FIRST DRIVE – MARUTI SUZUKI XL6

An invitation to visit Rajasthan is always welcome. Lovely topography, colourful people, delicious food and the best driving roads in the country. It’s no surprise that Rajasthan plays host to multiple media drives each year.

FIRST.jpgLast weekend we were in Jaipur to drive the new Maruti Suzuki XL6. Maruti’s new premium MPV, which is being retailed through the Nexa network.

HOW DOES IT LOOK?

The XL6 is a good looking MPV. Raised bonnet lines, larger grille, a scuff plate, full- LED headlights are what one sees when viewed from the front.

Car 1.jpgCOLLAGE outside.jpgCladding has been added to the front and rear bumpers and on the sides. This gives the XL, kind of a SUV look. 15-inch wheels sit under the exaggerated wheel arches. As you walk around the side towards the rear, you will notice the roof rails, a rear scuff plate and dual tone tailgate.

We were told at the product presentation that these are exclusive to the XL6. The XL6 is available in 6 colour options.

HOW IS IT INSIDE?

Step inside, and the familiarity of a Maruti car greets you. Slide into the driver’s seat and the first thing you notice are the all-black interiors theme the XL6 cabin comes with. This makes it look plush and premium.

COLLAGE INT.jpgAdding to that experience are the faux black ash wood finish, leatherette seats and the knitted roof lining. The front seats are comfortable and offer good under thigh support.

The biggest change in the XL6 over the Ertiga is in the middle row. The bench has been replaced by captain seats. The seats are very comfortable and offer good under thigh support. Legroom is impressive; the second-row passengers can incline the seats to a fair degree for further comfort.

To get into the third-row seats one must push the second-row backrest forward. Getting in doesn’t take too much effort. Leg and headroom on offer are decent. One can incline the backrest further to make it more comfortable. These 3rd row seats split and fold completely, thus increasing the luggage capacity from 209 litres to 550 litres.

The XL6 comes in Zeta and Alpha trims with loads of features on offer. Starting with Maruti’s next generation Smart Play studio infotainment system. The User interface is smooth and fast and easy to surf.

COLLAGE INT 01.jpgIt comes bundled with Android Auto and Apple Car Play. Keyless entry, auto climate control, electric fold mirrors cruise control, reverse camera makes up the list of features in the XL6.

Suzuki Connect can be added as an option. This is an E-sim based connected tech which offers features such as geo-fencing, vehicle alerts, live vehicle status, vehicle tracking and driving behaviour analysis.

The XL6 is powered by a BS6 compliant 1.5-litre petrol updated to BS-6 specifications. It comes with mild-hybrid technology that Maruti offers in some of its other cars as well.

car8.jpgThe first evening I drove the auto version of the XL6. Easy to drive, the moment you put it into drive mode the XL6 feels familiar. That’s because this is the same petrol engine that Maruti uses in the petrol Ertiga and Ciaz. Acceleration is smooth and linear, there’s enough power going through the gears. Once you go past 3000rpm the engine sounds throatier.

car18.jpgThe XL6 gets to three digit speeds easily. The automatic transmission on duty in the XL6 is a 4-speed torque convertor.  There’s an OD button on the side of the gear knob. Switch that off and the car converts to a 3-speed. This is very useful when climbing steep slopes, driving in hilly terrains, driving in smaller places where you want more power to overtake.

Next morning, I got my hands on the manual transmission XL6. The 5-speed manual gearbox is refined, upshifts and downshifts are very smooth, the clutch is light enough to use.

car22car12.jpgThe ride quality of the XL6 really impressed me. The roads I drove on in Jaipur during this media drive were a combination of national highways, off road stretches, bad stretches of city roads. That made no difference to the XL6.The suspension handled everything thrown at it with ease. Extremely well planted at all times, the XL6 has the best ride quality in its class.

THE VERDICT

car19.jpgcar 6.jpgThe XL6 offers comfort, great ride quality, is very easy to drive and is priced well. The size of the car makes it just right as a family car. This is a car which can be self-driven, be chauffeured in, something every adult member of the family would enjoy driving. If you are in the market for a premium 6-seater at an affordable price, look no further. The XL6 is just the car for you.

car13.jpgThe XL6 pricing starts at 9.8 Lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai (inclusive of GST) for the Manual Zeta Petrol. The Auto Zeta petrol starts at  10.9 Lakhs ex-showroom Mumbai(inclusive of GST)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS- #NextGenErtiga

2012 was when the first generation Ertiga was launched. A category they came to dominate with 4.20 in sales over the last 6 years. Having spent lots of time with the previous model, I had come to like the easy-going driving nature of the Ertiga.

Maruti is one of the most innovative auto companies in India. They have a brilliant understanding of their target audience and are extremely receptive to the feedback they garner. One sees that in all the cars they have launched in the last few years. The level of evolution with each model in terms of design, driving characteristics, cabin comfort is very apparent.

COLLAGE 1.jpgNow in 2018 comes the #NextGenErtiga. Everything sees an improvement to the previous model from dimensions, fuel efficiency and the premium feel on offer. Maruti is known for its aggressive and smart pricing. That stays the same with the #NextGenErtiga which is priced around the same, as the previous model.

The first thing you notice with the new #NextGenErtiga is how contemporary the styling has become. The swept back projector headlights, good-looking chrome grille, chrome door handles, multi spoke wheels, blacked out D-pillar, stretched out LED Lamps at the rear add to the appeal.COLLAGE 4.jpgThe #NextGenErtiga is built on the fifth-generation Heartect Platform. Kerb weight goes down by 15-20 kgs, but not in the petrol version. That stays almost the same, due to the larger engine size and additional battery pack. The #NextGenErtiga is now 99mm longer, 40mm wider and 5mm taller than the older model.

Step inside the car and you are greeted with the touchscreen, flat bottom steering and instrument cluster in the petrol version which is the same as the new Ciaz. The dashboard is split by artificial wood panelling on the Z and Z+ variants. The front seats are large and comfortable. The #NextGenErtiga now come with a new sliding front armrest.COLLAGE 6.jpgCOLLAGE 3.jpgThere is lots of improvement in terms of space management within the cabin. The second row gets recline and fore-aft adjustment in a 40:60 ratio. The window is huge along with a tall ceiling. When I spoke to C. V. Raman – Head of Engineering, Maruti Suzuki, he mentioned how the layout in Maruti cars is designed to provide lot more space within the cabin. Having a flat floor helps specially when there are 3 passengers in the second row in terms of shoulder room. The roof-mounted blower with four fan speeds carries on here from the outgoing model.

Maruti has added a one-touch mechanism to slide the second row forward. This makes life very easy which getting in and out from the third row. The third row is very impressive in the sense that a 6-footer can easily sit behind without feeling stifled or stuck for space. The third row comes with a recline feature for more comfort. This row is extremely important, as most of the customers for the #NextGenErtiga will be large families which are usually made up of 6 people. The other new features one finds in the #NextGenErtiga are front armrest console, cooled cup holders, bottle holders in each door, and charging points in each row.

Boot space is 209 litres, but can be expanded to 550 litres and 803 litres by folding the seats. Maruti has added a storage area beneath the boot floor to store items as well.

I drove the petrol manual and diesel manual on the media drive. The petrol manual is powered by the same K15 1462cc petrol engine that is found in the new Ciaz. This engine features a mild-hybrid system which gets support from two batteries. There is one lithium-ion pack placed under the passenger seat, which provides a small amount of additional boost to the petrol engine. The energy recouped when the car decelerates, is used to recharge the lithium-ion battery. The engine start-stop system is another feature of this mild hybrid system. Only issue with this system is that the air-conditioner cuts off leaving the blower on. Most of the year we live in hot and humid conditions, so I expect most drivers to turn this feature off.

The diesel #NextGenErtiga gets the same 1.3-litre Fiat-sourced engine that produces 90hp and 200Nm. Fuel efficiency goes up by 0.95kpl to 25.47kpl

How does it drive?

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The #NextGenErtiga is easy to drive with a sense of familiarity from the moment you start the car. The petrol engine is responsive, clutch is light, gear shifts are smooth and refined, handling is good, and one feels planted all the time despite the tall stance.  The all new suspension handles bad roads, potholes, speed breakers with ease and the steering feels adequately weighted. I always have felt the Ertiga is one of the easiest cars to drive in the city. That remains the same with the #NextGenErtiga. The boost in power to 105hp and 138Nm Torque helps while overtaking and driving on the highway.

The diesel #NextGenErtiga shares most of the same characteristics as the petrol version. Only difference one experiences while driving this, is a turbo lag below 2000 rpm which makes the engine feel dull. Get past that up to 5000 rpm and the engine is freewheeling and responsive.

The 100 odd kilometres I drove the petrol and diesel versions of the #NextGenErtiga, gave me an inkling of how good this MPV is.

Maruti has once again designed a winner, a reflection of how well they know their target audience. They make cars for our roads and offer exactly the features the Indian customer is looking for in cars i.e. space, comfort, value and premium feel.

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The #NextGenErtiga starts Rs 8.52 lakhs on-road Delhi for the Petrol Manual, Rs 9.92 lakhs for the Diesel Manual and Rs 10.25 lakhs for the Petrol Automatic.

Here comes the New Ciaz…

The Ciaz from the time it was launched has developed a loyal following. Having sold 2 lakhs plus units so far, the car has become a key player in the mid-size sedan segment.

The new Maruti Suzuki updated Ciaz has arrived on our shores. Last week Maruti launched the latest offering of their most premium model. Priced between Rs 8.19-10.97 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Ciaz brings some more equipment, cosmetic upgrades and a spanking new petrol engine.

The Ciaz from the time it was launched has developed a loyal following. Having sold 2 lakhs plus units so far, the car has become a key player in the mid-size sedan segment.

Good looking with enough styling changes make the Ciaz impressive to look at. The front and rear bumpers along with the grille are all new. I particularly like the new shape of the headlamps. The higher variants in the model range i.e. Zeta and Alpha will get LED headlamps, taillamps and chrome on the grille. The Alpha version also comes with LED DRL’s and 16-inch alloy wheels that are completely new in design. The instrument cluster comes with a new colour display. The other elements inside are like the previous model Ciaz.

 

Maruti has given the safety aspect a major upgrade. The dual-front airbags, ABS with EBD were part of the previous generation which are carried over to this model. The new model of the Ciaz also gets rear parking sensors. A speed alert system starts beeping when you touch 80kmph. The beeping then becomes continuous when the car hits 120kmph. This is in conjunction with speed alert regulations that the government is going to make mandatory next year onwards. The idea is to deter drivers from speeding. But will this help.? Unfortunately, I don’t think so. Knowing our penchant for “jugaad” its only a matter of time before local mechanics find a way to de-activate this.

There are seat-belt reminders for the driver and front passenger, a standard in most cars today. The new Ciaz also comes with the Isofix child seat mounts that are standard across the whole range. Big thumbs up for promoting child safety which we at Outventures and Rotormouth fully support and welcome. The top-spec variants come with cruise control, automatic headlamps with an auto-levelling functionality.

New Petrol Engine Introduced…

The new Ciaz introduces the new Suzuki’s K15B motor for the first time. This replaces the previous K14B 1,373cc, four-cylinder petrol engine that made 92hp and 130Nm of peak torque. The K15B 1,462cc four-cylinder engine makes 105hp and 138Nm of torque. The transmission option on the petrol engine is unchanged with a 5-speed manual offered as standard. The automatic comes with a 4-speed torque converter.

The diesel Ciaz remains the same as before. The specifications of offer are 90hp, 1,248cc, four-cylinder motor which produces 200Nm of torque with a 5-speed gearbox.

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 The Ciaz has always been the most fuel-efficient mid-size sedan in its class…

Nothing changes with this model. While the diesel gives you ARAI rated fuel efficiency figure of 28.09 kpl, the petrol gets a pretty significant bump in fuel efficiency, even though engine displacement size has become bigger with this model. The rated figure is now 21.56 kpl for the manual and 2.28 for the automatic. The increase respectively is 0.83kpl and 2.44kpl for manual and automatic. In India where fuel prices determine buying choices this will be welcomed with open arms.

The reason behind the improvement in fuel efficiency is…

The mild hybrid system that comes with the K15B uses a lithium-ion battery which is mounted under the front passenger seat. This helps to run start-stop function as well work with torque assist. The battery gets charged via brake energy regeneration. No other car in this segment offers this feature.

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So how does the Ciaz drive?

I spent 2 days driving the car over almost 200 kms across great highway roads, congested narrow by lanes. Conditions of the road went from super to bad. How did the Ciaz fare? Let’s find out.

Get into the Ciaz one gets a sense of comfort and familiarity. Start the car and put it into drive mode or 1st gear and the pick-up is smooth and swift. The 1st day I drove the automatic over 80 kms. The engine is responsive; the 4-speed torque convertor works very well, there isn’t any sort of lag and makes for very good driving dynamics. Handling and braking are sharp. The suspension is well designed and tuned for our road conditions. Once we got off the highway the road conditions went through a sea change in terms of quality. The bad roads didn’t affect the drive quality of the Ciaz.

Next day we drove the manual on the Bengaluru – Hyderabad Highway. Oh! What fun that was. Nowadays most of us prefer driving automatics considering the appalling state of traffic in most cities. The manual was a sweet reminder of how much fun it can be when driving is stress free. Fast, responsive engine and gearbox with super handling is what one experienced during the drive. The safety beeping that accompanied us every time we touched 80kmph and beyond was a reminder of how regulated our driving is becoming now. Welcome to driving in the 21st century 😊

If driving in comfort, style, good features and performance is what you are looking for at a killer price…Then the Ciaz is the perfect mid-size sedan for you.

Location : The Taj Bangalore
Picture Credits :Kartik Sadekar