Budget beater Suzuki S.presso S-Edition manual on test

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First things first, this Suzuki competes with the Renault Kwid, Datsun Go, Toyota Hi-Ace, Metrorail and used cars. I will justify that later on in this write up but now lets tell you more about the S-presso.

The budget compact Suzuki has jumped on the SUV design bandwagon with a high ground clearance, SUV like design cladding around the car. Its an attractive design and even though on the open road it also suffers from the “get out of the way bumper tailing” as other rivals (not so on the Metrorail and Hi-Ace), the dynamic colours give it that happy look. Large headlights with a Jeep like grille and a high bumper design definitely give the budget hatch good looks. The 14-inch steel wheels come with attractive covers and the good thing here is that they are 4-hole bolts meaning after market wheels can easily be fitted (try that in the 3-hole bolt Kwid).

The rear has the SUV cladding on the bumper with a boot opening wide enough for most luggage. The colour pallets for this model makes it really stand out in a good way but against the new Kwid and Go, its a matter of personal tastes.

Inside, the S-presso is surprisingly roomy with 5 adults fitting in quite easily. The cloth seats are low maintenance with the rear seats folding for added luggage space. The dash design reminds one of a certain Mini design with a colour coded circle surround. The speedo is clear to see with digital km/h but no rev counter. The S-edition comes with a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment screen that had Android Auto & Apple CarPlay connectivity. This makes it have Navigation, Message reading, something which the young buyers of this car will certainly enjoy. Controlling the USB/Radio/Bluetooth on the move can be distracting due to the volume controls being touch sensitive instead of the easier rotary  knob. Electric windows up front are standard as is aircon. Theres a USB port and 12v charging port upfront with a 2 cup holders in the middle, stowage space in front of them and door pockets good enough to store most items. There is a rear camera with parking sensors as standard, useful for the nervous first time lady driver in parking spaces.

Powering all S-presso models is a 50kW/90Nm 1-litre 3-cylinder engine driving the front wheels via a 5 speed manual. The engine is refined and keeps the S-presso along with traffic even on inclines. With 2 people it rarely needed upshifts on inclines and the engine proved equally adept in rough roads driving. Unlike its nemesis the Kwid, the S-presso is not affected much by cross winds even at speeds and doesn’t sound harsh at 120lm/h. Suzuki claims 4.9l/100km but we got 5.4l/100km on test, something which is a boon for monthly maintenance. We found it interesting that from empty, if you put R100, the fuel gauge jumped to over half tank and gives very good mileage as well. Its no handler and I am sure Suzuki wasn’t aiming for the Sport driver but then again the young ones who will buy this car will take comfort in ABS, EBD, twin airbags coming standard. Alarm immobiliser comes standard but I wouldn’t envisage this car being wanted like used Polo Vivos and that bodes well for insurance.

Speaking of insurance, just like the Go and Kwid, the S-presso comes standard with a 1-year free insurance which is very useful for private buyers who just started driving as this gives them the chance to lower their risk for that free year until they have to get their insurance (first year of insurance for first time buyers is generally not cheap). Priced at R152 900, the S edition model can be financed at R2 200 per month instalments (Ts&Cs apply). Add the low fuel consumption, 2 year/30 000km service plan, 5 year/200 000km warranty and its a no brainer, if you are still using public transport, you must consider this car as a very serious option. Take the monthly spend on public transport for you and your family (spouse and at least 1 child), add peace of mind (waking up later to drive yourself to work and avoid taxi strikes and queues, never mind weekend family functions needing you to not beg the cousin who has a car for a lift), safety (have you seen how the trains are loaded and how taxis drive) and with the Covid-19 pandemic, your ability to limit other human interaction is proving more valuable than ever. This for me makes the S-presso a very very good package. Used cars are almost the same price but they lack the service plan, warranty and free insurance.