“But there’s already an Ertiga, why release something like the XL7?’ That’s a question we’ve heard a lot since Suzuki decided to launch its newest seven-seat MPV into the Philippine market. To be honest, it’s something we asked amongst ourselves, too. What’s the point of having another vehicle of the same type in the same market?
Let’s be honest: other manufacturers have done it already, and it worked for them. Is Suzuki of the same mindset? Will the XL7 offer something more than the already established Ertiga? Let’s find out, then, shall we?
Starting with the looks of the XL7, it shares a lot of similarities with its older brother. The beltline, the shoulder line, and even the body baseline are almost (if not exactly) the same. But what makes the XL7 stand out is the fact that it has a more aggressive front end. The headlight units, while also sporting a swept-back design, are bigger on the XL7.
Veering towards a sportier look, Suzuki decided to slap on a large blacked-out honeycomb grill, with a gunmetal centerpiece adorned with the Suzuki badge right in the middle. The nice touch to this is the fact that the said centerpiece lines up perfectly into the lower edge of the headlights, making the front look even wider.
The black accent continues to the lower portion of the bumper and around the halogen foglight housings, and the lower grill on the bumper. But what really stands out as far as the XL7’s aesthetics go are the faux skid plates in the front and rear, and its side skirts. Finished in matte silver-gray, it gives the XL7 a more rugged vibe. While it makes it look like a low-to-the-ground MPV, it’s still 20mm higher than the Ertiga. Not much, but significant nonetheless. Overall, it helps in attracting a younger clientele for the XL7.
On the inside is where things get interesting. Despite the fact that pretty much all the interior pieces from the dash to the center console have been carried over, the XL7 is still out there for the more youthful audience. Gone are the beige and wood-grain panels. In the XL7, they give way to black plastic with carbon-fiber trim.
The climate controls no longer come in rotary dials, and are instead of the push-button sort. While I personally like this better, there’s nothing wrong with the former. In this day and age, we just think that buttons are more with keeping up with the times.
Closer inspection of the steering wheel also shows the same piece from another Suzuki MPV, but XL7’s is wrapped in black leather and brushed “aluminum” accents. The wheel is also flat-bottomed, another nod towards the sporty direction of the XL7, perhaps.
As expected, all the audio controls are ergonomically placed on the steering wheel, which is always a good thing. You don’t have to over-extend a thumb or your other fingers to take control of in-car entertainment.
The aforementioned silver pieces continue into the shifter and center consoles, adding a touch of class to the XL7’s interior. Add to that a 7-inch infotainment system and you have yourself more than the bare minimum for both form and function in the cabin.
Speaking of form and function, the XL7 comes with a nifty feature with its gauge cluster. Given that it has an LED center screen, Suzuki saw fit to put in vehicle monitors for the torque and power delivery, gas and brake input, and even a gimbal. Sure these may be very trivial but they are things that make the XL7 break out of the usual utilitarian role of MPVs.
Remember the carbon trim that we mentioned earlier? While some other manufacturers opted for the “dry carbon” look, Suzuki did it better. The pieces they used are glossy and quite robust to the touch. Despite the simple overall look, it adds a classy feel to the XL7's cabin.
Yet another small but convenient interior bit in the XL7 is the sliding armrest lid. It doesn’t have captain seats standard, but this piece gives a nice little space for both driver and front passenger to rest their elbows on. Like the rest of the interior, it’s finished with black leather providing more of the upmarket vibe of the XL7.
On to occupant space, it goes without saying that the front seats provide good space and comfort. But the XL7 is, after all, an MPV, so we got more privy with the middle and 3rd rows.
Now, the XL7 is billed as a 7-seater: 2 in front, 3 in the middle, and 2 in the back. The middle row does leave more to be desired. While the padding and cushions are comfortable, it really has space enough for 2 adults and a child in the middle. Sure, you can fit 3 adults but it’ll be a bit of a squeeze. It’s quite sorry, really, as the headroom and legroom are very abundant in the 2nd row.
The surprise, though, comes with the 3rd row. Normally that row is reserved for the smaller occupants like children. In the XL7, I didn’t find my head brushing against the headliner, or my knees hitting the backseat of the 2nd row.
To-date the XL7 has the most comfortable 3rd we have ever ridden in. Adults or children won’t be left wanting in the space department for sure. How confident are we to say that? We fit in someone who stands 5’8” and about 5’10” and neither had anything to complain about.
Should the 3rd row not be needed, they fold flat which gives a lot of both horizontal and vertical space for the trunk. We cannot discount the fact that a vehicle such as the XL7 will also be used for hauling cargo more than people, and having a spacious trunk is always a big selling point for vehicles of and in this class.
Now, let’s move on to performance. Being bigger, longer, and burlier than its Ertiga brother, the XL7 has Suzuki's newer 1.5 –liter engine under the hood. It’s only a 100cc bump up from their older engine (also found in the previous-gen Ertiga), but it makes all the difference as far as power goes.
Throttle response is quite immediate, but we did notice something that seemed to hamper said power. For some reason, the transmission would linger too much on 2nd gear before shifting into third. Also, when you lift off of the gas to, say, step on the brakes, the transmission would shift to the lower gear rather quickly; that resulted in an awkward jolt that can be felt by driver and passenger alike. Really, these are small quirks that we found, but overall, it does not take much away from how the engine performs.
It turned up an 8.8 km/L consumption in the city, while mixed driving conditions moved it up to about 11.5. note that this was with at least 2 people inside the XL7 so fuel efficiency will vary depending on your occupants and route, but not significantly so, we reckon.
Another point for improvement may be the suspension. While it’s not a tooth-rattling ride, the XL7 leans towards the stiffer side. Perhaps it’s something that Suzuki took into consideration given that it’s meant to seat up to 7 people. With 1 or 2 people, you can really feel the road imperfections, but with more, the ride quality does even out. Further fine-tuning in the future and we’re pretty sure the XL7 can have better ride comfort.
Okay, so back to the question we posed earlier: does the XL7 offer more than its earlier Suzuki counterpart? Yes, our readers, it does. In the XL7 you get a gruffer looking MPV suited for a wider age bracket. You also get a much sportier-looking 7-seater that looks at home ferrying 1, 2, or a full 7-seat group. Being wider, longer, and higher-riding, you also get more people and cargo space, while being just a little more versatile on whatever road conditions you may find yourself driving on.
The XL7 has a single variant (so far) and is priced at PHP 1,068,000. Sure, it costs a little bit more than the top-spec Ertiga, but for all that you’re getting, we believe it’s worth the extra coin. After all, you are getting yourself a much newer model, and a really good looking MPV at that.