigh support there is enough space for short people and adults too can use this seat for an hour or two if needed. Headroom in this row isn’t great but is enough for short durations. This is where the new Maruti Suzuki XL6 gets a big upgrade as it finally gets rid of the outdated four-speed automatic gearbox in favour of a six-speed AT unit. The updated K-Series DualJet dual VVT 1.5 L petrol engine develops 104 ps and 137 Nm of torque. The car also offers paddle-shifters now allowing for better control of the gearbox if needed.
Out on the road the XL6 offers a refined and hassle-free driving experience. The power is not enough to make the drive engaging but it’s also not low enough to make the MPV feel lethargic. The gearbox works well and is tuned more towards efficiency. As a result, shifts are moderately quick. Acceleration is linear and while you won’t be pinned to the back of the seat, getting to highway speeds is not a problem and the XL6 can cruise at early triple digit speeds with ease.
The other area where the powertrain excels is fuel-efficiency and during our drive we got an average figure of 16.2 kmpl. In times when fuel prices are painfully high teh XL6 proves to be an economical vehicle to run, especially when you consider that you can move around six people at a time. Maruti Suzuki has been on the wrong side of the news in recent times with some of the crash results from GNCAP. Hence, it’s good to see the company taking steps in the right direction with the XL6. The car now gets four airbags, hill-hold assist, traction control and ABS among other safety features.
In terms of ride quality, I found the XL6 to be very impressive. The suspension does a good job of ironing out surface undulations leading to a comfortable ride quality. On the handling front, the XL6 turned out to be a neutral vehicle considering its positioning as an MPV. Straight line stability at highway speeds is good and the light steering weighs up decently while providing good feedback. Through the corners, the XL6 does exhibit body-roll at a fair pace but one needs to keep in mind that the car is designed to carry people in comfort and not at a blazing pace. That said, the car does maintain the intended line through corners at reasonable speeds and the brakes do a good job of bringing the vehicle to a quick stop.The updated Maruti Suzuki XL6 is a great value-for-money vehicle that offers good comfort and an impressive list of features. The powertrain is now finally at par with the segment standards and the XL6 holds true to the claim of being a six-seat vehicle. With all the new features and changes the prices of the XL6 have gone up considerably, bringing it closer to its rival Kia Carens. However, the XL6 still maintains a significant price advantage while narrowing down the gap in terms of features. In a nutshell, the XL6 is better than the previous version in every department and is one of the best six-seater MPVs in India south of Rs 20 lakh.

Darshan Shah
the authorDarshan Shah