ON THE ROAD
There is a reason Suzuki celebrated its most successful year in South Africa in 2020. While it may still have a long way to travel before it can contest with brands such as Volkswagen and Toyota, Suzuki’s reputation for producing quality, affordable cars is what has helped the company’s rapid rise.
The entry level to Suzuki’s Vitara range, the Vitara Brezza, has continued the trend. At first glance, it screamed at me “I am a tamed beast!” but looks, of course, are sometimes deceiving.
The first thing that needed to be tested was speed. The Brezza offers a standard 77kW 5-speed manual transmission with a 1.5-litre engine, which means that it is not anything exceptionally fast, but it has enough power to hold its own in urban traffic. However, this does take away from the SUV aspect of the car as it has its challenges with climbing hills at high speeds.
The speed was just a minor blip. The comfort of the drive was the first thing that really caught my attention. Driving a manual car can sometimes feel like a full calf workout in peak traffic conditions, but the clutch was light and while traffic is no pleasure to sit in, the Brezza made it far more manageable.
The smoothness of the drive did not fade regardless of whether I strolled through the city or challenged Johannesburg’s vicious potholes.
The smooth drive is complemented by the spacious interior. This is generous, so there is no need to adjust the front seats to make any backseat passengers feel comfortable. At the risk of tempting fate, the car almost makes you envision yourself as a family man.
There are two notable downsides to the Brezza. The plastic dashboards, for one, take away from the fantasy that you’re driving a high-calibre car without the price tag.
But the main interior issue for me, especially thanks to the family car notion it gave off, was the boot space. That boot is not going to take more than one suitcase. I compared the Brezza to a VW Polo Vivo, which should never happen, given the dimensions of each car.
And yet my favourite feature of the car could also be found inside: the seven-inch, full-touchscreen infotainment system that supports both Android Auto and Apple Carplay. For an entry-level car, this was a bonus feature to include — it allows you to connect and enjoy all the features of your phone that you need while you are driving.
After driving this car for a week, I felt like I was driving a big car when I was in it, but a small car every time I put my foot on the accelerator.
My initial observation stands: the Vitara Brezza is a tamed beast.
Joining the likes of the Jimny and Swift, the Vitara Brezza is another affordable piece of quality produced by Suzuki. The Japanese company will surely improve on the nitty-gritties in future models, but with its base model starting at R244 900, the price tag is worth it.
Only time will tell if the car is as successful as the Toyota Urban Cruiser, which costs about the same price. In the South African market, more people may lean towards the ever-popular Toyota than the Vitara Brezza.