As if the local compact SUV market wasn’t competitive enough already, two offerings in this segment, the Toyota Urban Cruiser and Suzuki Vitara Brezza, are pretty much the same car.
The vehicle was jointly developed by Suzuki and Toyota and is built in Gurgaon, India under two different nameplates. The co-venture between the two Japanese carmakers sees the same principle applied to the Suzuki Baleno and Toyota Starlet hatchbacks and Suzuki Ertiga and Toyota Rumion seven-seater people movers.
Like the rest of the shared vehicles, the Toyota Urban Cruiser and Suzuki Vitara Brezza are powered by similar hardware.
In this case, a naturally aspirated, four-cylinder, 1.5-litre petrol engine which sends 77 kW of power and 138 Nm of torque to the front wheels via either five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.
It’s also anyone’s guess which interior is which should you cover the badge on the steering wheel.
But nonetheless, there are plenty of differences between the respective packages the Toyota Urban Cruiser and the Suzuki Vitara Brezza have to offer. Here The Citizen tries to explain how the two differ in terms of price, model line-up, specification levels and after sales backup.
The Vitara Brezza range start at R248 900 for the GL in manual guise, with the two-peddle version priced at R268 900. The entry level Urban Cruiser Xi costs R259 100, with the Xs costing R277 300 and R299 200 for the manual and auto respectively.
The top-specced Vitara Brezza GLX manual costs R293 900 and the auto version R313 900.
The top-specced Urban Cruiser Xr costs R299 200 in manual guise and R326 800 for the automatic transmission.
Toyota offers three trim levels on the Urban Cruiser and Suzuki two on the Vitara Brezza.
Suzuki offers both the base model GL and the flagship GLX in both manual and automatic transmission.
Toyota only offers the base model Xi with manual transmission, while the mid trim level Xs and top-specced Xr are both available in a choice of manual or auto transmission.
Both the Urban Cruiser and Vitara Brezza in base and top spec offer virtually the same set of specifications.
The mid trim level Urban Cruiser Xs strikes a balance between spec and price point. In addition to the entry level Xi, it features 16-inch alloy wheels, auto folding side mirrors, keyless-entry with push start and LED headlights and LED daytime running lights.
Suzuki and Toyota have managed to differentiate the two compact SUVs by virtue of clever styling. Especially the front end, where the unique grille characteristics of each make them blend into their respective SUV families.
The Urban Cruiser bears a bit of a mini-Fortuner face, while the chrome grille on the Vitara Brezza takes to the styling on its bigger sibling, the Vitara.
Both base and flagship models feature the same 16-inch steel wheels and 16-inch alloys respectively, but the Urban Cruiser has an ace up its sleeve in this department. The 16-inch black alloys on the mid-spec Xs are unique to Toyota and this trim level.
The two cars share five colours: white, silver, grey, orange and blue. In addition, the Vitara Brezza is also available in red, while brown has been reserved for the Urban Cruiser.
As bi-tone options, Suzuki offers the red and the blue with a black roof and the grey with an orange roof. On the Urban Cruiser, Toyota’s bi-tone options include either brown or blue with a black roof and the orange with a white roof.
After sales backup
The Suzuki Vitara Brezza and Toyota Urban Cruiser are both sold with a service plan and mechanical warranty, with the Suzuki trumping the Toyota on both accounts.
Included in the selling price of every Vitara Brezza is a four services/60 000 km service plan, which is an additional service to the three services/45 000 km plan Toyota offers with the Urban Cruiser.
A big drawing card for the Vitara Brezza is Suzuki’s five year/200 000 km promotional mechanical warranty. The Urban Cruiser comes with the standard warranty offered on most Toyota passenger cars, which is three years and 100 000 km.
One thing that counts heavily in the Urban Cruiser’s favour is Toyota’s established and extensive dealer network, which is made up of a network of 220. Suzuki, still very much a growing brand, has the backing of 75 dealer partners countrywide.
While Toyota’s sheer numbers in terms of dealers puts the Urban Cruiser in better stead should it encounter any problems while still under warranty, the cookie crumbles both ways when its out of warranty.
Then a Vitara Brezza or Urban Cruiser owner opting for services or repairs at an OEM can count on the combined total of 295 dealers between Toyota and Suzuki.
With both models’ first year of registration only being 2021, it’s not possible to know yet what the difference, if any, should be when it comes to holding their value better. Especially in these crazy times that saw a growing demand for pre-owned cars due to stock shortages in new vehicles supply chains.
Traditionally Toyota models have great resale value and therefore it’s easy to see why buyers might assume it will be no different with the Urban Cruiser.
But it can’t be just assumed that the Urban Cruiser will trump the Vitara Brezza in this department. Especially when a Vitara Brezza registered in the same year as a Toyota Urban Cruiser should have a better balance of warranty and service plan should they still be applicable. Once these have run out, it’s anyone’s guess.
With so little separating the two, the choice could easily come down to factors the actual cars and their abilities has nothing to do with. Current stock availability, pricing, brand preference and perceptions or even just colour preference could swing any buyers’ decision either way.
The bottom line is that regardless of any buyer’s end choice, it’s a solid product with a good pedigree with a respected Japanese badge. Call it a good headache to have.
For more information on the Toyota Urban Cruiser, click here.
For more information on the Suzuki Vitara Brezza, click here.