Honda WR-V vs Maruti Vitara Brezza: Comparison Review
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The mix of practicality and appeal of compact SUVs can be seen in the success of Maruti’s Vitara Brezza. Can Honda’s Jazz-based WR-V offer a more enticing package?
WR-V: Class-leading passenger knee room
WR-V: Engine is great to drive in the city
Vitara Brezza: Looks and road presence
Vitara Brezza: Mind-boggling fuel efficiency
Vitara Brezza: Commanding seating position makes it more relaxing to drive
WR-V: Suspension is very soft and bouncy on the highway
WR-V: Very disappointing interface of the infotainment system
Vitara Brezza: Laggy engine around town
Vitara Brezza: Suspension is little stiff around town
Considering the quality of Indian roads, even in the city, SUV-like qualities in a small car make a lot of sense for crowded roads and cramped parking spots. Let’s take a look at how Honda’s rugged new crossover, the WR-V, stacks up against the most popular compact-SUV, the Maruti Vitara Brezza.
Both cars get points in the bag by looking nothing like the platforms that they are based on. Honda has done enough with the new headlights and the high, flatter bonnet line to differentiate it from the Jazz. The Brezza looks unlike any other car in the Maruti stable and scores more points for looking more SUV-like.
The more traditional straight shoulder line, beefy fender flares and a simple face with a large chrome grille give it that square look. At 1790mm, the Brezza is much wider than the WR-V (1734mm). Yes, the WR-V has been beefed up over the Jazz so it rides a bit taller, but the Brezza is another 40mm taller (1640mm vs 1601mm). The Brezza also boasts of 10mm extra ground clearance (198mm vs 188mm) and even has more SUV-ish tyres that are taller (sidewall) and wider than the WR-V. The WR-V is a lot busier at the front, with a lot of curves and angles to the face that does make it quite butch in appearance. Its connection to the Jazz is quite apparent when viewed from the side.
The rear looks familiar but the boomerang-shaped tail lights slicing into the tailgate adds some freshness. The silver scuff guards on the bumper and the black cladding amplify the toughness of the package. But when viewed in the same frame, it’s the Brezza that commands more attention.
It’s a much closer battle between the two when you step inside. They both have simple design for the dashboards and both are all-black in the top-end variants that we had on test. The Honda has a much simpler layout and, in my opinion, is more attractive visually. The quality of plastics in both is adequate, with a lot of hard plastics. But besides the slightly flimsy glovebox lid in the Brezza, they are fairly evenly matched on this front.
The tall seating position in the Brezza is the more commanding of the two and you do get more SUV experience driving it around town. The WR-V, on the other hand, has much more glass area with large windows and windscreen. This airy feeling is also helped by a first-in-segment sunroof and you really feel like stepping into a much larger space when you get behind the wheel.
Thanks to Honda’s ‘man-maximum’ philosophy, you also get an abundance of knee room for rear passengers - a whopping 990mm in the WR-V vs the 860mm (That’s five inches more!) of maximum knee room in the Brezza. Because of that airy feeling we spoke of earlier, the WR-V feels more spacious of the two, but the soft seat cushioning and the non-adjustable rear headrests makes the rear seat good only for shorter distances.
Later, when the tape measures came out, it was the Brezza that gave us a surprise. The Brezza gains back the five inches lost in knee room by offering 5 more inches of shoulder room - 1400mm in the Brezza vs 1270mm in the WR-V. And while passengers in the the WR-V can stretch their legs, the Brezza’s rear bench is more comfortable for three people. Even the front of the Brezza offers both the driver and the passenger more shoulder room and headroom as well as a better range of adjustment for leg room.
The WR-V sports the larger boot at 363 litres, but the Brezza is just one medium-sized suitcase behind it at 328 litres.
The Honda, surprisingly, doesn’t get the fully flat folding seats seen on the Jazz, while the Brezza’s split 60:40 and also fold down flat, making it really convenient to carry really large objects or two complete sets of golf clubs.
With competition high in this segment, it’s not surprising that both manufacturers have packed their flagships with features. Both sport touchscreen infotainment systems, but the Honda India-developed unit isn’t quite up to the mark. It’s slow and laggy and the logic is very hard to understand. It took us nearly half an hour to figure out how to adjust the graphic equaliser setting and even after we did, we couldn’t understand the logic behind it. It does support MirrorLink and navigation, but misses out on Apple CarPlay.
The Maruti has its own quirky menu, but it’s much easier to get the hang of. It is much more intuitive and supports both MirrorLink and CarPlay. Also, it is much quicker to respond whereas the Honda system takes nearly 4-5 seconds to change tracks from the steering-mounted controls.
They both get automatic climate control, and while the touch controls on the WR-V are flashier, they aren’t so easy to use.
Drive & Engines
Start each one up and you’re greeted with a familiar diesel rumble and then a slightly clattery idle note as the engines settle. There’s not much to tell them apart in terms of refinement. The 1.5 i-DTEC engine is a delight around town and its linear character makes it a much more relaxing mill through stop-and-go traffic. It also requires you to make far fewer gearshifts than the Brezza. Maruti’s 1.3 DDiS 200 requires you to keep shifting down to keep the engine in its sweet spot as the torque comes in strongly post 1700rpm, with nothing much below that. What it does better than the WR-V, however, is sip diesel better. When we say sip, we mean camel-like thirst levels. It managed a mind boggling 21.70kmpl (we even ran the test twice on two different cars to be sure) in our city cycle, compared to the WR-V’s more normal 15.35kmpl.
Out on the highway, the long leggedness of the Maruti engine comes into its own. Its punchy nature is now a boon for overtaking, but the WR-V holds its own, remaining linear and equally punchy on the open road. The WR-V is also slightly more relaxed with its six-speed gearbox, allowing the engine to keep lower revs for the same speed than the five-speed Brezza. This helps the WR-V claw back some lost ground in the mileage numbers and it edges ahead in the highway test, returning 25.88kmpl to the Brezza’s 25.30kmpl.
Ride and Handling
Around town, the WR-V immediately starts scoring points with the comfort on offer from its rather soft suspension. It really does gobble up any undulation, small bumps and even large speed breakers with ease. The light steering also makes manoeuvring and parking a breeze.
The Brezza, on the other hand, is more stiffly sprung and you will feel more of the road imperfections filtering through when driving around town. The Brezza’s ride, although harsh, isn’t a deal breaker; no doubt, you are noticeably more comfortable in the Honda at city speeds.
It’s a different story when the speeds increase and the stiffer setup on the Brezza starts to make sense. It’s, by far, the more stable chassis, and uneven road surfaces, potholes and level changes in the road surface don’t upset the Brezza much. The steering also weighs up nicely, giving you a very secure feeling behind the wheel. The WR-V suffers at higher speeds, with the soft suspension delivering quite a bouncy ride for occupants. There is a lot of vertical movement that the soft dampening fails to control and this just amplifies as speeds increase. And while the steering does weigh up a bit, it isn’t as nice as the Brezza’s setup. If you do a lot of highway miles, you will certainly be more comfortable in the Vitara Brezza.
The Brezza, despite the peaky engine, is also the more fun to drive car, with more feel from the steering, sweeter-shifting gearbox and a better handling chassis. The brakes are also more progressive on the Brezza than the WR-V, which has a distinct step up in brake force making hard braking rather hard to judge.
The WR-V offers ABS, EBD and dual airbags across the board, while these features are optional in the two lower variants of the Vitara Brezza and standard in the rest. The WR-V also gets a brake override system which cuts accelerator input if both accelerator and brake pedals are pressed at the same time. Both cars offer rear parking cameras in the top-end variant but the Brezza offers parking sensors in three lower variants and the top-end as well.
Honda gives you the option of fuel with both a petrol and diesel engine available -- in only two trim levels though. The Brezza, on the other hand, has only one engine option but as many as six trim levels to choose from, and four of those include ABS, EBD and dual airbags as standard.
The WR-V makes a great case for itself in the city with a smooth, linear and efficient engine. Around town, you will appreciate the cushiony ride quality and the light steering, but out on the highway, it just doesn’t compare to the more stable and comfortable Brezza. If it’s only a city drive that you’re looking for, which offers space, convenience and a host of ‘wow’ features, then look no further than the WR-V. But if you came to the crossover market searching for something more versatile than an upmarket hatch, then the Vitara Brezza ticks just as many boxes as the WR-V while offering the more practical SUV-like stance. The Brezza’s shortcomings are outweighed by its ability to be more at home in a wider variety of conditions, to carry more passengers in greater comfort, and by being more fun to drive as well.