With its upright design, relatively high ground clearance and elevated seating position, the Maruti Suzuki S-Presso has some of the elements of an SUV. This budget model is aimed squarely at the ‘SUV-inspired’ Renault Kwid, which has also been refreshed to take on the competitive market and the Datsun GO with its new CVT gearbox. The new entry-level hatchback offers only one engine, that is a BS-6 version of the 1.0-litre K10 petrol engine, but buyers get the option of manual and AMT auto gearboxes.
Design-wise, the upright A-pillars, the sculpted, squared-off wheel arches and high-set bonnet grille with the raised position for the LED DRLs make the front look attractive, but the overall proportions are off.; the S-Presso appears too narrow for its height. The standard 14-inch wheels not only look boring but are also a size too small amidst the large squared-out arches.
At the rear, the tail-lamps are C-shaped and the faux aluminium skid plates for the front and rear make its SUV styling complete.
The cabin is a complete departure from the usual small car norm. The speedometer does not sit in the conventional position behind the steering wheel but takes pride of place at the top of the very Mini-like circular centre console. The big font of the digital speedometer makes it easy to read but the Odometer is not quite as legible and there is no tachometer.
The circular centre console is also home to the infotainment system. Top-end models feature Maruti’s latest SmartPlay Studio unit that comprises a 7.0-inch touchscreen. The screen is responsive, the menus are well laid out and the system also gets you Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The dashboard is smart and elements like the body-coloured embellishments around the centre console and side air-con vents do much to uplift the look. The material quality is good, fit and finish is consistent and the textured surfaces on the dash work well.
Also, the S-Presso’s interior feels airy and that’s not something you can say about the cabins of most budget cars. The high roof and large glass area heighten the illusion of space. The small, fixed rear headrests are a point of contention. The S-Presso’s boot seems larger than its 240litre capacity.
The Drive Experience
The 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine produces 68HP and 90Nm of torque. The engine is easily the best among budget cars. Transmission choices include a 5-speed manual and the automated gear shift. For starters, the 1.0-litre engine runs really quiet, but it does get vocal when revved hard but that three-cylinder thrum is well contained.
Performance is also good with smooth power delivery and the rev range is free from flat spots. The engine is also impressively tractable, pulling cleanly from low revs even in higher gear. The S-Presso builds speed with ease and it will not cause any trouble on typical city roads. The S-Presso’s standard-fit 5-speed manual gearbox is also good. In the 5-speed AMT auto, gear shifts are timely. It responds well to throttle inputs but for a quick overtake you will need to mash things down.
Undoubtedly, the S-Presso is an easy car to drive with the friendly steering. Its impressive low-speed bump absorption and the 180mm of ground clearance also comes handy. The suspension setup is good for an entry-level car. But at highway speeds, the suspension cannot smoothen out surface imperfections so there is always a bit of up-down movement.
Should I buy it?
Maruti S-Presso offers you many good features such as a roomy cabin, good ride, driving ease, and quality performance. It also promises excellent fuel economy with the manual and AMT auto rated with an ARAI figure of 21.4-21.7 kmpl depending on the variant. With prices starting from `3.69 lakh to `4.91 lakh, it is a winner....