TEST DRIVE | A different kinda DRIVE

By Anton Willemse Jnr

Your car is an extension of you and what you like to do. Whether you are a sound connoisseur or a space lover – the Suzuki S-Presso is perfect for you. We’re all different after all, and we enjoy different things, so why not choose a car that matches whoever you are and whatever you do.

Recently I had the opportunity to drive the quirky little Suzuki S-Presso, the Japanese automaker’s challenger for the affordable compact market. Suzuki always exudes fun and adventure in their marketing material and even more so with the S-Presso, targeting the very discerning 20-something clan.

When I first saw the little car in my driveway, my first thought was… “Oops – I might not fit in this thing”, since I’m just over 6 feet tall. Much to my surprise, I climbed in and sat comfortably in the driver seat. Even though I had to push the seat way back, there was still ample space for my equally lanky teenage sister behind me. Compared to its competitors, it’s much larger inside and can seat four people comfortably. Coupled with a reasonably large boot for the golf bags, the S-Presso is perfect for day-to-day driving or hitting the longer roads for a weekend away.

During my time with the car, I took it to the mall and drove my younger sister to and from school. I even used it to go on a date, and I am pleased to report that the girl was rather impressed with my blue bullet. The jury is still out on whether the company impressed her equally…
I think she enjoyed the S-Presso because of its quirky and retro interior design, coupled with a rather aggressive exterior styling. The interior reminds me of the early 2000s Mini Cooper with the circular centrepiece containing the instrument cluster, seven-inch infotainment system, and the buttons that operate the windows. The interior isn’t that busy or confusing and sports everything you’d expect from a car in this segment, and then some. This includes electronic windows in the front, air conditioning, a rear-view camera and as a welcome bonus, rear parking sensors.

The infotainment system has Bluetooth connectivity as well as Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity, rounded off with both a USB and 12V charging port. As for the quality of sound – it’s fair, but a bit static at the higher volumes us youngsters enjoy listening to. You’d probably have to look into fitting a subwoofer or alternative speakers if you want to enjoy your tunes on longer trips. Additionally, the S-Presso has a good variety of safety features such as ABS, EBD and dual front airbags.

Let’s move to the exterior. When I saw the car during its launch period, I immediately liked the styling. It has the body lines of an SUV, and as a result, it seems to have a larger stature than its rivals. It was even once mistaken for the new Vitara Brezza while I was driving it, which underlines the SUV-like styling. The front looks new and somehow familiar at the same time. The familiarity is probably due to the grille with similar elements of the more off-road orientated Suzuki’s such as the old Vitara’s and the current Jimny. The rear repeats the same design elements, making it a stunning head-turner (especially in the starry blue pearl body colour I sampled).

In terms of performance, the little car boasts a 1-litre engine that produces an impressive 50kW and 90Nm peak torque, driving the front wheels through a five-speed manual. It is quite nippy when going faster. However, I didn’t like driving it in high revs since it sounds and feels like the engine is trying to escape from underneath the hood.

According to Suzuki, its fuel consumption is 4.9 litre/100 km. However, I only managed 6 litres/100km while driving in town. The tiny 27-litre fuel tank will give you about 500km per tank, so if planning to hit the longer roads, make sure you can fill up regularly!

As the saying goes… what goes up, must come down, and yes, there are a couple of downsides to this vehicle and a few things I did not enjoy. Starting with the handling of the car. The S-Presso suffers from body roll. There were times when I thought I was on the verge of tipping over (even while doing modest speeds). That, paired with the immense play on the steering wheel, meant that there were times at which I felt I had little to no control of the vehicle. As I mentioned, the engine makes a massive racket, and the gearbox can sometimes struggle to engage a gear.

However, in conclusion, I think the Suzuki S-Presso is an excellent car for anybody looking for an alternative in this segment. It can and will handle everything you throw at it. Starting at under R150k (R145 900 for the 1.0 GL MT) it is a lot of car for a reasonable price. With its SUV design and funky styling, it’s spacious and turns heads. The good power output and fuel economy mean you can zip around without breaking your bank balance. While I found the handling to be a bit of an issue, one can get used to it.
All and all, I enjoyed the car and wouldn’t mind owning one! As a bonus, your date might like you a little more when arriving in style with the S-Presso… the flipside, of course, is that you need to up your game to the S-Presso’s level then!

The S-Presso Range comes standard with a 2-year/ 30 000km service plan and 3-year/ unlimited roadside assistance and is priced as follows:

  • 1.0 GL MT: R145 900
  • 1.0 GL+ MT: R150 900
  • 1.0 GL+ AMT: R164 900
  • 1.0 S-Edition MT: R150 900
  • 1.0 S-Edition AMT: R173 900

About Simone Anderson

Simone Anderson is the owner and founder of the JUNIOR GOLFER SA magazine as well as Simone Anderson Design and Layout Solutions.