Maruti may be king in the small car space, but what India’s largest carmaker lacked was a compact SUV model. Enter the all-new Suzuki Vitara Brezza that plugs a vital gap in the company’s model range.
The Brezza is important for yet another reason – it is a car made for India, in India; the 98% localisation of its parts has been repeatedly reiterated by Maruti officials. Let’s take a step back from all the hype and see the Vitara Brezza for what it really is.
The Brezza is built on Suzuki’s global C platform and squeezes in at just less than four metres to take advantage of the excise benefits for cars under this length. However, packaging a car less than four metre long is always a challenge as there are several trade-offs.
Do you sacrifice a sporty sloping rear for headroom? Or do you reduce boot space to increase passenger room? These are the trade-offs Maruti engineers had to juggle with. The outcome however, is a product that balances out these conflicting requirements brilliantly and though the Brezza may not excel in one particular area, it manages to tick all the boxes.
The styling of the Brezza is characterised by neat, clean lines which along with the upright design is more functional than emotional. It gets its SUV credentials from the large squared-out wheel arches, a prominent chrome grille and lots of body cladding.
Stepping into cabin is made easy by the comfortable height of the car. Up front, you are greeted by a clean and functional dashboard that houses a touchscreen infotainment system. Cabin quality is quite ordinary and parts such as the steering wheel and window switches are carried over from older Suzukis and some of the plastics aren’t up to scratch. What lifts the cabin though is the woven roof lining and seats which are made of premium materials.
The seats themselves are comfortable and well-padded. The space in the rear is appreciable, with adequate leg- and knee-room and plenty of headroom. The width is impressive too, enough to seat three abreast. The rear also receives a fold-out armrest and a coat hanger behind the driver’s seat.
The equipment list on the Brezza is best in class, especially on the top ZDi+ variant. This variant comes with Maruti’s SmartPlay touchscreen infotainment system which supports Apple CarPlay (Android connectivity is in the pipeline), push button start, reverse camera, cruise control, auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers, power folding mirrors and dual airbags and ABS.
Giving emphasis to passenger safety is the standard fitment of a driver-side airbag on all six variants of the Brezza, with the option to upgrade to dual airbags and ABS even in base models.
The Vitara Brezza has been launched with just one engine option – the ubiquitous 1.3-litre DDiS200 unit. The turbo-diesel engine is good for 89bhp and a commendable 20.4kgm. In action, the engine’s strong mid- and top-range and weak low-range become immediately apparent. Below 2,000rpm, the engine feels sluggish but it wakes up suddenly when you cross the 2,000rpm mark and delivers a strong surge of power all the way till 5,000rpm. As a result, cruising as well as overtaking on the highway are comfortable propositions. We would have liked a more linear power delivery and better low-range torque to make city driving easier – you always have to be in the right gear to keep the engine on the boil, if you want to make urgent progress. That means frequent use of the five-speed gearbox whose shift is a touch sticky and needs a bit of effort.
Where the Vitara Brezza impressed us was with its refinement. Sure, there’s no escaping the characteristic drone of the Fiat diesel that intrudes into the cabin at higher revs, but the Brezza does feel nicely hushed when driven in a relaxed manner with road and wind noise well contained.
The Brezza I drove was the top spec ZDI+ version came with the fat 215 /60 R16 Apollo tyres which did a good job of smothering potholes and bigger ruts in true SUV fashion. However, the suspension is on the firm side and thuds from sharper edges filter through. Also, on uneven surfaces the ride feels a tad lumpy but it’s never to the point of being uncomfortable. The steering like most Suzukis isn’t sporty or very responsive and feels a bit numb around the straight ahead position. As a result, the Brezza doesn’t dive into corners or change direction like a small hatch but for highway cruising, it feels reassuring stable and secure.
The Vitara Brezza comes across as a well rounded package but stands out most for its spacious and well-equipped cabin with best in class features. It’s not particularly exciting to drive and lacks a bit of emotion but for practicality and as an everyday family transporter it’s hard to beat. What seals the deal is the very attractive introductory pricing which starts at Rs 6.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the base LDi version, undercutting the Ford EcoSport diesel by a sizeable margin. Even the fully-loaded ZDi+, which has been priced at Rs 9.68 lakh, seems good value. The Brezza ticks all the boxes and offers everything a compact SUV buyer is looking for and more. In fact, The Brezza caters to a wide audience ranging from not just SUV buyers but those on the lookout for a hatchback and sedan too. Finally, Maruti has an SUV to take the market by storm.
(In partnership with Autocar India)