Maruti Suzuki’s Vitara Brezza has been a major success story for the brand with over 750,000 units sold since the car was first unveiled in 2016. While it has helped Maruti Suzuki break through the sub-compact SUV market, the segment has rapidly evolved over half a decade, and is now more crowded than ever before. With strong contenders such as Tata Nexon fast catching up and Kia Sonet and Hyundai Venue vying for a spot in the ranks. Maruti Suzuki’s answer to the changing dynamics of the segment is the 2022 Brezza, which has dropped the ‘Vitara’ moniker and now comes with significant updates on the outside and inside. But is it going to be enough to retain the top spot in the sub-compact SUV space in the mid to long run? Let’s take a closer look.
For starters, the 2022 Brezza’s new exterior design is a breath of fresh air, with a more squared off and aggressive stance than before. Changes to the exterior design are anything but subtle, with the flat and angular bonnet design giving the car a wider front end. The front grille also integrates into the new headlamp design, and we especially love the way the angular day-time running lights fit into the grille like a puzzle. There’s also a lot of matte-black plastic cladding across the car, which begins under the front grille and continues along the sides of the car all the way to the back, giving the Brezza a more rugged appeal all around. On the sides, the new Brezza creates a strong profile by using two shoulder lines running around its front and rear fenders that flow into the headlamps and tail lamps, although we wish the new dual tone 16″ alloy wheels were bigger to further accentuate the vehicle’s stance. The dual tone paint job on some of the Brezza models also helps. At the back, the new Brezza has a radical new tail lamp design with T-shaped LED inserts, and the angular tailgate design and the plastic cladding above the exhausts come together to create a striking rear end. All in all, while the new Brezza remains identical to its predecessor in dimensions, Maruti Suzuki’s new design philosophy has helped realise the aesthetic potential that the Brezza always had. Resulting in a smarter, bolder and unmissable street presence.
The interior comes with an all new look as well, with a dashboard layout that shares a lot of design cues with the new Baleno. The dual tone dashboard design is a welcome addition, and the rectangular AC vents and the flat-bottomed steering wheel falls in line with the sporty and angular exterior design. The quality of the climate control switches has also improved, and the ambient lighting inserts in the door panel are a nice touch. While some of the scratchy plastic used around the cabin feels a bit underwhelming, the overall build quality seems significantly solid, and a step up from the outgoing model. Where the Brezza shines however is cabin space, and we found legroom and headroom to be more than ample at the back, making the vehicle well suited for longer journeys.
The overall interior design is clearly focussed on functionality. It is simple and uncluttered with the 9” SmartPlay Pro+ touchscreen dominating the dashboard. The touchscreen system is responsive, with sharp graphics and vivid colours and easy to use menus, although the touch-sensitive buttons can be a bit tricky to use on the move. The multitude of steering mounted controls do help, but we think it is time for manufacturers to give the in-car tech experience a complete rethink. Infotainment functions should be intuitive and not distracting for the driver, and equally engaging for co-passengers. Currently, too much control rests with the driver.
The Brezza comes with a wireless charger built into the centre console, which is a great addition in theory, but quite finicky in practice. We found using maps on Apple CarPlay – which works when the phone is connected with a charging wire – to be very glitchy when the phone was placed on the wireless charger. It behaved better when the phone was placed elsewhere. However, there is no other designated space to place the phone in the centre console, as the only spot available has the wireless charger built in. A bit of a catch-22 situation, but nothing that cannot be fixed with a software update.
Other than these little foibles, the Brezza comes with a long feature list, including a new heads up display (HUD) which shows speed, rev counter, current fuel economy and current gear, a 360 degree camera setup which makes parking a breeze, and the usual offerings such as cruise control, automatic climate control, auto-folding mirrors, auto-headlamps, keyless entry & start, and rear parking sensors. The Brezza also comes with rear AC vents and a USB Type-A and Type-C (fast charging) port at the back. Notably, the Brezza comes with an electric sunroof for the first time. While this is a fan-favourite feature, practical usage in daily driving is marred by the lack of a wind deflector, which makes driving on high speeds with the sunroof open an extremely jittery and noisy experience. The sunroof is quite small and isn’t much of a value addition for rear passengers either.
In terms of safety, the new Brezza comes with six airbags, ABS with EBD and Brake Assist, and ESP with Hill Hold Assist.
The 2022 Brezza also comes with an upgraded powertrain, more specifically a newer version of the same 1.5 litre petrol engine from the previous model. Dubbed the K15C Smart Hybrid, the petrol engine produces 103 BHP and 137 Nm of torque, while also utilising brake energy regeneration and torque assist while accelerating. The engine is mated to either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic that now comes with paddle shifters. The MT comes in four variants – LXI, VXI, ZXI and ZXI+, and the automatic has three options to choose from – the VXI, ZXI and ZXI+. Our drive for this review was the ZXi+ MT, which is the top of the line manual transmission variant.
The Brezza was never a performance-oriented drive, and Maruti Suzuki seem to be taking the same approach with this new version, which is about 40 kgs heftier than its predecessor. While the engine provides enough low-range grunt to make city driving an enjoyable experience, it is on the highways where you are left wanting more. Past the mid range, flooring the accelerator isn’t exactly exhilarating, but not disappointing either. The Brezza responds much better to a more relaxed driving style and that remains its comfort zone. At speeds over 100 km/h, you do tend to miss the 6th gear in the manual version, and though the cabin is well insulated you feel the strain on the engine.
The ride quality is smooth and pliant, the suspension setup is calibrated to absorb bumps and potholes, and it handles really well for a high-riding sub-compact SUV. The lightweight steering makes the Brezza more of an ideal city commuter than an enthusiasts’ choice. Efficiency has been a big focus for the new Brezza and the company claims a fuel efficiency of close to 20 km/l. We clocked figures of 15.5 km/l driving over 700+ kilometres through the expressway and town, using it as a regular city commute most of the time.
Overall, the new Brezza has built upon the already much loved foundation of the outgoing model, and managed to update it to match the segment dynamic of 2022. The updated styling on the inside and outside make it feel like an all-new car, and the long feature list and upgraded build quality come together to create a great value proposition. The new Brezza feels right at home when compared to its competitors, and although the performance left us wanting more, it manages to do what it is best at, in a much more promising way.
Prices for the new Brezza start at INR 7.99 lacs, with the range topping automatic transmission version going up to INR 13.80 lacs (ex-showroom). All said, you really can’t beat Maruti Suzuki when it comes to the price-value equation, can you? And that’s what makes the new Brezza hot property on the streets yet again, as it outsells the Tata Nexon, Hyundai Venue and Kia Sonet, to retain the top spot in its segment.