The Ertiga gets all the MPV basics right. It has three rows of seats, can seat seven and it comes with a small, efficient diesel engine. Also, its monocoque construction promises much in terms of car-like comfort and driving manners. The cabin design is similar to the Swift’s, which means quality is good, and the small dimensions mean it will be easy to park and punt around town.
Its mouth-watering price of R8.45 lakh makes it all the more desirable and, combined with Maruti’s wide service network, it’s a package that’s hard to beat.
The Ertiga is powered by a very small 1.3-litre diesel engine. It does make a healthy 89bhp though, and this is the same engine that does duty in cars like the Linea, SX4 and Manza. The Xylo, on the other hand, uses a much bigger 2.2-litre unit that produces 120bhp, a massive 31bhp more than the Ertiga, and it also makes 8kgm more pulling power.
It doesn’t take long to realise that the Ertiga is not the easiest car to drive in the city. There is quite a lot of throttle lag below 2,000rpm and you need to keep changing gears to dart around in traffic. A full complement of seven passengers on board further accentuates this drawback. Once past 2000rpm though, the turbo kicks in and there is a sudden burst of acceleration, and this also makes it quite tricky to drive. It gets better on the highway though, and displays enough grunt for reasonably rapid progress. This is also thanks to the 1.3-litre engine’s strong midrange. The Xylo’s engine, meanwhile, has loads of pull as soon as you get off the clutch and power delivery is very linear. This makes it extremely easy to drive in town—there’s more than adequate power and its low- and mid-range responses are particularly strong. The Xylo cruises well on the highway too and, thanks to the flexible motor, gearshifts can be kept to a minimum.
When it comes to engine refinement, the Ertiga’s motor does a better job than the Xylo’s. It is much smoother, and even when worked hard it doesn’t sound harsh. The key advantage the Ertiga has though is its weight. At 1,235kg, it weighs a full 565kg less than the Xylo, so though it has a massive power deficit, the lack of weight means it never feels underpowered. The Ertiga’s lighter clutch and slicker gearbox also mean you don’t need too much effort to change gears in town. Thanks to its huge weight advantage, the Ertiga manages to set very competitive acceleration times. The 0-100kph sprint takes 14.28sec, which is only 1.3 seconds off the Xylo’s. In-gear times of 11.14sec for 20-80kph in third and 12.71sec for 40-100kph in fourth are a bit slower too.
Maruti Ertiga ZDi HHH
Engine performance is decent but the massive throttle lag below 2000rpm makes it a bit irritating at low speeds.
Mahindra Xylo E9 HHHH
2.2 litre 120bhp motor is an eager performer and is fuel efficient too. Refinement falls short of the Ertiga though.
RIDE AND HANDLING
The Ertiga is based on the Swift platform which means it has a car-like monocoque construction, unlike the Xylo’s more rudimentary ladder-on-frame construction. This makes the body more rigid and the low centre of gravity helps it corner well. This gives the Ertiga car-like driving dynamics and you can drive it quite briskly. The soft suspension means the low-speed ride is plush and even as speeds increase, the Ertiga handles bumps with aplomb and feels solid. There is a bit of up-and-down motion over undulating surfaces, but it never gets uncomfortable. The Ertiga’s suspension works silently too and it’s just over sharp bumps that there is a mild thud from the suspension.
The steering offers good feedback and is light enough at city speeds. Manoeuvrability too is terrific and this is one of the USPs of the Ertiga. Despite the soft setup, body roll through corners is well controlled, and once you get used to the Ertiga’s size, it gives you the confidence to push it as much as you would a saloon. In the ride and handling department, the Ertiga easily pips the rather crude Xylo.
The Mahindra is based on a beefy chassis like the Bolero’s. It is tall and rides on huge tyres. The suspension is tuned for ride quality, which means bumps are easily absorbed at slow city speeds. But it feels a little too soft for higher speeds. The Xylo has a tendency to bob up and down through dips and doesn’t feel as stable as a Toyota Innova at high speeds. At city speeds, however, you’ll be impressed by its bump-smothering ability. The steering feels light at low speeds but doesn’t weigh up as you go faster. The soft suspension makes it feel top-heavy and ponderous through turns.
Maruti Ertiga ZDi HHHH
The Ertiga has a good compromise between low- and high-speed ride. It feels rock-solid at high speed too.
Mahindra Xylo E9 HHH
The Xylo offers a plush ride in the city, but as speeds increase, the ride becomes somewhat unsettling.
WHAT ARE THEY LIKE INSIDE?
The brilliance of the Ertiga lies in its packaging. Maruti has strived hard to squeeze out every millimetre of space in the Ertiga and it shows as soon as you enter the cabin. The long wheelbase and the Ertiga’s cab-forward design contribute to make one very spacious interior. The front seats are from the Swift and are very supportive, and though you sit much lower compared to the Xylo, visibility is good; although the thick A-pillar can block your view when entering junctions. The low, car-like driving position is really nice and, thanks to the seat-height and steering adjustment, finding an ideal driving position is a cinch. The low seating also means you slide into the Ertiga’s seats rather than climb into them.
The flexible second row, which can be slid back and forth by a whopping 240mm, gives it loads of knee-room. Even after adjusting these seats for the third-row passengers, you have more than sufficient legroom. The seats themselves are comfortable, with good back and thigh support. The armrest too is placed at a good height and is comfortable to use. The flat seat and a near-flat floor bode well for centre passenger comfort, but the car’s narrow dimensions mean the seat itself is not that wide and seating three abreast is a bit of a squeeze.
Getting into the Ertiga’s last row requires more contortion than the Xylo’s does, though. The seating position is not ‘knees-up’ like in many MPVs, but the seat squab is a bit short and this compromises thigh support. Shoulder support is good and headroom is decent, but the Xylo’s third row is much more comfortable, with a full-size bench and good space. Simply put, the Ertiga’s cabin is far more useable than the exterior dimensions would suggest.
With all seven seats in place there is enough space in the back to hold just two soft bags, while a concealed storage bay hidden beneath the boot floor can hold small items. For even more space, the third row can be folded flat. You also have the option to fold the middle row and the 60:40 split further aids flexibility.
The Ertiga is available in three variants and, save for the base petrol model, all variants get ABS, while this ZDi model gets driver and passenger airbags. Climate control is not available on any trim level, though middle- and top-spec cars do get twin air-conditioners to help cool the large cabin.
The Xylo’s interiors look modern. The design is fresh and the two-tone finish looks refreshing. Open the large doors and climb up to the high driver’s seat, and the space on offer will leave you surprised. The big windows add to the airy feeling of the already spacious cabin and you’ll also be impressed by the long list of features. The E9 model tested here gets dual air-conditioners, rear parking sensors, electric door mirrors and a unique DDAS (Digital Drive Assist System) system that includes a trip computer, among many other features. Pretty good, considering the price you pay.
Once settled in, you’ll find the soft seats are very comfortable and provide support in all the right areas. The driver is treated to a range of adjustments which includes seat and seatbelt height along with tilt steering. The seat height adjustment is a little cumbersome to use, however. All these adjustments ensure that you get comfortable behind the wheel in no time. What you’ll really appreciate on long drives is the large dead pedal and adjustable armrests. It’s these clever little touches that the Xylo is full of that make it so special. In town, the high seating and wide door mirrors, coupled with a light steering, make piloting it through traffic easy.
The E9 variant gets optional captain seats for the middle row. The front seat-backs fold backwards to join with the middle row and provide aircraft-like flatbed seating. There’s lot of leg and headroom as well as storage space for knick-knacks, especially around the centre console. The large windows add to the ambience of this functional cabin. In most people-movers, the third-row seat is generally a compromise; not so in the Xylo. The third row has more than enough legroom; the seat is supportive and comfortable, and comes with armrests. Mahindra has paid special attention to the third row, but its efforts have come at the cost of boot space. With all the rows in place, boot space is dismal and not even enough for small bags.
Maruti Ertiga ZDi HHHH
Ertiga dash user-friendly. There’s enough legroom and seats are comfy. Low seats mean getting in and out is easy.
Mahindra Xylo E9 HHHH
Two-tone dash looks nice. Front seats are comfortable and optional middle-row captain seats are like big sofas.
WILL THEY BREAK THE BANK?
The Maruti Ertiga Diesel is available in three trim levels and the full-spec ZDi variant featured here costs R8.45 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). However, the more affordable VDi variant does without alloy wheels, fog lights and airbags. It costs R7.90 lakh and the base LDi costs R7.30 lakh. Maruti offers a standard warranty of two-year/40,000km. While Mahindra will also sell the facelifted Xylo with the older mEagle engine, the new mHawk engine featured here is available only on the E9 variant. R7.36 lakh will buy you the base D2 model that comes with few frills and even lacks items like power windows. The Xylo E9, at R10.47 lakh, comes with a lengthy features list that includes leather seats, cruise control and reversing sensors. You even get voice-operated controls. Dual airbags and ABS with EBD are part of the safety kit. Mahindra offers the Xylo with a two-year/50,000km warranty.
Maruti Ertiga ZDi HHHH
The Ertiga comes with a long list of equipment that includes a CD player with aux and USB ports and steering-mounted audio controls.
Mahindra Xylo E9 HHH
The Xylo comes with a lengthy features list that includes leather seats, cruise control and reversing sensors.
n Ertiga the clear winner here.
The Xylo scores on space and comfort, but the Ertiga is the better all-rounder.
The Xylo offers a spacious cabin and pampers you with a lot of equipment too. You will love the comfortable seats over long journeys and the fuel efficiency will also keep you happy. Add to this the spacious third row, which trumps the Ertiga’s, and an attractive price, and you’ve got the recipe for a pretty good family car. But it has its vices as well; there is limited boot space, so comfort on an outstation trip with all seats occupied can be compromised. The Xylo’s ride and handling are a far cry from the Ertiga’s car-like dynamics and pliant ride. But what really lets the Xylo down is that it lacks the quality and feel-good factor that comes standard with the Ertiga.
The Ertiga is the new kid on the block and does everything you ask of it quite well. It offers the right amount of space, comfort and equipment. Since it’s based on the Swift platform and shares most of its running gear with the hatchback, its reliability is proven. The fuel-efficient and peppy diesel engine makes the Ertiga a good highway cruiser as well. But it too has some downsides—there is massive throttle lag at low speeds, which makes it irritating to drive in traffic, and with seven people onboard the problem only gets worse. But this is a small price to pay for an otherwise brilliant MPV that feels far better engineered and put together. The fact that it is R2 lakh cheaper than the Xylo makes the victory easier still.