Suzuki Vitara Brezza 1.5 GLX: Eminently likeable – and practical, too

Suzuki is producing some cracking cars at the moment. On the lowest rung of the ladder sits the accomplished S-Presso. Climb up a bit more and you’ll find the brilliant Swift and Ignis. At the summit sits the thrilling Swift Sport, legendary Jimny off-roader and the Vitara SUV.

The Vitara, arguably the brand’s most sober offering, is also the most expensive car in the line-up. At R439 900 for the range-topping 1.4T GLX Auto, it offers decent value for money (in its class) but ultimately, is out of reach for most South Africans.

To get around that problem – and get a slice of the very lucrative compact SUV pie – Suzuki has introduced the Vitara Brezza to SA. Cheaper and more compact than the Vitara, the Brezza has been on sale in India for quite some time. Over there, it’s one of the most popular passenger cars on sale, receiving numerous awards since being revealed in 2016.

With a starting price of just R244,900 (GL Manual), it undercuts rivals by a considerable margin. Our test unit, the plush GLX derivative, comes in at R289,900. For the extra outlay, you receive LED headlamps, cruise control, keyless entry with push-button start, rain-sensing wipers and more.

GLX models gain 16-inch alloy wheels, but both trim levels receive rear parking sensors and a reverse camera.

GLX models also receive stylish 16-inch alloy wheels, a cooled glovebox and a leather-trimmed steering wheel. Painted in Torque Blue with a contrasting black roof (another GLX option), the Brezza cut a stylish figure – with many paying it compliments.

Just one engine is available, but thankfully it’s a peach. The Brezza shares its 1.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine with the Jimny and Ertiga models, where it performs admirably. It’s no different here. The power figures may sound underwhelming but the lightweight body allows the Vitara to utilise the power rather well.

77 kW and 138 Nm of torque are sent to the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic is available at extra cost, but we’d recommend the manual option. Not only is it cheaper, but more fun to drive and offers superior fuel economy.

In terms of cabin ambience, the interior fails to match the exterior for flair and style. While not ugly, it’s somewhat austere and lacking in character. Still, at least it’s logically thought out and well-equipped. The dials are easy to read and the controls all fall to hand – as more car makers opt for digital climate controls, the physical buttons in the Brezza are a joy to use.

So too is the standard touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, USB and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto capabilities. Both GL and GLX models receive this as standard. For the most part, interior quality is good. As with other vehicles in this segment, you won’t find any soft-touch plastics or plush materials. Most of what you touch feels decidedly solid, although there are one or two places in the cabin (like the door pulls, for example) with questionable plastics.

What the interior may lack in visual flair, it makes up for with high equipment levels and excellent ergonomics.

Space in the rear is on par with other vehicles in its class, with sufficient head and legroom on offer – even for an average-sized adult. Parents will be pleased to know there are ISOFIX anchorages in the rear, while two airbags and ABS brakes round out the safety equipment. Sadly, stability control isn’t available as an option. Hopefully Suzuki decides to implement it, like they’ve done with the Swift hatchback. Boot space is positively commodious (328 L), although the Volkswagen T-Cross does pip it by a few litres.

On the road, the peppy 1.5-litre and crisp steering do a decent job at making the Brezza quite good fun to pilot. As mentioned above, the slick five-speed manual is definitely the transmission to opt for. In town, the naturally aspirated engine is frugal and nicely refined. In town, I easily averaged between 6.2L – 6.4L/100km. Interestingly, fuel consumption does increase on the long road – but even then, you’ll never see more than 7.0L/100km, unless you’re really pushing it.

In town driving, the engine keeps to itself, gently humming away. On the highway it becomes more vocal, the revs sitting at 4000 r/min at 120 km/h. Add to that the notable wind noise, and it’s a rather audible car on the motorway. The ride is exceptional, though, absorbing potholes and bumps with ease. It copes with gravel roads rather admirably, too. Courtesy of the generous ride height (192 mm) and plump tyres, it floats across the loose surface like a much bigger SUV.

With so many small SUVs on offer, making a choice is rather tough. The introduction of the Vitara Brezza doesn’t make it any easier. Rivals like the Ford EcoSport and VW T-Cross offer a more comprehensive suite of safety features, both boasting stability control and six airbags as standard.

But in these cash-strapped times, you simply cannot ignore the phenomenal value for money offered by the Brezza. At R289 900, the range-topping GLX undercuts the cheapest T-Cross by more than R50 000 – and offers more equipment as standard. The Vitara Brezza also offers a superior warranty (matching the Honda WR-V), with a five-year/200 000 km offering. The service plan is comparable to the rest of the class. Like the rest of the Suzuki range, the Brezza focuses on providing consumers with a well-equipped, sensible and fun product for not much outlay. At this price, it’s difficult to ignore the talented Vitara Brezza.

Fast Facts:

Suzuki Vitara Brezza 1.5 GLX

Price: R289,900
Power: 77 kW/138Nm
Fuel consumption: 6.2L/100km (claimed)
Top speed: n/a
Rivals: Honda WR-V, Hyundai Venue

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