If you are looking for a car that has some SUV traits and are on a tight budget, the S-Presso is not a bad option., says Deepankar Sadekar.
Every second car being launched these days seems to be an SUV (sports utility vehicle) of some description.
They come in all shapes and sizes -- gargantuan, large, mid-size, compact -- and appear to be among the few vehicles that people are still interested in buying in a depressed automotive market.
No surprise, then, that Maruti Suzuki has decided to create a new segment -- the micro SUV -- that it can slot its S-Presso into. (Whether you agree that a small car can be called an SUV at all is an entirely different matter. In my opinion, it's a stretch.)
The S-Presso comes in four trim levels, from standard to the top end VXI+. It isn't quite a stunner, but does have its share of distinctive SUV design elements.
The bonnet is flat and it gets large twin-chamber headlamps along with a chunky front grille with chrome accents and a large Suzuki logo.
The bumper is designed in a split fashion, and the LED DRLs can be fitted as an accessory. The square wheel arches are flared, and the 14-inch steel wheels have wheel caps (lower variants get 13-inchers) and a sharp crease line that runs across the doors.
The massive 180mm of ground clearance is its most SUV-like characteristic. At the rear, you get C-shaped tail lamps with a split rear bumper.
If you want to customise your S-Presso a bit, Maruti offers two styling packages -- Energetic and Expedition.
Accessories offered with these packages include front and rear skid plates, diamond-cut alloy wheels, body cladding, rear spoiler, seat covers with coloured accents and floor mats.
Inside, there's a large, circular centre console with silver accents on the border, with the same going for the AC vents.
The central instrument cluster houses a digital speedometer, fuel consumption, distance to empty, headlamp-on warning, gear shift indicator (manual) and gear position indicator (AMT).
The seats are pretty comfortable, and there's plenty of head and leg room for even rear passengers with long legs.
Storage includes a couple of cup holders in the centre and two one-litre bottle holders in the front doors.
The features list on the S-Presso VXI+ include 7-inch touchscreen SmartPlay Studio, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, internally adjustable rear view mirrors, steering-mounted controls for audio and phone, 12 V power socket and front power windows.
Powering the S-Presso is a 1-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engine from the K-Series family. This motor is now BS-VI compliant and puts out 67bhp and 90Nm of torque.
You get a choice of a five-speed manual or AMT (AGS in Maruti lingo) automatic gearbox. I got to sample both on a drive from Jodhpur to Khimsar Fort and back, which offered a mix of crowded city and highway driving.
The S-Presso feels right at home in traffic. The light steering and compact dimensions made maneouvering between cows, donkeys and other animals endemic to Rajasthan roads a breeze.
The 4.5-metre turning radius made taking U-turns in the tightest of situations easy too. And with the automatic gearbox, the S-Presso works well as a daily commuter; I would recommend it over the manual gearbox. The occasional highway run shouldn't be a problem either, as long as you drive with a light foot.
The suspension is on the stiff side, though it does soak in most bad patches. Thuds from deep potholes filter in sharply but speed breakers are not a problem thanks to the ground clearance.
As far as handling goes, there is prominent body roll going around corners, and I wouldn't recommend the S-Presso for spirited driving.
The ABS that is now standard works well. Other safety features include dual airbags, rear parking sensors, seatbelt reminders and high-speed alert system.
Maruti is looking to create an all new segment with its micro SUV -- likely to interest an Alto buyer on the lookout for something different.
The S-Presso is quite a good overall package: It is easy to drive and comes with a decent feature list as well.
If you are looking for a car that has some SUV traits and are on a tight budget, the S-Presso is not a bad option.
Just don't fool yourself into thinking that you're driving an actual SUV.