The diesel powertrains in both crossovers are strong, willing and punchy motors, with good mid-range pull best discovered in the second and third gears. Both the Nexon and the Brezza are compact enough to chuck around city streets and they settle nicely on the highways, too. Around town there is a sizable amount of difference between the two when it comes to power delivery. The Nexon’s all-new 1.5-litre 108bhp/260Nm motor delivers torque in a linear way with just a hint of turbo lag below 1,600rpm. On boost, this motor pulls hard all the way till 4,200rpm without ever sounding coarse. There is no denying that it becomes noisy at higher revs but it does feel more refined than the Brezza’s motor. Speaking of which, the latter feels livelier at slow to medium speeds than its on-paper disadvantage would suggest. Powered by the same old Fiat-sourced 1.3-litre motor putting out 90bhp and 200Nm, the Brezza responds sharply to throttle inputs, especially on boost. However, it takes its own sweet time to build up all that torque, with a lot of turbo lag under 1,800rpm. Post 2,000rpm, this engine simply comes alive and pulls even harder than the Nexon’s much bigger engine. Where it shows its age is in terms of refinement – it sounds strained and rough at the top end. On the other hand, this particular Nexon’s engine, though smoother, kept making weird noises, especially after continuous hard pulls under our testing cycle.
The Suzuki’s prominent turbo lag and spikier power delivery means you are likely to work the gearbox slightly more. Nonetheless, the 5-speed unit is a joy to use and the clutch is pleasantly light as well. The Nexon’s 6-speed gearbox is equally good when it comes to the shift action, however, the clutch pedal is springy and you can never really gauge the bite point.
Despite weighing over 100kg more than the Brezza, the Nexon ended up being more silken and effortless in our acceleration and roll-on tests. Its 0-100kmph sprint time of 12.73 seconds is marginally better than the Brezza’s 12.87 seconds but its in-gear acceleration is where the Nexon really shines. It does 20-80kmph in third in just 9.89 seconds and takes 12.02 seconds to accelerate from 40-100kmph in fourth. The Brezza, meanwhile, is considerably slower, taking 12.87 and 15.98 seconds respectively. The Nexon has even got different drive modes that alter throttle response to favour economy or performance. In Eco mode, it accelerates in a fairly leisurely manner, taking nearly 19 seconds to hit 100kmph from standstill.
In terms of driving involvement, the Brezza is a clear step ahead with a more sensitive steering and better body control. Being lighter of the two, it’s also easier to manoeuvre around town. The steering is heavier than the Nexon but when you put on some lock you immediately get a good amount of feedback with the right amount of weight and accuracy. In comparison, the Nexon’s steering is pretty much dead on-centre and generally feels vague. Sure, its chunky tires offer immense grip and its dynamics are sorted too, but the Nexon doesn’t like to be chucked around – it’s tall stance and heft results in more body roll and slower turn-ins.
There is a big difference in the way these crossovers tackle bad roads. The Brezza legitimately handles like a car thanks to its stiff suspension but its low speed ride suffers from, you guessed it, some stiffness. As a result it’s never settled and tends to knock over sharp bumps. Swapping out of Suzuki and into the Nexon, you wouldn’t need more than a kilometre down the road to notice the latter’s extra suppleness. The overall ride quality is borderline plush and more absorbent than that of the Brezza with a nice, soft edge over rippled surfaces. Like most large Tata cars, the Nexon deals with high frequency bumps nicely and even if you hit large potholes they don’t transmit into the cabin. Things improve as you hit the highway – the Brezza improves somewhat with a flatter ride and less body movements but it’s not as refined as the Nexon at triple digit speeds. There’s more of engine, road and wind noise most of the time.