Tata Nexon and Maruti Brezza in neck-and-neck race for FY2024 SUV crown

At the end of February, the top two SUVs in India are separated by just 2,356 units. Will the Tata Nexon win the crown for the third year in a row or will the Maruti Brezza triumph in the big battle of the compact SUVs?

By Ajit Dalvi calendar 14 Mar 2024 Views icon7087 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Tata Nexon and Maruti Brezza in neck-and-neck race for FY2024 SUV crown

The race to be India’s best-selling SUV in FY2024 is in its last round and has turned very tight. At the end of February 2024, the gap between the Tata Nexon and Maruti Brezza has whittled down to just 2,356 units.

These top two SUVs, which are sub-4-metre models and the best-selling models for Tata Motors and Maruti Suzuki India, have topped a field which has over 110 utility vehicles and a mind-boggling 800-plus variants currently on offer, all fighting for a slice and more of the action in the booming Indian marketplace.

The Nexon and the Brezza are the top two representatives of the UV industry, which have powered passenger vehicle sales all through the current fiscal, recording strong double-digit growth every month. UV wholesales are expected to hit a record 2.5 million units in FY2024. At an estimated 2.29 million units at end-February, a 26% YoY increase (April 2022-February 2023: 18,15,631 units), they have helped drive PV dispatches – as well as buffer the slowdown in passenger cars – to a best-ever fiscal high of 4.25 million units.

As a result, the UV share of the PV market has hit a best-ever 60% – 2.29 million UVs to 3.84 million PVs – in the April 2023-February 2024 period. This is a good eight percentage point increase – in FY2023, UV sales (20,03,718 UVs) accounted for 51.50% of total PV sales (38,90,114 PVs). Let’s take a closer look at how the Nexon and Brezza have fared in the fiscal year to date.

Tata Nexon: Will it be India’s No. 1 SUV for third years in a row?
The Tata Nexon, which wrested the title of India’s best-selling SUV from the Hyundai Creta in FY2022 with sale of 124,130 units, maintained that No. 1 status in FY2023 with sales of 172,138 units, is aiming to be SUV king for the third year in a row.

The Nexon, which has clocked cumulative sales of an estimated 157,639 units in the first 11 months of FY2024, is in pole position at present – but by a whisker. The

Maruti Brezza is alarmingly close, just 2,356 units behind and it’s a threat which is real. In CY2023, with estimated sales of 170,312 units, the Tata Nexon had ceded the crown to the Maruti Brezza (170,588 units) by just 276 units.

In the ongoing fiscal year, January 2024 (17,182 units) was the best month for the Nexon. The Nexon has hugely benefited from Tata Motors’ multi-fuel strategy – there are all of 43 variants on offer across petrol (20 variants), diesel (14 variants) and electric (nine variants), which means there is a Nexon for every budget. Last month, Tata Motors had showcased the Nexon iCNG at the Bharat Mobility Expo. Both the ICE and electric Nexons have received fresh updates – the new Nexon (petrol and diesel) and the new Nexon.ev were launched in September 2023.

Among the factors driving Nexon numbers is the SUV’s high safety quotient. February saw the snazzy compact SUV acing the Global NCAP crash test with a top five-star rating for the second time. This time around, the test was conducted under GNCAP’s new and more stringent protocol. With the facelift, the Nexon range gets six airbags, ESC, seatbelt reminders, ISOFIX anchors and a passenger airbag disabling switch as standard, and these have helped it achieve this result. In addition, Global NCAP also said Tata Motors’ compact SUV meets UN127 and GTR9 requirements for pedestrian protection.

What would have given a fillip to Nexon sales in is the recent slashing of Nexon.ev prices by up to Rs 120,000, which should add more tailwind to the zero-emission variant’s sales.

Maruti Brezza: Will it regain the crown it had for four fiscals?
The Maruti Brezza, which changed SUV market dynamics when it was launched in FY2016, was India’s best-selling SUV for four straight years – in FY2017, FY2018, FY2019 and FY2020. In FY2021, it ceded the title to the Hyundai Creta, was ranked third in FY2022 and FY2023, and is currently second in the wholesale rankings in the first 11 months of FY2024 with an estimated 155,283 units. Now, it stands a good chance of wearing the SUV crown again.

The level of demand for Maruti’s popular compact SUV can be gauged from the fact that the Brezza has driven past the one-million sales milestone in India, with the last 100,000-unit sales achieved in a scant eight months.

Offered in four trims – LXi, VXi, ZXi and ZXi+ – the petrol Brezza is powered by Maruti's new 1.5-litre, K15C engine that debuted on the Ertiga and XL6 facelifts and develops 103hp and 137 Nm and is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox as standard. The petrol-only SUV is the only one in the segment to feature mild-hybrid tech. Maruti Suzuki claims a maximum fuel efficiency of 20.15kpl for the manual versions, while the automatic versions return 19.80kpl. 

In mid-March 2023, the Brezza became India’s first compact SUV to get CNG power. Maruti’s 14th CNG-powered model, the Brezza CNG is sold in four trim levels – entry-level LXi, mid-level VXi MT, top-spec ZXi and the dual-tone ZXi.

The Brezza CNG is powered by the same 1.5-litre K15C DualJet engine as in the CNG versions of the Ertiga and XL6 MPVs. The engine, which is offered with only a five-speed manual gearbox, develops 101hp and 136 Nm in petrol-only mode; however, the output dips to 88hp and 121.5Nm in CNG mode. Maruti Suzuki claims that the Brezza CNG offers a fuel economy of 25.51km/kg.

Tata Nexon, which has sold 157,639 units, has a lead of just 2,356 units over the Maruti Brezza, which has sold 155,238 units till end-February 2024.   

India’s Top 20 utility vehicles at the end of February 2024
Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Motor India, Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Kia India and Toyota Kirloskar India are the top six UV manufacturers in the country and they are well represented in the Top 20 UV rankings, some more than others.

At the end of February 2024, the Top 20 UV data table reveals that the market leader Maruti Suzuki has five models (Brezza, Ertiga, Fronx, Grand Vitara and XL6). Mahindra also has five models (Scorpio, Bolero, XUV700, Thar and XUV300). While Hyundai has three (Creta, Venue, Exter) as does Kia (Seltos, Sonet and Carens) Tata Motors has two models (Nexon and Punch) like Toyota (Innova Crysta/Hycross and Hyryder).

In terms of vehicle category, compact SUVs lead with 10 models, followed by midsize SUVs with seven and MPVs with three models.

With the wave of demand for SUVs and MPVs continuing, it’s not surprising that the companies with UV-heavy portfolios continue to make gains month after month. And it should be the same in the fiscal year-ending March 2024, which should see vehicle manufacturers dispatch a high number of SUVs and MPVs well in excess of 200,000 units to a UV-hungry market. This will provide enough ammo to power the industry across the 2.5 million UV sales milestone for the first time in a fiscal, and India PV Inc to a record 4.25 million units. And, in the process, deliver the winner of the closely fought battle to be India’s No. 1 SUV in FY2024.

ALSO READ: SUVs, MPVs account for 60% of 3.84 million PV dispatches in first 11 months of FY2024

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