Maruti Vitara Brezza - Expert Review
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Watch First Drive of Maruti Vitara Brezza
Phases are a part of life and they apply for everything, be it fashion, technology or, like in this instance, cars. All you need is something that kindles the fire, and the rest simply follows. In this case, it was the Ford EcoSport that started it all. The first of its kind in the country, it kick-started the compact SUV segment, which every manufacturer wants to dominate now. Maruti Suzuki decided to get into action as well, and showed us the all-new Vitara Brezza. With the Brezza, India’s largest carmaker finally has a compact SUV; a model that Maruti's otherwise comprehensive line-up sorely lacked.
The Brezza is an extremely important car for Maruti for various reasons. For starters, it has to battle the Ford EcoSport and the Mahindra TUV300 right off the bat. Secondly, Maruti has put immense effort and thought behind it. Let us elaborate on that. The Vitara Brezza is the first Maruti to be designed and developed entirely in India. That also gives it an advantage of as much as 98% localization, which is a huge boost when it comes to the pricing of the car and the spares. Then there is the design, which Maruti had to get right. The car had to be the perfect blend of compact size and SUV looks. We decided to take the all-new Brezza for a spin to tell you what it’s like under the skin.
Designing a proportionate sub 4-metre SUV is clearly a task in itself. With the restriction in length, it is fairly easy to blow the width and height out of proportion and have an abnormal-looking oddity on hand. Maruti, yet again has proved that it knows its way around Indian rules, better than anyone else. The Brezza is amongst the most proportionate ‘compact SUVs’ in the market.
Is it designed well? To kick things off, it looks bigger in flesh than in pictures. For people wanting an SUV for the price of a premium hatch, the most important criteria, i.e size, is ticked pronto. The use of colours, straight lines and curves are well thought of, which makes the Brezza stand out. There are three dual-tone paint combos to choose from as well. One can opt for a red Brezza with a black roof or blue or yellow ones with white roofs. Our favourite of the lot is the blue/white combo which definitely turns a lot of heads. That said, we think the red/black combo is going to fly off the shelves a lot more!
If it hasn’t been said enough, the design on the Brezza is unlike anything we’ve seen in recent Marutis. In fact, it is possibly the first time that Maruti has ever styled anything to look so aggressive. The large grille up front instantly reminds you of the XA Alpha concept that the Brezza owes its ancestry to. The toothy elements are underlined by a big slab of chrome that connects the two projector headlamps. The LED light guides in the headlamps look super cool, especially when lit up in the dark. The bumper drips aggression too, with a large airdam and a faux skidplate finished in matte silver. Little details like the placement of the turn indicators in a separate pod in the bumper and the blacked-out surround for the fog lamp complete the front profile.
The first thing the friendly Maruti salesman will try and sell to you about the Brezza is its ‘floating roof’. This concept debuted with the Swift, and Maruti has been using it for its offerings ever since. The A-pillar and a portion of the C-pillar are blacked out, creating the illusion of the roof ‘floating’ over the car. This is particularly noticeable with the white roof.
The silhouette shows off two prominent character lines: one connecting the two headlamps and the other curving along the wheelbase. The Brezza also gets squared out wheel arches and the customary black cladding along the length of the car. The 16-inch alloys fill the wheel-well nicely. While we love the gunmetal grey shade on the wheels, we wish they were a better design. Also, simple rounded wheel arches with a bit of added flare would have made the Brezza look much more aggressive.
Unlike its contemporaries, the Brezza does not get a spare wheel slapped onto its boot. What you get instead is a simple hatch that opens upwards. The hatch door on the TUV300 and the Ford EcoSport open sideways, which can be a pure menace in parking lots. Maruti gets brownie points for thinking this through. The tail-lamps get a simple cluster with an L-shaped LED that switches on when the pilot lamps are turned on. The compact SUV gets a large slab of chrome on the boot as well, with ‘Vitara Brezza’ embossing.
The design is extremely cohesive on the Brezza. Nothing looks out of place. Well, except for the wheels, maybe. In a segment where looks precede everything else, Maruti has made sure it got the basics right. The looks will definitely be a key selling point for the Brezza.
Step inside the Brezza and you do get that sense of friendly familiarity. There’s that sense of ‘I’ve been here before’, and nothing feels complex or out of place. Someone sitting in the EcoSport, for example, is instantly puzzled by the plethora of buttons on the centre console. In that sense, the Brezza is welcoming and not intimidating at all. The layout is clean and it wouldn’t take long for you to get familiar with what’s what.
The quality of materials on the inside isn’t the best. It is a notch lower than the EcoSport, but a notch higher than the TUV300. There’s plenty of hard plastics on the lower half of the dash, and a lot of part sharing from cheaper Marutis that lets the package down. For example, the power window switches are from a decade-old Swift, the steering is the same unit you find in an S-Cross, and the touchscreen infotainment system is shared with the Baleno and the Ciaz. Even smaller bits like the Start–Stop button, ORVM adjustment buttons and the reverse parking sensor buttons are shared with other models. That said, everything is strictly functional and none of these features will give you a reason to complain. Like they say, why reinvent the wheel?
The cabin of the Brezza is engulfed in a sea of black. What we particularly like is the dull silver accent that runs across the length of the dashboard. It manages to break the monotony of dull black nicely. The layout is simple and clean, with the 7" touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto being the centre piece. The screen is paired with 4 speakers and a pair of tweeters. Audio quality is at acceptable levels and most won’t feel the need for an upgrade.
The other party trick is the instrument cluster that gets mood lighting. While this feature is gimmicky, it does bring out the kid in you at times. You can select between five colours of illumination (red, orange, blue, white and yellow) for the tachometer and the speedo dials, and even control the brightness. A comprehensive MID is sandwiched between the two metres and reads out information like the time, temperature, fuel, trip distance, etc. The cluster does stand out when you compare it to the TUV’s (rather boring) monochrome display.
The steering wheel, like we said, is a straight lift from the S-Cross’ parts-bin and can be adjusted for rake. The steering is good to hold and precise to use, but more on that later. It also gets controls for controlling the volume, accepting or rejecting calls, as well as cruise control!
The driver’s seat is a nice place to be. You sit nice and high, and get a good view of the road. The seat is comfortable and provides really good levels of support. After a long drive, we had no reason to complain. Side-bolstering and cushioning are just the right amount. The height adjust has a healthy travel too – shorter drivers will have no problems finding a comfortable driving position.
We think it’s the ergonomics where the Brezza scores really high. Once on the move, you quickly realize how everything falls to hand really easily. Let’s take the example of the automatic climate control interface. The largest button on the unit is ‘Auto’ – the button that starts it up and regulates the temperature. It is little touches like this that make you feel at home in the Maruti. The aircon itself, like all Marutis, is an absolute chiller. It managed to keep the cabin at a cool 20° C on a sultry, sunny day in Pune. It’s key to note that the Brezza does not get rear AC vents. However, we believe it shouldn’t be too much of a bother. The aircon is powerful enough to cool the rear half of the cabin in a matter of minutes.
The rear bench is accommodating too, and is perched slightly higher than the front row, so you get place to slide your feet underneath the front seat. Legroom is fairly generous: two six-footers can sit back to back. The scooped-out front seats liberate that extra bit of legroom. If you are a six-footer, you will find yourself a bit too close to the roof when seated at the back. The Brezza isn’t as wide as the TUV300, as a result of which, seating three abreast is a slight problem compared to the Mahindra.
Lastly, there are plenty of storage spaces for your knick-knacks too. There are two gloveboxes (of which one is chilled), bottle holders in each door, space in the front armrest, and an under-seat tray as well. The boot is rated at 328 litres. The squarish bay and the low loading bay make it easy to throw luggage into the Brezza. The rear seats get a 60:40 split, in case you need more space for the luggage.
The Brezza’s cabin, then, is pure function, with some cool quotients thrown in. Nothing groundbreaking; nothing to complain about. It’s a simple contemporary layout that just works. That’s about it.
Engine and Performance
Powering the Brezza is the tried-and-tried (and tried and tested again and again) DDiS engine which now powers so many cars that we have lost count. Called the DDiS 200, the Fiat-sourced engine puts out 90PS @ 4000 rpm and 200Nm from 1750 rpm. Now Maruti has made sure that the oil burner performs well in the Brezza, and it does. With just about 1200 kg to haul, the Brezza feels quite nippy off the line. In-gear acceleration is also quite strong, which makes overtaking an easy affair. But fall anywhere lower than 1500 rpm and the renowned turbo lag does bog you down a bit. Other than that, the oil burner’s characteristic drone does filter into the cabin when you slot the 5-speed gearbox into lower gears.
At a 100 km/h, though, the engine is pretty silent and just ticking over at about 2100 rpm. Munching miles shouldn’t be a problem in the Brezza. But just as an option, can we also have that 1.6 litre DDiS unit, Maruti?
Ride and Handling
Any vehicle with SUV traits is expected to be comfy – thanks to the long travel suspension – and a little woozy around the corners. The Brezza is anything but that. Around town at slow speeds, the 16-inch wheels absorb almost everything well, but then the moment you are hit by ugly concrete joints and crater-like potholes, the Brezza demonstrates quite a bit of uneasiness. It feels quite stiff and the jolts do manage to filter into the cabin when the surface starts getting bad. We didn’t quite understand the reason for such a stiff set-up.
Of course, the stiffness does help at high speeds, when you are really motoring. The Brezza takes corners just like a hatchback, and is quite entertaining as well. The steering feels a tad heavy at slow speeds, but connects quite well as the speeds get higher. Also, it’s a little vague at dead centre, but nothing to complain about.
The Vitara Brezza is an applause-worthy effort from Maruti. It may not be as radical or in your face as the Ford EcoSport, but still looks funky enough to grab eyeballs. The best part is that you can customize it to suit your tastes too! It’s got plenty of features and the smart seating arrangement gives it an edge in terms of convenience as well. Thanks to the tried and tested Fiat engine, the Brezza offers decent performance and very good efficiency too.
With introductory prices starting at Rs. 6.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the base LDi variant, it is considerably cheaper than the EcoSport. In fact, even the other variants – including the top ZDi+ variant – seem to be good value. While we shall put the car to the test during the full review, Maruti can expect to have its cash registers ringing with its brand-new offering!