When you’re an automotive behemoth, rather, the automotive behemoth in the Indian market, it’s not difficult to reflect on your product range and count the many successful products that make up your vehicle portfolio.
Ranging from entry-level hatchback to sedans, there are successful products aplenty, but what happens when a new segment takes you by surprise because of the sheer customer demand and potential it has for the future?
Well, for an organization as resource rich and capable as Maruti Suzuki, the simple answer would be to get to work and develop their own entrant in this segment – which is exactly what Maruti did with the Vitara Brezza. However, there’s a rather pleasing twist in the tale here. Instead of the traditional method of development – where a new vehicle is developed by the Suzuki engineering team, in Japan – the development of this new model was handed over completely to the Indian R&D team of Maruti Suzuki.
Right from deciding what kind of product styling would work best, all major decisions were left to the Indian team – under the leadership of Maruti Suzuki’s Executive Director of Engineering, C V Raman. The team decided to work on a styling direction that would make the product appear closer to an SUV rather than a crossover, as customers indicated that aggressive looks were an important factor when considering a compact SUV. Once this detail fell into place and the design direction was clear, the rest of the components fit the package a bit more easily.
Knowing the penchant of Indian customers for high fuel efficiency, the Brezza is equipped with the familiar 1.3-litre diesel engine it shares with its siblings across the Maruti range – and is only available with a manual transmission as of now. At the same time, Maruti Suzuki also grabbed the opportunity to increase the standard equipment levels on the Brezza to make sure that it could compete effectively in its segment. So, the upper variants of the Brezza get large alloy wheels, a touch screen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay as standard, as well as enhanced safety features.
The Brezza’s performance remains quite peppy, as the 1.3-litre engine works well with the five-speed manual gearbox and makes for easy progress in both urban and highway conditions. On the track too, surprisingly, the Brezza can be quite a bit of fun to throw around. Body control is very good and the handling is balanced, so it’s eager to please when driven aggressively. The refinement could be slightly better though, as at high revs the engine sound can be a bit raucous. Similarly, while overall quality remains satisfactory, there’s still room for improvement as some of the plastic surfaces are shiny and hard to the touch.
But, essentially, the Brezza’s USP lies in offering the Indian customer an aggressive looking machine, which is priced well and uses tried-and-tested mechanical components – which means that it’ll be pretty much bulletproof, and provide all the essentials needed from a compact-SUV.