The best-selling compact SUV in India, the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza has been updated for 2020. In order to get past the upcoming BS6 norms, its diesel engine has been replaced with a petrol motor which offers the choice of either a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 4-speed automatic. We spent some time in the car to tell you all about it. Below is a video review in Hindi for those who would rather watch than read:
Updates are mild in terms of appearance. The fascia now features a chrome grille with a block pattern which appears to be integrated with the dual-LED headlight system. The DRLs now also act as indicators and the new bumper features a bull-bar-like insert, flanked by LED fog lights on the sides. Sideways, there’s a new pattern for the alloy wheels and at the rear, LED inserts in the taillight and a bumper with new inserts at the bottom attempt to squeeze fresh lime into the design. Overall, not much has changed and the Vitara Brezza continues with its old-school SUV-like appearance with a sprinkle of some new-age condiments.
Inside, everything else is identical to the previous-gen Vitara Brezza and the only thing new is the Smartplay Studio interface for the infotainment system. The cabin also features a split glovebox where the upper compartment is cooled, a sliding armrest for the driver which also acts as a lid for the storage box underneath and the rest is all familiar. Some would complain about the lack of rear AC vents, but as we found out, the main unit turns the cabin into a freezer in no time.
The biggest update though is the new BS6, K15 petrol engine which also powers the Ciaz and has made its way into the Brezza. It cranks out 103 Hp and 138 Nm of torque, which is sent to the front wheels via a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 4-speed torque converter. In terms of fuel economy, the petrol-powered Brezza is ARAI-rated for 17.3 kmpl for the former and 18. 7 kmpl for the latter, since it’s only the automatic variant which benefits from Maruti’s smart hybrid system. There are two new colours available – Blazing Red and Torque Blue, where top spec variants offer the choice of a black, contrasting roof. If you pick Grey and would like an Orange roof to go with it, that’s available too!
What’s It Like To Drive?
The Vitara Brezza petrol is the only one among its competitors to offer a 4-cylinder engine. All others offer a 3-pot motor. The Venue does offer the 1.2-litre petrol, but that’s down on power for comparison here. Also, the updated Brezza is the only one to offer a naturally-aspirated engine along with the Ecosport. The rest make the use of a turbocharger. What does all the above information translate into? All its competition considered, the petrol engine on the Brezza is the most refined, smooth and delivers power in a linear and user-friendly manner. Or does it?
First, let’s talk about how the engine performs when paired with the manual gearbox. The engine is tuned to deliver its goodies in the mid range and that is apparent when you make the pedal meet metal. It will go on to meet its redline, but the needle doesn’t get there in a hurried rush like it does when it measures Maruti’s K12 engine’s rotating speed. For the way the engine has been tuned though, it suits the vehicle’s character and there’s another kind of joy to be exprienced. Since there is no turbocharger, power is readily available throughout the engine’s operating range and the crisp throttle response adds to the delights of naturally-aspirated goodness. Such is the connection between the throttle and the engine, we were trying to work on our heel-n-toe skills while appraching every speed hump in Goa.
Gearthrows are smooth, the clutch is light, so is the steering, and all those traits make the petrol-powered Brezza a breeze to pilot within the city. However, out on the open road, if you accelerate hard in every gear, the engine sounds slightly thrummy and could make some feel that it needs a little dose of honey to smoothen out those vocals. During our short stint with the car, where it was idling for a long time, was driven in lower gears extensively while being shot on camera and around the narrow streets in Goa, the computer displayed 11.9 kmpl, which is also close to the number one would see while driving the petrol-powered Brezza within urban confines. If driven sensibly on the open road, that number could go up to anywhere between 14-17 kmpl.
What’s the Automatic Like?
The Vitara Brezza petrol offers the choice of an old-school, 4-speed torque converter which gets an ‘Overdrive’ button along with ‘Low’ and ‘2’ positions for the lever. Power output for the engine-gearbox combo is identical to the manual version, however, the addition of ‘Smart Hybrid’ tech improves the claimed efficiency. What do the aforementioned modes on the lever do? The overdrive function doesn’t let the gearbox shift into its tallest gear and is best used when one wishes for the car to accelerate in a brisk manner and hold its gears for longer. To give you an example, with and without Overdrive, the car cruises at 100 kmph at either 2,500 rpm or 3,500 rpm. Similarly, ‘2’ and ‘L’ lock the gearbox to only use the first two or just the first gear, when there is need for higher engine speed and more traction at low driving speeds.
The automatic gearbox is refined, smooth between shifts and pretty quick with its logic too once you know how to modulate the throttle to get the best out of it. However, it is best suited for within town driving. As long as you don’t expect it to be an ally when you try and drive the car in a spirited manner, it does its job well and concentrates on delivering convenience in a polished manner. That said, on the open road too, it lets you settle into a high-speed cruise if you are okay with getting there gently. In terms of dynamics, the petrol-powered Brezza feels more athletic than its diesel-powered version since there is less weight under the hood now. It feels well-mannered behind the wheel, the ride quality is good too and there is a sense of predictability relayed through the controls.
In conclusion, if you are after a diesel-powered compact SUV, you might have to look elsewhere since the Brezza will only be available with a petrol engine now. You might also find that the competition offers more features and more contemporary styling. However, if a petrol-powered compact SUV is on your mind, the 2020 Brezza will impress with its refined and responsive engine and no-nonsense appeal. The engine makes less power on paper compared to all other petrol motors in the segment, but the story is different in the real world. You have usable power available at all times which is delivered in an efficient, refined and crisp manner. Backing the case for the petrol-powered Brezza is Maruti Suzuki’s strong service network, the reliability of tried-n-tested components, a 4-Star Global NCAP safety rating and an affordable and stress-free post-purchase experience.