Suzuki Vitara Brezza & Toyota Urban Cruiser

Suzuki & Toyota’s second badge job brings two new contenders to a busy niche

Yes. We’ve seen it all before. If you can excuse the pun. Toyota and Suzuki sharing cars with different badges is the new normal. Look at one of these and you have basically already seen the other. But what’s with this car cloning craze? We pit Urban Cruiser against Brezza to try figure it all out. Again!


The Suzuki arrived first — by two or three weeks. They promised Brezza is a dynamic and well-equipped addition to the South African line-up that’s apparently a top seller in India. And its called a Vitara but it isn’t. Brezza actually joins the range alongside old favourite Vitara. Kind of like how Prado is an extension of the Land Cruiser genre. It will serve a more entry-level market in parallel to its flagship SUV sibling.

Likewise, Urban Cruiser is, well, not a Cruiser. Its an all-new model that they say is fun, affordable and compact crossover — to play in the city in the week and take you on your next adventure over the weekend. Toyota is not shy to admit straight up that this is the second product out of Suzuki alliance after the Starlet and Baleno twins. Urban Cruiser shares almost everything with Vitara Brezza. And there really isn’t anywhere to hide.

So, much like Baleno and Starlet we shot out a month or two back, we were intrigued enough to gather these two crossovers together at the soonest possible instant. Seems the stars were aligned, for not only did we get two identical spec models — the xR spec Toyota and GLS Suzuki in 5-speed manual get-u[, but they were almost he same colours too.


Just reversed out — the bronze was that the bottom on the Toyota and on the top on the Suzuki. Or was that the other way around? It’s not easy having two identical cars with different badges around — you get muddled until you get those traits sorted. Like it must be with any other identical twins.

Interestingly enough, these two are a little less identical than their hatchback siblings. Viewed from the front that is. The grille AND the bumper are unique — the Toyota has a Fortuner-like chrome-cheeked black grille and the Suzuki a chromed egg-crate like design. And the Cruiser has a meaner expression on its lower grille mouth in the bumper and unique fog lamp garnish.

But that’s where it ends. For the rest, hide the badges and you will never know. Oh, yes — one of them also has tinted windows and the other not!


Doth cars have identical designs and dimensions to deliver it a nimble urban runabout with a good few true SUV traits. Shorter than four meters long and riding on a 2.5-metre wheelbase with shorter overhangs and a broad ratio to its breadth, these two get identical buffed 16” alloys in 215-60-R16 rubber, silver trimmed LED daytime headlamps and fog lamps, a high-mounted LED stop lamp and a rear wiper, washer and demister.

Roof rails add to the squared-off effect and body-coloured door handles a touch of class.

Slip behind the sporty leather clad tilt-adjustable 3-spoke multifunction wheel and you’re greeted by easy-to-read twin-hooded elliptical gauges and a five colour mood lit digital central Multi-Information Display. Unlike the Starlet and Baleno, these two share the same, bright and colourful 7” touchscreen infotainment graphics and extra sound system tweeters. All of which is also run via the simple multifunction steering and voice command.


Both cars get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, a USB port, vehicle information and alerts too and there’s a reverse camera backed by rear parking sensors. The honeycomb pattern black fabric seats are comfy and the dark and hard-wearing cabin’s footwell, cooled glove box with an armrest, and boot are well lit. There are large door pockets and additional oddment binnacles for convenient storage spaces.

The level of spec in these two cars is actually quite impressive and stretches to automatic climate control, power windows all-round, a height-adjustable driver’s seat and height adjustable front seatbelts. And there’s another 12V port in the easily accessible large 328 litre boot that grows by folding down the 60:40 split rear seats, which come complete with a cup holder armrest. A 1100 kg braked towing capacity adds even more utility.

But wait, there’s more — add button start, cruise control, remote central locking, auto-dimming interior and auto-folding power wing mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, remote central locking. And yes — ditto all that for both cars.


Both machines are powered by Suzuki’s albeit quite old fashioned 77 kW 138 Nm multi-point fuel injected 16-valve four cylinder K15B-engine turning the front axle via a fine-feeling and easy-shifting five-speed manual gearbox. Urban and Brezza also share the same McPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension with an electric power rack and pinion steering in a light and strong body structure with extra side-impact beams.

That’s a sound foundation for active safety systems the likes of ABS brakes with force distribution and assistance, airbags for the driver and front passenger, seat belt pretensioners and force limiters and ISOFIX child seat mooring, as well as an alarm system and immobiliser.

It may be old fashioned and a bit thrashy compared to some of the second decade of new millennium kit in other small cars, but that engine does the job well. It makes up and then some in perkiness and lights up the derestricted front end at ease. In fact, these cars seem to think that they’re on the hot hatch side of the cusp. Performance, for what its worth, was all but identical too. How could it be much different?


Both cars drive and ride well, although they could do with a sixth cog in that box. But it’s not necessary, as may be in some other short-legged small cars we’ve driven of late. We were getting better than the claimed 6.2 litres per 100 km on both cars when they went home, anyway. And they are spacious, pleasant enough and seemed very easy to live with. They certainly are very easy to drive.

So, pray tell, what is the difference? Well that’s the ineresting bit. Most people will flock to the Toyota dealership, of which thre are significantly more all around the country, where they’ll find that legendary back-up and service. Urban Cruiser is warranted by a 3-service or 45 000 km service plan at 12 month or 15 000 km intervals, a 3-year 100 000 km warranty and additional service plan and warranty options.

A Toyota point of difference is that Urban Cruiser comes with Toyota Connect telematics, an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot and complimentary 15Gb data to link owners to customers to the MyToyota App of intuitive on-demand service bookings, vehicle information and history, tracking data as well as Toyota Connect data recharge services and much more. The Toyota Connect MyEntertainment e-services suite includes Videoplay and MyMuze streaming.


But not everyone wants to go to Toyota, and if you’re one of those who likes it a little different, you can get he same car with an S instead of a T on its badges. Let alone a different and dare we say, more fun brand and back-up philosophy with a class-leading 5-year or 200 000 km warranty and 4-year/60 000 km service plan.

And it really doesn’t matter which of these outsell the other — all the same shareholders will benefit this intriguiung business logic of sharing and caring. And you have the choice. So everybody wins! – Michele & Giordano Lupini

SHOOTOUT:     Suzuki        Toyota
              Vitara Brezza Urban Cruiser
              1.5 GLX       1.5 XR
Output:       77 kW 138 Nm  77 kW 138 Nm
Engine:       1.5-litre     1.5-litre
              Petrol I4     Petrol I4
Drive:        5-spd man FWD 5-spd man FWD
0-60 km/h:    4.48 sec      4.41 sec
0-100 km/h:   10.32 sec     10.27 sec
0-160 km/h:   31.77 sec     32.15 sec
400 Time:     17.2 sec      17.1 sec
400m Speed:   128 km/h      129 km/h
80-120 km/h:  8.00 sec      7.51 sec
120-160 km/h: 16.41 sec     15.78 sec
VMax:         170 km/h      170 km/h
Fuel:         6.2 l/100 km  6.2 l/100 km
CO2:          147 g/km      147 g/km
Warranty:     2y 100K km    3 service 100K km
Service:      1y 60K km     1y 45K km
LIST PRICE:   R289K         R294K
RATED:        7             7
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