The Maruti Suzuki S-Presso is a great lesson in how imitation can be used to create a unique, popular product. The name is a fun take on the word expression and is also inspired by the not-so-well-known (in India) Suzuki Cappuccino compact sportscar; the exterior is Maruti’s version of an SUV-like hatchback and the dashboard is 'copy but don't make it obvious' case from a Mini.
The S-Presso is not a panic reaction to how popular the Renualt Kwid has become, but a recognition of a new segment of buyers. Need proof? The Alto’s domination of the segment has hardly been affected by the Kwid, and the S-Presso is already out-selling the Kwid each month.
Does the S-Presso cater to these buyers well? We spent some time with the S-Presso and here’s what we found out.
How practical is it?
That boxy design is not just about aesthetics, it is literally the most practical shape there is. The S-Presso uses this boxiness along with ‘tall-boy’ proportions to maximise the space available. Even though it is shorter in length, narrower in width, and has a shorter wheelbase than the Kwid, our own measurements have shown that the S-Presso has significantly more legroom for both the front and rear passengers. The S-Presso is taller (by 90mm) as compared to the Kwid, and that frees up space to package things better.
In terms of interior cubby space, the S-Presso offers more to the front passengers than the rear. It gets two cup holders in the lower centre console, usable spaces on the door pads including one-litre bottle holders and separate coin pockets, a large enough glove compartment, and even a wide and deep open slot along the top edge of the glovebox to place stuff like your wallet.
The rear passengers will have to do with a bottle holder placed in between the front seats, there are no storage bins on the door pads or pockets behind the front seats.
The boot is surprisingly cavernous for a car of its dimensions - we could fit a weekend’s worth of luggage for four adults with room to spare for some knick knacks. The rather tall loading lip of the S-Presso is bothersome, especially while loading and unloading heavier luggage.
What’s on the feature list?
On this top of the line VXI+ variant, the feature list is quite substantial. For starters, the car is offered with a convenient key-integrated remote lock/unlock system. Step inside and you are greeted by a large centre console which houses the all-digital instrument cluster, seven-inch ‘Smartplay Studio’ infotainment touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, steering mounted audio and telephony controls, and the manual A/C controls.
The LED DRLs you see in these pictures are not standard fitment, even on this top-of-the-line variant, and has to be bought as a dealership-fitted accessory. This is a recommended addition to the S-Presso since it actually makes the car more noticeable to others on the road, and also improves safety.
Unlike the Kwid, there are no 12-volt power sockets for the rear passengers in the S-Presso, which makes the rear an even less appealing place to be in. The manually winding rear windows are also a bummer, especially considering the fact that this feature is offered on the Kwid.
Safety equipment includes dual front occupant airbags in this variant, rear parking sensors with display on the infotainment screen, ABS+EBD and a speed alert system (one beep at 80kmph, continuous beeps after 120kmph).
What’s the fuel efficiency like?
In our real world fuel efficiency tests we got 17kmpl in city conditions and 20kmpl out on the highway.
How does it perform on the daily commute?
The Maruti Suzuki S-Presso is designed to be a city dweller. Everything - from its compact dimensions, all around visibility, light driving controls, and low speed ride quality - make it perfect to potter around town.
The engine is peppy and thanks to the light kerb weight of 763kg, it doesn’t take more than a light dab on the throttle to get up to speed. The gearbox is notchy, but you wouldn’t mind it much as the shift action is very easy. Combined, the peppy engine and easy to shift gearbox make the S-Presso a hoot to drive around the city.
The biggest advantage of the S-Presso is its compact dimensions - you can park it in very tight spaces, you don’t feel hesitant in taking up that small gap that has opened up in traffic and you can transport three of your friends around town comfortably.
How is it for a weekend with the gang?
The Maruti S-Presso should be used for a weekend getaway with your gang only if you do not have an alternative. Sure, it has enough space to seat four people comfortably even if all of them are over six feet tall. But the front passenger won’t like bumping elbows with you constantly and will keep pestering you about the speed you are driving at thanks to the centrally mounted speedometer.
You can only seat two people at the rear, or find three really thin friends to go on a long trip without too many complaints. A centre armrest is sorely missed, considering how useful this is for longer journeys and also because the Kwid is offered with one.
While the shoulder room is slightly better at the back, the short and stubby fixed headrests make longer journeys really uncomfortable. Add all this to the aforementioned lack of cubby spaces and charging socket, the S-Presso does not make a good case for itself as a weekend getaway car.
Still, if you do seat four (or five grumpy ones) in the S-Presso, you will find that the peppy engine propels the car to highway speeds with ease. The ride, even with all the occupants and the luggage, never deteriorates.
The light steering is not very confidence inspiring at high speeds as it does not weigh up as much as we would have liked. The tall body design also makes the S-Presso not so fun to be in when taking corners spiritedly, so keep calm.
What’s the deal with the warranty?
Maruti is offering the S-Presso with a two-year/40,000km warranty as standard with the option of extending it till five-years/1,00,000km. Maruti also has an extensive service network spread across the country which immensely helps lower any apprehensions during cross-country drives.
The S-Presso is surprisingly refreshing and not a random amalgamation of parts from Maruti’s large bin. While the design is divisive, there’s no denying that it looks fresh and different than the other entry-level offerings from Maruti. The space offered is truly brilliant in spite of being one of the smaller cars in the segment, and that is the biggest selling point of this car. The very familiar engine and transmission combo is peppy and frugal, though the chassis is set up more for intra city trips.
But the S-Presso’s lacklustre feature list does need to be addressed before it can be the perfect choice for customers looking to spend around five lakh on a compact car. Especially since it is going up against the competitively priced, better equipped Renault Kwid.