I imagine that launching a new car right now must be hard, what with the pandemic and all.
It's right to self-quarantine, to isolate, but Suzuki South Africa was all dressed up with no place to go when our president announced the strict but necessary contingents around public gatherings and events.
So, four days of launching with the nation's motoring media was soon replaced with a video premiere you could watch from the comfort of your own home. As for me, I was already in an S-Presso when the news broke, charged with photographing the thing. By myself. Quarantined. So I may as well drive it, right?
The new Suzuki S-Presso is a new SUV-alike tyke, built in India to be affordable. But since its Suzuki it's also fun and well-enough appointed, plus the company knows how to package space into a small footprint.
At just R134,900, it will naturally compete against now stalwart entry-levelers such as the refreshed Renault Kwid and steadily improved Datsun Go, but it will also battle the Mahindra KUV100. My initial viewings of the new baby Suzuki on my smartphone's screen led me to believe that this car shared a platform with the KUV100, so similar they appeared. In the metal however, the Suzuki pulls ahead in styling, you'd almost call it cute.
It is in fact built from high tensile steel on Suzuki's faithful HEARTECT platform. So while it has no safety rating as yet (it's not even destined for Europe), the S-Presso will enjoy decent safety levels – especially at this point end of the market. Itself available in five spec levels and can be had in Sizzle Orange, Fire Red, Pearl Starry Blue, Metallic Granite Grey, Metallic Silky Silver and White. I'm in the S-Edition with a manual 'box, the pick of the litter at R147,900.
Under the orange peel
It's a micro SUV so is just 3,565mm long, measures 1,520mm wide and is 1,564 mm tall. This tallies up to 767kg – impressive until I get in and ruin that light kerb weight. And it's a good thing that it's light because under that tiny orange bonnet lives a minuscule one litre engine good enough for 50kW and a handful of torques.
So look, it’s not going to light your hair on fire, but with five manual forward gears and no passengers (extra weight), and with the famously twisty Red Hill road ahead of me, naturally, I was going to have a go. "Drop a gear and disappear" they say, well in this case it's more like "flatten the gas and hope to pass".
I tease, the S-Presso has a fair bit of acceleration thanks to its low weight, which means I'm wearing a grin on the empty twisty roads. Sure, handling can be filed under 'tall-narrow dynamics' and the flat seats could grip better but considering what it's been designed for – affordable people movement – I'm perfectly satisfied.
Oh hey MINI interior, no wait....
So, in summary
I love the name, yes, I know it's an odd one. But for someone who knows of the Suzuki Cappuccino sport kei car, the idea of another coffee flavoured product is well, cute.
There's a lot of cuteness here, in between the awkward tall and narrow box aesthetic – and I'm happy to see it's translated into the cabin. The dashboard in particular is dominated by a Mini-aping circle that houses the Android Auto enabled touchscreen. It does Apple CarPlay too. Overall, the cabin is a pleasant place to be as long as you're not sitting shoulder to shoulder with another rugby forward. Aircon lives here, adjustable seats and electric windows at the front and you know what, it's 2020 and by now these are pretty much essentials.
So, I'm glad to see Suzuki isn't lagging in these important areas. Would I recommend one? Wholeheartedly. Time will tell if South Africa's cheapest new car, is also its best cheap car.
Suzuki S-Presso 1.0 S-Edition MT Spec:
|Engine ||1l 3-cyl petrol, NASP |
|Gearbox ||5 speed manual|
|Driven Wheels ||Front |
|Top Speed ||N/A|
|Average Fuel Consumption ||4.9l/100km|
|CO2 Emissions ||118g/km|
|1.0 GL MT (Audio prep) ||R134,900.00|
|1.0 GL+ MT (Touchscreen audio) ||R139,900.00|
|1.0 GL+ AMT (Touchscreen audio) ||R152,900.00|
|1.0 S-Edition MT ||R147,900.00|
|1.0 S-Edition AMT ||R160,900.00|