With the Vitara Brezza, Maruti Suzuki turns its attention towards the hottest segment in the market – the compact SUV space. Already, Ford has responded by reducing prices of the EcoSport. So, should its competitors be worried? We drive one to find out.
The SUV space has been receiving serious attention from virtually all carmakers of late – not just in India, but globally as well. Car buyers today seem to have a strong preference for SUV’s over more traditional body types, so it’s become a race amongst companies to feed this demand and come up with the next big success story. And this trend is no different in India. Indian consumers have demonstrated a voracious appetite for SUVs, and with the Vitara Brezza, Maruti is looking to get a foothold in the sub-four metre SUV space.
But before we get into details of the Brezza, there’s one very interesting aspect that needs to be highlighted. You see, Maruti Suzuki has been present in the Indian market for over three decades now. And, over the years, it’s built up a very strong R&D arm in India. But, before the Vitara Brezza, the Indian R&D department had never completely developed a vehicle for the Indian market. However, that changes with the Brezza – as this car has been developed from the ground up by a team of Indian engineers led by Executive Director of Engineering, C V Raman. We had an extensive chat with him about the process followed by him and his team, and he was glad to point out that they were given complete control over the project – including choosing the platform, drivetrain, and design of the vehicle. This is an important milestone in Indian automotive engineering on two fronts, one is the fact that a multinational company has allowed this level of decision making freedom to the local arm of a company, and, two, as we drive the car, we get the chance to evaluate just how well the engineers have been able to set up the car for Indian conditions.
Now, on to the design – at first glance, the Brezza is a good looking car. And, despite the vehicle measuring under 4-metres, the designers have managed to get the proportions right. Moreover, the big chrome grille certainly gets a lot of attention. In fact, as we drove on the roads of Pune, the Brezza gathered a lot of interest from onlookers. The square wheel arches, paired with the 16-inch wheels gave it a strong stance, and the contrasting roof and mirrors – available as an option on the range-topping ZDi+ version – are a nice touch. And it suits this yellow hue particularly well. This customisation is a unique option that has not yet been offered to customers in the mass market segment in India – and I think that younger buyers will particularly appreciate the sense of style and individualisation it offers them. However, I still feel that the styling of the Brezza is a tad subdued and could have been even more aggressive. It seems that the designers have taken a somewhat safe approach, and tried not to polarise opinions.
The interiors of the Vitara Brezza are quite impressive too. Barring a couple of components – such as the grab handles – the interior is quite well finished, and quality levels are good. Given the wide track of the car, interior room is also quite good – with three abreast at the back fitting reasonably comfortably. The other highlights include the equipment levels, which are simply phenomenal. The ZDi+ version that we were driving comes standard with dual airbags, ABS with EBD, Cruise Control, Climate Control, Auto headlights, Rain sensing wipers, and even an option to select the colour of the centre dials – which has five options to choose from. In fact, the Brezza offers a single airbag as standard on all versions, and even ABS is available as an option on lower trim versions. And I must say that it’s good to see that manufacturers are now paying serious attention towards road safety in India. The touchscreen entertainment system, which comes fitted with Apple CarPlay, works quite well and is a breeze to use. However, as with most touchscreen systems, it does have an Achilles heel – which is that the screen is difficult to read in direct sunlight. Adding to the equipment levels, and therefore the appeal, are the practical touches to the interiors too – such as the large door pockets, 60:40 split in the rear seat, cooled glove box, and concealed seat undertray. Maruti certainly seems to have taken this page out of Hyundai’s book. Competition is a beautiful thing, and its customers who benefit by getting cars that are loaded to the gills.
Also Read: Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza: Top 5 Facts
The Brezza is currently available only with the massively popular 1.3-litre diesel unit – though a petrol version with the 1.0-litre turbocharged engine is expected later in the year. In this trim, the engine offers 89bhp and 200Nm of torque. Paired with a five-speed manual gearbox – the only gearbox currently available – the Brezza feels peppy and the engine provides very good mid-range response. However, at low rpm, there is discernible turbo lag – which can be a bit annoying in traffic. The NVH levels, though, are well controlled and the Brezza feels quite refined. On the road, it exudes a feeling of solidity. The suspension has been setup very well – not only does it offer good ride comfort, but it also feels very stable at high speeds. With the high ground clearance, tackling bad roads is an easy task – and the suspension handles broken roads with aplomb. The electric steering, while devoid of feel, does have a nice heft to it and responds well. In terms of overall road manners, it seems that the engineers at Maruti Suzuki have managed to find a well balanced set up between ride and handling with the Brezza.
Overall, the Vitara Brezza offers a very strong package with a combination of good design, practical interiors, excellent equipment levels, and aggressive pricing. There are a few shortcomings in the product, such as the turbo lag and a few pieces of plastic that feel low rent, but, keeping in mind the overall package, those few compromises certainly aren’t a deal breaker. Maruti’s competitors, then, will certainly be feeling the heat. Not only does the Brezza have the novelty factor in its favour, but it provides an attractive product at good value. Add to that the brand value of Maruti Suzuki, and you’ve got a sure winner on your hands. The only thing that remains to be seen is whether Maruti Suzuki can keep up with the demand when deliveries start at the end of March.
- Vitara Brezza
Engine: 1,248cc / 4-Cylinders / Turbocharged
Transmission: 5-Speed Manual / Front-Wheel Drive
Power: 89bhp @ 4,000rpm
Torque: 200Nm @ 1,750rpm
Price: Rs. 6.99 - 9.68 lakhs (Ex-showroom, Delhi)