If you would ever sneak into the design offices of car companies, you would probably find tons of sketches of future cars being all SUV shaped in some way or the other. Yes, we just cannot get enough of them. The allure of the raised driving position, the new found love for the outdoors, roadtrips and the whole 'lifestyle' thing thanks to endless social media and relentless marketing is resulting in unprecedented demand for SUVs. SUVs are cool, sedans or hatches are not. Thus it is not surprising that everyone wants to enter this SUV party and these cars are flying off the showrooms.
Ford tasted first success with its EcoSport and then others followed and today you have a compact SUV (Brezza) in the top 5 highest selling cars in India. That neatly brings us to the trio that we have assembled today. The Nexon is the first compact SUV from Tata and we have brought in two of its closest rivals in form of the Vitara Brezza and WR-V to see how it compares and plainly should you wait for the Nexon? Answers below.
No longer we like our cars bland. These three are proof. All three are below 4m but all three look different and thank god for that. Tata has been late to the SUV party but instead of sneaking in from the back door, they have made a grand entry with the Nexon. Subtle it is not and its edgy, swoopy and most likely to divide opinion- but here is the thing, everybody has an opinion about this car, it gets a ton of attention thanks to its concept car shape. The detailing is superb while it may seem there are far too many colours at once and too much going on, it looks fantastic- especially the side and the front. It is by far the boldest design from Tata plus the paint finish overall quality reaches a new standard.
The Brezza is the more traditional SUV shape with broad shoulders and squarish design. Both the Nexon and Brezza have the contrast roof which adds to the design. But clearly the Brezza will appeal to the more traditional buyer who wants that SUV styling while the Nexon tilts towards a crossover. The WR-V is the first one to crack this mini segment of hatch based crossovers simply for the fact that it looks different and more rugged to the Jazz on which it is based. The front is most appealing with big grille and headlamps while the side and rear reveal its origins. In terms of dimensions, the WR-V is the longest followed by the Nexon and Brezza while the Nexon is the widest plus while it may not look like it but the Nexon also has the most amount of ground clearance here.
Interior design and space
All three have well designed cabins and come fitted with many features. You would not feel shortchanged here in any of them. The Nexon again impresses here with a - at first glance- a very premium looking cabin. I love the dash top touchscreen and the black/mettalic finish all over. Quality reaches a new standard and the design layout stands out in this company. The Brezza comes with a simpler cabin but feels rugged and more SUV like however the Nexon does feel more plush. Do note the Brezza cabin can be spiced up with customisation options. The WR-V as is with the Jazz is more edgy and is typical Honda with cuts and slashes while the layout is suitably busier than the Brezza, has less going on than the Nexon.
In terms of space the WR-V wins here with an airy feeling cabin as it has huge amount of legroom at the back. It feels the widest here and three can be accomodated easily. It also has the largest boot. The Brezza also impresses with actually more headroom and good shoulder room and legroom. The Nexon- while its roofline may suggest lack of space is actually quite good but its best for two. However in terms of seat comfort the Nexon scores high.
All have touchscreens, climate control, rear camera display, push button start/stop- the works. The Nexon touchscreen is smallest but I like the display which changes colour according to drive modes and its fairly responsive but the Brezza with its infotainment system is the slickest however like the Nexon I would have wanted physical controls also. The WR-V touchscreen also works nicely with a slick interface so its a tie for the Maruti and Honda here. Let me tell you some features which seperate these cars. The Nexon has rear air con vents, while the WR-V has a sunroof with the Brezza having auto headlamps and wipers. Both the Honda and Maruti have inbuilt navigation while the Nexon has smartphone based navigation.
Nexon will offer both Apple CarPlay (to be added soon) and Android Auto while Brezza has Apple CarPlay with the WR-V getting mirror link, internet access. The WR-V diesel gets more features than the petrol mind you. The Nexon also comes with a feature with a wearable key like a wrist band where you do not need to carry the key fob but you can lock/unlock and even start the car. In terms of audio systems special mention must also go to the 8-speaker audio system in the Nexon which is just brilliant with its sound quality. In terms of safety the Brezza only has a driver airbag as standard while passenger airbag and ABS is optional- both the WR-V and Nexon have dual airbags and ABS as standard.
The Nexon and WR-V have both got diesel and petrol engines while the Brezza is diesel only. Curiously all have only manual gearboxes with no automatic option. First test was a city run and here the Nexon does reasonably well. There are the engines a 1.2 turbo petrol with 110 bhp/170Nm while the diesel develops 110 bhp/260Nm. The diesel Nexon gets a good amount of torque and that gets it going well thus you do not need constant downshifts. It is among the most refined in terms of diesels and it is responsive. Only when you drive it hard that it falls flat and gets noisy.
Best take a step back and cruise which is where the Nexon diesel does well. The petrol is more refined and smoother plus unlike the diesel it has some punch on offer at higher revs but opposite of the diesel, peformance at low revs is flat and you need to downshift to get it going. The issue is weight as the Nexon is the heaviest here. A much talked about feature are the three driving modes but you will keep it in Sport most of the time as while City works ok, Eco is strictly for when you are running out of fuel as the engine is bogged down.
In the city the clutch is light in both and the 6-speed manual gearbox while a bit big and bulky is easily the best manual gearbox from Tata. The steering also is the best one here in terms of directness and feedback. Also unlike other Tata cars there is a mischievous streak in the Nexon with its eagerness and slightly stiffer suspension. It is not overly soft or floaty.
The WR-V gets a 90 bhp 1.2 petrol with 110Nm while the diesel develops the same amount of bhp but with 220Nm. The diesel gets a 6-speed manual while the petrol is a 5-speed one. The diesel first and it has the best bottom-end grunt here but it also falls flat if you dial in revs thus its best to stay in the mid-range- it also gets noisy. The petrol on the other hand like any Honda is rev happy so you have fun driving it hard and like the Nexon petrol it too lacks low-end punch which means downshifts. One observation- I did not like the new very small gearlever for the WR-V- its too small and firm however shifts are butter smooth.
The Brezza gets the now familiar 1.3 diesel with 89 bhp and 200Nm. A 5-speed manual is standard. What the Brezza does well though is being the lighest here and also the most agile and quickest. Its the only one here with slim A-pillar and a raised SUV position plus it is just eager for revs and you can dart in and out of traffic gaps well. There is a lot of lag at the start but after that it is fun and it handles very well too. It is the stiffest of all the cars here and while its ride is choppy it is huge fun around the corners. The WR-V rides the best followed by the Nexon while the Brezza is the most fun.
The whole point of this comparo was to see what the Nexon will be up against when it goes on sale soon (launch it quickly now , Tata). After spending a few days with it and the Brezza and WR-V it is without doubt a quality product and has enough to shine even in this company. Without wasiting anytime let us come to some conclusions. The WR-V is impressive and it is the one to buy if you want space, practicality plus it also rides the best. It seems to tick all the boxes and makes sense as a family car (WR-V- Rs 7.7-10 lakh). The Brezza on the other hand has the pukka SUV styling- which is a big draw. The fact that it drives very well, is well equipped and above all comes with that Maruti badge means it domination of the sales charts will continue (Brezza- Rs 7.3-10 lakh).
The Nexon will not snatch buyers from both these cars, instead it will expand the SUV space even more. Its sensational styling, premium interiors and features will draw in hatch/compact sedan buyers with a younger clientele as its main focus. It is by far the most desirable car made by Tata Motors as it has a personality that is bursting at the seams. Sort out a few rough edges, price it right and the Nexon would be a winner. So there you go yet another SUV to make you forget that sedan or small car...