The popular compact SUV from Maruti Suzuki, the Vitara Brezza, gets an upgrade with a new 1.5 l K-Series BS6 petrol engine and many new introductions. Will it continue to a favourite among customers in its new avatar?
The Vitara Brezza is an iconic product from the Maruti Suzuki stable for more reasons than one. It was the company’s first compact SUV and was the first product that was entire conceived, designed and developed by the Indian team. Significantly, this was also the first, and by far, the only Suzuki product to have an Indian chief engineer – CV Raman, Senior Executive Director, Maruti Suzuki.
Launched in 2016 in a diesel only avatar, the Vitara Brezza has been a favourite with the Indian customers, selling over 500,000 units over the last four years. Having only a diesel powertrain on the Vitara Brezza had its limitations, and the company continued to get enquiries for a petrol variant. However, at the time of launch, it wasn’t prudent for the company to offer a petrol engine on the compact SUV for various reasons.
The announcement of BS6 rollout starting April 1, 2020, however, changed the dynamics of the market and Maruti Suzuki announced in 2018 its intention to stop pursuing diesel engines for its products. The economics with diesel fuel in the BS6 era would not be justifiable, the company said. The focus moved back to petrol.
With just about a month to go for the BS6 rollout, the market leader has now introduced a BS6-compliant 1.5 litre petrol K-series engine on the Vitara Brezza. The complete switch from diesel to petrol is likely to have an impact on the sales of the Vitara Brezza, but officials are confident of maintaining the numbers month-on-month.
We experienced the vehicle in Goa recently, and bring to you this feature on the major changes Maruti Suzuki has brought into this sub-four-metre SUV. Does it have the wherewithal to maintain its position in the highly competitive market segment? We find out.
In all, there are three major changes in the 2020 Vitara Brezza – the new engine, the upgraded SmartPlay Studio and exterior design changes. Of course, there are a few more additions to the uplifted Vitara Brezza, but this is in no way a major generational change to the product. Did the company have an opportunity to do more? It surely did. Was it necessary? Not really. Four years is a relatively young age for a new product to get a major upgrade. Agreed the product lifecycle of vehicles these days are short, but Maruti Suzuki officials believe the Vitara Brezza still has a few years in it to go for a major upgrade.
We couldn’t agree more, especially with the subtle changes that the company has introduced on the new Vitara Brezza – the exterior has been ‘recrafted’ as claimed by the company. There’s an integrated grille and headlamp combination along with LED projector headlamps. The front gets a bull bar design with skid plates, on the sides there are new look 16” all-black alloy wheels and LED combination lamps at the rear. Add to those the auto dimming IRVM and auto folding ORVMs that add to the convenience of drivers.
The 17.78 cm SmartPlay Studio touchscreen infotainment system is an upgraded unit that now connects to the cloud. The system offers good overall sound quality and has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity options, live traffic updates, vehicle alerts as well as access to content through the AHA radio. The navigation system with maps from MapMyIndia is precise. Overall, the system is easy to use and offers drivers access to much of the information he/she would need. The haptic feel, however, is something we felt could be better.
The key highlight of the 2020 Vitara Brezza is, of course, the new 1.5 l, four-cylinder BS6 petrol engine, which is the same unit that does duty in the Ertiga and XL6 MPVs as well as the Ciaz sedan. The engine delivers a peak power output of 103 hp at around 6,000 rpm, and a healthy 138 Nm of torque at 4,400 rpm. It comes in two transmission options – a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic transmission paired with Smart Hybrid. In Goa, we drove both variants and must say, Maruti has done a fine job of integrating the petrol engine into the Vitara Brezza. There would surely be comparisons with its earlier diesel avatar, but one must look at the petrol variant in isolation, and in that, it delivers excellently.
The engine is finely tuned, refined, has adequate power to meander through the narrow roads in Goa or on the highway, where you get to experience the engine in its full glory. The manual transmission variant is particularly very exciting, not to say the AT variant isn’t. The AT offers great convenience and would be a handy variant to own for city dwellers. The AT variant also comes with the next-gen smart hybrid system (start-stop) as a standard feature. This is a dual battery unit with a lithium-ion battery and hill hold assist function, in addition to torque assist functions and brake energy regeneration.
The ride quality of the Vitara Brezza is impressive, with the suspension having been tweaked to address the lighter overall weight of the vehicle. Thanks largely to the petrol engine, the Vitara Brezza is 60 kg lighter than its predecessor. The steering is finely weighted and the vehicle handles well on most road conditions we encountered. Inside, the seats get a new techno fabric, and is well cushioned to offer decent comfort all around. Air conditioning is very efficient and effective as well.
Like I said before, the Vitara Brezza has been a strong product in Maruti Suzuki’s product portfolio. The introduction of the petrol engine should make for an interesting proposition in the market. In all, there are nine variants of the product across a wide price band of Rs 7.34 lakh to Rs 11.40 lakh. From a fuel efficiency perspective, the manual transmission variant delivers a certified mileage 17.03 km/l, while the AT returns a mileage of 18.76 km/l. There is a lot going in favour of Maruti Suzuki’s latest product introduction. How customers respond to it will be clear over the next few months.
TEXT: Deepangshu Dev Sarmah
PHOTO: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay