Till 2018, Maruti Suzuki had been famously participating in India's toughest rally races and one of the most challenging was the Maruti Suzuki Dakshin Dare staged across the southern states of India. Now Maruti Suzuki had always been rallying the Gypsy and the Grand Vitara, both of which were available with 4x4 drivetrains. However, for the 2018 iteration of the Dakshin Dare, Team Maruti Suzuki Motorsport decided to bring along two of their much newer vehicles as well - Vitara Brezza and the S-Cross. Fret not, they were not used in their front-wheel-drive configuration but were heavily modified with a 4x4 drivetrain each.
Featured here is the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza from the 2018 Dakshin Dare that came fitted with a 1.6L MJD engine and a 4x4 system. The 1.6L diesel engine was tuned to produce 120hp and 320Nm of peak torque. This is the same engine that was available on the pre-facelift S-Cross in the higher trims. This car was, in fact, prepped up by the legendary tuner N. Leelakrishnan, working under the banner of Arka Motorsports. The four-wheel-drive hardware - or ALL-GRIP system in Suzuki speak - can be sourced from abroad and is an easy fit, thanks to ready mounting available even on this front-wheel-drive car. This is also the same car with which Maruti's factory rally team participated in the Desert Strom rally that year.
The Maruti Suzuki S-Cross was also given a similar treatment. The ALL-GRIP system monitors the difference in front and rear wheel spin and when it detects a large difference, it engages the clutch and sends power to the rear wheels. What Leelakrishnan had to do was to modify the software controlling the AWD system, It ran a separate Race Dynamics ECU with custom coding. Each of the modes would send a pre-determined amount of torque to the rear wheels, as and when the driver called upon, depending on the stage condition.
The Maruti Vitara Brezza, along with the S-Cross, entered the T1 class of the Dakshin Dare, which is a 4WD category. Along with these newer cars, the team also had a Grand Vitara 4x4 in contention in the T1 class. Maruti Suzuki also ran a FWD Vitara Brezza in the T2 category of the rally. The rally covered a distance of 2,000 Kms, spanning over 5 days, commencing in Bengaluru and covering parts of Karnataka and Maharashtra before coming to an end in Goa. The 4WD Vitara Brezza was piloted by Dharampal Jangra and Chandrashekar Rana. Meanwhile, the 4WD S-Cross was piloted by Samrat Yadav and Karan Aukta.
Over the course of the rally, it was the 4WD S-Cross that bagged the top spot in the T1 category. The Grand Vitara 4x4 with Suresh Rana and Chirag Thakur behind the wheel finished second. The 4WD Vitara Brezza, meanwhile, secured 5th position. Incidentally, the FWD Vitara Brezza triumphed the T2 category, piloted by Sandeep Sharma with Anmol Rampal. Maruti Suzuki has since then exited from the domestic motorsport scene and pulled out as title sponsor of major cross-countries rallies, while also closing its factory rally team. Maruti Suzuki's evolving customer-oriented strategy didn't quite align with their participation in motorsports any longer.