Translated from Italian into English, “Vitara Brezza” literally means “fresh breeze”. When this brand-new compact SUV was first shown by India’s largest passenger car-makers, Maruti Suzuki, at the Auto Expo earlier this year, the vehicle quickly attracted attention. After all, this was the first time that Maruti had showcased a sub-four-metre compact SUV, which automatically implies easy affordability. To be honest, the new vehicle did have visual presence. However, as we all know, it is one thing to get attention and quite another to hold it.
A drive from Pune to Lavasa helped us find out if the Vitara Brezza has what it takes. From a distance, it actually looks larger than it really is. It is a tall vehicle, but naturally, given its urban SUV DNA. It is also fairly muscular, which further endows it with road presence.
The tried and tested 1248cc DDiS engine is a frugal performer
The inside story isn’t too bad either. The quality of plastics has been upped and, by and large, there is a relatively premium feel to the cabin. Apart from the improved quality, the other thing going in favour of the Vitara Brezza is space. There is sufficient head-, shoulder- and knee-room all around, be it at the front or at the rear. Boot space too, at 328 litres, is quite big for a vehicle of this size.
Under the stout bonnet of the brand-new Vitara Brezza lies Maruti’s tried and tested 1,248-cc DDiS 200 engine with 90 PS and 200 Nm, which is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. What is not on offer, however, is a petrol engine option for customers, who do not want to put their money on an oil-burner.
At 328 litres, there is plenty of cargo space in this compact SUV
Thumb the engine’s Start/Stop button on the right side of the steering wheel and the motor comes to life audibly. The engine, however, doesn’t feel like a refined unit. Give the throttle a push and the feeling is accentuated further. Slot it into gear and you realise that the five-speed box is a fairly slick shifting unit with short throws, much like the Swift.
But, unlike the Swift, which tickled the senses with a dose of excitement, the Vitara Brezza comes across as a more sedate and sober car. The DDiS 200 does the job of getting you from here to there, but we couldn’t feel the spunk that used to characterise the same engine under the Swift’s bonnet.
On the handling front, the Vitara Brezza is decently capable and holds its line when you throw it into a corner. There is enough body-roll while going round a tight bend at some speed to keep you aware of the car’s tall SUV-ish stance, but nothing alarming. The steering, though light to use, could do with some more feedback.
It is the ride quality department, where the Vitara Brezza actually excels. Its suspension is well-tuned to soak in everything that its adversary, the road, will throw its way. Bumps, ruts, potholes — pretty much everything is absorbed and kept away from the occupant’s posterior. In a move that is uncharacteristic for a Maruti Suzuki product, you barely even hear the thud of the suspension working as you go over rough patches. Hit the brakes and the car comes to a halt without drama. There is sufficient bite to help you shed speed and just enough feel of progression to keep you informed about how much more pressure you can apply on the pedal without ABS having to intrude.
Overall, Maruti Suzuki has a decent product with a lot of things going for it. The Vitara Brezza looks good and catches the eye. Its interior is spacious and comfortable and that is without sacrificing boot space in this sub-four-metre platform. The engine is a tried and tested one, which may not be the most exciting unit out there, but we know it will be high on efficiency. And we all know what the Indian customer chooses when you offer a choice between excitement and efficiency.
It has excellent ride quality too. Handling characteristics could definitely improve, but then the issue isn’t big enough to write off the vehicle entirely from the consideration set. Now, when you put all of this into one neat package and add things like the Maruti Suzuki brand name, the ease of access to service (the Vitara Brezza will be sold through regular Maruti showrooms and not Nexa) etc, this vehicle does seem like a winning proposition at less than R9,86,885, ex-showroom in Pune.
Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza DdiS
Engine Type: 1,248 cc, four-cylinder, turbocharged, common rail diesel injection
Max Power: 90 PS @ 4,000 rpm
Max Torque: 200 Nm @ 1,750 rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Price: Rs 9,86,885 (Ex-showroom, Pune)