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Tata Nexon vs Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza

Introduction

It’s the battle of the trendy compact crossovers – both are diesel, both are manual and with on-road prices above Rs 11 lakhs, both are equally weighty on the pocket. They are the all-new Tata Nexon and the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, of which the latter won our previous comparison test against the Honda WR-V and the Ford EcoSport. Click here to read the test.

Despite being around for quite some time without any updates whatsoever, the Brezza sells in big numbers and is unarguably the car to beat in this segment. The latest carmaker to take the battle to the hot selling Brezza is Tata Motors who have come up with the Nexon. Based on the Bolt platform, the Nexon edges into territory previously held exclusively by the Brezza and to some degree, the EcoSport, which begs the question; just how well does this Tata product stack up to established standbys in the crossover segment? 

Funky vs Traditional

Crossover buyers tend to pay extra attention towards aesthetics and this is where the Nexon gains an immediate lead. It would turn heads anywhere you go thanks to its striking yet balanced design. More importantly, it’s one of those rare cars to perfectly mimic its erstwhile concept form. Bits like the smiling mesh grille, high-set projectors headlamps, heavily flared wheel arches and those razor blade-like alloy wheels look striking without appearing overdone. The Nexon has even got plenty of unique touches like the grey coloured roof and the thick white strip that runs across the car. 

Next to the fresh and quirky Nexon, the Maruti Brezza appears modest and simple. Sure, its design is also thoroughly modern and the whole car sits well-proportioned to the ground but all of its design highlights (read: square wheel arches, blacked out C-pillar and the sticker job) now look inconspicuous. All in all, it’s nowhere as striking as the Nexon but the Brezza looks discreetly pleasant in its own way.

Practical Interiors

As the saying goes, “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” and that’s a fair way to judge these crossovers, too. Like the exterior look, there is a stark contrast in the design and layout of the dashboard and finer elements. The Brezza retains its straightforward and easy layout for the dash, whereas there’s a lot going on inside the Nexon. The general layout of the Tata’s dash feels less generic, more bespoke and is matched with some nice looking light grey trim bits and a higher standard of fit and finish compared to other models from the brand in recent years.  

Everything from the three-tone dash, the BMW-like free standing touchscreen display and a centre console that extends all the way in between the front seats are bits that are entirely new to buyers in this segment. Sticking out of the dash, the touch display catches the eye as soon as you turn the key. The Brezza’s dashboard may seem relatively conventional but it’s also got a stellar touchscreen infotainment system. The screens, however, offer a different experience, graphics and ease of use. The Brezza’s infotainment system is simpler to use and has a crisper display. The Nexon’s system, on the other hand, is a little tricky to use – it houses more menus and functions, sure, but the music input controls and switching between screens is fiddlier and requires getting used to. That said, its 8-speaker Harman developed music system sounds considerably better than the Brezza’s unit. Apart from this, the Nexon gets all the basics like climate control, key-less go, reverse camera with guidance and daytime running lamps. It even gets a water-proof wrist band which acts like a key. It acts as a great feature for those who often go running and swimming and don't want the hassle of carrying the key fob. Oddly enough, the Nexon misses out on the rain sensing wipers, automatic headlamps and cruise control – features that are standard on the Brezza.

Ergonomically, the Nexon is among Tata’s better efforts, featuring a large glove-box and cup holders over the rear armrest, but it’s nowhere near perfect. The storage space under the front armrest is too narrow and useless for regular size cups and even the glove-box lid which comes with several tiny utility spaces is of no use when you have a front passenger. What’s more, the control stalks behind the wheel are oddly angled, meaning they require full twist of your palm to engage them. The Brezza, meanwhile, does a lot better in this area with its twin glove-boxes, a useful storage bin in front of the gear lever and two full size cup holders behind it. The Brezza’s cabin may look ordinary but its put together with slightly better quality plastics – the Nexon’s power window switches and wiper/lights stalks feel flimsy although neither car here is the best when it comes to quality, fit and finish. 

Upfront, the difference in seating comfort isn’t much. Both have adequately sized front seats with large squabs for most occupants. The only difference here can be found in the driving position – in the Brezza, you sit higher in the cabin affording a better view all around and a commanding driving position. The visibility, too, is better than the Tata thanks to a larger glass area and thinner pillars. The Nexon though fights back with better rear seat comfort. The rear bench has plenty more contour and feels as though you are sitting in it rather than on it. This cannot be said for the noticeably flat bench of our test Brezza – the seat is nowhere as supportive because of the aftermarket seat cover. We would suggest buyers to test out its rear seat comfort with stock upholstery which offers better back and under-thigh support. 

The Nexon’s 350-litre boot is considerably larger than the Brezza’s 328-litre boot. The rear seats on the Nexon fold completely flat while the Brezza has a rather unique party trick to fold down its seat fully – the seat base can be tumbled up and towards the front seat, allowing the backrest to fold flat. 

On the Road

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. 

Fuel Efficiency

Both fared well in our fuel efficiency tests, but it was the Brezza that managed to go the extra mile. It returned an impressive 14.1kmpl in the city and 19.1kmpl on the highway. Predictably, the heavier and more powerful Nexon couldn’t match the figures but it delivered 13.9 and 18.7kmpl respectively which isn’t bad at all.

Verdict

2nd

Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza

Final score: 381/600

Price: Rs 11.62 lakhs, On-road Mumbai

The Vitara Brezza is a brilliant little crossover. It has the space that betters a few larger cars, a long equipment list and a well-balanced design. It’s biggest plus point though is the way it feels behind the wheel. The steering is fluid and the body control is more car-like than a utilitarian offering. Add Maruti’s trusted and gigantic aftersales support and you would be well served to pick the Brezza over any of its rivals. 

The Brezza packs in a punchy and free-revving diesel power plant, however, this engine is quite old and is starting to feel its age, with the noticeable turbo lag and the noise it generates at high rpms. However, what really takes the game away from the Brezza is its stiff low speed ride and a higher price tag.

1st

Tata Nexon 

Final score: 383/600

Price: Rs 11.12 lakhs, On-road Mumbai 

It’s an extremely close one, but based on our testing the Tata Nexon has turned out to be the better pick of the two, with a two point advantage. Sure, it’s not as nimble or nice to drive as the Brezza and Tata still needs to work on its quality control but the Nexon turns the table in key areas such as refinement, ride quality, performance and price. 

The Nexon wins on points here given its better value and drivetrain, funky appearance and a plush rear seat. All in all, it’s a close battle and both are good choices if a practical crossover is what you are looking for.

 

Pictures by Kapil Angane 

Click here for on-road prices for the Tata Nexon range

Click here for on-road prices for the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza range

Specification

CAR NAME Tata Nexon Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza
Variant XZ+ ZDi+
ENGINE    
Fuel Diesel Diesel
Installation Front, transverse Front, transverse
Displacement 4 cyls, 1497cc 4 cyls, 1248cc
Power 108bhp at 3750rpm 89bhp at 4000rpm
Torque 260Nm at 1500rpm 200Nm at 1750rpm
Power to weight 83.07bhp per tonne  74.47bhp per tonne 
Torque to weight 200Nm per tonne 167.36Nm per tonne
Gearbox 6-speed Manual 5-Speed Manual
     
CHASSIS & BODY    
Kerb weight (measured) 1300kg 1195kg
Tyres 215/60 R16 215/60 R16
Spare Full-size Full-size
STEERING    
Type Rack and pinion Rack and pinion
Type of assist Electric Electric
Turning circle

10.5m

10.4m
BRAKES    
Front Discs Discs
Rear Drum Drum
Anti-lock Yes Yes

Test Data

CAR NAME Tata Nexon Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza
Variant XZ+ ZDI+
PERFORMANCE & BRAKING    
0-20kmph 1.06s 1.02s
0-40kmph 3.08s 2.72s
0-60kmph 5.34s 4.97s
0-80kmph 8.62s 8.46s
0-100kmph 12.73s 12.78s
0-120kmph 17.86s 19.14s
     
20-80kmph in 3rd gear 9.89s 12.87s
40-100kmph in 4th gear 12.02s 15.98s
     
80-0kmph 25.41m 26.52m
FUEL ECONOMY    
City 13.9kmpl 14.1kmpl
Highway 18.7kmpl 19.1kmpl
Tank size 44 litres 48 litres
Range 614km 680km
INTERIOR MEASUREMENTS    
Front    
Legroom(Max/min) 820/630mm 790/560mm
Headroom 980mm 1000mm
Shoulder room 1310mm 1390mm
Backrest height 590mm 560mm
Rear     
Legroom(Max/min) 910/720mm 900/660mm
Ideal legroom 730mm 700mm
Headroom 920mm 970mm
Shoulder room 1380mm 1340mm
Seat base length 490mm 470mm
Backrest height 610mm 560mm
Boot 368 litres 328 litres
Length/width/height 710/940/550mm 700/1020/480mm
Loading lip height 680mm 730mm

Score Sheet

Parameters Max points

Tata Nexon

Maruti Brezza

DRIVING FEEL      
Steering response 20 12 13
Directional stability 25 16 16
Engine characteristics 25 18 16
Gearbox 20 14 15
Visibility 10 7 8
Intermediate results 100 67 68
       
SPACE      
Front Space 25 13 15
Rear space 25 14 14
Feeling of space 20 15 15
Boot space/flexibility 20 12 12
Payload 10 6 6
Intermediate results 100 60 62
       
IN THE CABIN      
Comfort equipment 25 13 13
Operatibility 15 10 11
Feel of quality 20 13 13
Front seats/ingress 20 15 15
Rear seat/ingress 20 15 14
Intermediate results 100 66 66
       
PERFORMANCE      
Acceleration 25 16 16
Top speed 10 7 7
Driveability 30 28 21
Braking 25 20 22
Environment 10 6 6
Intermediate results 100 77 72
       
ROAD MANNERS      
Ride quality 30 21 18
Turning circle 15 13 13
Handling 20 10 12
Manoeuvrability 15 11 12
Safety 20 4 5
Intermediate results 100 59 60
       
PRICE      
Price 45 18 17
Resale 10 7 8
Warranty 10 7 6
Fuel efficiency 35 22 22
Intermediate results 100 54 53
Total 600 383 381

Photos

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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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