What is it?
Why I would buy it?
Popular compact SUV, peace of mind ownership, easy to drive
Why I would avoid it?
Unexciting engine response and exterior design
Maruti’s Vitara Brezza is a common sight on our roads thanks to the brand striking the right cord with our Indian buyers. In-line with keeping things fresh, Maruti’s popular compact SUV received a facelift recently. So what’s new in this iteration?
Well, other than the tweaked exteriors, the Brezza now gets a revised feature-list, and the 103bhp/138Nm 1.5-litre K-series BS6 petrol engine which also powers the Ciaz and Ertiga. It is available in both manual and auto gearbox options.
Although exterior updates are kept to a bare minimum, the Brezza’s nose now reveals a generous dose of chrome on its grille, which is complemented by a pair of projector headlamps and LED DRLs. What’s more, the front bumper gets more attractive fog-lamp housings, and a restyled silver trim on the bash plate section.
At the rear though, there’s only a mildly restyled lower bumper, along with the fresh LED internals for the tail lamps. And lest I forget, one can easily spot the contemporary precision-cut alloy wheels and the black/orange roof that’s coupled to some paint shades. I get Maruti’s angle; the Brezza is already popular, so why mess with a winning recipe, right? Yes, and now it’s time for us to drive it in liqueurs-que Goa!
How is it on the inside?
If you thought that the earlier interiors were conservative, well guess what? No changes here either; other than the seat fabric. So, the Brezza continues with its commanding driving position with great visibility thanks to the upright pillars and a large glass area. Besides that, we’ve come to expect the sharing of components within the Maruti parts-bin; such as buttons, switches, stalks etc.
Again, taking centre-stage is the large seven-inch touchscreen ‘Smartplay studio’ system, below which we have the uncluttered layout of sleek air-con controls and the USB, AUX and charging ports. Above all, everything is within reach while driving. Also, plastic quality remains the same, which is acceptable for this segment (Hyundai Venue sets the segment standard).
Stowage in the Brezza continues to be provided for by the cubby space ahead of the gear shifter, inside the centre armrest, the two cup-holders (if you aren’t using cups), the generous door pads, and the twin glove-boxes. Likewise, there are twin cup-holders in the drop-down rear centre armrest and storage in the door pads for the rear occupants.
As with the earlier car, the enormous headroom (thanks to boxy styling) translates into a spacious cabin. At the same time, the front seats continue their tradition of not just being big, but offer good all-round support, and generous legroom. As for the rear 60:40 split bench, there’s adequate thigh support and legroom, along with a fairly upright backrest angle. It goes without saying that the substantial headroom makes the Brezza’s cabin feel larger than it actually is.
When it comes to the boot, luggage loading is aided by the wide-opening to the otherwise square-ish enclosure. You can easily stuff in one large and one medium suitcase, along with a few soft bags. As we’ve done a separate piece on the features bit, you can read more on that here.
How is it to drive?
Until Maruti equips the facelifted Brezza with a diesel, it will pack the familiar 1.5-litre K-series 103bhp/138Nm BS6 petrol engine; in either a five-speed manual or a four-speed auto avatar, and we’ve reviewed the manual version for this story. On paper at least, this engine’s output figures look appropriate to tug the 1110-1140kg (kerb) Brezza around.
Now, as you crank the engine, there’s hardly any noise at idle, and is the case till about 2500rpm. As we got going, we noticed that the response from this motor isn’t exactly sprightly, but it's far from lacking. There’s just about enough uninterrupted power hitting the front wheels at slower speeds to prevent it from bogging down, and is helpful while keeping up with traffic.
In fact we eventually discovered that this engine is quite flexible. We never had to downshift from fourth gear, even at 20kmph; which says a lot. Once this motor revs over 2100rpm, the response quickens noticeably, and post 2500rpm, it comes into its own.
Thankfully this exciting mid-range response is a pleasant deviation from the earlier character, and essentially makes for some swift motoring. So it picks up from ideally 2500rpm and holds strong all the way to the 6400rpm rev-limit. This permits for some quick overtakes or to maintain speeds on those highway trips.
Now, although the engine decibels increase with the rising rpms, it doesn’t get harsh and the superior sound insulation dials down the related NVH significantly. As for the manual five-speed gearbox, although it feels rubbery to go through, the shifts can be accurately performed due to the well-defined gates, and the short stubby lever. This is further complemented by a clutch action that’s not only light, but also progressive.
The Brezza’s ride quality tilts more towards taut at slower speeds. Although far from soft, it isn’t jarring over small bumps at all. But yes, there’s some up-and-down motion as the going gets rough. On the other hand, bump absorption from the dampers improves as you go faster, as a result of which, the ride quality gets flatter. Furthermore, we appreciated the lack of suspension noise which just ups the comfort levels.
When it comes to the Brezza’s steering, it is light and reasonably responsive, with two and a half turns from lock-to-lock. However, it isn’t as direct as, say, the Nexon’s steering response, and still feels vague around the centre. Similarly, the Brezza may not be as surefooted as some of its segment rivals, but the chassis setup allows it to keep its composure around bends since it is quite light. This trait sucks the effort out of driving the Brezza, making it feel like a hatch at the wheel.
As for the brakes, there’s a good bite, but we’d have appreciated more feedback at the pedal.
Should I buy one?
There’s very little that works against the facelifted Brezza. Sure, we can nit-pick about maybe its ageing looks, or even about the petrol engine being more energetic, and so on. But, on the other hand, we need to remember that this is a proven product, in a still well-rounded package.
The new car has decent levels of equipment, a spacious and practical cabin, favourable driving dynamics, a decent ride quality and the ultimate icing on the cake; Maruti’s service network. But I’ve come to terms with one thing over the years. Regardless of the angle this compact SUV is judged from, the Brezza, like most Marutis, is more prone to success, for just being a Maruti. What say?
Where does it fit in?
The Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza continues to rival other sub-four metre SUVs like the Hyundai Venue, Mahindra XUV300, Ford EcoSport and Tata Nexon. To put things in perspective, the new Brezza is cheaper than its predecessor's base version by Rs 29,000, but the range topper is more expensive than before by Rs 80,000.
Pictures: Kaustubh Gandhi