Maruti has always been known as the small car specialist and the 800 plus later the Alto became India's most loved car. However the India of those times and today is completely different. These days everyone wants more and making a fuel efficient small car is just not enough. Hence Maruti has responded with its version of the small car for the 21st Century India which is the S-Presso.
To find out how good the car is, we did something different and took the S-Presso on a long mountain drive to see whether it justifies having the 'mini SUV' tag which Maruti says.
How does it look?
The S-Presso is an interesting design and while some like it, there are others who equally find the design too weird. It is basically a Maruti hatchback which becomes an SUV.
The front-end is the most attractive part with the big grille with the four slots in them while the headlamps are joined in and look pleasing. The SUV elements are in form of the black cladding and the high 180mm ground clearance which gives the car a raised stance.
However the side view and rear are like an Alto 800 especially the design of the tail-lamps. There are small 14inch wheels which do not match the wheel-arches or the slightly expansive body. It is like an SUV wearing shoes a size too small. That said the car gets a lot of attention and is something different. We like that.
What about the interiors?
We are more impressed by the interiors. It is not as basic as the Alto and looks good with a focus on design. Quality has been improved and it looks/feels better than its competition.
There is nothing above the steering wheel while the instrument cluster is being placed over the dashboard. There is a big round shape to the centre-console while inside there is a 7-inch touch-screen.
The S-Presso has the new Maruti infotainment system which is intuitive plus there is Apple CarPlay/Android Auto too plus you can pair your phone to use navigation.
While we liked the display and the responsive touch-screen, a rear camera, like on the Renault Kwid would have been welcome. Also rear power windows, is something that should be have been there. That said there are steering controls plus rear parking sensors, voice recognition, dual airbags plus ABS with EBD.
Space is truly impressive as the large windows further bring in the feeling of space. It may be small on the outside but inside you can fit in three passengers at the back easily. Even the boot is big enough at 270l.
What is it like to drive?
There is no diesel engine offered on the S-Presso and the only engine here is the 1.0 petrol. It is BS6 of course and makes 68 bhp plus 90Nm of torque. A manual is standard but we had the AMT gearbox equipped car with us. The S-Presso has the latest Maruti Heartect platform and that has made a big difference. It drives and feels a step above the Alto or any other hatchback.
The engine itself is fairly silent plus the AMT gearbox works nicely in intense traffic. There is a creep function and that helps in moving smoothly in traffic. The light steering and compact dimensions plus the high ground clearance further help matters.
But what about mountain roads? The engine delivers enough here as the car is quite light which means that performance is better than what we expected. The AMT though is a bit slow when you want to overtake plus at the hills, you need to be careful in driving an AMT as it rolls back a bit. But generally we faced no big issues and the car even delivered close to 20 kmpl! With luggage on board the engine did not run out of breath and the extra ground clearance helped it sail over the bad roads.
Should I buy one?
The top-end AMT is Rs 5 lakh and if you are looking for a city based commuter but also occasionally do long drives then the automatic S-Presso is one of the most affordable choices out there.
It also the most desirable Maruti and we recommend it over the Alto or other cars at this price due to the practicality, AMT, efficiency and a good mix of features. It may not be a true SUV but does a very good job of imitating to be one.
Also do check out www.trivz.com for booking the test drive of any car. www.trivz.com is an exciting platform, first of its kind that enables you to connect with car owners for test drives as well as for ownership feedback. You can also download Trivz app from Google Play and App Store.