‘Unchi’ is the new ‘lambi’, or ‘tall is the new long’ – to cut to the long and ‘tall’of it, the adage refers to how sport utility vehicles have become the new vehicular aspiration in India after sedans. The cheeky one-liner was aptly coined by Maruti Suzuki’s top honchos at the new Vitara Brezza’s product presentation, where ‘Unchi’ denotes the new and fashionable high-riding vehicle, while ‘lambi’ harks back to India’s love for the boot. Today’s Indian car buying youth sees a SUV as their next vehicle of choice; as a natural progression from hatchbacks. And nothing feeds and nourishes their aspirations better than a compact SUV; more so when it is less than 4 meters long (read aggressively priced), stylish, efficient and feature laden. Then add Maruti into the mix.
In the lucrative compact SUV segment, India’s largest carmaker was conspicuous by its absence. Not anymore, because the new Vitara Brezza aims to take the segment by its horns and turn it around in Maruti’s favor. The Manesar based manufacturer is pretty bullish about their latest offering, as they’ve set an aggressive target of 2 million sales per annum by 2020 for the vehicle. Even the annual production capacity target for the compact SUV has been revised from 80,000 units to 1 lakh units. Furthermore, here are few more pointers that affirm that Maruti Suzuki has indeed thrown the kitchen sink at the new Vitara Brezza:
- The Vitara Brezza has been completely developed and designed in India, with Suzuki chipping in with the engine, transmission and platform.
- Significant investments have been incurred to concoct the compact SUV, which run to the tune of INR 860 Crores.
- The sub-4 meter long vehicle is being built with heavy localization levels of 98%.
- With introductory prices starting from INR 6.99 lakhs to 9.68 lakhs (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Brezza, which means cool wind in Italian, undercuts immediate competition (Update – Ford EcoSport prices slashed by upto INR 1.12 lakh).
- Maruti adapts to trends by offering a slew of customization options for the Vitara Brezza, along with a load of features.
- In the fuel efficiency stakes, the newest Maruti also takes top honors with a class leading figure of 24.3 km/l.
As far as appearances go, the Vitara Brezza is a smart looking vehicle, and in sync with modern day styling traits. It’s safely styled, unlike some of its quirky looking rivals, yet pleases with its contemporary detailing. However, the best part of the Vitara’s styling has to be the fact that it looks more like a scaled down, full-sized SUV, rather than a sub-4 meter long mess. And that just bought to closer to the hearts of its aspiring customers.
Straightaway, the contrasting colored roof and mirror caps strike the eye. Available only as paid option on the highest variant, this visual feature accentuates the ‘floating roof’ design, and really makes the Vitara stand out – after all, the vehicle is primarily targeted at the ‘young and fashionable’. Too bad our test car didn’t have that option, but even in plain-jane white, one of India’s most popular car color choices, the Brezza looked the part.
Facial highlights include a dual port front grille with a thick, H-shaped chrome accent, slim headlamp clusters that incorporate projector illumination and a ‘bull’s horn’ LED signature. Interestingly, the indicators are separately hosted in the bumper, above the fog lamps. The bumper hosts its own grille that’s so big that it makes the chrome trimmed original look meek. It is complimented with a faux skid plate below. The busy front bumper and the neatly styled fascia give the Viatra Brezza a healthy road presence.
There is a lot of muscle to the sides, as the generous flare of the Brezza’s slightly squared off wheel arches culminate in the high-set, not-so-strong waist line. The wheel arch flares also add some meaty visual girth, which add to the aforementioned, healthy road presence when viewed head on, or from the back. There is a hint of body cladding on the sides, wisps of it around the arches and some on the lower half of the doors. Contrast coloured in black, the pseudo cladding, along with the black side sills, renders a good visual balance to the side profile. It’s also one of those styling tricks that, along with faux skid plates, try to conjure an image of a full-sized SUV, but in case of the Brezza, it looks pretty neat.
At the back, the Vitara employs sharply styled, prominent tail lamps that have their own LED signature; emulating the bull horns from up front. Like the rest of the design, there isn’t anything radical going on at the back, yet it looks pleasing. The dual tone rear bumper with a faux skid plate exposes the entire exhaust system; some might find this peek-a-boo oddly appealing but I didn’t. Also, the chromed plaque over the registration plate recess comes off as a bit tacky, but like sex, chrome sells.
Further, Maruti will offer three accessory packages, namely Glamour, Sporty and Urban, to let buyers personalize their Vitara’s appearance inside out. The dimensions put the Vitara Brezza at 3,995 mm in length, 1,790 mm in width, 1,640 mm in height while the wheelbase stands at 2,500 mm – making it wider than the Ford EcoSport, but less tall as well. Lower variants receive steel wheels with 205 section tyres while the top-end variants feature tasty, five-spoke alloy wheels shod with 215 section tyres.
Inside, the Vitara Brezza is voluminous, spacious, and surprisingly airy in spite of the relatively small windows and an all-black color theme. However, the dashboard could have been styled with a bit more finesse (like the Baleno), and looks more functional than appealing. Dull silver and piano black inserts try to imbibe a touch of class to the dashboard, but can only do as much. However, the slew of customization options should address to that.
The large, rectangular center console hosts Maruti’s familiar SMARTPLAY system. As far as interfaces go, this is one of the best infotainment systems in the market. Everything relevant is laid out neatly on the home screen, without the need for jazzy graphics or pretentious fonts. Touch sensitivity is nice, and scrolling through the menus and sub-menus is a breeze. What’s more, it even offers Apple’s Car Play feature, and is the very first mass market car in India to do so – a good move as a hefty chunk of the vehicle’s buyers are sure to be brandishing one of late Steve Job’s brainchildren. For the rest, an Android based connectivity feature is in the works as we speak.
The fairly large display is crisp, and doubles up to show feed for the rear view camera, replete with guidelines. There’s also navigation, which worked without fail during our test run, and of course, easy smartphone connectivity via MirrorLink. Sound quality, though not a patch on, say, Tata’s HARMAN based systems, is pretty decent, with thick bass and good mid-tones. The infotainment system leaves a lot of empty spaces around it on the center console, which is a bit of an eyesore. Below the center console lie the controls for the automatic climate control, which feel nice and tactile to use, apart from lending the only premium touch to the dashboard.
The only funk in the dashboard comes in the form of the instrument cluster. It’s unique, slightly squared off dials can be illuminated in 5 different colour options. These ‘mood lights’ come in blue, white, red, pink, and yellow. While it’s not really a value added feature, it’ll add a bit of spice to the rigmarole of everyday commuting. There’s multi information display with a fairly comprehensive tripcomputer nestled between the dials, with white fonts on a black background.
Plastic quality is average, with nice, textured surfaces on the top half of the dashboard, and door trims. However, there were a few visible rough edges, meaning that there is still room for improvement in this department. When it comes to room, the Vitara Brezza is commendably spacious. The relatively voluminous insides offer generous amounts of headroom all around, especially at the back. No wonder it was designed to accommodate occupants with various (at least 18 different) Indian head gears. The familiar steering wheel feels great to hold, and visibility through the large windscreen is also commendable.
The front seats offer good under thigh and back support, but the contact patch might come across a bit narrow for the slightly heavier of build. Things are eased with the addition of a sliding, central armrest. The rear seatback is a tad upright, while the flat base offers little in terms of under thigh support. Maruti says that the flat rear seat is set up to make three adults seat abreast comfortably. The rear seat also gets a 60:40 split, and integrated arm-rest. while all the seats are swathed in fabric, leather upholstery can be chosen with the customization packs.
As far as interior storage goes, the Vitara Brezza doesn’t disappoint with twin cup holders and a spacious storage bin between the front seats. The door pockets accommodate 1-liter bottles with ease, while the cooled compartment in the dashboard promises to keep your beverages chilled. However, it only functions at its peak when the blower is on in full swing. Then there’s an adequately sized glove box with a card holder, an under seat tray below the driver’s seat, and cup holders at the back. The rear passengers also get hooks fastened to the backs of the front seats, which can be hooked up with as much as 3 kg.
The wide tailgate extends low and allows good access to the 328-litre boot, the space of which can be extended by lifting the rear seat base and folding the splotting seat backs forward to form a completely flat luggage loading space. Other comfort features on Vitara Brezza include rain sensing wipers, auto headlight, cruise control, power-folding mirrors, dead pedal, dual airbags and ABS. A driver-side airbag is standard fit even on the base variants, but buyers have the option to purchase a safety package that brings with it a passenger airbag and anti-lock brakes.
The Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza is built on Suzuki’s global C platform. The monocoque structure places its engine transversally and will be front-wheel driven only, with no provision for an all-wheel-drive system. For now, power solely comes by the familiar, turbocharged, 1.3-liter, Fiat sourced diesel engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. The DDiS 200, as it is called, produces 89 hp at 4000 rpm and 200 Nm of torque at 1750 rpm. The very same engine, in a similar state of tune already powers the Ertiga, the Ciaz and the S-Cross. However, in case of the Brezza, the engine delivers a class-leading 24.3 km/l (ARAI certified).
Performance isn’t the strongest, but the engine provides great tractability. As expected, there’s turbo lag in the lower reaches of the power band, and only after 2,000 rpm, there’s considerable shove. That said, in spite of the lag, the Vitara Brezza will comfortably chug along at crawling speeds in second gear without exercising your feet too much when the traffic gets thick. In these conditions the engine barely feels out of breath, and, along with the super light steering rack and clutch action, makes urban maneuverability one of the many positive traits of the Vitara Brezza. Do not expect much in terms of feedback from the steering though, and the lifelessness can be accredited to the non-hydraulic rack. The slick shifting gearbox is a joy to row though.
On the highway, the engine holds its own too, with a relatively wide power band allowing for good overtaking poke. It isn’t a particularly quick vehicle (0-100 km/h takes well over 13 seconds), and is best enjoyed at cruising speeds interspaced with a small bouts of playfulness when needed. At the ton mark, the engine is lazily ticking at 2,200 clicks or thereabouts. For a diesel engine, the DDiS 200 revs remarkably fast and high – it is capped at well beyond 5,500 rpm, and in lower gears, reaches those engine speeds quicker than you expected it to be. Noise, vibration and harshness are well controlled at moderate speeds and idle, with very little wind or road noise filtering through. However, that engine tends to make quite the racket when pushed really hard. Straight line stability leaves nothing to be desired, as the Vitara Brezza stayed rock solid at speeds upwards of 150 km/h.
The Vitara Brezza tips the scales at 1680 kg (gross), and rides on a traditional suspension setup, with McPherson struts/coil springs up front and a torsion beam/coil springs at the rear. Ride quality turned out to be a little firmer than expected, and though it flattened rough patches well, some of the bigger thuds and jolts manged to filter into the cabin. The rear end also acted a little choppy and skittish, especially when going over the most brutal expansion joints at close to three digit speeds. Maruti says that it could be due to the wrong tire pressures in our test car, but only a full road test can attest to that. Braking left no room for complaint, with the ventilated discs up front and drums at the rear, in assistance with ABS and EBD allowing for great stopping power. Also, a ground clearance of 198 mm means that the compact SUV handles moderately rough terrain (read Indian roads) with aplomb.
In terms of structural safety, the Brezza is already certified for offset and side impact norms that come into effect in India in 2017.
The Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza is a well-rounded product which ticks all the right boxes for its intended clientele. With the right blend of unassuming, yet contemporary looks; spacious, feature-rich interiors, and an efficient diesel engine with good tractability, the Brezza is indeed the cool wind that blows in the face of young hatchback owners looking for a natural upgrade. The various customization options add a dash of funk and individuality that today’s youth crave for. It isn’t going to convince the enthusiasts out there, but its work is to cater to a more massive, bustling audience. Add Maruti’s sprawling dealer network in the mix and here’s another sure shot winner from India’s largest carmaker. However, the biggest Achilles heel of the package has to be the ride quality, which is noticeably firmer than some of its plush riding rivals, including some hatchbacks. Lest that deters you, we might add the the Vitara Brezza has already amassed 5,600 bookings, not even a week into its launch.
Check out the new Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza in detail in our exhaustive image gallery: