The Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza has been, quite undoubtedly, the most anticipated new product in the automotive industry of late. It was showcased at the Auto Expo in February and received extremely good response from show-goers. Maruti launched the Vitara Brezza on 8th March and had clocked in more than 5,600 bookings in less than three days, according to the company executives. So, the writing’s already on the wall, I guess — in big, bold letters!
The Vitara Brezza is based on Suzuki's global C platform. Sure, the 198mm worth of ground clearance is plenty good flaunt value, and allows it to qualify as a compact SUV in people’s books and marketing talks, but its attributes are more suited for a hatch — as is the case with most vehicles in the sub-4-metre segment.
While the Vitara Brezza manages to look quite attractive from the front with some unique design elements, the rear is about average, at best. However, overall, it does manage to look balanced and well-proportioned for a sub-4-metre vehicle. The contrast-roof adds funkiness to it, but the window-line and the sharp roofline give it an element of familiarity to the Swift.
The all-black interior is a good departure from the abundance of beige that we’ve got used to seeing every so often in cars of all sizes, shapes, and applications. While some may argue that it makes the cabin look smaller than what it really is, its still just a perception, and the little silver inserts subtly add some energy to the dark and simple expanse of black inside.
Some plastic bits surely felt slightly low-rent — like the top portion of the dashboard and the door pads felt like they could've been made more robust. Otherwise, the cabin feels well put-together and the frame running down the centre console and the lower-half of the dashboard is made of good, hard plastic. The storage spaces are acceptable, too; there are large bottle holders in all the door pockets, and the Brezza also gets cooled glove compartment in its ZDI trim.
The driving position is appreciable — gear lever falls intuitively to hand, and the clutch pedal travel is also optimal and it doesn't feel like you have to stretch your leg unnecessarily to get to the bite point. It is still somewhat of a compromise though and adding telescopically adjustable steering would’ve further enhanced adjustability and allowed for better driving position. The front seats offer good overall support, and the contours are brilliant for average-sized people. Those fatigued with larger frames will find the under-thigh support slightly lacking, however.
The rear seats disappoint. The seat back is quite flat, and the base is designed in a way that it offers little under-thigh support for even moderately sized individuals. Plus, it’s a bit of a challenge for two 6-footers to be seated one behind the other. The transmission tunnel spoils the case further for the Vitara Brezza — it really doesn't encourage three to be seated at the back for long distances, or, as is the case in most urban cities owing to traffic congestion, long duration commutes.
The boot space is ample for a car of its size. It is designed such that it wraps around the suspension mounts quite well and the protrusions aren't massive. The loading lip, too, is quite low. The rear is a 60/40 split, and the seats fold fully flat, adding copiously to the its utility quotient.
The Vitara Brezza exhibits driving characteristics quite like a sorted hatchback. The steering feels a bit numb off centre, but it gets better when you work it around bends. It’s always quite direct and gives moderate amounts of feel too, but it would’ve been a much nicer unit if it got slightly progressively heavier with speed. In city traffic though, which will be where this car is expected to spend most of its time, there will not be much to complain about. The size of the steering wheel itself is also quite nice — not as great as, say, the Tata Tiago’s, but it’s a well done steering wheel no less, and feels good to hold. The gear shifter is shaped well and grips nicely in the hand. It feels well-oiled through the cogs even when working the gate rapidly.
Maruti engineers worked extensively on the monocoque structure of the Vitara Brezza. The chassis feels taut and even indulges you in getting naughty with it sometimes. Unless the car is pushed beyond its comfortable limits, it’s not really going to show any signs of distress. The car we drove was fitted with wider (215 section) 16-inch tyres than the 205-section R16s on the lower trims, so the handling and grip level may slightly differ on the Ldi and Vdi variants. The ride quality is slightly on the stiffer side which serves well at three-digit speeds, but push the limits of compression and it does tend to hop a little. The stiffer setup working on pothole-infested city roads isn't as polite at consuming bumps as one would like — it isn't exactly cottony, but to be fair to the car, it’s not uncomfortable either. It fidgets just enough to tell you every time when drive over an undulation, and that can get a bit annoying at times.
The Vitara Brezza shares the 1.3-litre multi-jet diesel engine that works in the Ciaz and S-Cross as well. The 89bhp, 200Nm unit does an appreciable job of moving a vehicle which weighs just shy of 1,200 kilograms. The mid-range is especially strong, and at lower revs, it’s only under 1,800rpm that you feel the urge to shift a gear lower to get some momentum going. But this trusty Fiat-sourced engine is now beginning to show its age. It’s a workhorse, but get needle north of 120Km/h and the engine feels stressed and makes a gruff noise all the way to its theoretical top speed.
The Vitara Brezza had created an immense amount of buzz and it delivered a hammer blow with its ‘introductory’ pricing. The base variant starts at 6.99 lakh while the top trim with contrast roof option would retail for 9.68 lakh ex-showroom, Delhi. Driver-side airbag comes as standard, while there’s an option to upgrade to passenger-side airbag and ABS-EBD with every trim level. There’re all other fashion items on the list — rain sensing wipers, reverse-parking camera, projector headlamp, Apple CarPlay, navigation, and music playback through all kinds of systems, from Bluetooth streaming, to USB. Heck, it’s even got cruise control! It’s a well-packaged, well-rounded vehicle with no acutely deterring facets and fits the bill to the T for nuclear families. The only issue is, Ford, as a corrective measure, and a reaction to Vitara Brezza’s aggressive pricing, just yesterday, announced a dramatic price slash for its EcoSport — the diesel model, which is comparable to diesel-only Vitara Brezza, now retails between 7.29 lakh to 9.75 lakh ex-Delhi, which achingly close to the fresh new Maruti here.