The year of the pandemic has already had its fair share of new sub-compact SUVs. And we're not just talking facelifts like the Tata Nexon or the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza. There were many first time entrants as well like the much awaited Kia Sonet and much delayed Nissan Magnite and both made the segment more crowded than ever. Between these last 2 cars Toyota launched the Urban cruiser in the market, which is essentially a rebadged version of the Vitara Brezza.
The Urban Cruiser is the smallest Toyota SUV in India.
The grille reminds you of much bigger, iconic Toyota SUVs.
If the Urban Cruiser was wearing a face mask you would mistake it for the Vitara Brezza. That's because all the changes are on the front. It is definitely a fresher more likeable design than the Vitara Brezza. Yes the LED projector headlamps and the DRLs are exactly the same, but the changes are a new bumper, different looking skid plates a big horizontal slat grille. Because of these elements the car just doesn't share its name, at least partly with bigger Toyota SUVs it also reminds you of some like the Fortuner
Dual-tone colour option is only available on the top 'Premium' trim.
Come to the profile and you get 16-inch alloys, body colour door handles, square wheel arches and body cladding which extends all the way to the rear. The rear skid plate matches the one on the front and that shows uniformity. Then you get LED split tail lamps and the chrome applique houses the car's name. If you want you make your Urban Cruiser a little more distinct you can choose this new Rustic brown colour with a sizzling black roof dual tone option. In all, there are 6 mono tone and 3 dual tone options to choose from. The latter though is only available on the the top-of-the-line Premium trim.
In terms of features the cabin lags behind some other recent launches in the segment.
The cabin is a mix of hits and misses. While quality and space on offer is decent, when it comes to equipment list, the Urban Cruiser lags behind 2 other new cars in the segment - the Kia Sonet and the Nissan Magnite. You get a 7-inch infotainment system called the Smart playcast touchscreen audio that gets Apple Carplay and Android Auto along with Smartphone Connectivity. Barring a small digital screen, the rest of the instrument cluster is analog which makes it feel a bit inferior when compared to some other offerings in this space. You do get a cooled glove box and another storage box just below. In fact, the number of storage options in the cabin left us impressed.
There are many storage options including a cooled glovebox.
The seats are finished in dark brown and the fabric inserts on the door panels too are brown. The base trim which is strangely called MID doesn't get the touch screen system, voice command and cruise control. The good thing is that the steering mounted audio controls, climate control, push button start, keyless entry and electrically foldable ORVMs are standard across variants. However, rain sensing wipers, leather wrapped steering wheel and front sliding armrest are only available in the top trim.
Second row gets a foldable armrest but AC vents and charging points are missing here.
The second row offers good space overall. The legroom is good for a tall person like me and the headroom too is acceptable. There's a centre armrest with cupholders but what's missing are rear AC vents or any charging socket. Adjustable headrests and 3-point seatbelts are available for 2 passengers while the middle passenger gets a lap belt. You also get 60:40 split seats and the efficient mechanism here means they fall absolutely flat. But overall the cabin is not as premium as the Venue or Sonet or not as spacious as the XUV300. At 328 litres the boot space is more or less the same as most other cars in the segment.
The 1.5 litre Petrol is among the biggest in the segment.
There is no diesel engine option on the Urban Cruiser, neither is there a turbo petrol. The 1.5 litre 4-cylinder petrol churns out 103 bhp and 138 Nm at 4,400 rpm. Gearbox options are a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed Automatic. It is one of the more refined and powerful motors in the segment though not as responsive as you'll like it to be owing to the rpm mark at which the peak torque kicks in. Now a lot has been spoken about the 4-speed torque convertor automatic transmission and how it appears to be sluggish in many situations. Let's just say if you're buying the car to primarily use it in slow moving city traffic, it will do the job well.
All Automatic trims get the smart hybrid technology for better fuel efficiency.
On this automatic variant, Toyota is claiming 18.76 kmpl which is even more than the 5-speed manual that gives 17.03 kmpl. That's because the automatic gets the smart hybrid technology where an advanced lithium ion battery comes with Integrated Starter Generator. Here features like Torque Assist Function, Idle Start Stop Function and Brake Energy Regeneration help better fuel efficiency. But rememeber, for that you'll have to shell out approximately ₹ 1.4 lakh more when compared to the corresponding manual variant. Based on our experience with the manual transmission on the Vitara Brezza, we can safely say that the manual is a more driver friendly car and is definitely more responsive when you want to make those quick overtaking maneuvers.
Ride & Handling
The 5-speed manual version is a more engaging car to drive.
Ride quality is good and the suspension is tuned to handle bad roads quite well. If at all you'll only find it going stiffer in certain situations. Yes there's a bit of body roll and while the engine doesn't make noise, the tyres do and that sometime bothers you more so at high speeds. The steering though is not very light and weighs well even at higher speeds.
ISOFIX child seat mounts come as standard on the car.
Now, if you remember the Vitara Brezza scored an impressive 4 stars at the Global Ncap crash tests and the fact that the Urban Cruiser is essentially the same car means you'll be traveling in a safe set of wheels if you do decide to buy this one. You also get Isofix child seat mounts on all the variants. But just two airbags is a far cry away from the 6 or 7 airbags seen in the top variants of the Hyundai Venue, Kia Sonet and the Mahindra XUV300.
Urban Cruiser has the highest starting price in the segment.
The prices for 3 variants namely Mid, High and Premium start at ₹ 8.40 lakh for the manual and ₹ 9.80 lakh for the Automatic (all prices ex-showroom) which is almost the same as the Brezza when compared to the similar variants. The prices top off at ₹ 9.80 lakh for the manual and ₹ 11.30 lakh for the Automatics. For the dual tone be prepared to shell out up to ₹ 25,000 more. This doesn't exactly make the Urban cruiser the most affordable car in the segment. The cheapest in the segment, the recently launched Magnite starts ₹ 3.41 lakh lower while the Tata Nexon is cheaper in comparison by ₹ 1.41 lakh. The Korean cousins are also cheaper by around ₹ 1.70 lakh for the base variants. The Ecosport which also gets a 1.5 litre Petrol engine also starts at ₹ 21,000 lower.
So yes, the car is priced at quite a premium, something that will not be appreciated by the price conscious buyer in this segment. But the Toyota badge ensures that you will get a hassle free ownership experience with the car. And that matters a lot to many of us, isn't it?. Add to that a 3-year 1 lakh kms standard warranty and the balance might just tilt in the favour of the Urban Cruiser.