The sub 4-metre subcompact SUV segment is the fastest growing and possibly most popular automotive segment in the country. With players like the Ford Ecosport, Mahindra TUV 300and the Honda WR-V making a mark in the segment, the highest selling and most popular of the lot is the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza. Having won the likes of the Subcompact SUV of the Year and the Viewer’s choice segments at the 2017 NDTV Car And Bike Awards, the Vitara Brezza sells nearly eight to ten thousand units a month! Now though, there is a new SUV that is vying to take some of that market share away and make itself the new benchmark of the segment, the new 2017 Tata Nexon.
Whereas both the SUVs are very very similar in terms of overall size, the way both these automakers have approached the design conundrum is very different. Maruti Suzuki has taken a very traditional route for the styling on the Vitara Brezza. Everything is very flat and typically SUVesque and there are a lot of nearly 90 degree edges and lines that dot the car. On the other hand, Tata has gone very modern and chic with the design on the Nexon – in an almost European way. There are bulges, curves and of course, those very distinct white accents that really do help the Nexon differentiate from the pack.
While there are differences galore though, there are similarities too. Both the cars get a set of 16-inch alloy wheels, both get daytime running lights and both get a very similar C-pillar design to facilitate the two tone paintjob that is an optional extra on the top of the line variants. Both are also equipped with an LED daytime running light, projector headlamps and LED tail lights.
But that’s where the similarities end. As we mentioned earlier, both are very different in terms of design and the Nexon most certainly stands out as the more modern and more current automobile. Even with the two tone paint option, where Maruti has gone very conventional with a black or white roof option, Tata has decided to experiment a little and opted for a slightly classier grey instead. The Brezza also uses copious amounts of chrome on the grille and the rear hatch while the Nexon chooses a more subtle gloss black option on both instead. And while those white accents might not be to everyone’s tastes, this round most certainly goes to the Nexon.
Interior Design, Quality and Features
Now just like with the exterior, the interior on the Vitara Brezza was never meant to be ground breaking. It was supposed to be something you were familiar and something you felt comfortable with and that is exactly what Maruti Suzuki has managed to do. A touch of gloss black and silver on an otherwise matte black cabin does spice things up a tad bit and then you have the tried and tested large touchscreen that we have grown to be very familiar with. It does get Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and inbuilt navigation. You also get Bluetooth support along with steering mounted controls, reverse parking camera and sensors, and keyless entry with a start-stop button on the higher spec models.
Alternatively, while the Vitara Brezza really conformed to the norm when it came to interior design, the Nexon took it all and chucked it out of the window. The design is fresh and this is exactly what a contemporary compact SUV should look like from the insides! The Nexon has a big floating display in the middle of the dashboard, which is almost Audi-esque and the infotainment too is nicer as a general display. Currently, the Nexon does come equipped with Android Auto but Apple CarPlay support hasn’t been introduced just yet. The Nexon also gets a similar features list to the Brezza with Bluetooth support, keyless entry, etc. but we do have to say that the reverse parking camera resolution could really be improved substantially. The Nexon also gets keyless entry and a start-stop button and you even get a wearable waterproof key wristband that can lock or unlock the door.
Interior quality has long been one of the reasons many customers today shy away from affordable mass market brands. In the recent past though, it is these budget brands that have made the biggest leaps in terms of improving their fit and finish and it really does show in both subcompact SUVs. Plastic quality and fit on the Tata Nexon though are better quality as compared to the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, especially the finish on the dashboard.
While the Nexon gets a smoother finish, the Vitara Brezza gets a more distinct textured material that does feel slightly coarser to the touch. There are however, some minor quality issues with some Nexons, like the edges on some of the plastic panels and the quality of things like the adjustable drive mode knob. Where the interior fit and finish could be a leveller between the two, the interior design and feature list is definitely another win to the Nexon.
Interior Space and Ergonomics
Considering the fact that both the Nexon and the Brezza are sub 4-meter SUVs, they have a very similar cabin size too. Both do not feel claustrophobic due to its large greenhouse and both cars have plethora of storage options. While the Nexon has larger door cards that fit larger bottles and more trinkets, the Brezza scores high twin glove compartments. Both cars get some form of storage in the central console too but where the Brezza makes it more usable, the Nexon’s central storage is just too deep to store the likes of your phone. And this same storage also doubles up storage units for the flip up cup holders (which were missing in this test car too).
In fact, the Brezza is ergonomically very very well designed. All the cubbyholes and slots are exactly where you need them to be and even the small parcel tray in front of the gear level has enough space to put things. The Nexon’s parcel tray in turn is tiny, fitting a large modern smartphone isn’t advisable and the USB slot is just very badly placed for daily use.
Interior space for rear passengers is similar in both cars but the Nexon does have the slight advantage here with just that little bit more legspace and shoulder room. The Nexon also has a larger boot at 350 litres vs the Brezza’s 328 litres but the loading area of the Maruti Suzuki is easier to access thus equalising the two in terms of overall usability.
With the brand new body on the outside and a brand new interior, it is only obvious that Tata Motors goes full circle and give the Nexon a brand new diesel engine. And that is exactly what they have done. The diesel engine in the Nexon is a 1.5-litre, turbocharged 4-cylinder unit and it makes 108 horsepower which makes it 19 horsepower more than the 1.3-litre on the Vitara Brezza (89 bhp) and it also makes 260 nm which is 60 nm more than on the Maruti (200 Nm). On paper and on tarmac, the difference in the performance is very very obvious. In-gear acceleration is much better although it does slightly lag in terms of performance from a standstill. This of course is due to the fact that the Nexon weighs in at 1305 kg as compared to the Vitara Brezza that weighs in at 1195 kg.
The Vitara Brezza on the other hand has that familiar powerband that we are all so comfortable with in the DDIS motor. But what it does lack really is that 6th gear that the Nexon does get (with a new 6-speed gearbox) making it a much better highway cruiser. The Nexon is also expected to soon have that 6-speed AMT by either the end of 2017 or early 2018 while the Vitara Brezza AMT isn’t on the cards just yet. The split in performance is simple then. If it is an all round more powerful car that you desire with better highway performance, the Nexon wins it hands down. But if it is frugal in-city usage, the scales tip towards the Vitara Brezza.
Ride, Handling and Safety Features
The Vitara Brezza most certainly gets the stiffer of the two suspension setups which, when combined with the lower overall weight means that you can throw it into corners with a lot more gusto. That said it does sacrifice ride quality, which is much much better on the Nexon. And the Nexon also gets the better steering feedback of the two, which does give it a slightly sportier driving feel in general. The Nexon also rolls much less than the Vitara Brezza which is useful on both longer highway sections and in general in the city too. The Nexon also gets 209 mm of ground clearance trumping the Vitara Brezza which gets 198 mm. Both cars come with two airbags and ABS as standard.
And that brings us to the all important price. The Tata Nexon is available in five variants while the Vitara Brezza gets a slightly larger cross section with seven variants. The base model Tata Nexon is priced at Rs 6.85 lakh while the base model Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza is correspondingly Rs 38,000 more expensive at Rs 7.23 lakh. For both subcompact SUVs, the most expensive variant is the version with the two-tone paint. While the fully loaded Tata Nexon is priced at Rs 9.44 lakh, the equivalent Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza is priced at Rs 9.91 lakh. Another tick in favour of the Tata subcompact SUV then!
Tata Nexon vs Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza: Final Verdict
While the Vitara Brezza’s popularity will continue to be sky high due to the fact that most buyers can fall back on peace of mind ownership and that wide service network that all Maruti Suzuki cars offer, the Tata Nexon is the better all round product between the two. In our opinion, it looks better on the outside, has a nicer interior, is more comfortable and gets a really good engine package. It does come with a set of quirks and issues but the Tata Nexon is most certainly the winner of this battle. And now that it has banished the Vitara Brezza, it can now officially take on the other benchmark of the segment, the Honda WR-V.