The confusing digital names of the many new cars like Q7, A4, X5, GT-R, XUV 500, TUV 300, BRV, CRV, WRV and others are not only discomfiting, but they also do not impart the character of memorable names like Rover, Mustang or Jaguar. Now, Maruti with a long list of generally good names has just launched a new XL6.
It is a very clever adaptation of the very successful Ertiga seven-seater utility vehicle; it has also been jazzed up with many styling changes and other features. Like the bigger Toyota Innova seven-seater that had been successfully glammed up to get out of the utility vehicle slot to virtually become a luxurious personal limousine, the practical Ertiga now wears a much more enchanting new plumage. In fact, the higher bonnet, big front end, an attractive radiator grille, flaring wheel arches, roof rails, thick plastic cladding and big 15” wheels give it a very sporty SUV look. But is it just a duchess pretending to be a ballerina or is it really a classy vehicle a car owner would be proud to be seen in?
Under the glamour, the car is however the underpinnings of the Ertiga but even the interiors have been glammed up for extra style and comfort. Needless to say, it offers a huge array of the latest electronic gizmos like a big centrally mounted touch screen for entertainment, information and navigation. The second row now has two luxurious and reclineable ‘captain seats’ instead of a boring old three-seat bench. The two-seat bench on the third row is surprisingly spacious and comfortable and have backrests for a little comfort. The smart black fabrics and plastics are also quite tasteful.
There will not be much boot space if all the seats are being used, but if the last row is folded down, there is a lot of room inside. The roof rack can be used for extra storage, but has been clearly designed to look sporty rather than as a storage space. There are, of course, all the necessary features for safety and ride comfort. These and several other luxuries cost a lot, but XL6 saves money by only offering the peppy 1462CC 105 hp BS6-compliant petrol engine with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission to make driving pleasurable.
The XL6 will cost a bit more than the Ertiga, but the sales trend in favour of the top models suggest that buyers are willing to pay a bit more to add style and comfort to what is essentially a utility vehicle. The Toyota Innova used to be a large utility vehicle, but buyers quite willingly paid a good bit more for the stylish new Crysta model that replaced it. As the Ertiga will continue to be in the market, the carmaker clearly hopes that XL6 will add useful incremental sales. If Ertiga sells about 6,000 units a month, the XL6, as a top-end variant, will certainly attract a few thousand more customers. It will only be sold via NEXA outlets.
There have been a few changes to the suspension, steering and brakes, so the XL6 will continue to be safe and sure on the road but not a dancer. A good dependable vehicle that will be ideal for large families and smart enough to rub shoulders with any classy car. Even in the utility segment, many of the more affluent tourists and other travellers won’t mind shelling out a little more to travel long distances in a more comfortable and stylish car.
Murad Ali Baig
Senior automobile analyst