• Vertical and upright stance, high ground clearance lend t...
    Vertical and upright stance, high ground clearance lend the Brezza its SUV credentials.
  • Dashboard design is devoid of design flair,is functional ...
    Dashboard design is devoid of design flair,is functional and build quality is average.
  • Front seats are comfortable but a touch too soft to be su...
    Front seats are comfortable but a touch too soft to be supportive on long drives.
  • Adequate legroom and plenty of headroom; no rear AC vents...
    Adequate legroom and plenty of headroom; no rear AC vents though.
  • ‘Squarical’ dials get mood lighting in five colour option...
    ‘Squarical’ dials get mood lighting in five colour options. MID not as comprehensive as in Baleno.
  • ZDi+ trim Brezza has a very handy dual glovebox set-up, w...
    ZDi+ trim Brezza has a very handy dual glovebox set-up, with the upper unit being cooled.
  • Boot is small at 328 litres but is well shaped and with a...
    Boot is small at 328 litres but is well shaped and with a wide-opening hatch.
  • Thick chrome bar with the Suzuki logo dominates the front...
    Thick chrome bar with the Suzuki logo dominates the front grille.
  • The LED front running lights are meant to resemble a bull...
    The LED front running lights are meant to resemble a bull’s horns.
  • Brezza tail-lights resemble those of its sibling, the S-c...
    Brezza tail-lights resemble those of its sibling, the S-cross.
  • Dual-tone paint scheme lifts up an otherwise straightforw...
    Dual-tone paint scheme lifts up an otherwise straightforward design.
  • Large, squared-off wheel arches easily swallow 215 sectio...
    Large, squared-off wheel arches easily swallow 215 section tyres.
1 / 0
Rating 8 8

Maruti Vitara Brezza review, road test

2nd Jun 2016 7:00 am

Diesel, compact SUV, Maruti. The ingredients are all there but do they make for the perfect recipe? We find out.

  • Make : Maruti Suzuki
  • Model : Vitara Brezza

On the Beaufort Scale, a 0 to 12 measurement of wind speed, a breeze which is ranked a gentle 2-6 seems an inappropriate suffix for the Maruti Vitara ‘Brezza’ (breeze in Italian). Given the way the Vitara Brezza is flying out of showrooms, it appears that Maruti’s first sub-four-metre-long, compact SUV is more like a force 10 gale. Within two months of its launch, Maruti has sold over 13,000 units, catapulting it to the top of the SUV sales charts. What’s even more impressive is that the Brezza has achieved this with just one engine and gearbox option – the ubiquitous 1.3 diesel mated to a standard five-speed gearbox. We’ve finally put Maruti’s hot-seller through a thorough road test to see if it warrants all the attention. 

As mentioned earlier, the Brezza is currently offered with only one engine and gearbox combination. The familiar, Fiat-sourced DDiS200 engine makes 90hp and 200Nm of torque that has powered a wide range of cars and earned notoriety for its noticeable turbo-lag at low revs. On the Brezza, however, the turbo-lag isn’t as pronounced but you still need to cross 2,000rpm for the engine to properly wake up. Beyond that mark, there is a good surge of power all the way to about 5,000rpm, just shy of the redline of 5,300rpm which is quite high for a diesel. With this, the Brezza is very comfortable cruising on highways and overtaking is quite easy, even with a full load. When it comes to acceleration, the Brezza is quite quick and does the 0 to 100 kph in 12.96 seconds; that’s faster than the 1.5-litre Ford EcoSport diesel which takes 13.67 seconds.

In-gear too, the Brezza is the faster car with a 20-80kph in third gear time of 11.77 seconds but only by the tiniest of margins, with the Ford clocking 11.97 seconds. Extracting performance though does send the drone of the diesel motor right though the cabin but drive in a relaxed manner and the engine, road and wind noise, though present, are at an acceptable level. The overall gearing is on the shorter side and cruising at 100kph in fifth gear, the engine is turning over at a fairly busy 2,500rpm but it’s not that busy as to warrant a sixth gear. The gearbox shifts lack crispness but the clutch is light and with a good progression, making driving in start-stop traffic easy.

The top-spec Brezza comes with Maruti’s familiar SmartPlay and with MirrorLink and Apple CarPlay for smartphone connectivity. Android Auto is slated to come soon. Further connectivity options include Bluetooth for calls and audio, USB, aux-in and SD card. The navigation maps are pre-loaded on an SD card. The reverse camera displays on the touchscreen that also plays movie files when stationary. Controls like power, volume, etc, are touch-enabled, which isn’t ideal for a car, but there are the steering controls and voice commands to use. Overall, the system is very comprehensive and regarding the sound quality, it is pretty decent with the speaker set-up provided.

The Vitara Brezza has been a stunning success for Maruti and it's not hard to understand why. It's a brilliantly conceived product that best suits the tastes of a typical Indian car buyer and is undoubtedly impressive in many areas. However, there are a few things we would have liked better. The design, for instance, lacks flair and it's only the top-end cars with dual-tone paint schemes that liven things up. The Brezza is also not particularly exciting to drive and the build isn't rock solid either with Maruti's built-to-a-cost approach quite evident in many places. However, you can't miss the Maruti strengths either. The Brezza is practical, efficient, value for money and will, no doubt, be reliable too. It may lack the character of some of its rivals but for the price, the Brezza's well-balanced attributes makes this car a one-size-fits-all option that's hard to beat. 

Maruti has played safe with the Vitara Brezza’s design by giving it very straightforward and conservative proportions. There are more straight lines than swooping curves and the overall shape even borders on being boxy. To pack in as much space as possible within a sub-four-metre length, the design had to be more functional than stylish. It’s unmistakably an SUV too, sitting on 16-inch rims housed in large, squared-off wheel arches and with a 198mm ground clearance.

What grabs your attention are the details and there are lots of interesting elements on the Brezza. What makes it stand out is the combination of colours of the dual-tone paint scheme which also gives a floating roof effect. In fact, if you take the blackened pillars, there are three colours at play! It’s not easy executing a dual-tone paint job on a mass scale because the car requires two passes in the paint shop and has to properly masked.

Other interesting design elements include the squared-off wheel arches, bull-horn styled LED front running lights (there are no bi-xenons like on the Baleno), rear light guides and a thick chrome bar that dominates the grille. There is also a scuff plate for the front and rear bumpers and cladding on the lower edges of the doors. The thick chrome strip above the rear number plate with ‘Vitara Brezza’ embossed looks quite loud but it’s something many owners will like. On the whole, the Brezza’s styling isn’t flamboyant but interesting enough to appeal to a wide range of buyers, which was, no doubt, the intention of Maruti designers.

The Vitara Brezza is the first Suzuki that’s been conceived in India with a lot of inputs from Maruti engineers but it’s based on Suzuki’s global C-platform that also underpins the European Suzuki Vitara. This platform, with its 2,500mm-long wheelbase, was chosen as it was the best starting point for packaging a spacious, grounds-up SUV. Also carried over is the packaging for four-wheel-drive which is an option in the European market but in India, the Vitara Brezza is likely to remain a strictly front-wheel-drive car only. One benefit of using a global platform is that it brings a certain level of crashworthiness, which explains its not so light 1,195kg (for the top variant) weight. Maruti claims that the Brezza will meet the Indian offset and side impact crash tests that come into effect from 2017.

If you think the straightforward approach of the exterior is too boring, then the interiors will perhaps disappoint you further. The dashboard design is quite ordinary and devoid of any design flair. The only thing of interest is the neat ‘squarical’ (Maruti’s term for the squarish-circular dials) shaped dials with backlighting that can change colours. There are five mood lighting colour options – yellow, orange, blue red and white and some of these shades closely match the Brezza’s corresponding exterior colour which is quite cool. Elsewhere in the cabin, if you’ve previously owned Marutis, you’ll find many familiar bits – the steering wheel, gear lever, power window switches and Maruti’s SmartPlay infotainment unit , all doing duty in the Brezza. While all this parts sharing may be great for saving costs, it robs the Brezza of a bit of the uniqueness.

The built-to-a-cost approach is also evident in other areas like the gear lever plastic shroud that is cheap and has a sharp inner edge. The vanity light also does not come on automatically when you flip up the vanity mirror flap and a major irritant is the boot light that also has to be manually switched on, which is quite annoying if you have to grope for the light in darkness with your hands occupied. The rear parcel shelf mounting too is a simple peg in a hole that, at times, pops out and causes the shelf to rattle over bumps. 

Maruti has wisely spent money on a woven roof lining and plush seat fabrics which look quite premium and seriously helps lift the interiors. Plastic quality is a bit patchy though – the door pads and bins don’t feel so good to touch. But the upper bit of the dashboard is nicely textured.
The Brezza wins points for the equipment on offer. The car has six variants though it’s only the top-end ZDi+ that gets all the goodies including the SmartPlay touchscreen infotainment unit. The system supports Apple CarPlay and Mirror Link, while Android compatibility Maruti tells us is on its way. The top-spec also gets keyless entry, push-button start, cruise control, auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers, power folding mirrors, reverse camera, and dual airbags and ABS. A driver-side airbag is standard fit on the base LDi and VDi models, but buyers have the option to purchase a safety package that offers passenger-side airbag and anti-lock brakes. Other equipment is also offered at various trim levels like dual gloveboxes with the upper one cooled, electrically adjustable ORVMs, tilt steering and a height-adjustable driver’s seat.

The seats of the Brezza are well-shaped but a touch too soft in the lower back area, which could get uncomfortable on really long drives. The driving position is good despite the steering adjusting only for rake and not reach but rearward visibility is quite compromised because of the thick C-pillar. Hence, the rear-view camera (only on the ZDi+) and parking sensors (on the VDi upwards), do come in handy.

The space inside though, is surprisingly good for a compact SUV and Maruti engineers must be applauded for arriving at a finely judged balance between luggage and passenger space. It’s the latter that has been give priority and this can be seen in back seat space which is sufficient for three. There’s adequate legroom and plenty of headroom for most average-sized adults and the generous width makes sitting three abreast fairly comfortable – you don’t have to overlap shoulders. There is also a flip-down armrest with integrated cupholders and a neat little hook in the back of the driver’s seat for a small shopping or handbag. The door pockets are quite generous and can all hold 1-litre bottles. Other storage areas include a front centre sliding armrest with a storage area, a co-driver side under seat tray, and an overhead sunglasses holder. The boot is well-shaped and reasonably large but at 328 litres, loading very large, oversized suitcases will be a challenge. If more carrying space is what you need, the boot can also
be extended into a very handy full flat floor by lifting the rear seat base and folding down the 60:40 split seat backs.

Handling suspension duties is the pretty standard set-up of MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear, the ground clearance is rather generous and taking rough roads or even the occasional off-road track is never a worry. What’s nice is that the ride is firm and well composed which is primarily due to a stiffer, almost European-like suspension set-up. However, this impacts the ride quality which can be jittery over rutted surfaces. Also, at high speeds, on an uneven surface, there’s a fair bit of body movement with a slight tendency to pitch at the rear. Push through corners enthusiastically and there is some amount of roll. However, given a steering that is a bit numb, punting through corners is not something that the Brezza will encourage you to do. The Brezza comes with two tyre sizes – 205/60 R16 and larger 215/60 R16 on the Z trim cars. Our car had Apollo tyres which do perform quite well at soaking up bumps and providing decent road grip. 

It’s a Maruti and using the efficient, Fiat-sourced diesel, good fuel economy is what you would expect and the Vitara Brezza does deliver. The ARAI figure, at 24.3kpl, is the highest in its segment by a decent margin, (the Ford EcoSport has a figure of 22.27kpl). Even in our tests, the Brezza delivered good efficiency of 15.32kpl in the city and 18.11kpl on the highway, with the city efficiency figure well ahead of its rival, the EcoSport which gets 13.3 in the city and 18.6 on the highway. No doubt, the lower kerb weight of the Brezza played its part in the efficiency numbers.

The top-spec Brezza comes with Maruti’s familiar SmartPlay and with MirrorLink and Apple CarPlay for smartphone connectivity. Android Auto is slated to come soon. Further connectivity options include Bluetooth for calls and audio, USB, aux-in and SD card. The navigation maps are pre-loaded on an SD card. The reverse camera displays on the touchscreen that also plays movie files when stationary. Controls like power, volume, etc, are touch-enabled, which isn’t ideal for a car, but there are the steering controls and voice commands to use. Overall, the system is very comprehensive and regarding the sound quality, it is pretty decent with the speaker set-up provided.

The Vitara Brezza has been a stunning success for Maruti and it's not hard to understand why. It's a brilliantly conceived product that best suits the tastes of a typical Indian car buyer and is undoubtedly impressive in many areas. However, there are a few things we would have liked better. The design, for instance, lacks flair and it's only the top-end cars with dual-tone paint schemes that liven things up. The Brezza is also not particularly exciting to drive and the build isn't rock solid either with Maruti's built-to-a-cost approach quite evident in many places. However, you can't miss the Maruti strengths either. The Brezza is practical, efficient, value for money and will, no doubt, be reliable too. It may lack the character of some of its rivals but for the price, the Brezza's well-balanced attributes makes this car a one-size-fits-all option that's hard to beat. 

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