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News18 » Auto
7-min read

Maruti Suzuki S-Presso First Drive Review: SUV or Just Another Hatchback?

The Maruti Suzuki S-Presso is the latest car to be launched by Maruti Suzuki and is said to be a Micro-SUV. But does that mean is it just another hatchback? Or does it actually offer the SUV feel in a budget?

Manav Sinha | News18.com@manav_sinha

Updated:October 8, 2019, 11:28 AM IST
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Maruti Suzuki S-Presso First Drive Review: SUV or Just Another Hatchback?
Maruti Suzuki S-Presso. (Photo: Manav Sinha/News18.com)

What happens when you list down all the elements that make an SUV, offer them in a compact package and make it at an aggressive price tag? Well, you get the Maruti Suzuki S-Presso. On paper, at least, this sounds like a formula too good to fail as us Indians love SUVs and the fact that there is now a new one, with modern features, with variants less that cost less than Rs 5 lakh – surely, this has to be the new benchmark setter, right? Well, to find that out, we got our hands on the S-Presso to see just what it is and whether it is a must buy.

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Let’s start with what would be perhaps one of the biggest attractions for this car – which are its looks. Firstly, I have to say that it looks better in flesh than it does in pictures. And while looks are a subjective matter, for us, it has all the elements that is needed to give it the SUV-look. It gets a small grille that gives the impression of a large front-end area. The lower half of the front bumper which has been blacked out to make it look a bit raised in terms of height. You also get square-ish headlamps, a high-rise flat bonnet and a sharply raked A-pillar, all of which give the car an upright stance.

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It is important to note, however, that the chrome elements that you see on the grille as well as the LED DRLs on our test unit, both of them are offered as accessories and not as standard. The only other accessory that this car had was the blacked-out spoiler at the back.

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And this brings us to the back. The rear-end design is rather simple with smart-looking tail lamps and the rear bumper gets the split-colour treatment as well. On the sides, you have the B-pillar which has been blacked-out and the S-Presso gets huge squared-off wheel arches to add some muscle.

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So yes, it does get the SUV elements but how all of that comes together ends up giving the car a bit of an odd-stance. My guess is that it is due to the wheels that it has, which despite being 14-inch in size on this top-spec model, end up looking too small inside those humongous wheel arches. And the fact that you can see through inside the wheel well that has not been blacked out, is not a pretty sight at all.

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Same goes for when you look at the car from the back as the tyres end up looking skinny underneath all that body cladding.

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So while you may or may not like this styling, what I can you tell you for sure is that you would like the advantages that it brings with it. The biggest one being that getting in and out of the car is a lot easier than all other cars that the S-Presso competes against. And this is especially true when you compare it to the likes of the Maruti Suzuki Alto, in which you pretty much drop down into the seat. In the S-Presso, it is pretty much walking in and out of the car straight, and not downwards or upwards.

And once you step in, onto the driver seat, you will notice that there is no instrument cluster right in front of you, like where you usually expect it to be. And since all that area is left open, you have a wider field of view. Add to that the high-rise seating position, the commanding driving position, the big glass panels all around and the S-Presso does manage to give you that SUV feels.

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It also has a brand new interior design from Maruti Suzuki that looks pretty fantastic. The biggest attraction here is the circular design element around the touchscreen infotainment system which is very MINI like. It houses the instrument cluster as well which includes a digital speed readout that makes it easy to read while you are driving the car. The cluster also houses all the tell-tale signs along with a gear shift indicator which is a nice touch. Coming to the touchscreen infotainment system, it is one of the best in the segment with good touch response and also has support for AUX, USB, Bluetooth connectivity, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. And the multimedia experience gets even better thanks to the steering-mounted audio controls which also gives access to voice commands. So full marks in terms of equipment to the S-Presso.

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You also get plenty of compartment spaces throughout the cabin and the power window controls have been placed higher up which is great. We were also impressed with the quality of plastics used on the dash which adds to the premium-ness. There are bottle holders only on the front doors and while the rear doors do miss out on their respective bottle holders, the rear passengers have to make do with a centre-placed bottle holder for themselves. The boot space is decent too but what the S-Presso impresses with is the amount of space that it offers.

Having set the driver seat according to my height, and for reference, I am 5'10, and I still had huge amount of knee room on offer. At the back as well, you sit pretty high which also opens up space for your feet. There is ample shoulder room and being a tall car, there is enough shoulder room as well. There is space for having three people sit abreast at the back seat but it is going to be a bit of a squeeze.

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Now let’s talk about the driving experience. The Maruti Suzuki S-Presso is powered by a 998cc engine that makes about 67 horsepower and 90 Nm of torque. And I have to say, this engine is so good and I absolutely loved it. Yes, it is a bit audible inside the cabin at higher RPMs but that’s about the only nitpicking I can do because otherwise, it leaves absolutely nothing to complain. It is smooth and has great levels of refinement and the power delivery is linear and progressive. You can lug the engine around in city traffic a gear higher if you want and it feels comfortable doing triple-digit speeds as well. As for the transmission option, there is a choice of a 5-speed manual and a 5-speed AMT gearbox.

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The manual gearbox-equipped version is definitely the peppy one. The clutch feels light and the gearshifts are light too with short throws. So while it may not be as convenient as an AMT gearbox, it is a rather well set up manual gearbox. Talking about the AMT unit, well, that is refined as well. The gear shifts are nice and smooth and there is no sense of urgency through the gear shifts. If you ask more of it, like when you would want to overtake someone, it does take a moment to figure out which gear should it complete the overtake in but drive the car with a light foot and you won't have anything to complain.

A big reason behind the car feeling so peppy on the road is down to the new platform that it uses which has allowed the S-Presso to be light in weight. But since it is tall, seems like Maruti Suzuki has had to stiffen up the suspension to control the body roll. So while the body roll is present but does not feel jerky, the ride quality with a single passenger at highway speeds can be a bit bumpy with vertical movements through road undulations. With more passengers, however, the ride becomes pliant.

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We drove the car mostly on smooth highways so we will have to wait and see how it performs when it combats everyday potholes in our full road test. First impressions, however, are good.

What you need to keep in mind, though, is that while it offers a high seating position, the seat height is not adjustable. As a result, taller people will find that the roof does intervene in their field of vision. It did a bit for me and when I put the sun visor down and I couldn’t see absolutely anything out at the front.

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But at the end of the day given the price tag that it comes at, it does offer plenty bang for your buck and comes with features and a design that does justify the price tag to an extent. Also, this is your best bet at getting as close to getting that SUV feel in a budget as it can get, and if that’s what you are looking for, then you will love the S-Presso.

So to wrap up my thoughts, Maruti Suzuki has pretty much hit the nail on its head with the S-Presso. It is a complete all-round package but as far as I have gathered, the design has been a bit polarising. While some are not a big fan of it, many readily sign up to the idea of a compact budget mini/micro-SUV. What I would suggest is wait till you see the car in flesh before making up your mind. Post that, if you find yourself in the latter part of the group, then there is no doubt, that the Maruti Suzuki S-Presso is a fantastic option to go for.

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| Edited by: Manav Sinha
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