Suzuki Vitara Brezza Review: Packing Value

If you’re reading about the Suzuki Vitara Brezza on Torquing Cars for the second time in nearly as many weeks, that’s because the new crossover from the Japanese automaker was only just launched in South Africa a couple of weeks ago. Slotting in below the standard Vitara as a smaller, more affordable option, the new crossover vies for attention against the likes of the Renault Captur and Hyundai Creta. Riding on a variation of the same platform that underpins the standard Vitara and the SX4, the Brezza is the first Suzuki product developed fully by the brand’s Maruti arm – responsible for operations in the marque’s most prominent market, India. But with familiar underpinnings and an affordable target market, the Brezza may just have hit the sweet spot for extreme value in an affordable package.

Powered by a 1.5-litre four-cylinder motor driving the front wheels, it’s light on juice, but big on value. To find out just how much so, Suzuki sent us a GLX-spec Vitara Brezza in Magma Grey Metallic to review.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Loads of features for the money
  • Easy-to-use infotainment
  • Light on petrol
  • Comfortable, refined suspension
  • Great isolation from road outside
  • Affordable price tag

Cons:

  • Cheap dash materials
  • Awkward clutch feel
  • Some infotainment controls were slow to respond
  • Styling not to all tastes

Suzuki Vitara Brezza Exterior

Look past the assault of chrome, and you can see the familial resemblance between the Vitara Brezza and its larger sibling, the one that simply goes by the name Vitara. It shares that model’s 2,500mm wheelbase, but other key dimensions differ as it’s 180mm shorter in length, 15mm wider, and has a ride height of 198mm to the Vitara’s 185.

Unfortunately, it’s a little tough to look past the chrome, because the front grille and the tailgate are dominated by the stuff. Aside from that, key elements include a floating roof design with a cutout in the C-pillar to aid the effect. The base model GL rides on 16-inch steel wheels with covers and features halogen projector headlamps with LED accents, but our GLX tester arrived sporting 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, and LED front foglights.

A fairly simple, yet comprehensive colour palette is availed to the Vitara Brezza, including paint colors such as Stargaze Blue, Sangria Red, Premium Silver Metallic, Dignity Brown, or the Magma Grey worn by our tester.

Suzuki Vitara Brezza Performance:

Engine and Transmission:

Suzuki is of the opinion that downsized turbocharged engines don’t have a massive benefit over moderately sized naturally aspirated motors, and the brand isn’t wrong. But, that’s why you find any turbo-triples here. Instead, you get Suzuki’s 1.5-litre K15B four-cylinder shared with the Ciaz and Jimny. Power outputs are moderate at 77kW and 138 Nm, the latter arriving at 4,400 rpm. Power is routed to the front wheels only, and before you ask, AWD is not an option, and neither is a turbo or a diesel engine option.

Our tester came equipped with the 5-speed manual gearbox, which operated without fuss in almost every manner – we just had to get over the clutch first. The pedal travel is long and the bite point high, and the pedal feel was far too springy without much communication, making take-offs a jerky affair to start with. We have no doubt buyers will adapt and get used to it, as we did after a few days, but it wasn’t the easiest to hop into and go. Once that was out of the way, it was smooth sailing. The 1.5-litre mill is keen to rev and delivers its power in a pleasingly old-school way. It can get a little noisy, particularly above 3,000 rpm, which makes highway trips a slightly unrefined affair with only five forward gears, but stick below the national speed limit and it’s happy to cruise along without much fuss. We’re not sure the available 4-speed automatic would be the same, but the option exists for those who simply sit in too much traffic to fight with a clutch on a daily basis.

Ride and Handling:

There are benefits to sharing a platform with the larger Vitara and SX4, and that’s in the fact that the Vitara Brezza rides with the refinement of a larger, more expensive crossover. The suspension errs on the firm side but soaks up bumps with aplomb while supplying ample support through corners and bends. The standard electronically assisted power steering means the steering wheel is lifeless, but the responses are swift to inputs and the Vitara Brezza will turn sharply into tight spots with ease. It’s easy to place on the road and feels wieldy, but there’s also a sense of solidity. Braking performance is solid, if unremarkable. Aside from engine noise at higher engine speeds, not much noise permeates the cabin, giving the Brezza an air of sophistication many rivals in this segment lack. It’s not particularly thrilling to drive, but it’s easy, and for many buyers, that’s enough.

Suzuki Vitara Brezza Fuel Economy:

The benefit to Suzuki utilizing a naturally aspirated 1.5-litre engine from the K series of engines is that this family of power plants is renowned for its thriftiness. Suzuki claims figures of 6.2l/100km across all trims and regardless of gearbox choice. While we couldn’t quite match that estimate over 350km of commuting, we managed to hit a fairly steady 6.7, with room to improve still. Some rivals perform better, but the Vitara Brezza isn’t losing points in this category and we suspect once the motor is run in, it’s likely to get a little more efficient.

Suzuki Vitara Brezza Interior:

There’s a duality to the interior of the Vitara Brezza. On the one hand, it’s a spacious place that’s high on comfort and big on the number of features it has, but on the other, certain corners were cut to achieve an affordable price. The latter refers specifically to the dash materials – hard texture plastics that feel cheap to the touch and don’t look spectacular either. These extend to the lids of the twin cubby holes ahead of the passenger. Other elements were better though, and our GLX tester’s leather steering wheel felt great in hand, and the sliding center armrest was a great aid to comfort. The seats are firm yet supportive and there’s a decent array of manual adjustment with which to get comfortable. Forward visibility was great, but the chunky B-pillars and narrow rear window meant that rearward visibility wasn’t as good.

In terms of space, even those in the back seats won’t be found wanting, as six-footers will comfortable fit behind a driver of a similar height without rubbing knees against seats, nor heads against the roof lining.

Where the Vitara Brezza falters is storage. The 328 liters of boot space is more than ample, and the rear seatbacks fold in a 60/40-split to enhance the offering further – folding almost completely flat. The back of the driver’s seat has a flip-out coat hook and the rear center seatback has an armrest with twin cupholders, and the door pockets are of a decent size. Other aspects aren’t great, though, like the front cupholders – one of which was too shallow and neither of which could steadily hold a Grande cup of coffee from Seattle Coffee Co. There’s a small bin beneath the center front armrest, though, and the Brezza has two cubby holes ahead of the front passenger, the upper of the two being refrigerated beneath its scratchy plastic lid.

Vitara Brezza Equipment and Safety

The material choices may seem a little iffy, but they can almost be forgiven when one considers just how much kit Suzuki has crammed into the Vitara Brezza. In addition to power folding mirrors and automatic LED headlamps, our GLX-spec tester also came equipped with automatic windscreen wipers and an auto-dimming rearview mirror – all exceptional value for the price. The leather-clad steering wheel houses infotainment controls and those of the cruise control. Power windows are standard, as is the aforementioned refrigerated glovebox.

The touchscreen infotainment suite, standard across all models in the range is a decent size and has crisp, clear graphics and a contemporary design that’s easy to read and navigate. In addition to standard AM/FM radio, Bluetooth connectivity, and auxiliary input, both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay enable full smartphone integration and navigation. On the whole, the system is great, but the volume control buttons are touch sensitive and sluggish to respond, and even the steering-mounted controls are sluggish.

From a safety perspective, the Vitara Brezza is a solid campaigner with all the basics in place including ABS and EBD, dual front airbags, and a crash structure with crumple zones and bracing enough to secure it a four-star NCAP rating when it was tested a few years back.

Suzuki Vitara Brezza Price and Verdict:

I’m personally not a fan of the Vitara Brezza’s styling, but looks are subjective. However, in a week with the Brezza I came away largely impressed. The clutch takes some time to adapt to and the lack of a sixth gear precludes it from regular highway use, but it’s otherwise refined, frugal, comfortable, and supremely well-specced for the money. It feels vastly more refined than many rivals at the same price point, and genuinely feels like the larger Vitara – aside from the cheap plastic dash which is an obvious display of cost-cutting. Corners have been cut, but on the whole, the Vitara Brezza is an exceptional crossover and one that deserves to sell en masse. And it likely will… with one caveat. When it reaches the top of the sales charts, it won’t be a Suzuki, it’ll be a Toyota, as the upcoming Toyota Urban Cruiser is the same product with another badge. That’s a crying shame, because Suzuki deserves the credit for an impressive crossover.

As for the price, the base Vitara Brezza 1.5 GL Manual starts at R244,900 while the manual GLX we tested rings in at R289,900. The automatic gearbox adds R20,000 to the asking price of both derivatives. Regardless of which you choose, a 4-year/60,000 km service plan is included, as is Suzuki’s incredible 5-year/200,000 km warranty.

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