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A change of heart for the Vitara Brezza, and some extra bits too

S.Muralidhar | Updated on March 05, 2020 Published on March 05, 2020

At the rear, the tail-lamps have been marginally redesigned with a LED light signature that is new

A facelift that now sips petrol, Maruti’s compact SUV also gets a decent automatic transmission

Maruti Suzuki’s Vitara Brezza has been a blockbuster success. Thanks to the market leader’s unique ability to gauge the pulse of the market, the Vitara Brezza came in at the right moment capturing the hearts of buyers looking to changeover to a new body style from their premium hatchbacks. The SUV wave has been sweeping across segments, and the Vitara Brezza hit the right note with its upright compact SUV design and price position.

The Vitara Brezza was earlier available only with a diesel engine, and now after exactly four years since it was originally launched, Maruti has swung to the other extreme and launched the new model with only a petrol engine. Despite the noncommittal position it has taken about the future of diesel engines in its portfolio, Maruti has chosen to skip offering an oil burner for the Vitara Brezza.

From a practical standpoint, with so little of the world market left for diesels, it wouldn’t have made sense to invest in developing new mills that meet the tougher emission norms like the upcoming BS-VI. In a month, Maruti’s portfolio will only feature petrols.

Design

There is really nothing much that is all-new about the 2020 Vitara Brezza save the change of heart to the K15 petrol engine. Maruti has used the opportunity provided by the changeover to the new emission norms and the new model year to also give the vehicle a minor facelift; a sort of mid-cycle refresh.

The most visible changes are to the front of the Vitara Brezza, where it now gets a set of headlamps featuring a unique LED tube that doubles up as the DRL and the turn indicator. The headlamps now also get dual projector LED lights and a strip of metal at the top giving it a sort of brow. The bonnet grille is also new with a brushed metal chrome finish and a design that fills the space between the headlamps. The front fender has been redesigned with LED fog lamps and a larger faux aluminium scuff plate that in Maruti’s words acts like a bull-bar.

The 16-inch alloy wheels are new, as is the option of a new colour — autumn orange — for the contrast roof. The black contrast roof option is already offered with the top spec variant of the Vitara Brezza. At the rear, the tail-lamps have been marginally redesigned with a LED light signature that is new.

Cabin

The 2020 Vitara Brezza is offered in four trim variants for the manual transmission version and in three trim variants for the automatic transmission version, with the contrast roof paint job option costing a few thousand rupees more. It is only the automatic version that gets the SVHS smart hybrid system, but more about that later. The cabin in the new model remains identical to the outgoing Vitara Brezza, which per se is not a negative. The cabin is still fresh and some changes to the materials used for seat upholstery, etc., have been made to liven up the interior.

 

The touchscreen infotainment system on the dashboard gets the latest version of Maruti’s SmartPlay Studio

 

The touchscreen infotainment system on the dashboard gets the latest version of Maruti’s SmartPlay Studio including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. In the automatic version, the 7-inch screen also displays the smart hybrid system’s current status and a graphical representation of its operation. The screen’s touch response has improved and options for streaming music and getting news and weather updates by connecting to the net using data on your phone is now possible. There are no connected tech features using an embedded SIM on offer. However, there is a SmartPlay remote app that can be downloaded onto your smartphone, which will offer controls for audio and deliver some vehicle-related information.

The Vitara Brezza’s interior was already one of the most well-lit in the segment. The seat position is also perfect, offering an upright clear view of the road for the driver. The legroom and the headroom are adequate. The only features that buyers in this segment have now started asking for and are not available even in the new model are a sunroof and rear air-conditioning vents.

However, there is a decent amount of kit available in the cabin including features like auto climate control, automatic headlamp, leather-wrapped steering wheel, auto wipers, reverse parking camera and an auto dimming rearview mirror (new to the 2020 model). A few accessories are being offered as optionals as part of the iCreate suite and they can be fitted at dealerships.

Performance

The new Vitara Brezza’s real change is the K15 petrol engine that has now been shoehorned into its bonnet. The engine has been on offer with the Ciaz and the Ertiga, so Maruti really could have plonked it into the Vitara Brezza earlier. Possibly the development work for making it BS-VI compliant delayed the carry over.

 

 

The 1.5-litre (1,462cc), 4-cylinder engine generates a peak power of 105hp and peak torque of 138Nm. This is a refined engine and that can be felt easily while you are in the cabin. The first version I tested was the 5-speed manual, with the gearbox getting a fresh set of ratios. The engine is not really quick and doesn’t feel as peppy as the one-litre turbo in the Venue, but there is enough shove from the K15 to keep most drivers engaged. With the right ratios and with a sensitive knock sensor, this powertrain also offers good low speed tolerance; you can easily go as low as 22kmph in third gear without needing to shift down.

The automatic gearbox is a 4-speed torque converter, which feels much more refined on the go compared to the AMT gearbox in the diesel Vitara Brezza. Gear changes are clean and free of shift-shock, though the gearbox is still a bit lazy and kickdowns weren’t as quick as I’d have liked them to be. But some amount of parallel torque assist is offered by the smart hybrid system, which basically involves a small electric motor, a lithium-ion battery and a belt-driven integrated starter generator, for performing functions like start/stop, brake energy regen and torque assist.

The new Vitara Brezza’s ride quality feels much improved and there is a general feeling of solidity to the way it goes over potholes and bad roads. The ground clearance is 200mm; the new Vitara Brezza just sails over speed breakers. The steering wheel still feels light and over-assisted, except when I was taking U-turns when return assistance still feels inadequate.

Bottom Line

By not having a petrol unit earlier for the Vitara Brezza, did Maruti miss an opportunity to capture the other half of the market? Will the lack of a diesel engine now mean that the reverse would be the case? We should know the answer in the coming months. But the new Vitara Brezza is an improvement over the previous model and for a change, thanks to the smart hybrid tech, the fuel efficiency of the automatic version is better at 18.76 kmpl than the manual version’s 17.03 kmpl. Prices start at ₹7.34 lakh for the manual and ₹9.75 lakh for the automatic.

 

Published on March 05, 2020
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