If there's anything automotive history has to prove to us, it’s that it is really difficult for manufacturers to successfully cater to all the spheres of the market. Even for someone as big a giant as Maruti Suzuki, who has been at the top of the small car hill, things have gone haywire and there have been a couple of failed attempts to replicate their success stories in the highly lucrative crossover segment (Read: S-Cross and Grand Vitara).
Not wanting to be left behind in what is now a genuine volume game; Maruti Suzuki have lengthened their strides to catch up to their global rivals and come up with the new Vitara Brezza – Maruti’s maiden product to be designed and developed entirely in India.
Shown first at the Auto Expo last month, the VitaraBrezza is now on sale and neatly bridges the gap between Maruti’s existing hatchbacks and a couple of sedans. However, will it be able to make up for the S-Cross’ poor show in the crossover space and make a name for itself when put up against some pretty fierce competition?
On first impressions, the VitaraBrezza appears a lot less flamboyant especially when compared to Maruti Suzuki’s recent launches. Clearly the brand is looking to please all with an understated yet striking design that will hopefully appeal to a wider set of prospective buyers. The VitaraBrezza, then, doesn’t wow you with angular lines and creases and instead, uses its safe and robust design cues to leave a long lasting impression. For starters, it looks well-proportioned from all angles thanks to its high-riding stance and an adequately lengthy bonnet for a balanced appearance.
Up front on this top-spec ZDi+ trim, you get projector headlights with bull-horn shaped DRLs, a sporty looking bumper with a large blacked out air dam and a silver skid plate. What also works for this car is the two-tone colour option with contrasting roof and squared wheel arches to help differentiate the Brezza’s appeal from the lot. What comes as bit of a disappointment though is the rear-end design that looks far from striking and the thick chrome bar with VitaraBrezza embossing that ends up looking tacky instead of adding some flair to the design. Also, at places Maruti Suzuki seems to have rummaged through their archives to design the Brezza. How else would one explain the cockpit like sloping glasshouse or the wing mirrors that have been taken straight off the old Swift? All in all, while it’s nowhere near as in-your-face looking as the Ford EcoSport, the VitaraBrezza looks discreetly pleasant in its own way and is sure to find a varied set of buyers.
The interior, as we have come to expect from Maruti Suzuki of late, is refreshing to look at despite the excessive use of black and shades of silver here and there. Having spent time in the S-Cross and the Baleno, the layout in here doesn’t feel particularly ‘new’, however, everything is there and the ergonomics are very good. It seems the central console with the piano black finish was designed as a ‘shrine’ for the touchscreen infotainment system. Among the rest of the all-new design bits there’s the funky looking side air-con vents, square-shaped dials for the instrument console and tiny air-con controls. Some of the plastics on these new bits do not feel particularly solid (take the door pads or the seat adjustment controls, for instance) but they do not sour the overall experience.
Coming back to the ergonomics, the Brezza is nowhere as tall as say an EcoSport and yet, the seating position is right about perfect. Now although the seats are set a bit low, the view out of the windscreen and the front windows is clear and heaps better than that in the EcoSport, thanks to the low-set dashboard and window-line. Things get better as you move onto the back seat as the Brezza is surprisingly spacious for its size and the rear bench itself offers adequate support at all the right places. Be it knee room, headroom or thigh support, it’s all there. You could even get away with three passengers in the back so long as the one in the middle is not generously sized.
As for the all-important equipment list, the top-spec ZDi+ trim is loaded to the brim with standard gizmos including cruise control, reverse parking camera, Apple CarPlay connectivity for the infotainment system, projector headlights and electrically foldable mirrors. Other ancillary features include automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers and climate control. One thing worth noting is that while a driver-side airbag is a standard on all variants, front passenger airbag and ABS with EBD is offered as an option from base variant onwards. Unfortunately, this is one area where Maruti could have clearly done better by standardising ABS and dual airbags across the range.
Out on the road, the VitaraBrezza could best be described as ‘good enough’. Though it doesn’t do too much wrong, it doesn’t excel in any particular area either. Under the bonnet is an engine that we are all familiar with – the Fiat-sourced 1.3-litre turbo diesel engine albeit in higher DDiS200 guise. In the VitaraBrezza, this engine develops 89bhp of power and 200Nm of torque. In other words, it’s a small capacity engine, yes, but it has some pep because the car it’s moving is a featherweight at 1170kg. To put it into perspective, the Brezza is over a 100kg lighter than the EcoSport and it’s the former’s inherent lightness that makes it apt for urban commuting. Sure, there is some turbo lag below 2000 revs but once past it, the VitaraBrezza surges forward strongly even on part throttle as it rides the wave of torque through the mid-range.
Keeping the throttle pedal pinned to the floor, however, doesn’t bring in much to the table as the power tapers off at around 4,000rpm and what follows is the distinctively loud drone of the Fiat motor. Although Maruti has worked on reducing the overall NVH levels, there is no hiding away from the fact that this DDiS motor is starting to feel its age and needs replacing soon. The 5-speed manual gearbox, on the other hand, works well under regular driving conditions with a clean shift operation and a light clutch though we wish it would row through the gears in a smoother manner when used spiritedly.
Now this engine may not be the most powerful or the most refined of the lot but the trade-off for all of these wholegrain mediocrity is efficiency, and lots of it. As a matter of fact, Maruti Suzuki is claiming an ARAI-certified fuel efficiency of 24.3kmpl and given the low kerb weight, long gearing and low rolling-resistance tyres, the VitaraBrezza may just breach the 20kmpl mark out in the real world with some careful driving.
The term ‘car-like’ has got to be one of the most overused clichés among us motoring journalists, however, it’s appropriate here — the VitaraBrezza rides and handles like a hatchback and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Over the unruly streets of Pune, it felt nimble and manoeuvrable. The steering is light (though devoid of feel) at low speeds and visibility from behind the wheel is excellent. The Vitara, as we know, will spend much of its time within the confines of the city and it does that job rather well. At highway speeds, it feels relatively well planted and quiet for the class, if only Maruti would find a way to make the engine more refined.
As for the drawbacks, the low-speed ride can get a bit jiggly for the rear seat passengers. Compared to something like an EcoSport, the rear-end of the VitaraBrezza tends to bounce over big undulations whereas the Ford simply manages to glide over similar surface.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||89 bhp @ 4000 RPM|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||200 Nm @ 1750 RPM|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||48|
|Tyre size||215 / 60 R16|
|Dual-tone exterior with contrasting roof||Yes|
|Touch-screen infotainment system||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||89 bhp @ 4000 RPM||99 bhp @ 3750 RPM|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||200 Nm @ 1750 RPM||205 Nm @ 1750 RPM|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||48||52|
|Tyre size||215 / 60 R16||205 / 60 R16|
The Vitara Brezza is somewhat of a polarising vehicle. As small crossovers go it’s probably the easiest to drive and park in the busiest of places and thanks to a roomy cabin, surprisingly comfortable as well. However, that diesel power-plant is showing its age now and is a let-down, especially in the wake of more powerful and noticeably more refined alternatives. Although at the end of the day, the VitaraBrezza’s shortcomings do not outweigh its benefits. Being a Maruti Suzuki, it’s a serious contender in the compact crossover segment, one that’s absolutely worth your consideration at ex-showroom prices starting just shy of Rs 7 lakh. Meanwhile, the ZDi+ trim that you see here comes in at around Rs 9.50 lakh which makes it less expensive than the equivalent diesel-powered EcoSport trim. What’s really interesting here is the fact that the EcoSport has just had a massive price cut and yet, it demands a premium over the VitaraBrezza. Going forward, this latest addition to the compact crossover brigade is bound to shake up the segment simply by the virtue of Maruti’s aggressive pricing approach.
Photo Courtesy By : Kapil Angane