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Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza First Drive Review

What is it?

In an SUV-crazy market like India, it comes as a real surprise that the country’s largest car manufacturer has failed to make any inroads into this segment. Maruti first tried with two generations of the Grand Vitara and most recently it failed with the S-cross (which is more of a crossover) too. Motivated to not be undone again, Suzuki left the reigns of the latest SUV in the hands of the Maruti engineers to develop a product meant for Indian tastes. Meet the Vitara Brezza, a ground up SUV developed in India for India. At the time of writing, within two days of its launch Maruti has already received more than 5,000 bookings! This figure is even more staggering when you consider that display models have not even reached showrooms yet. You can easily dismiss the achievement by saying that it’s a Maruti, so it will sell. But pleasing finicky Indian customers is extremely difficult and if Maruti would have had it so easy, then even the S-Cross would have sold in numbers. This means the Indian car giant has done something right and this comes to light as soon as you lay eyes on the Vitara Brezza.

This SUV looks very convincing and Maruti’s efforts on the design have clearly paid off. The large front grille with interesting elements and stylish projector headlamps looks very appealing. The front bumper with large air intakes and lower mounted turn indicators further accentuates the in your face look. It convincingly looks like a mini SUV especially when viewed from the side. The boxy door panels, long bonnet, large 16 inch wheels, near vertical front windshield and the floating roof design shouts SUV. In the top ZDi+ you can opt for dual tone exterior colour too. Maruti has chosen colour combinations quite wisely with the blue and yellow shades getting a white roof while the red comes with a black one. This just adds to the style quotient of the Brezza. Unlike the Ford EcoSport, Brezza’s spare wheel is neatly tucked away in the boot so from the rear it looks more like a jacked up hatchback. The black cladding in the lower portions of the bumper does give it a rugged look though. 

The Brezza is based on Suzuki’s global C-platform which also underpins the European Vitara. Although its wheelbase of 2500mm is identical to its European cousin that’s where the similarities end. Where the European car comes with AWD the Indian Vitara is designed to be a front-wheel-drive only. Maruti has been at the forefront of making light cars and the Brezza is no exception. At 1170kg it is more than 100kg lighter than the EcoSport thus contributing to the exceptional 24.3kmpl ARAI efficiency claim.

 

How is it on the inside?

There is nothing to write home about the interior and the Brezza’s cabin is as conventional as it comes. The dashboard is minimalistic and we wish Maruti employed some chunky knobs or other bits to compliment the exterior. The familiar CarPlay enabled touchscreen dominates proceedings has a high-quality display and feels very modern. Plastic quality and fit and finish though decent is not as nice as the bigger Creta. It does feel slightly better than its chief rival the EcoSport. Lower down and on the door pads it’s apparent that Maruti has cut corners and the plastics feel hard and shiny. Weight saving, however, doesn’t make the car feel as solid as it should. The light doors shut with a shallow thunk and it lacks the solidity of the EcoSport. There are many bits shared with the cheaper Swift too, like the power window switches, steering wheel, stalks etc.

 

As the Brezza has a compact footprint, Maruti has cleverly used vertical space to give the Brezza as much room as possible. Unlike an SUV you sit quite low in the Brezza so getting in and out through the large doors is extremely easy. The front seats are big, supportive and have acres of legroom. But, the Brezza really surprises as far as rear space is concerned. There is enough knee room for an average-sized adult and even headroom is generous. The backrest is set quite upright and there is enough thigh support to make you comfortable. The boot at 328litres  though slightly smaller than the EcoSport’s, feels much more usable thanks to the hatch opening and well-shaped bay. You also get 60:40 split seats for added convenience.

 

In the top ZDi + trim the Vitara comes loaded with features. It gets a touchscreen infotainment system which houses the Apple CarPlay, navigation, auto climate control, keyless go, reverse camera with sensors, auto headlamps, rain sensing wipers, daytime running lamps and a comprehensive trip computer with five different mood lighting for the instrumentation. In terms of safety, Maruti offers two airbags and ABS as optional across the range. We just wished it was standard as in the Baleno.

How does it drive?

For now, the Brezza packs the familiar 1248cc diesel motor in 89bhp guise. Press the starter button and the engine settles into an accustomed smooth albeit gravely idle. Like experienced before there is initial turbo lag at low revs and you need to constantly shift gears at slow speeds to keep the motor on the boil. 

Post 2000rpm though, the engine really awakens and the strong mid-range makes driving effortless. The motor feels free revving too but past 4000rpm power starts to tail off and there is no point stretching it to its 5200rpm redline as the engine becomes really vocal. Maruti has also employed shorter gear ratios as compared to the Ciaz to aid drivability. As a result, the Brezza recorded some decent figures in our acceleration tests. 100kph is reached in a brisk 12.7 seconds and even its in-gear times of 12.87 seconds for 20-80kph in third and 15.98seconds for 40-100kph in fourth are quite impressive too. The short throw gearbox though could have been a bit smoother in operation.

 

Around corners the Brezza behaves like a normal hatchback which is a good thing. It displays good stability at speed and handling is very safe and predictable, with no nasty surprises. As a family car, meant for sedate driving, the direct and precise steering and easy controls make it a stress-free car to drive. But the steering feels over assisted and it weighs up inconsistently as you pick up speed. Though body-roll is well contained, it doesn’t have the willingness to change direction as the EcoSport and it’s certainly not a car that enjoys being hustled. 

As for the ride, due to the light weight it does feels a bit jiggly at low speeds and not very adept at handling sharp bumps, and you can feel the suspension thump through the light body especially at the rear. Though it never gets to the point of being uncomfortable, it is something you can live with. However, as you go faster, it settles down to offer a fairly flat and consistent ride. The brakes, on the other hand, offer good bite and stopping power, but a more linear pedal feel would have been welcomed.

Should I buy one?

The Vitara Brezza comes across as a very well-rounded package. It looks attractive, is loaded with equipment, has a spacious cabin and is fairly practical too. Thanks to 98 per cent  localisation, Brezza’s killer price of Rs 9.54 lakh(ex-showroom Delhi) is just an icing on the cake. It does lack in some areas like the once benchmark 1.3-litre DDiS diesel engine which has now started to show its age, the typical Japanese light build doesn’t go very well with it being an SUV and the ride could have been more refined too. But for what it is, the Brezza is surely Maruti’s ticket to mega success in the much sought-after compact SUV market.

 

Where does it fit in?

The Vitara Brezza’s direct rival is the impressive Ford EcoSport. Maruti has managed to price the Brezza really well and it undercuts the Ford by a considerable margin.

Photography by: Kapil Angane
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Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
Mumbai₹ 9.2 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 9.35 Lakhs onwards
New Delhi₹ 8.69 Lakhs onwards
Pune₹ 9.15 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 9.14 Lakhs onwards
Ahmedabad₹ 8.59 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 9.35 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 8.76 Lakhs onwards
Chandigarh₹ 8.53 Lakhs onwards
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