I must admit that since it was launched in April, it seemed striking to me to have the opportunity to test the new Suzuki S-Presso (fortunately I was the winner in the MT Motores test drive raffle). I wanted to drive it because it will always be interesting to live aboard an access vehicle, a model that is positioned in the most affordable part of the car tariff in Chile and that, in addition, lands a new concept on the market: because it is a kind of mini SUV but with the size and performance of a traditional citycar Asian.
In appearance, the Suzuki S-Presso attracts attention. It is rare that it goes unnoticed (the test unit was also orange). The silhouette is quite square and resembles that of a bootie, with the particularity of being also very narrow (it barely exceeds a meter and a half between the mirrors), to the point of being taller than it is wide. “How nice this car, what model is it?” A woman asked me in a parking lot shortly after I had taken it away from the Derco store. Another point that in my opinion makes it look extravagant, is its great ground clearance of 180 mm. To what extent is a ‘good ground clearance’ (as they say in product presentations) really good?
Inside, the S-Presso denotes an almost Franciscan humility. The first thing you notice when climbing is a very high driving position. First, because, as said, the body is already quite elevated from the ground, and second, because between the ground and the seat itself there is an iron frame that artificially raises the driver’s position more. The negative of all the above is that the seat cannot be lowered in any way, to which we must add that the steering wheel is like those of the 90’s cars: it has no height adjustments or less depth. I measure 1.78 meters. and the position at the wheel was really uncomfortable for me.
The sensations continue with a locally installed central touchscreen that has no analog knob or key, which wouldn’t be so frustrating if the steering wheel had buttons to control it. This means that at any time, stopped, in the city or on the road, you have to look away and interact in one or more steps to change the song, raise or lower the volume or put a mute. Yes, it is very positive to use Google Maps or Waze that the display is compatible with Android and Apple.
Rear legroom is satisfactory, although the narrow body width can fit two adults or three children. The seat belt in the middle is of the belt type and there is no headrest. Two child restraint systems can be installed thanks to its Isofix hooks.
Other peculiarities are given by an instrument panel in the middle of the dash (like the first Toyota Yaris), by the absence of a left footrest, by sun visors without mirrors and an extremely narrow center mirror that forces double checks or adjustments to maneuver in reverse or to change tracks. The front windows are placed on the dash and this arrangement also requires a few days of adaptation (they are with a handle at the back).
Once in motion, the Suzuki S-Presso shows perhaps its best when it gets around town. The 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine (67 Hp and 90 Nm) responds forcefully in all rev ranges and there is hardly any need to help it by engaging lower gears (a light weight of 770 kilos helps it a lot). Thus, it is easy to move on busy avenues or on motorway additions. Shortly after driving it, it is already known that this mini SUV, as it is promoted, responds to what is demanded of it with the right foot.
The negative comes first by a direction that although it is electrically assisted, it does not return with enough naturalness. It seems to get stuck in that return to the center, so that one cannot trust it (it happened a couple of times to want to go straight and the direction was still turned more than normal). At least one learns it fast and the turning radius is very limited (4.5 meters). Also, shifting should be passed by ear (or by speed and incline range), because this S-Presso doesn’t have a tachometer.
On the road, either because of its extreme thinness and height or because of its unattached detachment from the ground, this Suzuki could not be called a poised vehicle. You have to take the curves with due respect because we must not forget that the laws of physics rule, especially in this model. Adding up the rolling noise that seeps into the cabin, it is clear that driving it up to 100 km / h seems the most prudent.
In safety, it cannot be ignored that this Suzuki S-Presso received zero stars in Global NCAP tests last November (in reality the tested model had only one airbag and this -by national homologation requirement- equipped with two front bags) . Obviously there is no way to ensure that this local version is actually superior to the one marketed in India, but what is clear is that such a vehicle, with the aforementioned ground clearance, should not leave the factory without equipping the stability control. (ESP). It has already been said that ‘good ground clearance’ will not always be positive. Here’s a good case.
Beyond all, the Suzuki S-Presso seems like a petty bet, honest at least for those determined to move into the concrete jungle. The economy of movement and mechanical simplicity will then be the best allies.