Maruti Suzuki has been the undisputed leader in the subcompact SUV segment courtesy the Vitara Brezza which was first launched back in 2016. The car offered SUV-ish visual profile at a sub- ₹10 lakh price bracket which captured the imagination of Indian car buyers. In the ensuing years, however, rivals have come up with worthy products that have taken the sheen away from the Brezza - a key reason why Maruti launched the newer version of the car, complete with design changes and a petrol engine, on Monday. The larger question however is will Brezza manage to roar back in its segment or will newer players - like the upcoming Kia Sonet - play bigger for the win.
The Brezza has always been quite a complete package and managed to hold its ground to some extent despite previously being offered with only diesel engine. Demand for diesel vehicles have nosedived in recent times and this, coupled with the age factor, led to the car from the country's largest automaker seeing the back of glory years. The likes of Venue from Hyundai and XUV300 from Mahindra have managed to carve a niche for themselves and have been selling in good numbers too.
Although the new Brezza, now with a 1.5-litre petrol motor with mild-hybrid technology, reworked design and a more premium cabin, has largely managed to reinvent itself, the road ahead may not guarantee a free run.
Kia, a company less than a year old in India, has managed to establish itself as a formidable player courtesy the Seltos SUV which was launched in 2019. The Koreans now have their eyes firmly set on the compact SUV segment and had showcased the concept version of their upcoming offering at Auto Expo 2020. The Sonet, since, has been spotted on road tests - a clear sign that a launch is around the corner. Sonet has the potential to take the fight to not just the new Brezza but to Venue, XUV300 and Tata Motors' Nexon.
Likely to be offered in 1.2-litre petrol, 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel engine options, Sonet's biggest strength could be its absolutely fresh appeal. Expect Kia to equip Sonet with LED head lights and tail lights, DRLs, six-speed manual as well as an automatic transmission option, and a host of features inside the cabin.
If Sonet is able to replicate the success of Seltos once launched, it could be quite ominous for the current crop of players in the sub-compact SUV segment. And the biggest impact could well be felt by the new Brezza which is looking at recovering lost ground.