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Maruti Brezza diesel AMT vs Tata Nexon diesel AMT

Background and Design

Time and again, these two contenders that you see in the pictures have crossed paths. And, today they are back in the lime light since both now come equipped with automatic transmissions in their diesel iterations. A feature that’s undeniably gaining ground in the Indian market due to the congestion on our roads. Let’s welcome on-stage Maruti’s Vitara Brezza diesel AGS, and none other than Tata’s own Nexon diesel AMT. Let’s start with the looks.

While both cars haven’t seen any major upgrades, the Nexon continues to be the more eye-catching of the two. On the other hand, the Brezza has more SUV-oriented styling with straight design lines. What imparts character to the Nexon’s nose are the tall headlamps split apart by that huge grille with a chrome strip that covers the entire width. Then there’s the flared wheel arches with 16-inch alloys and fat rubber, a prominent crease, and the unmistakable window-line ceramic trim which sweeps across on to the boot section through the C-pillar. It ends around both tail lights in an X-design under the rather compact rear windscreen. You’d say the Nexon is all about curves.

In stark comparison, the Brezza gets slabs of chrome on the grille that’s further complemented by an angularly designed lower bumper with a bash plate. This, along with the large squared-off wheel wells with similar alloy and tyre size (as the Nexon’s 215/60 R16) give it a distinctly more rugged stance. This is followed by a pleasing rear section with straight design cues that are coupled to those angular tail lamps which flow on to the boot lid, along with a bash plate on the lower bumper.

Fits the bill?

Both cars aren’t different from their manual siblings. So, the Brezza continues with its commanding driving position with great visibility thanks to the upright pillars and a large glass area. However, the Nexon doesn’t benefit from the same high-perched experience. Although the Tata’s better sounding touchscreen is placed higher-up which makes it easier to view, the Maruti’s simpler touch interface with lesser lag and larger screen is far easier to use on the go.

When it comes to quality, the Nexon fares better which is especially visible on the dashboard. But what is obvious in the Brezza is that the quality is a lot more consistent. We also felt that the fit and finish is much better in the Brezza, which makes it feel like it will better stand the test of time. In the Tata, one still comes across panel gaps on the lower dash, and the control stalks could have been better finished with improved ergonomics. Besides, the glossy piano-black finish around the centre console is extremely prone to scratches.

That said, there’s more usable storage in the Brezza too - with its two cup holders in the lower centre console and the two glove-boxes. In comparison, the Nexon’s centre stowage has a narrow opening that constantly scratches your wrists, making it hardly usable. The Nexon’s front seats are larger with lots of lateral support and there’s more legroom too. On the other hand, the Brezza is wider and the added headroom is a boon for tall passengers. 

At the rear, the Nexon is extremely spacious with a well contoured seat and an appropriate backrest angle. Since it is wider and has more knee room than the Brezza, seating three is a more comfortable proposition. However, tall occupants will find the rear headroom cramped in the Nexon. Although the Tata is better in comparison, it doesn’t really mean that the Brezza is uncomfortable. In fact, the rear seat is adequately comfy and feels airier due to the upright pillars. Now, when it comes to the boot, the Nexon’s 367-litre not only swallows more than the Brezza’s 342-litre boot, the former has a wider opening that leads into a wider enclosure which makes it more usable.

Has it all!

Both cars come fully equipped with features such as projector headlamps, roof rails, 16-inch alloys, rear 60:40 split-folding seats, climate control, driver's seat height adjust, push button start, height-adjustable front seatbelts, two airbags, ABS with EBD, rear parking sensors and camera, and an infotainment system with Android Auto compatibility. Now, what the Brezza brings to the table are auto head lamps and wipers, along with Apple CarPlay compatibility. And, the Nexon offers a wearable PEPS key, smart hill assist and drive modes.

Dump the clutch pedal

Both the Brezza and Nexon get the same motors found in their manual gearbox versions. So it’s the 90bhp/200Nm, 1.3-litre diesel that powers the Brezza with a five-speed AMT, and the Nexon gets its drive from the 1.5-litre diesel with a six-speed AMT that pumps out 108bhp/260Nm. In terms of sheer refinement, the Tata wins hands down since the Brezza’s ageing motor sounds so loud and harsh most of the time. 

Now, getting off the line is more like a leap in the Brezza. And you eventually learn not to let go of the brake pedal completely, especially in traffic. The Nexon’s creep function, in comparison, is a lot more predictable. Furthermore, straight off the mark the Tata literally shows-off its 18bhp/60Nm advantage. There’s more grunt and it pulls considerably stronger than the Brezza, which runs out of breath faster.

Our VBox figures confirmed that the Nexon was able to gather speed with a minimum of fuss; 0-100kmph was recorded in just 14.71 seconds while the Brezza took all of 16.78 seconds. Although both cars aren’t far apart in terms of the 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph drivability tests, the Nexon is still the quicker one in kick-down situations. And, this definitely makes it swifter while overtaking.

Make no mistake, the Maruti’s low-end grunt suffices when it comes to basic runabouts. But any enthusiastic throttle input simply makes it annoyingly jerky. And, this is due to the AMT gearbox’s shift lag that virtually rocks you back and forth. Although the Nexon’s AMT gearbox does give away some shift lag too, it isn’t as prominent and doesn’t intrude as much while driving. 

On a personal note, the key with AMTs in general is to hold the revs when the gearbox is shifting, and get on the throttle steadily. Or, one could also just stick to the manual tip-tronic shifting (like we did). Also, what adds to the Nexon’s versatility, is that you can tone the power output by toggling between Eco, City and Sport drive modes unlike the Brezza. Eco mode shunts the power output in the interest of boosting fuel efficiency, and City mode offers a fair balance of both City and Eco modes.

On our roads

Surprisingly, the Brezza’s suspension setup isn’t as stiff as it once was. As a result, the ride quality isn’t as jarring at slower speeds over road imperfections and potholes. Although there is some up and down movement when the going gets rough, it doesn’t get uncomfortable at all. Having said that, once the speed increases, the Brezza’s ride gets markedly flatter. On the other hand, the Nexon’s ride is impressive to say the least. Regardless of the pace, the damping from its well-sorted suspension set-up is quite absorbent. It remains impressively flat over most surfaces and only the large bumps get felt within the cabin.

Handling-wise, the Nexon feels bulky around corners due to the additional weight and it also rolls more than the Maruti. However, it isn’t a deal breaker since everyone prefers some heft in their SUVs. Plus, the Nexon’s steering is way more direct than the Brezza’s. This, coupled with the superior feedback coming in from the wheels, and the immense grip allows one to plant the Nexon exactly where you want it. Now, although the Brezza’s steering is lighter and weighs up appropriately, it isn’t as accurate as the Nexon’s. Additionally, the Maruti may not be as surefooted as its contender. But, throw it around a series of bends and one would admit that the Brezza retains its composure better by performing quick directional changes since it is much lighter.

Verdict

What essentially works for the Maruti Vitara Brezza is it has better cabin ambience, besides being cheaper by Rs 22,000. It is also feature loaded, comes with that peace-of-mind ‘Maruti’ ownership experience, and the light controls that make it easier to drive. Plus, the fact that the AMT gearbox eases the entire driving chore. However, on the flipside, the Brezza’s engine has now begun to show its age which reflects in its performance and refinement, and the design isn’t exactly exciting (in comparison).

On the other hand, what doesn’t work in favour of the Tata Nexon is the fact that the interior materials don’t look like they will stand the test of time. But the little Nexon puts on a better show, despite the slightly higher price tag, due to its motor’s superior performance and refinement, modern design, comfy ride quality, and long features list. Of course, there’s also the larger boot, better seat comfort and cabin space. And most importantly, the auto transmission, which in this equation truly eases the overall driving experience. All these are convincing enough for us to crown Tata’s Nexon AMT the winner of this comparison.


Pictures: 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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