We drive the much-awaited Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza with the 1.3-litre diesel engine to see if it can really live up to the hype that it has created. Will it be one of India's most popular cars in the years to come? Well, read on....
If I had a rupee for every person that has asked me about the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza in the last few years, I would probably have enough money to buy one. Not only is this the most talked about car in the last few months, Maruti’s new SUV is possibly one of the most talked about and most anticipated cars in the last few years. Afterall, India’s largest auto maker finally launching India’s favorite type of car is not something that happens every day! Unveiled at the 2016 Auto Expo and launched in Mumbai just a few days ago, we have finally managed to get our hands on the car everyone has been waiting to drive, see, talk about and of course, own. So, does it really live up to the expectations that the Indian audiences have set?
The Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza is striking to look at when you first lay your eyes on it and this is because of the fact that Maruti’s styling studio have got it spot on when it comes to the way the Brezza is stanced. The first thing you really notice is how this sub 4-meter compact SUV appears to look much bigger than it actually is and how the front is angled in a way to make it look aggressive and appear much wider than it is.
The front gets a very well designed and detailed chrome grille that joins the two headlamps together. The top of the line car that we have here gets daytime running lights and a projector headlamps setup. The front bumper is sporty and gets a large blacked out air dam which is well complemented by the silver skid plate. The fog lamp and the indicators are separate units and are get their own matte black surrounds.
Move to the sides and the plastic cladding dominates the lower half of the car along with the flared wheel arches. The top of the line car gets a set of 16-inch wheels with 215/60 R16 alloy wheels while the lower variants get 205/60 R16 steel wheels. The wheels though lack drama and are just too plain in terms of design for a car like the Brezza and the 16-inch gunmetal grey wheels from the Ciaz for example would have gone a long way in making the car look a lot sportier and more premium than it is now.
Coming to the roof, the floating roof design has elements of the Maruti Suzuki Swift in it and is possibly one of the most important styling features on the car as you could actually opt for a factory finished two tone paint option which we think makes the Brezza look a lot more cooler! The two tone paint options are only available on the ZDi+ variant and can be had in either red/black, blue/white or a yellow/white combination. Personally, we think that the blue/white combo looks the best of the lot. That said, the partition line on the inside of the bootlid could have been executed a lot better and although it does not show on the outside, it does linger on the back of your head. Sadly, the Brezza we drove was in a more subtle shade of silver without the two-tone treatment and although we would have loved the brighter blue or yellow, the silver should possibly outsell either of those colors by a considerable margin.
Around the rear, the wide stance of the Brezza continues with the horizontally stacked tail lamps and the large embossed Vitara Brezza badged chrome garnish piece atop the number plate area. The rear bumper also gets a silver finished skid plate, which is well contrasted with the matte black cladding around it. The built in spoiler on the Brezza also adds a hint of sportiness into this compact SUV.
Interior, Space & features: 3.5/5
When it comes to the interiors, the engineers at Maruti decided to play a little safe and offer a simple and elegant solution instead of the over the top design you get on some other compact SUVs. The central console is finished in gloss black while the dashboard itself gets a matte black tone. The Brezza also gets a brushed aluminum styling feature that runs horizontally on the dashboard and helps break up the singular color’s monotony. The lower part of the central console gets a climate control system with an auto function and some storage space for knick knacks. The speedometer console gets two large dials which get a mood lighting option with five distinct color choices, red, orange, blue, white and yellow that the driver can choose from.
The central screen gets inbuilt navigation and Apple CarPlay which is a real boon in case you use an Apple device. Other features in the Brezza include a reverse parking camera with parking sensors, automatic headlamps, automatic rain sensing windscreen wipers and cruise control. The higher spec versions also get auto folding outside rear view mirrors and a start-stop button. All in all, the Vitara Brezza is jammed pack with gadgetry! That said, plastic quality is quite substandard and does offer slightly mediocre tactile feel. The textured plastic on the top half of the dashboard also looks and feels a little tacky. The central panel also has rather large panel gaps and feels not as solid as it feels on most other cars in this segment or hatchbacks that are similarly priced.
In terms of seating space, the Vitara Brezza scores high. The front seats are very comfortable and offer a good overall support. The rear seats are spacious and offer good legroom due to the scooped out front seats and good under thigh support too. We also like how the Vitara Brezza gets scooped out door panels on the rear which help making more space so that three passengers can sit next to each other in relative comfort. There is also enough headroom for the average passenger despite the stylish sloping roofline. That said, we are immensely disappointed with the fact that despite the demand, the Vitara Brezza does not get leather interiors even on the most expensive versions.
Eariler Maruti Suzuki products were criticized for not having enough storage space. The Brezza gets a bottle holder on the front door cards along with two cup holders in the central console and a single bottle holder in each of the rear doors. The Brezza also gets a centre console that comes mighty handy for storing a phone charger or other utilities. The large 328-litre boot might not be the biggest in its category but the relatively low loading floor and large spare wheel (205/60 R15 with a black steel wheel) will certainly be a boon for most customers.
Engines, Gearbox & performance: 3.5/5
The Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza is powered by a 1.3-litre, turbocharged, 4-cylinder unit that makes 90PS of peak power and 200Nm of peak torque. This of course is the same engine that we are used to in the likes of the Ciaz and is mated to a 5-speed gearbox that has specially been tuned for the Brezza. The first thing you feel when you get behind the wheel of the Brezza is the uncanny sense of familiarity. It drives pretty much identical to the likes of the Swift and the Baleno. Power delivery isn’t as jerky as it once was and although there is a noticeable turbo lag when you are at lower speeds and higher gears, drop it down a cog or two and the Brezza really shows a level of acceptable performance.
The gearbox too is as slick and crisp as it always was but is not as firm as the likes of the Swift. We think Maruti have worked on either the bushings or the linkage mechanism to make it a little more supple. The clutch is easy to use and feels quite light and the bite point and free-play on the clutch too is very user friendly which means less fatigue while driving in start-stop traffic.
The Vitara Brezza does have quite a high level of noise that filters into the cabin especially when the engine is revved past the 3000rpm point. And NVH levels, especially tyre noise and engine noise are on the higher side and on longer trips could cause the drivers and the passengers some general annoyance. On the whole though, the Vitara Brezza with the diesel engine certainly does not disappoint even though it does not really showcase any earth shattering performances.
Ride, Handling and Braking: 3.5/5
Being a taller SUV, the Vitara Brezza will handle like one. That is exactly what we assumed about it till we actually put it through its paces. Of course, there is a fair bit of body roll but the suspension setup is on the stiffer side making the Brezza handle quite well for what is essentially a tall SUV. With only two people in the car, there is a lot of bouncing and skipping that comes along especially over undulated, bumpy or just the bad roads that we drive on daily here in India. This of course disappears when you have a full load of five people and a boot full of luggage. Ride for rear seat passengers is decent and the fact that the Brezza does not bounce around like some other SUVs in its market is a plus point.
Continuing on the handling aspects a little more, the Brezza is quite similar to the Duster’s setup in many ways as both these SUVs love being chucked into a corner with a sense of confidence and not making a fuss while at it. Maruti has always made neutral handling cars and the Brezza based on Suzuki’s brand new global C-Platform (first car in India to get the new platform) is no different. There is just a hint of understeer when you take a corner fast but slightly lifting off the throttle usually gets the Brezza back in line.
The Vitara Brezza gets disc brakes up front and drum brakes at the rear. All variants, from the cheapest to the most expensive get an ABS option which is something you must choose when buying your car. The brake feel itself is very positive and although the car does dip a little from the front under very heavy braking, there isn’t much drama on the whole which results in a good stopping distance. The 215/60 R16 tyres on the highest spec car does help too but the tyre noise and road rumble do filter into the cabin quite prominently.
Price and Fuel efficiency: 4/5
The Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza in its diesel form will get 6 variants. The LDi and LDi (O) is priced at Rs 6.99 lakh and Rs 7.12 lakh while the VDi and VDi(O) is priced at Rs 7.62 lakh and Rs 7.75 lakh. The higher and better equipped ZDi, ZDi+ and ZDi+ with the two-tone package are priced at Rs 8.55 lakh, Rs 9.54 lakh and Rs 9.68 lakh respectively. If you are one of the thousands of people considering the Vitara Brezza, we seriously urge you to take the conscious effort in choosing the two tone color option as this compact SUV just looks a lot nicer in the three optional colors. Not only are these prices competitive, they undercut competition like the Ford Ecosport by a considerable margin while offer a lot more value for your hard earned money. In terms of fuel economy, Maruti claims that the Vitara Brezza compact SUV returns an impressive 24.3kmpl according to the ARAI test cycles. Expect real world figures to be in the mid teens for city users and in the high teens for highway runs.
There is no denying the fact that the Vitara Brezza is a sure shot winner for Maruti Suzuki with a real possibility of it becoming its bread and butter product in the next few years. It has exciting and yet understated looks, a good interior that comes packed with gadgets and a good mechanical package. Negatives of course include the plastic quality which really needs to be improved and the fact that the NVH levels are just a tad bit too high for our liking. Although we were a bit skeptical about the Vitara Brezza, the car certainly has not disappointed in any form or measure and is certainly something we would strongly advice our readers to buy if you are looking for a new car around the Rs 10 lakh range. All said and done, you have to wonder, does that mid-size sedan or premium hatchback really make any sense anymore?