2020 Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza petrol first drive review
The Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza was introduced in March 2016 and became an instant success. In fact within just four years of its launch, it crossed the 5 lakh unit sales mark; a remarkable achievement that made it India's highest selling SUV.
The face lifted version of this best-selling SUV was shown at the recent Auto Expo in February, with the biggest change being under its bonnet. Yes, for the first time since its introduction, the Brezza is now only available with a 1.5-litre petrol engine that is BS6 compliant.
The facelift done by Maruti Suzuki on the sub-4 metre compact Vitara Brezza is a minor one. The proportions of the Brezza, profile and stance have always been appreciated and it retains all its strong design attributes while adorning some new jewellery. The cosmetic changes include a new front bumper with larger air dam cutouts and a prominent faux bull-bar. The details on the grille and in the headlamps have changed too, and now form one continuous element with the grille being somewhat more in your face.
The front bull bar integrated into the bumper and faux skid plates add a bit to the ruggedness of the new Vitara Brezza and the grille that merges with the headlamps flanking it emphasize the width. The new projector headlamps come with smart looking dual function LED DRLs that also function as turn indicators. The taillamps also have new LED detailing and the Vitara Brezza also comes with a new set of alloy wheels, three new dual tone color options and a new Autumn Orange roof colour option as well.
There are also minor changes in the interior like a leather wrapped steering wheel, Maruti's Smart Play Studio infotainment, auto-dim IRVM (inside rearview mirror), auto folding OVRMs and features like automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, cooled glovebox, etc. Maruti are also offering lots of cosmetic accessories with two themes- sporty and urban.
Like before the cabin is spacious with the space management and design being very good. But honestly, Maruti should have done a bit more to the interior as its beginning to look all too familiar now, and the addition of a sunroof or rear AC vents would've at least helped in that regard.
Engine & Transmission
The biggest change in the new face lifted Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza is under the bonnet. It is now driven by Maruti's K15B 1.5 litre BS6 compliant petrol power plant, which makes 105PS and 138Nm of torque. It comes mated with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic (with torque converter) transmission. Interestingly, only the automatic variants come with Maruti's mild-hybrid system with start stop, which helps enhance fuel economy. The automatic has a hill hold feature too. The claimed fuel efficiency of the manual is17.03 kmpl and AT (automatic with Maruti's smart hybrid) 18.76 kmpl. This same engine also does duty in other Maruti vehicles like the Ertiga XL6 and Ciaz and as BS6 is mandatory from 1st April, it will also be seen in some other Maruti products.
The Brezza's petrol engine is fairly refined and willing. The delivery of power is quite linear too, but to make any sort of rapid progress, you have to push hard and get the engine higher into its rev range. While the engine is eager to rev, it does get a bit vocal beyond 5,000 rpm. The manual gearbox has a light and fairly precise gear shifter and is easy to use. The 4-speed automatic is not the fastest or most seamless of auto transmissions. There is a little lag between shifts and the transmission also makes you aware of the changing of gears.
Interestingly, the 4-speed auto has an L (low) and 2 (second) gear selector slot apart from the regular D (drive). So in case you are going up a steep slope or driving in the hills, you can select either L to lock the transmission in 1st gear or opt for 2 to keep it in 2nd gear. Being a 4-speed auto, the gears have tall or wide ratios and if you lock it in L, you can reach up to 65kmph in 1st and in the 2 position you can touch about 110 kmph before the engine rev limiter kicks in. But an indicator light beside the shifter is missing, and you have to look at the display in the dash in case you want to reconfirm what slot or position you have moved the gear selector to.
While the auto box may be somewhat slow to shift, it's still very convenient for city driving. But if you want to really draw the best out of the engine, it's the manual you should opt for. It would also help refinement and fuel efficiency if the manual had a 6th gear. Now when you cruise at 100 kmph in 5th, the engine speed is around 3,000 rpm and you keep looking for another gear to upshift to.
The Maruti Suzuki Brezza's compact dimensions and good visibility from behind the wheel, encourage you to drive more aggressively than you would attempt in many other SUVs. And it's not just its size, but also its nimbleness and predictable behaviour that allow for far more rapid motoring and cornering than many would imagine. In fact, this is one of the few SUVs around that one can push to the limit and even beyond, because it obediently responds to driver inputs and does not display much body roll. The entire platform and suspension deliver such good driving dynamics and handling, that the Brezza easily handles the additional power provided by the petrol engine.
But the pleasing handling does come at the cost of a bit of ride comfort. The ride quality has a slightly hard edge and you do feel what the Brezza is going over. While it does not lose its composure on a badly surfaced road or while going through large potholes, you do get bounced around a bit. At higher speeds and with a full load the ride comfort does improve, but I still think many urban users would have preferred a softer and more compliant ride. The steering is precise and predictable and sufficiently light for effortless parking and driving around the city. But at higher speeds one would have preferred more feedback and a little lesser assist.
While the new face lifted Vitara Brezza is only offered with the 1.5 petrol engine, Maruti Suzuki have come up with some nine variants that one can opt for. The lowest variant the Lxi is priced at Rs. 734,000 (ex-showroom) and the top end VXi (AT) with Maruti's Smart Hybrid, is Rs 11,40,000, which does appear a little on the higher side.
The Brezza is a proven product with a shining brand image and with the facelift it has some shiny new bits and the petrol engine makes it more fun to drive too. While it will face competition from the Hyundai Venue and also the Tata Nexon, Mahindra XUV300 and the Ford Ecosport, I am sure it will continue winning the hearts of customers.
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