Consider high riding SUVs, compact SUVs, or any of these beefed-up vehicles. There's no debate in saying SUVs are currently the most in-demand body style in India. Many buyers want to have one and hence quite a big chunk of car sales comes from this segment. No wonder every car manufacturer has now jumped on to the bandwagon and wants to have one in their line-up.
Toyota is not new to the SUV segment and already has its big guns not just abroad, but in our country as well. Also, the compact SUV it lacked is now here in the form of the Urban Cruiser. Yes, this is Toyota's iteration of a sub-four metre SUV. And hold on, before some of you start exclaiming that this looks like the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza; yes it is the rebadged version of the same! Remember the Toyota Glanza, which is based on the Baleno. Similarly, this is the second product of Toyota and Maruti's collaboration.
And, this actually shouldn't be a surprise or a trigger to any negative emotion as such, as this badge engineering is now quite a common phenomenon. Both the manufacturers leverage and benefit from this. Even so, Toyota-Maruti's partnership is a global one and shares products and technology. Earlier, Toyota entered the premium hatchback space by getting in the Baleno as the Glanza. And now, we have the Brezza-based Urban Cruiser as an entrant to the compact SUV space.
Now that we have cleared these basics, we shall now get into the details of what's to like and what's not to like about this SUV.
1. Good drivability
We shall first straight get to the heart of this vehicle which is a 1.5-litre petrol engine that either comes mated to a five-speed manual gearbox or with the option of an automatic transmission. Interestingly, this four-cylinder mill also gets the 48V mild-hybrid system, which is a standard affair on both transmission variants. Now to put some more real-world numbers to its performance, we put it through our V-Box tests. And in the acceleration test, it completing the 0-100kmph sprint in just 11.69 seconds hints how capable and quick it is. Yes, it’s not the quickest amongst its competition, but these figures are in the ballpark of the quickest ones.
This is a naturally aspirated petrol mill and it has enough grunt for your daily driving. The engine has got a good mid-range response and feels sufficient enough to keep up with the traffic. In fact, you will be able to push the SUV faster as the revs build over 2,500rpm, and continues to rev freely till its rev limit at about 6,500rpm. May be, it could have done with a little more pep, but there's good drivability nonetheless.
Even out on the highway, you might think this engine to feel feeble or powerless. But actually, it's not. I was doing about 50kmph and when I floored the accelerator pedal, it got to 70-80kmph without a fuss or any amount of delay. This means you won't have to worry much when you make a quick sprint or even while overtaking a long vehicle. So, when it came to the crucial test of drivability, the 20-80kmph run in kick-down was completed in 7.01 seconds, while the 40-100kmph run was done in 8.94 seconds. These are good figures, mostly owing to adequate power and relatively light kerb weight.
At 1,160kg this is quite a lightweight SUV and so pulling off good fuel efficiency numbers will not be a big task. Well, it eventually all depends on your driving style and skills on how much mileage you can get from your car. But concerned buyers will be happy to know that the ARAI-rated fuel economy figure stands at 18.76kmpl, which, by the way, is quite good for a petrol automatic SUV. Then, the automatic engine-start-stop tech should only further help its case.
2. Convenience of an automatic
Now, who doesn't want the convenience of an automatic without having to press the clutch pedal and shift gears? This one provides the same. The absence of the clutch-pedal and not having to shift gears constantly as in a manual is eliminated here. You just slot it in drive mode and can focus on the throttle, braking and steering inputs. The good performance in our V-Box tests is also due to this smooth torque-converter automatic which doesn't lag much in shifting gears, and also isn't jerky like the AMTs. And I must say, it complements this engine quite well.
3. Well-sorted ride
Now, what this car does one thing very well is to deal with our road conditions. After all, having an SUV you will want it to deal with bumps effectively. Its suspension is great over the rough patches and broken roads. It's only when you hit a deep sharp-edged pothole that you hear a banging sound from the suspension. Well, but then, that's the only time when you’ll hear this. Otherwise, it's pretty silent, absorbs all shocks, and takes on the rough terrain without breaking a sweat. Even if you happen to miss a small bump, it takes it in its stride with ease.
All of this is also thanks to the good combination of 198mm ground clearance and the 215/60 section 16-inch alloy wheels. They give the vehicle a high stance, and with a well-damped suspension, you’ll confidently take that diversion or unknown pathway without thinking twice. And that said, it still remains to ride flat on the highways at triple-digit speeds.
4. Practical cabin
Now let's get to the interior space and practical features of this SUV. And we start off with keyless entry. Many people still ask how this is used. Well, you just keep this key with you and without unlocking it, walk up to the car. Press this button and the car unlocks itself. The same thing can be done while locking it. Close the door and press the button. And no you don't have to double-check as it confirms this with this signal.
Then, there's a decent space inside despite being a sub-four metre car. Yes, it does miss rear air vents but it’s got a powerful air-con system to cool off the cabin quickly. And since it's based on the Brezza, it gets a lot of storage and stowage places too. There are plenty of bottle and cup holders, and even though it doesn't have the largest boot, a 60:40 split arrangement adds to the versatility of luggage requirements that can be accommodated with ease.
Even in terms of features and safety, it gets a fair share of equipment. Notable features in this range-topping Premium trim include diamond-cut alloy wheels, a rear parking camera, automatic LED headlamps and auto wipers, and even LED fog lamps. Then, there's a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control and a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. On the safety front, it has a four-star Global NCAP rating while dual airbags and ABS are offered as standard across all variants.
5. Toyota's after-sales and service reliability
When it comes to Toyota vehicles and their ownership, it has already been proven that you can't go too far wrong with this brand. The carmaker has earned a lot of respect for its after-sales service and owners find it quite reliable. Hassle-free ownership and excellent after-sales service are also thanks to its wide dealer network that has managed to render consistent service quality. The good thing is that the Urban Cruiser shares the same parts as the Brezza, so there shouldn't be a problem in sourcing any part as it's not unique to this vehicle only. Any which way, it is sold with three years or one lakh kilometre standard warranty.
1. No distinguishing elements
Apart from just a logo, bumper, and a grille swap, there's no differentiating factor for the Urban Cruiser to stand out as such. And no, it's not a hideous vehicle to look at, but if it comes to exclusivity, as an owner you will have nothing unique to boast about. As mentioned earlier, the few changes like a new grille, bumper, and the Toyota logo have only managed to give this SUV a new name, but sadly no new identity!
Also, this becomes particularly very important when you look at the competition. We are now in a phase where our market is stormed in with so many SUVs. Even this compact SUV segment is packed with a long...long list of products. There's obviously the Maruti Suzuki Brezza, then the Hyundai Venue, Tata Nexon, Ford EcoSport, Kia Sonet, Mahindra XUV300, Nissan Magnite and even cars like the Honda WR-V and the upcoming Renault Kiger.
2. Competition has moved ahead
So today, like a prospective buyer, I have so many options to choose from. And well, there are not many things in particular that attract me towards this one. The cabin is the same old dated one that was first seen on the Brezza when it was launched in 2016. The design and layout are the same, continues with the hard plastics, and has no particular USP as such.
Also, for example, take the gearbox. People who really care about the transmission type will relate to this. This four-speed torque converter gearbox is quite okay in its response and people won't find many things to complain about it. But to a discerning eye, it's old technology and competition has moved way too ahead. Rivals are offering smoother, quicker gearboxes like the DCT in the Venue. Now even for that matter, the new Magnite gets a CVT.
Then, buyers may now even complain about the absence of a fully digital instrument cluster, wireless smartphone charging, and maybe even a sunroof. So, it is adequately equipped for sure, but still not as feature-loaded as its rivals that now even offer six airbags, and heck even an air purifier! Another miss that Toyota gave this one is a turbocharged induction. And no, you can't have an oil-burner version of this one as there's no diesel option on offer at all.
It would have been great if Toyota could have improved on what the Maruti Suzuki Brezza also fails to offer. But the good thing is, that it still has all the positive traits of its cousin. And after all, even if you do a quick reality check, it will only reiterate the fact that the case of 'Old wine in a new bottle' still works in the Indian market. And why not, if the wine is good enough to satiate your taste buds.
So, all said and done, the Urban Cruiser with its mature styling and practical cabin with adequate features and good ride and drivability, is a no non-sense SUV.
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi