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Juliet McGuire

First drive in the Suzuki S-Presso

I have been looking forward to the launch of the Suzuki S-Presso for a few weeks now, mainly because I was going to get to stay in a fancy hotel and didn’t have to fly anywhere. If only I’d known hey?! The launch was understandably cancelled, but that didn’t stop me bugging the wonderful Suzuki crowd for a set of keys to one of the launch cars. They caved and allowed me to take one out for a spin. Yes, I am feeling very chuffed with myself.

BUDGET-BUYING

I do so enjoy a budget car. The reason being that manufacturers have to create a car that doesn’t suck but that also ticks so many boxes. Renault has managed to make a car that ticks all the boxes in the form of the Kwid, but I can’t say it doesn’t suck altogether. I had it for a week and nearly drove it off a cliff on purpose. The Datsun Go is another one I struggle to love. I understand their place, and I believe they are fantastic value for money. But the drive on both these cars is not pleasant.

Enter the Suzuki S-Presso. Granted it is a fugly looking thing. Some people seem to like it, others have compared it to a Jeep Renegade, I look at it and giggle. But I guess that means it has that cutesy look that so many budget cars aim for. And once I started driving it, I was left rather impressed.

Suzuki S-Presso

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE DRIVE BEFORE THE SPEC

Usually I mention everything the car has on offer, but because the drive stood out to me, I wanted to mention it first. You know that high clutch in cheaper cars that is conducive to stalling? The one that makes hill starts a real ball-ache. The one that makes you send the revs through the roof because you’re trying not to stall and then you jerk in to second gear but try remain cool, calm and collected and act like you were meant to do that? Ya that. Well, the S-Presso doesn’t do that. It is easy on the clutch control. No stalling, no jerking, just a smooth experience overall.

The gear shifts are also smooth and the ride in general is rather good. Look, I don’t want to get caught in a strong cross wind or anything like that, but on a sparkling Cape Town day, driving along the coast, one is quite fine. Granted, I didn’t take it on the highway and I will do the ‘real testing’ once I get the car on test for a week. But I wanted to get an initial feel for it and so was glad I got to drive it, if only for a an hour or so. I can usually tell within this timeframe whether or not I love or hate a car. I didn’t hate the S-Presso.

The engine is the same one you will find in the Celerio, which is a naturally aspirated 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine. It gives you 50 kW and 90Nm. It claims an average fuel consumption of 4.9l/100 km. This low fuel consumption is always the silver lining of an engine so small. There is even a choice between a five-speed manual or five-speed automated manual transmission.

NOW FOR THE GOODS

As with the outside, the inside is just as jarring to the eye. I know this sounds harsh, but it is an odd yet some would say, funky, interior. It gives you that Mini vibe, which is not a favourite look of mine. However, with that said, the line up of standard spec might make up for the weird round central dashboard design. Electric windows, rear parking sensors, air conditioning, power steering and a multi-information display are standard across the board.

Suzuki S-Presso

The GL+ model enjoys a touchscreen colour infotainment system which boasts Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There is also a USB and auxiliary port as well as Bluetooth connectivity and a reverse camera. The S-Edition models add a few styling elements that might appeal to the more style-conscious. From a safety point of view, you can expect two airbags as standard and as well as anti-lock braking system (ABS) with emergency brake-force distribution (EBD).

Suzuki S-Presso

WHAT’S IN A NAME

I know I am harping on about the odd looks, but the name is also a bit of a question mark, isn’t it? This is what I have got for you on this topic, from Suzuki: “As every connoisseur will tell you, the best way to experience quality coffee is to remove all but the very essence and to concentrate the flavour in a short and very flavourful espresso. This is the inspiration behind the S-Presso…” Alrighty then!

SUZUKI S-PRESSO VALUE FOR MONEY

The S-Presso comes in cheaper than both the Kwid and the Datsun Go. Yet it mirrors the fantastic value for money by offering:

  • A promotional 5-year / 200 000km mechanical warranty
  • A 2 -year/30 000 km service plan
  • Comprehensive roadside assistance with emergency medical rescue included
  • And all S-Presso models come with one year’s complementary insurance

S-PRESSO PRICING

Suzuki S-Presso 1,0 GL: R134 900
Suzuki S-Presso 1,0 GL+: R139 900
Suzuki S-Presso 1,0 GL+ AMT: R152 900
Suzuki S-Presso 1,0 S-Edition: R147 900
Suzuki S-Presso 1,0 S-Edition AMT: R160 900

I am looking forward to driving it for longer. But for now, I will say that it is certainly my favourite on the budget-buy bunch!

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