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Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active: Comparison test

Introduction

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active

We have quite a selection here. An old school setup of a ladder-based SUV (read Mahindra NuvoSport); a more modern monocoque SUV (Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza); a car-based SUV (Ford EcoSport); and finally, a hatchback that thinks it’s an SUV (Hyundai i20 Active). But, they do have one thing in common; these are all under 4 metres and therefore classify as compact SUVs. Okay, maybe not the Hyundai so much, but we have good reason to bring in the Korean to this fight. Here’s why…

A compact SUV was essentially invented to do one thing – persuade you, the buyer, to steer clear of sedans and go for something more adventurous. But, adventurous here never meant going where no man had gone before. Or, in fact, taking an off-road trail for that matter. Adventurous in this context is simply higher ground clearance, some body cladding, butch styling and stance, and some enhanced practicality in the form of a large boot and folding rear seats. Which, you would agree the i20 Active manages too. Maybe not as well as the others, but it suffices.

So, if you have around Rs 12 lakh to spare, need a diesel, and love being adventurous, well, this should help…

Butch exteriors

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active: Comparison test

The Mahindra NuvoSport wins the butch contest hands down. It towers over the others and draws more eyeballs courtesy its bling factor. That bright orange hue, those jewel like daytime running strips and all that excess plastic cladding only adds to its road presence. But, the NuvoSport isn’t exactly a modern looking vehicle. It’s looks more current than the Quanto, yes, but somehow even with all the new garnishing, it fails at hiding its age. It looks the most dated car in this bunch.

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active: Comparison test

Speaking of cars, the one area where the Hyundai i20 Active simply can’t match its competitors here, is road presence. The bulkier looking bumpers, the black cladding, the larger wheels and even that technical looking large fuel filler all look good, but these still can’t mask the Active’s i20 roots. If butch matters to you, the Hyundai won’t.

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active: Comparison test

The EcoSport and the Vitara Brezza are in a sense just the right size and form for a compact SUV. The Brezza more so. The EcoSport still looks a little too sporty to carry that rugged SUV aura, but the Vitara with is squarish proportions, less swipes and cuts, and a squatter stance, looks every bit an SUV that you and I generally perceive.  And though our car was a flat white, one can order the Brezza in ZDI+ trim with a contrasting white or black roof. And that takes its desirability at least two notches higher.

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active: Comparison test

Plush interiors

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active: Comparison test

Maruti has also done a great job with the Vitara Brezza’s interiors. Like the exterior, there’s hardly any bling, but it scores high on both functionality and quality (at least among this lot). It’s car like, no question. The ingress isn’t too high, the seats are large and comfy (but a little too cushy for our tastes), and it feels bigger on the inside than it is. The visibility is great; the ergonomics are sound; and there’s enough equipment on board (in this ZDI+ trim) to justify the Rs 10 lakh spend. The Brezza is spacious too. It matches the larger NuvoSport when it comes to head and kneeroom and only loses out to the Mahindra in terms of shoulder space.

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active: Comparison test

The NuvoSport also has the biggest boot in this contest, and a highly usable on at that. Add to it a rear bench with acceptable thigh support and a backrest that reclines (only car here to have it), and it makes it ideal if you want to seat three abreast comfortably and carry their luggage across cities. It doesn’t have the most pleasing interior, though. It is lifted straight off the Quanto. So, not only does it look old but the quality isn’t up to class standard either. It’s also not the easiest to get in and out of, given the high ingress height.

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active: Comparison test

The EcoSport has no such ingress issues. It is easy to get in and the seats strike a good balance of firmness and support. The space inside isn’t bad either. Contrary to what its sporty shape and dark insides might suggest, the Ford isn’t cramped. It has lesser headroom compared to the Maruti, but it has more elbowroom at the front and in fact more kneeroom all round. It also has a bigger boot than the Vitara Brezza. But, the EcoSport even in the Titanium+ trim with leather seats doesn’t feel as upmarket as the Maruti thanks to the hardwearing plastic and the grey shade on the dash.

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active: Comparison test

The i20 Active meanwhile gets a blue shade on the dash. And as on the Ford, it completely takes away from the feel of quality. Now, even though the plastic inside its cabin might not look as good as on the Brezza, the touch points – the steering, the knobs and buttons all over, and the gear shifter – feel richer to the touch. Space though, be it for occupants or luggage, not surprisingly, is the least inside the Hyundai making it the least practical SUV here. But, at least it has great seats – good thigh and back support and with just the right firmness.

So, if you were looking for closure, we’d pick the Brezza for its nice interiors, good equipment, that crucial airy feel, decent practicality and reasonably good interior room.

Here’s a quick look on how these stack up in terms of features.

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active

A mixed drive

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active

It’s behind the wheel that the difference in the roots of these compact SUVs come to the fore. The Mahindra NuvoSport with its ladder frame, its vague and slow steering, and all that extra weight, feels the most tedious to drive. It feels ponderous around a switchback with slow turn in, high body roll, and the inability to keep up with quick direction changes. The ride isn’t great either. It never feels harsh and it takes the roughest of terrains in its stride, but it lacks refinement, pliancy and plushness. There’s a constant jiggle to its ride, and when not loaded, it bounces around as well.

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active

The Vitara Brezza doesn’t ride well either. It’s less bouncy and jiggly than the NuvoSport and it feels way more planted at speed, even on poor roads. However, the ride is still harsh and noisy; and not the best suited for low speed city commute. Handling though, is completely car like. The Brezza is a light car, and one can feel it in the ease with which the Maruti enters corners, holds its line and feels so manageable even when subjected to sudden inputs. It has a quick steering as well, but in typical Maruti fashion, it is completely devoid of feel. It feels a bit artificial in its reactions too.

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active

But, it’s the i20 Active that walks away with the award for the most artificial feeling steering. It’s unnecessarily heavy too; more like a poorly calibrated video game unit. But, at least the Active feels light on its feet and confident to chuck around bends. It’s also stable in a straight-line at speeds. Load it up though and show it an undulating highway, and its soft suspension setup, gets the better of the car. It wallows, and if the road surface deteriorates – bumps, potholes or pronounced ridges, the Active tends to crash into them, sometimes severely.  It does ride well at slower speeds, nonetheless.

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active

The compact SUV that manages its ride and handling balance the best is the Ford EcoSport. It has an underlying stiffness to its ride but it still works well. When loaded, it doesn’t feel unwieldy, be it in a straight line or around bends. When driven with a single occupant or two up, the EcoSport’s driving dynamics are at par with a well setup hatch, its tall stance notwithstanding. The EcoSport has the best steering response and feel, the most pliant ride, and when it comes to a set of corners, it might not feel as light as the Hyundai at turn-in, but it certainly feels more sure-footed.

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active

Performance equation

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active

The Maruti Vitara Brezza has the smallest engine; it makes the least amount of torque; and horsepower wise, it is right at the bottom with the i20 Active. But, it is also the lightest car in this test; it’s the only one here that weighs under 1200kg. Not surprisingly, it is one of the quickest off the line and even in driveability terms, it is right up there with the best. It completes the 0-100kmph run in 12.78 seconds and the 20-80kmph in 3rd gear in 12.87s. The 40-80kmph run in 4th gear – a measure of a car’s cruising and overtaking ability on the highway – is completed in 15.98s, which isn’t fast, but suffices.

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active

The i20 Active is equally quick. It too isn’t exactly heavy, weighing in at a little over 1200kg, but more importantly it makes a healthy torque of 220Nm coming in at 1500rpm; lowest in the rpm range compared to its competitors. As a result, it is the quickest car here in all respects. 0-100kmph is dispatched in 12.72s, the 20-80kmph in 12.3s and the 40-100kmph run in a super quick (for a manual, mind) 13.70s. What’s more, the Hyundai’s engine is also the most refined, it has the most alert throttle response, and it has the most seamless revving engine.

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active

The EcoSport is one of the two most powerful SUVs here. The near 1.5-litre engine makes 99bhp. The peak torque at 205Nm isn’t as noteworthy, but it is more than the Maruti. However, the EcoSport has nearly 1300kg of kerb weight to contend with. It’s the third quickest as a result. The 0-100kmph time is 13.36s while the 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph runs take 13.31s and 16.29s, respectively. One must also note that the EcoSport for reasons like weight and throttle mapping doesn’t feel like a 100bhp car, be it in its throttle response or the way it gathers speed.

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active

The Mahindra NuvoSport is a mixed bag. It weighs almost 1600kg; that ladder frame construction playing spoilsport again. So, even though it is the most powerful (100bhp) and one with the most amount of torque (240Nm), it still can’t keep up with the monocoques. It takes a lazy 16.24 seconds (22.59s in Eco mode) to hit 100kmph. But, it compensates for its weight by shorter gearing. As a result, the 20-80kmph run in 3rd gear is quick 11.27s, and it takes lesser time than both the Maruti and the Ford to compete the 40-100kmph 4th gear slog as well with a time of just 14.13s.

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active

As far as fuel efficiency figures go, the Brezza returned 14.1kmpl in the city, followed by the i20 Active and the EcoSport returning exactly the same figure of 13.8kmpl, and as expected given the extra weight the NuvoSport carries around, the Mahindra only managed 11.7kmpl in the city.

Verdict

Mahindra NuvoSport N8: Rank 4

Final Score: 349/600

Price: Rs 11.97 lakh, OTR, Mumbai

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active

Mahindra has done well with the NuvoSport by making it a better buying proposition than the Quanto ever was. But, in today’s world of efficient, compact and easy motoring, the NuvoSport feels a little outdated. The ladder chassis robs it off dynamics and efficiency, and having used the Quanto’s shell and its interiors, makes the NuvoSport feel dated in this company. It has road presence and it is rugged, but that’s not enough to hand it a win.

Ford EcoSport Titanium+: Rank 3

Final Score: 373/600

Price: Rs 11.40 lakh, OTR, Mumbai

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active

Ford realised early the potential Maruti’s compact SUV holds and it rightly cut the EcoSport’s prices to make it more competitive. Given its edge when it comes to both ride and handling, and of course safety, the Ford did have a fighting chance here. And as our ScoreCard reveals, there’s no single big flaw with the EcoSport; it’s the many smaller aspects that come together to push it down to third place in this test. It struggles to match up to the Hyundai and the Maruti in areas like visibility, quality, and driveability.

Hyundai i20 Active SX: Rank 2

Final Score: 384/600

Price: Rs 10.53 lakh, OTR, Mumbai

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active

The Hyundai i20 Active comes very close to winning this contest. It’s not a proper SUV, we agree. But, then neither is the Vitara Brezza or the EcoSport. However, as a car to live with everyday and to take off over the weekend, even if it involves some dirt roads, the Active is pretty much up to task. It is the quickest car here and with a fine balance between ride and handling. It scores well on quality and comfort and is the cheapest to buy in this lot. But, it’s not as flexible; as domineering (in looks); or spacious as some of the other SUVs in this test. Mostly, it fails to keep up with the Brezza.

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza ZDI+: Rank 1

Final Score: 387/600

Price: Rs 11.53 lakh, OTR, Mumbai

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active

The Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza wins. It doesn’t win by a big margin as a product, but as an SUV for the city, it ticks most of the boxes. It has the SUV stance, the right clearance, adequate space, flexibility, and it is the easiest to drive courtesy great visibility. It’s also efficient, should have great resale, and is almost car-like around corners. It doesn’t ride too well and the seats could do with some additional firmness. The Brezza could also do with better steering response. But, these shortcomings and the degree of these shortcomings, isn’t enough to repel buyers. No wonder, it has received such a good response. So, if you have around Rs 12 lakh to spare, need a diesel and want SUV posturing, well the Vitara Brezza would be our pick.

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza vs Mahindra NuvoSport vs Ford EcoSport vs Hyundai i20 Active

Photography by Kapil Angane

Click here to read our Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza First Drive

Click here to read our Mahindra NuvoSport First Drive

Click here to read our Ford EcoSport First Drive

Click here to read Mahindra TUV 300 vs Ford EcoSport

Specifications

CAR NAME Maruti Suzuki Brezza Hyundai i20 Active Ford EcoSport Mahindra NuvoSport
Variant ZDI + SX TDCI Titanium+ N8
ENGINE        
Fuel Diesel Diesel Diesel Diesel
Installation Front, transverse Front, transverse Front, transverse Front, transverse
Displacement 4 cyls, 1,248cc 4 cyls, 1396cc 4 cyls, 1498cc 3 cyls, 1493cc
Bore/stroke 69.6/82mm 75/79mm 73.5/88.3mm  69.6/82mm
Valve gear 4 valves per cyl, DOHC 4 valves per cyl 2 valves per cyl SOHC 4 valves per cyl, DOHC
Power 88.5bhp at 4000rpm 89bhp at 4000rpm 99bhp at 3750rpm 100bhp at 3750rpm
Torque 200Nm at 1750rpm 220Nm at 1500rpm 205Nm at 1750rpm 240Nm at 1600rpm
Power to weight 74.05bhp per tonne 73.37bhp per tonne 76.74bhp per tonne 59.7bhp per tonne
Torque to weight 167.36Nm per tonne 181.36Nm per tonne 158.91Nm per tonne 143.28Nm per tonne
Gearbox 5-speed manual 6-speed manual 5-speed manual 5-speed manual
CHASSIS & BODY        
Kerb weight 1195kg 1213kg 1290kg 1675kg
Tyres 215/60 R16 195/55 R16 205/60 R16 215/65 R16
Spare Full-size Full-size Full-size Full-size
STEERING        
Type Rack and pinion Rack and pinion Rack and pinion Rack and pinion
Type of assist Electric Electric Electric Electric
Turning circle 10.4m 10.45m 10.6m 11m
BRAKES        
Front Ventilated discs Ventilated discs Ventilated discs Ventilated discs
Rear Drums Drums Drums Drums
Anti-lock Yes Yes Yes Yes

Test Data

CAR NAME Maruti Suzuki Brezza Hyundai i20 Active Ford EcoSport Mahindra NuvoSport
Variant ZDI + SX TDCI Titanium + N8
PERFORMANCE & BRAKING        
0-20kph 1.02s 1.04s 1.04s 1.19s
0-40kph 2.72s 3.08s 2.65s 3.19s
0-60kph 4.97s 5.29s 5.18s 6.12s
0-80kph 8.46s 8.70s 8.64s 10.19s
0-100kph 12.78s 12.72s 13.36s 16.24s
0-120kph 19.14s 19.16s 21.06s 26.38s
0-140kph 28.62s NA NA NA
0-160kph NA NA NA NA
         
20-80kph in 3rd gear 12.87s 12.30s 13.31s 11.27s
40-100kph in 4th gear 15.98s 13.70s 16.29s 14.13s
         
80-0kph 24.04m 26.52m 26.52m  25.87m
FUEL ECONOMY        
City 14.1kmpl 13.8kmpl 13.8kmpl 11.81kmpl
Highway 19.1kmpl 19.3kmpl 18.8kmpl 16.88kmpl
Tank size 48litres 45litres 52litres 60litres
Range 683km 635km   725km 734km
INTERIOR MEASUREMENTS        
Front        
Legroom(Max/min) 890/660mm 870/650mm 850/620mm 810/610mm 
Headroom 1000mm 1010mm 980mm 1000mm 
Shoulder room 1390mm 1380mm 1400mm  1490mm
Seat base length 490mm - - 500mm 
Backrest height 560mm 640mm 590mm 590mm 
Rear         
Legroom(Max/min) 900/660mm 820/580mm 870/630mm 880/660mm 
Ideal legroom 700mm 700mm 710mm 690mm 
Headroom 970mm 940mm 950mm 950mm 
Shoulder room 1340mm 1320mm 1310mm 1490mm 
Seat base length 470mm 460mm 490mm 460mm 
Backrest height 560mm 640mm 570mm 560mm 
Boot 342litres 285litres 346litres  514.25litres
Length/width/height 700/1020/480mm 690/1070/540mm 700/1000/600mm 550/1100/850mm
Loading lip height 730mm 760mm 660mm  660mm

Score Sheet

Parameters Max points Maruti Suzuki Brezza ZDI+ Hyundai i20 Active SX Ford EcoSport Titanium+ Mahindra NuvoSport N8
DRIVING FEEL          
Steering response 20 13 11 14 9
Directional stability 25 16 15 16 13
Engine characteristics 25 18 20 16 15
Gearbox 20 15 16 12 9
Visibility 10 8 7 5 6
Intermediate results 100 70  69 63 52
           
SPACE          
Front Space 25 15 16 17 17
Rear space 25 14 13 13 16
Feeling of space 20 15 14 13 16
Boot space/flexibility 20 13 13 14 16
Payload 10 6 5 6 7
Intermediate results 100 63 61 62 72
           
IN THE CABIN          
Comfort equipment 25 14 12 12 10
Operatibility 15 11 11 10 9
Feel of quality 20 13 13 12 11
Front seats/ingress 20 16 15 16 15
Rear seat/ingress 20 13 14 14 13
Intermediate results 100 67 65 64 58
           
PERFORMANCE          
Acceleration 25 16 16 15 12
Top speed 10 7 7 6 6
Driveability 30 21 23 20 24
Braking 25 22 20 20 20
Environment 10 6 6 6 6
Intermediate results 100 72 72 67 68
           
ROAD MANNERS          
Ride quality 30 18 20 21 17
Turning circle 15 13 13 13 12
Handling 20 12 12 13 9
Manoeuvrability 15 12 12 10 8
Safety 20 5 5 7 5
Intermediate results 100 60 62 64 51
           
PRICE          
Price 45 18 19 18 17
Resale 10 8 6 6 5
Warranty 10 7 8 7 7
Fuel efficiency 35 22 22 22 19
Intermediate results 100 55 55 53 48
Total 600 387 384 373 349

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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₹ 9.13 Lakhs onwards
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