Maruti Suzuki first showed its intentions of a sub-compact SUV way back at the 2012 Delhi Auto Expo when it showcased the XA-Alpha concept. The delay in finalising the concept has allowed rival Ford to take the compact SUV space by storm with its EcoSport.
But this late entry was due to the fact that this car was entirely conceptualized and made in India, something Maruti had never done before. And that meant that Maruti also wanted to have a product without any flaws so it could take on the popular EcoSport without a problem. So in essence the company was saving the best compact SUV in India for the last launch. Without giving the story away, rivals should be worried. Very worried.
The car is built on a modified SX4 platform, and Maruti engineers had to keep it within a 4-metre footprint to help get excise benefits. This was a tough ask, especially considering that the car also had to offer generous cabin space as well as a big boot. Maruti engineers have given it a tall upright stance and that along with the squared out wheel arches give it a very muscular look too.
The face with its rectangular lamps, big grille and heavily sculpted bumper gives it a proper SUV look. The blackened out fog lamp cluster as well as the split air dam along with the scruff plates add to the posh appeal.
From side on, with its two-tone paint scheme the car looks like a miniature version of the Land Rover Evoque. The rear-end with its long lamps gives it a simplistic look. Overall, the Brezza is a very well balanced design and one that promises to be desirable as well. It’s not over the top like rival Mahindra TUV 300 or as dramatic as the Ford Ecosport, so it won’t offend anyone and please many.
The latest generation of Maruti cars is a clear indication that the company wants to be the leader in car connectivity and the Brezza is no different. Just like the Ciaz, S-cross and Baleno, the Brezza gets a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment unit. This unit also gets Apple’s Car Play app(an android version is also on its way). So a buyer can mirror his iPhone’s apps onto the touchscreen panel on the dash. The system works like an iPad device and is just as easy and intuitive to operate.
Other highlights include 5-colour options for the gauge back lights depending on the mood you are in. The car comes with an all-black interior which gives it a sporty look. You get two gloveboxes and plenty of places to keep your odds and ends. The front seats just like most Maruti cars is great for comport as well as support. The support for the lower back is good as is the under thigh support.
Rear seat occupants will also enjoy plenty of leg and head room. In fact, this car offers great comfort for even the tallest passengers who are over 6-feet tall. There are no AC vents at the back though but the seat cushioning and overall backrest angle is very good to aid comfort on long journeys.
Engine, performance and gearbox
The 1.3-litre diesel engine is the only option as of now. This engine produces around 89bhp of power and 200Nm of torque. Maruti will bring in a petrol option towards the end of the year.
This engine is the same one as found on the Ciaz as well as Ertiga diesel. Power delivery below 2,000 rpm is a bit lazy. But once you get past that mark then there is a strong surge in power which simply pushes you to the back of your seat. Performance is good, largely due to the relatively low kerb weight of the car. Keep the engine between 2,000-4,000rpm and you will be rewarded with brisk acceleration. The engine revs all the way to its redline of 5,000 rpm without much fuss. That said, its best to keep it below 4,000rpm because above that the engine tends to become very loud and audible inside the cabin.
Overall, noise levels inside the cabin are kept well under control and not an issue at all. In fact with the car doing 100kph the engine is only doing 2,100-2,200 rpm, which makes the cabin a nice place to be in.
The gearbox on the Brezza is crisp, slick and very sporty to operate. That along with the light clutch makes gear shifting a breezy affair.
Ride and handling
The suspension on the Brezza is on the firmer side and that means that some of the sharper road undulations do enter the cabin. In corollary though, stability on the highway is excellent. The steering offers good communication too and body roll is well under control. In fact in terms of driver dynamics, the Brezza feels like a sporty hatchback on stilts rather than a SUV and we mean that in a good way.
Safety and features
The Brezza will come with a driver-side airbag as standard on the base LDi and VDi models, but buyers have the option to buy a safety package that adds passenger-side airbag and ABS. The top of the line versions come loaded with push button start, reverse camera, auto head lamps as well as auto AC among other things
If you have been driving around a Maruti Swift or any other premium hatchback for that matter, then the Brezza comes across as the most natural upgrade. It offers you the practicality of a hatchback, the space of a sedan and the road presence of an SUV. Overall, another winner from Maruti.
Images by Mohd. Nasir