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The most striking thing about the XL6 is its design, which makes you immediately notice it, especially in its fabulous NEXA Blue shade. It does look a much more premium product than its competition, so that’s a win right there. The LED headlights and the overall sportiness of the front end give it a dominant feel, and the chrome garnish on the front grille is integrated in a sophisticated way into the DRLs, lending the front fascia a bold look. Then there’s the upright stance and raised hood, which give it a very SUV-like character, especially with the skid plates. The sporty roof rails also dispel the impression that it’s a people-mover. The rear end is equally well appointed, with its striking LED tail lamps. There’s absolutely no doubt that the XL6 has excellent road presence, which is something most buyers look for.

The cabin is where the XL6 really comes into its own. The all-black, plush leather captain seats are extremely comfortable, and are wide enough to take good care of even dimensionally gifted people (like, er, me). The dashboard, with its stone finish, is brilliant to look at and the sophisticated design of the overall layout further lends to the car’s premium appeal. There is ample storage space to hide all those wires and accessories that your wife threatens to throw out if she ever sees them again. The air conditioning is absolutely top notch, and the vents for cooling the cup holder in the centre console are simply brilliant. Another factor that is of great significance is the XL6’s ergonomic prowess, going to show how well Maruti understands the Indian customer. It’s very easy to get into and out of this cabin, and with the captain seats being equipped with a recline and slide mechanism, access to the third row of seats is a breeze. It is these little things that make such a difference.

We had the Alpha AT variant of the XL6, with all the bells and whistles, and the first thing you notice when you drive it is how well Maruti has optimised the gear ratios for our conditions. Whether it’s peak Delhi traffic or a country lane in Rajasthan (which Google maps thinks of as a lake, for some reason), the transmission always finds the right gear to let you fully enjoy the comfort of the XL6. Adding to this well-sorted automatic transmission is the presence of cruise control, which doesn’t just make driving on the highways comfortable but is also straightforward to use; the response from the cruise control system is prompt whenever you want to engage or disengage it.

On the engine front, the XL6 is equipped with the 1462cc engine equipped with Smart Hybrid, which is found in a number of Maruti products. As expected, it is a refined unit that offers the perfect blend of power delivery and efficiency. Also, in this age of turbo-petrol powered cars, the note of a naturally aspirated engine under acceleration is a delight. It sounds so good that one of my friends actually paused his call mid-way and asked me to accelerate once again. It’s a thoroughly grin-inducing affair!

Fuel efficiency is where the XL6 impressed us once it hit the highway, and while we were in the city, the Smart Hybrid system kept the anti-pollution crowd happy at traffic lights too. On the suspension front, when the XL6 is fully loaded up with passengers and luggage, the ride quality is plush and planted, and the handling is confident and predictable as well.

I had always wondered what to say to friends and acquaintances when they asked me if they should buy a 5 or a 7-seater car, and after spending some time with the XL6, I can say that the answer might just be “get a 6-seater”. With this strategic move, Maruti has come up with a very accomplished product in the XL6, and it has far more going for it than you realise in the first moment.