Utter the name ‘Maruti Suzuki’, and the first image that comes to the mind of most Indians is of a reliable and famous small car manufacturing company, that is known for producing cost effective and fuel efficient cars. But off late, Maruti Suzuki is trying to shed its image of a budget car manufacturer, by expanding its portfolio and providing products around the 10 lakh price bracket. The Ciaz was an attempt in-line with these efforts to produce more premium cars, as was the highly debated decision of opening specialized premium NEXA outlets across the country.
And with Indian customer preferences shifting towards the crossover segment, it was high time that the country’s biggest car manufacturer launches its contender in the battle. Hence, the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza was launched on the 8th of March 2016, thus making Maruti’s debut in the sufficiently crowded sub-4m SUV segment.
The Brezza isn’t the first time that Maruti has ventured into the SUV segment. The Japanese car maker launched the Grand Vitara almost a decade ago, though it could not make its presence felt in the market. Therefore, the Brezza carries huge responsibilities of establishing Maruti’s presence in the SUV segment, while competing with established head-on competitors.
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As mentioned above, the Vitara Brezza has been slotted in the highly competitive sub-4m segment, and the most important aspect of being a successful contender in the compact SUV market is a proportional design. The design team in-charge of developing the Brezza had to stick to a maximum length of under 4m, while making the car look as massive as possible. And this is exactly what has been done.
The Vitara Brezza looks like no other Maruti car currently on offer
When viewed head-on, the Maruti Vitara Brezza looks no less than a perfect full-sized SUV. A high bonnet line ensures that the Brezza adorns an SUV-ish stance, while the chrome grille gives it a premium appeal. This H-shaped grille is surrounded by U-shaped black inserts that further enliven the Vitara’s face, while a sculpted air dam and faux skid plate on the front bumper add to the Brezza’s rugged appeal. A pair of simply-styled headlamps completes the face, and come with projector units and LED Daytime Running Lamps (DRLs) on the top-end ZDi trim.
Move to the side, and design of the Vitara Brezza doesn’t stop to amaze you. Maruti designers have done a commendable job of fabricating this compact SUV while keeping the length under 4 meters, though ensuring that the car doesn’t look disproportionate. As a result, the high placed bonnet ends up earlier, so that the cabin area is optimized for space. Another important design element visible from the side is the floating roof effect that the manufacturer is trying to pull off by blackening the A, B and C pillars. The top-end trim can be opted with a dual-tone option, which makes the roof painted in a contrasting shade. The wheel arches have been squared, and house high-profile 16-inch tyres. Though the overall design flow is smooth, there are a few part sharing visibilities, including the ORVMs and door handles that have been borrowed from the Swift, DZire, and Ertiga.
The rear is the Brezza’s best angle to look at. The clutter free arrangement of the boot lid manages to impart a wide-appealing look to the tail, while split-section taillights look inspired from the Hyundai Creta. Boot lid also houses a large number plate housing, above which a broad chrome plate houses the Vitara Brezza branding. Other design cues worth noting include matte black finish on the rear bumper, a faux silver-colored skid plate, and a well-integrated roof spoiler.
Overall, the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza is a product that has been designed to appeal and please a wide spectrum of customers, and object none.
Owing to its relatively high roof-line, ingress and egress is an ease with the Vitara Brezza. Moreover, the doors open wide so that there is ample room for occupants to board the vehicle. Elderly people might find the rear to be a bit difficult to get into, as there are no specific points that they can hold while getting aboard.
The cabin is a nice place to be in, but don’t expect it to be luxurious
Once in, you will like the way the cabin has been laid out, keeping practicality and looks on the same priority. The all-black dashboard has been given apt inserts of silver and piano black elements that do a fair job of livening the cabin’s ambience. It takes just one look to know that you are inside a Maruti Suzuki car, as the Brezza gets the same steering, power window buttons, and indicator stalks that come with the Swift, DZire, and Baleno. But the dashboard structure and all-new instrument cluster with squared twin-pods ensure that the cabin has its own character. The centre stage continues to be occupied by a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, similar to the one found in the new Baleno. This system is compatible with navigational support and rear parking camera, and also features advanced connectivity options like Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay. The automatic climate control system placed below this infotainment screen completes the dashboard layout.
Comfort too has been optimized in the Vitara Brezza, as the seats get adequate padding, and offer decent lateral and lumbar support, though taller occupants might feel the under-thigh support to be a bit lacking. Front passengers get an armrest that has been sized ergonomically to provide enough support during long highway journeys. Moving to the rear, headroom and legroom too are something none can complain about. There are a few nice touches here that further enhance the Brezza’s utility, including a nifty tow hook at the back of the driver seat, and a rear armrest that houses twin cup holders. Owing to a wide cabin, flat rear bench, and minimum floor hump, three sitting abreast at the rear won’t be a squeeze, though it still isn’t as comfortable as the TUV300.
Boot space is also slightly lower than the TUV, and is scaled at 328 litres. But a simple procedure can split the rear seat in a 60:40 ratio, in order to optimize passenger and luggage space according to customer usage requirements.
Off late, the drivetrain segment of every Maruti Suzuki car review has become reminiscent. And this is one factor that hasn’t been changed in the manufacturer’s latest offering – the Vitara Brezza. Available just in the diesel option, this Maruti SUV is powered by the famous 1.3-litre unit that is now popularly referred to as the national engine of the country. This is the same engine that powers the Swift, DZire, Ritz, Ertiga, Baleno and Ciaz. But under the Vitara’s hood, this diesel mill is tuned in the DDiS 200 state similar to the Ciaz and Ertiga, meaning that it develops 89 hp of power and a peak torque of 200 Nm.
This engine is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox that transmits power to the front wheels. We seriously believe that Maruti here has lost an opportunity to introduce the first all-wheel drive system in a compact SUV. Even if available as an option, the AWD system would have added one more USP to the Brezza’s bucket. Fuel efficiency too is decently rated at 24.3 kmpl, thus making it the most fuel efficient compact SUV in its segment.
Though Maruti had earlier claimed that the reason behind their decision to launch just the diesel trim lies in the fact that customer preferences in this segment are inclined towards diesel, sources close to the company are speculating that a 1.0-litre Boosterjet petrol engine might debut in the Vitara Brezza around Diwali 2016.
Maruti has been focusing on safety parameters of all its new launches, and the Brezza isn’t an exception in this regard. A driver airbag is standard across all variants, while the optional variant also adds a passenger airbag. And as we move up the variant ladder, various other safety tech become available, like parking sensors in VDi and above, rear parking camera in the ZDi+, and ABS and EBD in both Z-trims. Moreover, the car is fitted with an engine immobilizer that avoids any theft attempt.
|ZDi Plus Dual Tone||9,68,000|
The product which changed the face of Indian compact SUV segment is the Ford EcoSport. It is also the current market leader, and thus the biggest threat to the Maruti Vitara Brezza. The EcoSport is powered by a larger 1.5-litre diesel engine that exhales 90 hp of power, and 204 Nm of torque. As a result, despite having a much larger engine, the EcoSport’s power outputs are in the Brezza’s territory. Moreover, after the Vitara’s launch, Ford slashed prices of the EcoSport by around 1 lakh, and thus this compact SUV now starts at 7.5 lakhs.
Mahindra recently introduced its latest offering in the compact SUV segment, christened as the TUV 300. Being an abbreviation of Tough Utility Vehicle, the TUV is claimed to be designed, built, and produced after taking inspiration from a tank. As a result, its wide profile, high bonnet, and chunky wheel arches impart enhanced road presence to the TUV. And this visually enhanced package is further sweetened by the presence of a highly potent 1.5-litre engine, developing 84 hp of power and 230 Nm of torque. The TUV can thus be a huge threat to the Brezza, especially due to its mouth watering starting price tag of 7.4 lakhs.
Being a combination of butch looks, comfortable interiors, and a feature laden package, the new Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza indeed is one of the biggest launches of the year. And with Maruti’s trusted image and wide dealership presence, this new Compact SUV is undoubtedly a contender of the throne of leader of the segment. Though a few limitations like inferior interior quality and a smaller engine do stick out a like a sore thumb, it will be overshadowed by a much larger list of strengths.