The S-Presso’s funky styling should appeal to young buyers. Picture: SUPPLIED
The S-Presso’s funky styling should appeal to young buyers. Picture: SUPPLIED

Suzuki has a model range for seemingly every compact-car niche there is, and until now the Celerio 1.0 hatchback occupied the bottom of the ladder, luring first-time car buyers with a starting price of R144,900.

Now the brand’s gone a rung lower with its new S-Presso, which with a base price of R134,900 becomes SA’s most affordable car.

Suzuki calls it an urban SUV by virtue of the vehicle’s raised 180mm ground clearance and the “command” driving position that has become de rigueur with modern car buyers.

Imported from India, the vehicle is available in a range of five variants, with the range-topping derivative priced at R160,900.

Sweetening the S-Presso deal is one-year’s insurance included across the range, together with a five-year/200,000km warranty and two-year/30,000km service plan.

The power is humble to match the budget pricing, with Suzuki’s 1.0l normally aspirated three-cylinder 50kW/90Nm petrol engine doing duty across the S-Presso line-up, paired with either a five-speed manual or five-speed automated manual transmission (AMT).

Parents seeking a first car for their teenagers will welcome the presence of two airbags and ABS brakes as standard fitment across the S-Presso range, though the car hasn’t yet been crash-tested. Until it is, its safety cannot be rated against rivals like the Kwid which has been pilloried for its poor crash performance.

Safety features include ABS brakes and a pair of airbags, but no crash rating yet. Picture: SUPPLIED
Safety features include ABS brakes and a pair of airbags, but no crash rating yet. Picture: SUPPLIED

The youngsters driving it are likely to fall primarily for its looks. The S-Presso’s a funky looking thing with “urban adventurer” chic and comes in vibey colours including the pictured Fizzle Orange.

At just 3,565mm long, the Suzuki is tinier even than competitors such as the Kwid and Hyundai Atos. How this translates into interior space I wasn’t able to gauge as the S-Presso’s scheduled media launch was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, replaced instead by a live YouTube presentation.

I wasn’t therefore able to see if I could squeeze my six-foot frame into the back seat — that will have to wait for when we get the car for a road test in the coming weeks — though Suzuki does quote a usefully sized 239l boot and that the rear bench seat folds down to expand the cargo capacity. As a bonus, there’s a full-sized spare wheel.

For R134,900 the baseline S-Presso 1.0 GL isn’t bereft of features and offers basics such as front electric windows, rear parking sensors, air conditioning, remote central locking, power steering, a digital speedometer and a trip computer.

The GL+ models get the added frill of a colour touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone Bluetooth integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, or USB and auxiliary ports. The screen also has an integrated reversing camera.

Bite-sized but not bare: bells and whistles are fairly plentiful even in the baseline version. Picture: SUPPLIED
Bite-sized but not bare: bells and whistles are fairly plentiful even in the baseline version. Picture: SUPPLIED

On the upper end, the S-Edition models sport an SUV-style look with a silver front grille, front and rear skid plates and protective cladding on the doors and wheel arches. The interior is also vamped up with some silver detailing. All S-Presso models run on 14-inch steel wheels.

Suzuki quotes a budget-friendly 4.9l /100km consumption figure for the S-Presso, which could squeeze up to a 550km range out of the tiny 27l fuel tank.

The small engine makes the S-Presso a primarily urban-focused car, but a kerb weight of just 770kg should evoke more pace than the meek power and torque figures suggest. We’ll find out once we get a chance to drive it.

One thing I can say with certainty is that automated manual transmissions are universally horrible to drive, so stick to a manual version.


Pricing

1.0 GL MT — R134,900

1.0 GL+ MT — R139,900

1.0 GL+ AMT — R152,900

1.0 S-Edition MT — R147,900

1.0 S-Edition AMT — R160,900

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