The craze for SUVs doesn't seem to have any end at all in the long-term. People in every vehicle segment want an SUV or something that looks like one or at least tries to look like one. In order to meet this expectation from the entry-level hatchback buyer, Maruti Suzuki has launched the S-Presso, essentially a hatchback made to look like an SUV. There's nothing out there in the market today like the Maruti Suzuki S-Presso so we drove the car around Jodhpur to find out if it has what it takes to infuse some life into a declining segment and create a niche.
Polarizing is the word to best describe the design of the Maruti Suzuki S-Presso. It's a love or hate affair in the first sight with no middle ground or scope for it to grow on with time. Undoubtedly, with the vertical A-pillar and boxy design, the S-presso does have the visual silhouette of an SUV. The grille up front with chrome elements (only as accessory) and the boxy headlamps look good and give the vehicle a raised stance. The black bumper does try to add some ruggedness to the design but it doesn't integrate seamlessly with the rest of the design. The puny wheels leave a lot of vacant space in the wheel arches, which does leave one wanting in terms of looks. The rear is quite simple and clean with nice looking tail lamps and a black bumper.
Overall, many elements in the Maruti Suzuki S-Presso look good and have been executed well. However, the problem with the S-Presso is that it doesn't have the physical footprint to try donning the SUV look. It does attract a lot of attention though and bystanders also either loved it at first sight or disapproved it entirely. And that's the summary for the S-Presso's design so if you like it, you just like it.
For a car in this segment, there's not much of thrill to speak about generally. However, things are slightly different with the S-Presso as surprisingly the cabin looks quite energetic and lively. Opt for the orange colour and the interior will have orange circular accents around the centre console. MINI, anyone?
The infotainment screen is the same that one would find in the Wagon R so Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are present. The colourful tiles on the interface look good and the touch response is impressive as well. The dashboard has a simple no-nonsense design with good touch feel for most surfaces. Build quality and material quality is again good by segment standards. The front door pockets have enough space for 1-litre bottles and there are many more smartly designed cubby holes to store a lot of stuff.
One good thing in the Maruti Suzuki S-Presso is that despite its small size the cabin is not short on space. Even at the rear tall occupants can find decent space and headroom also is ample due to the tall-by design. The rear seat though could do with a bit more cushioning and under-thigh support.
The Maruti Suzuki S-Presso is powered by a 1.0-litre petrol engine, which is the same unit powering the Alto K10. 68 hp and 90 Nm of torque might not sound much but the S-Presso isn't a heavy car so it moves around effortlessly. We were able to touch a speedo indicated 135 kmph in the manual version and acceleration to about 110 kmph is good and overtaking on the highways isn't a problem. Another thing to note is that the engine is quite smooth and refined when you compare it to the Renault Kwid, the main rival of the S-Presso.
Gearbox options include a 5-speed manual and an AGS (AMT) and the gearbox is mated well to the engine resulting in good drivability and no requirement to downshift frequently. In fact, one can drive around in fifth gear at as low as 45 kmph without and issues. The AGS unit also performs well and Maruti Suzuki has once again further improved its AMT technology in this vehicle. As far as AMTs are concerned, I've said it earlier that Maruti Suzuki is far ahead of any other carmaker in India today and the S-Presso further validates that point.
Fuel-efficiency is another important factor in this price bracket and the S-Presso once again impressed us. We achieved a system indicated 24.6kmpl on the highway and 19.6 in the city.
The car feels quite stable until about 110 kmph in straight lines and braking is also adequate from these speeds. Going around corners at a moderate speed is what the car is designed to do and it does that well. Try going in hot and you'll be subjected to a lot of body-roll and onlookers' reaction that you're making a fool out of yourself.
On broken surfaces and speed breakers too the S-Presso impresses and most of the jolts are absorbed by the suspension. A high ground clearance means that one can go through big potholes also without any problem.
Priced between Rs 3.69 to 4.91 lakh the Maruti Suzuki S-presso offers great value for money. In terms of safety, it meets the Indian norms so front dual airbags, ABS, rear parking sensors and speed warning beeps are on offer. Based on a derivative of the HEARTECT platform the S-Presso is also claimed to have improved crashworthiness.
So in a nutshell, the Maruti Suzuki S-Presso delivers well on almost every front. Only thing is that in terms of design, one needs to like at first. If you love the design of the S-Presso then go ahead and buy it because it offers great performance, convenience and fuel-efficiency along with segment-first features like steering-mounted controls and internally adjustable ORVMs. However, if you can't get past the design then anything else won't matter and that's why I said this is a polarising design. Now what percentage of buyers will fall on what side will be interesting to see over the next few months as that is what will decide the fate of the Maruti Suzuki S-Presso.