The new XL6 comes powered by the 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated petrol mill that was employed in the Ertiga and recently even in the Ciaz sedan. It comes paired either to a five-speed manual gearbox or a four-speed torque converter automatic. This engine is now BSVI-compliant and churns out 103bhp of power and 138Nm of torque. It also features Maruti’s SHVS mild-hybrid technology with an additional lithium-ion battery to aid fuel efficiency. This smooth and refined engine is quiet at the start and even while idling. With sharp throttle responses, it even feels quite capable to drive within the city speeds. However, it does take a little time to gain momentum below 2,000rpm. One will have to shift to lower gears and build revs to get going due to the lack of torque. Post 3,500rpm, the engine gets pretty audible and sounds strained even if though can rev up to the red-line. Thankfully, the gears slot nicely with a short throw, shifts are precise and the clutch is very light, which owners will certainly appreciate.
Still, owners of the petrol AT version will be even more grateful as the two-pedal set-up takes away the woes of using the clutch. Though this four-speed torque converter is an old technology, it serves its purpose well. It's smooth in its operation and is designed to keep itself in the highest gear to reduce the fuel consumption. It feels best while cruising as the first three are driving gears while the fourth is an overdrive gear. When in a hurry, the driver can use the overdrive off button to keep the car in the first three gears only and eventually the engine on boil. And, even if it doesn't have a manual shifting option, there's an 'L' low mode which will let the gearbox be in the lowest possible gear, helpful while climbing up slopes. That said, be it the automatic or manual, a car loaded with five or more occupants will take its own sweet time initially. Otherwise, it's pretty capable of cruising at 100kmph at around 2,500rpm.
What is even more impressive are how light the controls are despite this being a big six-seater vehicle. The steering isn't particularly the one that will keep the driver engaged. Still, it's quite predictable and inspires enough confidence while going around corners and even weighs up adequately at higher speeds. The XL6 is tall and so there is some body roll. Yet, the suspension is well-damped to settle over undulated surfaces. Even if one can feel and hear the suspension work, it takes on bad roads with aplomb and with very little vertical movements of passengers. Overall it provides a composed ride and makes for a good handler, especially given that it’s an MPV.