The ‘Vitara’ name is gone from its badge, it no longer has curves on the outside, and it no longer feels like it’s from the last decade. The 2022 Maruti Suzuki Brezza is new, it has the potential to help the carmaker get more sales, and most importantly, it’s a sign of things to come. Consider this as Maruti’s way of priming the market for an expected leadership in the SUV segment. The Brezza will be joined by a larger model later this month, and the more enthusiast-focussed Jimny doesn’t appear to be too far now. We’ll get to the segment rejig in a moment, but what does the new Brezza do that’s different from the past, and why does it deserve your money now? We search for answers to those questions on a short drive in and around Chennai.
The view from The Leela, Chennai in MRC Nagar is unthinkably good. I genuinely thought it’d be the highlight of this trip. Try to picture this: diffused rays from the early morning sun ricocheting off the expansive sea and hitting your room’s balcony. It’s enchanting, invigorating, and at the same time, pretty soothing, too. A great way to start the drive, then.
The new Maruti Suzuki Brezza boasts sharp styling: the square wheel arches lend it a boxy look, and the design feels more thought out than before, especially when it comes to the inclusion of strong character lines, the clamshell-style bonnet, better use of concave and convex surfaces, etc. As a result, you’re likely to see people turn around and give it a properly long stare. That’s because it’s new, and also because it’s a step up from the previous version. It looks better in the metal than it does in the photos, so if you’re planning to buy one, please give it a long stare at one of the Maruti Suzuki Arena sales outlets in the country.
Equally improved and made to match what the rivals in the compact SUV space offer is the interior. Not only does it feel better than before in terms of layout and the choice of materials, but it is also filled with features. Some of those standard ones on the top-spec model include six airbags, a neat head-up display, a ‘floating’ touchscreen audio system (complete with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto), connected car features, a 360-degree camera, wireless charging, ambient lighting, USB fast charging, etc. In addition to all this, you also get a sunroof in the Brezza now. The front seats are just about okay in comfort but there’s decent space at the back. The boot has a capacity of 328 litres, the rear bench can be folded in a 60:40 split, and if folded completely, it offers a flat loading area.
The ZXI variant has the largest 22.86-cm SmartPlay Pro+ infotainment system with four speakers, two tweeters, and Arkamys Surround Sense tech. While FM sounds mediocre on it, route your phone’s audio and it sounds alright — far from the most detailed in terms of audio reproduction though. If you aren’t after audio perfection but would rather appreciate the ease of use and overall functionality with decent sound, this will do just fine. The onboard camera system also renders neat 360-degree views wherein it makes an in-screen projection of the car to help you with parking. That’s in addition to the multiple individual camera angles available to make getting in and out of tight spaces easy, similar to what we saw with the Baleno.
The Brezza comes with a 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine which makes 101.6 hp and 136.8 Nm. The numbers won’t set the brochures or the streets on fire, but in reality, the performance isn’t bad. For everyday use, the Brezza will work just fine. The 5-speed manual gives you more control whereas the new 6-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifters is good for gradual progress. There’s a mild-hybrid system which assists the engine when accelerating, and stores energy under braking as well. The manual version is for those looking at a slightly more engaging drive from the Brezza whereas, for ultimate intra-city runs, the automatic is good enough.
The lack of a diesel engine is evident, especially when the major rivals have that. Plus there’s no turbocharged petrol, either. Both of which would’ve made the Brezza irresistible, but considering Maruti Suzuki averages more than 10,000 units anyway, they don’t want to further make the Brezza more expensive. The Brezza doesn’t benefit from the sub-four-metre tax benefits because of its 1.5-litre engine. And with the top-spec car crossing Rs 13 lakh, ex-showroom, adding diesel or turbo-petrol engines would have shot up the car’s prices even further. And with a Creta-rivalling SUV (and S-Cross replacement) coming on the 20th of this month, Maruti Suzuki just can’t afford to further widen the Brezza’s range.
From the driver’s seat, the Brezza doesn’t have a lot in terms of raw pace or focussed handling, but for an everyday car with sufficient space inside, it seems fairly well-balanced. It exhibits stability at highway speeds while stop-and-go traffic doesn’t trouble it, either. The steering is lifeless and reluctant to centre, so it does take some getting used to. But nothing really deters the overall appeal of the Brezza; it’s just that this is not made for the enthusiast. For that, there will be the Suzuki Jimny, expected to be launched after the aforementioned new SUV. There hasn’t been an official announcement by Maruti yet, though.
For everyone else, there’s still the Brezza. It has been given enough updates to take on the new-age rivals head-on. While features like six airbags, a sunroof, and a more modern 6-speed automatic gearbox are relevant, it’s the new styling and cabin that leave a lasting impression. Prices start at Rs 7.99 lakh (ex-showroom).