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Honda WR-V vs Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Ford Ecosport

Introduction

Originally, SUVs were descendants from commercial and military vehicles. Modified and adapted for normal road use, they were more about utility and go-anywhere ability than comfort and ease of use. Over time though, SUVs began posing stiff competition to sedans. After all, they were virtually as easy to drive as a sedan, while retaining their macho appeal. Fast-forward to 2017 and now SUVs are now posing a threat to the hatchback segment too. Presently, this is the body style everyone aspires to own and be seen in. When the Ford EcoSport was launched in 2012, it brought Ford to Indian’s buyer’s radar once again, thanks to its butch looks, compact footprint and great dynamics. Exploiting the sub-four metre loophole, Ford had a free run until Maruti launched the Vitara Brezza, which ended up being yet another success story for the country’s largest manufacturer. Now playing catch-up, Honda has entered the sub-four metre SUV/crossover segment with the Jazz based WR-V.  The WR-V has a lot going for it. For starters, it offers phenomenal cabin space, is very practical, is well equipped, is easy to drive and being a Honda, reliability will be top-notch too. So is the WR-V capable of beating its strong competition? Read-on to find out.

Flared up to grab attention

Although, the WR-V shares its underpinnings with the Jazz, Honda has done a good job of differentiating it as a new car. Upfront the WR-V looks very similar to its larger cousin BR-V and the muscular bumper, high bonnet and the thin grille flanked by the thick chrome strip give it loads of presence. At the rear, Honda designers have moved the number plate recess lower which helps make the car look taller than it actually is. But it’s in the silhouette where the WR-V’s roots are clearly seen, as it shares most of its side profile with the Jazz. But even here the matt black cladding, flared wheel arches and large 16 inch wheels give it the all-important macho look. Overall you can’t really call the WR-V beautiful but it’s definitely striking.

The Brezza on the other hand, has more SUV-like cues and the upright stance and straight lines make it look rugged. The large chrome grille bordered by the chiselled bumper gives it a mini-SUV look. Even in profile, the large glasshouse, upright pillars and large wheels convince you that it’s an SUV. Sure, it doesn’t have the sharp cuts and creases of the WR-V, but it’s a design which appeals to a wider audience and doesn’t look overdone.

The EcoSport is the oldest car in this segment, but its edgy design has aged well. The version we had on test was the Black edition, which comes with a blacked out roof, wheels and mirrors, which definitely makes the EcoSport look even more stylish. The high bonnet and the bulbous bumper gives it an in-your-face look. In profile, the sloping roofline, high ground clearance and flared wheel arches definitely shout out SUV, as does the tail mounted spare wheel.

Contrasting insides

Compared to the masculine exteriors, the insides of these cars show their hatchback origins and they are as conventional as they come. The WR-V’s dash is lifted straight from the Jazz and its asymmetrical lines grab attention. The protruding centre console, flanked by the new modern touchscreen looks nice. The infotainment system houses loads of functions like navigation, mobile mirroring and plays music through AM/FM radio, USB, Aux-in and HDMI ports. The touchscreen itself has good sensitivity but the processing speed could have been faster. 

Brezza’s dashboard is simplistic and clutter-free. There are hardly any buttons on the centre console and it is the easiest to get used to. The large infotainment system dominates the proceedings and the interface is easy to use with its functioning being better than the one on the WR-V. It also houses Apple CarPlay and it can play music through Aux-in, USB and SD card ports. 

Step inside the EcoSport and you are invited by a dash that has a modern and angular theme. The centre console is dominated by the wing-like design but on the flipside, there are way too many buttons around the music system. Ford also recently added a touchscreen system to the EcoSport. Although we are yet to try it, it is a size smaller than the ones on the Honda and the Maruti.

Getting in and out is the easiest in the WR-V thanks to the wide opening doors and ideal seat height. The front seats are well shaped and thanks to the large glass area, visibility is fantastic. But the thick A-pillar does obstruct view, especially while crossing busy junctions. You sit much higher in the Vitara Brezza which gives you a commanding driving position and the front seats give you good lateral support. You sit high in the EcoSport too, but the small windows and thick A-pillar doesn’t give you the best view of your surroundings. EcoSport has the best front seats which are perfectly cushioned and offer great support all-round.

Moving to the back, the WR-V is by far the most spacious and the generous width and flat floor makes it the best five-seater here. The fuel tank located under the front seat acts like a footrest at the back and the backrest is set at a nice angle too. But to generate more headroom, the bench is placed low which results in less under-thigh support. No such issues in the Vitara Brezza. You sit at a good height and there is enough headroom too. Knee room, although not as good as the WR-V, is adequate. Overall, it’s a pleasant place to be in.

Road manners

The WR-V is powered by Honda’s familiar 1.5-litre diesel engine which makes 98.6bhp. As soon as you set off, you’ll notice there’s precious little throttle lag to speak of and power delivery is quite smooth and linear. Of course, there is some throttle delay below 1600rpm but the large capacity motor does a good job even when off-boost. Past 1600rpm there’s plenty of grunt and it pulls strongly up to about 3,800rpm, after which the power gradually scales up as it hits its very conservative 4,200rpm rev limit. Acceleration is quite strong, and the WR-V manages a 0-100kph time of 13.74 seconds (the WR-V has a rev-lock which doesn’t allow full-bore launches). What helps the WR-V further is the six-speed gearbox. With more ratios to play with, as compared to the EcoSport and the Brezza, the gearbox makes the most of the engine’s available power and the WR-V never feels wanting for more power. The improved sound insulation has worked wonders in making the WR-V cabin quieter than the Jazz. But still the sharp clatter from the all-aluminium diesel motor is always there and still is a drawback with all diesel Honda cars. 

The EcoSport's 1.5-litre diesel motor produces 98bhp and as soon as you crank the engine it feels much smoother than the Honda, especially on the move. Power delivery is linear and this motor pulls well from as low as 1500rpm with a stronger tug around the 2,000rpm mark. That’s not to say the engine is free from any power delay. Driving uphill, you will need to keep shuffling between third and second gears to maintain momentum. However, the smartly chosen gear ratios do mask this deficiency quite well. But being the heaviest of the lot, it takes a toll, especially in outright acceleration. It takes 13.36 seconds to reach 100kph and in-gear times are on the slower side too. Thanks to the torquey nature of the motor, drivability figures are much better as it takes 13.31 for 20-80kph in third gear and 16.29 seconds for 40-100kph in fourth.

The Brezza on the other hand uses the tried and tested 1.3-litre Fiat-sourced multijet diesel unit. Producing 89bhp, this motor has the most amount of turbo-lag at low speeds. As a result, while driving at lower speeds, you have to constantly shift the gearbox to make smooth progress. But once past 2000rpm, this motor comes alive and it has the strongest mid and top end of the three. This engine is pretty free revving too and as a result the Brezza feels at home out on an open road. Where this motor shows its age is in terms of refinement. It is the noisiest engine of the three and as you go up the rev range, the motor sounds strained and rough. Thanks to its light kerb weight, the Vitara Brezza posted the quickest acceleration times of the three. The 100kmph mark is dispatched in an impressive 12.78 seconds and in-gear times of 12.87 second for 20-80kmph in third gear and 15.98 second for 40-100kmph in fourth gear are competitive too.

Each of these compact SUVs are quite stiffly sprung and this shows in the way they drive. When driven over potholed surfaces, you can hear their suspension working away, but more so in the EcoSport where the dampers tend to bottom-out and make a thudding sound. The feather weight Brezza never feels settled at low speeds either and over less than perfect surfaces, the occupants are met with constant body movement. At higher speeds, things do improve but the Brezza never feels as comfortable as the other two do. The WR-V, on the other hand, stays surprisingly composed over worst of potholes and the increase in ride height and taller springs have really helped. Like in the Brezza, you do get sharp body movement over undulating surfaces, but it never feels uncomfortable. Even on the highway, the WR-V feels composed and straight-line stability is good. The EcoSport on the other hand feels even more rock solid at high speeds and has the most comfortable ride on the highway.

Where the Brezza struggles to take rough roads, it functions best on winding roads. The light weight and stiff suspension helps the Brezza take the corners with minimal body roll and quick directional changes are dealt with great body control. The accurate steering helps you point the car exactly where you want it to go and overall, it is good fun. The WR-V has sorted dynamics too, but it feels a bit disconnected and there is more body roll too. EcoSport’s tall proportions and heavy weight means it leans the most through corners. On the plus side, it has the most communicative steering and through long sweeping bends, the Ford gives the driver lot of confidence. Through a series of sharp turns is where the EcoSport struggles to keep up with the Brezza as you feel its girth.

Wallet friendly

All three fared well in our fuel efficiency runs, but it was the WR-V which came out on top followed by the Brezza and the Ecosport. The WR-V returned an impressive 14.4kmpl in the city and 19.3kmpl on the highway. The Brezza wasn’t too far behind as it gave 14.1kmpl and 19.1kmpl for the city and highway cycles respectively. The heavier Ecosport was the least efficient as it gave 13.8kmpl in the city and 18.8kmpl on the highway. 

 

Verdict

3rd 

Ford EcoSport

Final score: 372/600

Price: Rs 12.37 lakh, On-road Delhi

There is a good reason as to why the EcoSport still sells in good numbers. Despite being on sale for more than five years, the design still looks fresh, driving dynamics are still really good, it is the only car to get six airbags and the diesel motor is both refined and punchy. But the primary weakness for the EcoSport is its cabin. The quality of plastics and design shouts budget rather than luxury and the small glass area hampers visibility and the cabin is a bit claustrophobic too. It being the most expensive doesn’t really help its cause either. 

2nd 

Honda WR-V

Final score: 374/600

Price: Rs 11.22 lakh, On-road Delhi

The WR-V plays to the usual Honda strengths. Thanks to clever packaging, its cabin has massive amount of space and is the most practical and user-friendly of the three. It also comes loaded with equipment which includes the sunroof. But where it fails to impress is in terms of cabin quality which is a bit sketchy and even refinement which is much better than before is still a sore point. Its light Japanese build doesn’t go down too well either because it’s an SUV. 

1st 

Maruti Vitara Brezza

Final score: 384/600

Price: Rs 10.88 lakh, On-road Delhi

The Vitara Brezza doesn’t shine in any particular area but instead it comes across as a very well-rounded package thanks to a right mix of look, tech and practicality. It does have its shortcomings though. The proven 1.3-litre diesel engine is now showing its age and the stiff low speed ride is not the most comfortable too. But these are very small shortcomings for an otherwise well planned and engineered product. The fact that it is very well priced is the icing on the cake.

Pictures by: Kapil Angane

Click here to for features and specification comparision

Click here to read Brezza vs EcoSport vs NuvoSport vs i20 Active comparison

 

Specification

CAR NAME Honda WR-V Maruti Vitara Brezza Ford EcoSport
Variant VX MT Diesel ZDi Plus 1.5 TDCi Titanium+
ENGINE      
Fuel Diesel Diesel Diesel
Installation Front, transverse Front, transverse Front, transverse
Displacement 4 cyls, 1498cc 4 cyls, 1248cc 4 cyls, 1498cc
Bore/stroke 76/82.5mm 69.6/82mm 73.5/88.3mm
Valve gear 4 valves per cyl 4 valves per cyl 2 valves per cyl
Power 99bhp at 3600rpm 89bhp at 4000rpm 99bhp at 3750rpm
Torque 200Nm at 1750rpm 200Nm at 1750rpm 205Nm at 1750rpm
Power to weight 82.22bhp per tonne 74.47bhp per tonne 76.74bhp per tonne
Torque to weight 166.11Nm per tonne 167.36Nm per tonne 158.91Nm per tonne
Gearbox 6-speed manual 5-speed manual 5-speed manual
CHASSIS & BODY      
Kerb weight 1202kg 1195kg 1290kg
Tyres 195/60 R16 215/60 R16 205/60 R16
Spare Full-size Full-size Full-size
STEERING      
Type Rack and pinion Rack and pinion Rack and pinion
Type of assist Electric Electric Electric
Turning circle 10.6m 10.4m 10.6
BRAKES      
Front Discs Discs Discs
Rear Drums Drums Drums
Anti-lock Yes Yes Yes

Test Data

CAR NAME Honda WR-V Maruti Vitara Brezza Ford EcoSport
Variant VX Diesel ZDi+ 1.5 TDCi Titanium+
PERFORMANCE & BRAKING      
0-20kph 1.08s 1.02s 1.04s
0-40kph 2.97s 2.72s 2.65s
0-60kph 5.18s 4.97s 5.18s
0-80kph 8.90s 8.46s 8.64s
0-100kph 13.74s 12.78s 13.36s
0-120kph 20.88s 19.14s 21.06s
       
20-80kph in 3rd gear 13.87s 12.87s 13.31s
40-100kph in 4th gear 15.83s 15.98s 16.29s
       
80-0kph 24.94m 24.04m 26.52m
FUEL ECONOMY      
City 14.4kpl 14.1kpl 13.8kpl
Highway 19.6kpl 19.1kpl 18.8kpl
Tank size 40 litres 48 litres 52 litres
Range 580km 680km 720km
INTERIOR MEASUREMENTS      
Front      
Legroom(Max/min) 750/630mm 790/560mm 850/620mm
Headroom(Max/min) 1000mm 1000mm 980mm
Shoulder room 1370mm 1390mm 1400mm
Backrest height 580mm 560mm 590mm
Rear       
Legroom(Max/min) 890/710mm 900/660mm 870/630mm
Ideal legroom 740mm 700mm 710mm
Headroom 950mm 970mm 950mm
Shoulder room 1270mm 1340mm 1310mm
Seat base length 470mm 470mm 490mm
Backrest height 550mm 560mm 570mm
Boot 363litres 328itres 420litres
Length/width/height 670/1010/560mm 700/1020/480mm 700/1000/600mm
Loading lip height 620mm

730mm

660mm

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Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
New Delhi₹ 8.75 Lakhs onwards
Mumbai₹ 9.2 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 9.43 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 9.57 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 8.81 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 9.42 Lakhs onwards
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