An Answer To Hatchback Enthusiasts With SUV Fetish

Vehicle Review First Drive November 2019 Maruti Suzuki India Ltd MSIL S-Presso Hatchback SUV Design

The S-Presso brings in a bit of a zing in terms of exterior design and styling for a hatchback; we provide details of all the features of the newest model from the Maruti Suzuki stable

There has been an increasing trend in the Indian automotive market over the past decade – consumers opting for SUVs or designs that resemble SUVs. This trend led to the launch of an increased number of models from manufacturers that were either full-blown SUVs or compact SUVs. This obsession with SUV styling has also moved into other vehicle categories, most predominantly hatchbacks, due to their striking resemblance, in terms of their silhouette.

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL), the country’s largest car manufacturer was one of the first to bring out a compact SUV into the market with the Brezza – addressing the SUV demand. The company has now carried on its SUV design language to its first hatchback, the S-Presso, which it fondly calls ‘Mini SUV.’ We bring you all the details of the newly-launched S-Presso hatchback from the drive organised by the company in and around the city of Jodhpur.

Exterior proportions of the S-Presso are well balanced

EXTERIOR DESIGN

The S-Presso is based on Suzuki’s fifth-generation HEARTECT platform that has been specifically-developed for India, which ensures maximum space utilisation combined with safety features. The HEARTECT architecture of the S-Presso leverages 40 % high tensile steel in construction, enabling a stronger and sturdier structure for the car.

The exterior design is a prime focus area of the S-Presso, according to Maruti Suzuki, which is quirky to say the least. It features characteristic design elements that resemble an SUV character, be it the upright A-pillar and back door, or the boxy overall bodyline combined with a modern glass-to-body ratio. The overall stance is similar to that of a tallboy hatch design, which Maruti Suzuki popularised with its WagonR car. The front features a tall bonnet, with the thin upright front grill having a design reminiscent to that of the Brezza compact SUV. The single aperture headlight design is boxy, with an additional square barrel that houses the turn indicators. Also present below the headlights are LED daytime running lights that look neat on the S-Presso.

The SUV design language is carried on to the sides of the S-Presso more aggressively, with strong crease lines over the wheel arches. The bodyline also features a curved shoulder line that runs across the vehicle, with a more prominent crease starting from the rear door and culminating into the tail lamp. This tail-end crease is visible from the outside rear-view mirror, and adds to the bold visual effect of the S-Presso’s exterior design. The rear of the S-Presso is highlighted by the ‘C-Signature’ tail lamps that are placed pretty high, in order to continue the upright, tall design stance. The boot lid has a very mundane design, with the roof spoiler adding a bit of visual distraction. The loading bay for the boot is quite high due to the overall design language of the car, which could make placing heavier baggage into the boot a tough task.

The front and rear bumpers of the S-Presso are two-piece, dual-tone units, featuring the body colour above and unpainted grey below. This simple design element provides an even taller stance to the vehicle than it actually is, and is also practical in congested bumper-to-bumper driving in urban locations. In continuation with this design logic, the car also features a grey plastic panel across the bottom of the running board, enabling improved protection for the body against dirt and debris. The overall upright design, lifted door-sill, higher ground clearance, wheel arches and 14-inch wheels (VXi, VXi+) make the S-Presso a hatchback with a bold stance and moderately-aggressive design characteristics.

The tallboy design of the car provides enhanced visibility and overall roominess from inside the cabin

INTERIOR, CONVENIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

The S-Presso carries forward its SUV-inspired design theme inside the cabin as well, with a high seating position that provides a commanding view of the road from the driver’s seat. The fact that the car is not offered with any type of adjustment for the steering or seat height still does not make it tough to attain a preferred driving position. The front seats are comfortable and have integrated neck restraints, as in the case of the rear seats too. Rear seat comfort is average, in terms of cushioning and thigh support, but the high roof and increased headroom make the cabin a little more comfortable. The rear of the S-Presso can adequately accommodate two adults and a child at the centre, while making it cramped to squeeze in three adults. The small cabin of the S-Presso is further enhanced by the good amount of light that enters due to the optimum glass-to-steel ratio.

The dashboard of the S-Presso has been designed to replicate that of a sports watch

A unique feature of the S-Presso is the design of the dashboard layout that has been inspired by sports watches. It features a centrally-placed instrument cluster, resembling the design found in MINI car models, and also houses a seven-inch SmartPlay Studio infotainment system. The instrument cluster is a full digital unit consisting of a large read-out for the speed, with other driver information also being present, including certain real-time functions for temperature, range and fuel economy. The touchscreen infotainment system is equipped with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for smartphone connectivity, with navigation also being enabled through the connected mobile device. The infotainment system can be controlled with the first-in-its-class steering-mounted audio and voice controls that is offered in the S-Presso.

The centrally-placed, full-digital instrument cluster and infotainment system are encased in a circular area giving a sporty design

The S-Presso has numerous utility spaces in the front of the cabin, including an open tray, glove box as well as door trim and door console pockets. It also provides occupants with a power socket in the front alone. The lack of storage space in the rear door pads could be justified to enable maximum space for rear-seat occupants. The quality of plastic used across the cabin is of good standard, with the only gripe being that the cabin could use a few soft-touch panels in places frequently used by occupants.

The cabin offers decent space all-round, with well-cushioned seats

POWERTRAIN, DRIVE

The S-Presso is fitted with Maruti Suzuki’s 998 cc, three-cylinder, K10B petrol engine that is BS VI-compliant, and also powers the Alto K10. The S-Presso becomes the eighth model from the company’s stable to be offered with a BS VI-compliant engine ahead of mandate. The engine delivers maximum power of 67 hp at 5,500 rpm, with peak torque of 90 Nm at 3,500 rpm. Maruti Suzuki is offering the S-Presso with two transmission options – five-speed manual transmission as well as an Auto Gear Shift (AGS) automated manual transmission option. The company has claimed that the S-Presso delivers a fuel economy of over 21 km/l, and we achieved around 19 km/l across various driving conditions.

The engine of the S-Presso is not new to the market, and so does not throw up any surprises, positive or negative. It is a well-tuned engine to do regular city commute, with highway runs also not much of a hassle. The manual transmission is very convenient to use, with gears getting slotted easily without any trouble. The AGS transmission does come with a lag between gearshifts, especially when the vehicle is being heavy-footed. However, this two-pedal technology would be more convenient for use in congested environments due to its obvious level of comfort.

The 998 cc, three-cylinder, K10B petrol engine is BS VI-compliant and provides adequate power and torque to ferry passengers around city and highway runs

The vehicle is composed when running at speeds between 75-90 km/h, which is where the optimum efficiency and safe control of it can be achieved. The braking on the car is linear, and pedal pressure is at what one would expect from a two-wheel disc brake set-up. The braking system, along with the 14-inch, 165 section tyres on our test car provided ample stopping power, especially across the Rajasthan highway that was littered with cattle.

The S-Presso is equipped with a suspension set-up featuring MacPherson struts with coil springs in the front, and the rear consisting of torsion beams with coil springs. The suspension has been tuned to Indian conditions and tends to be on the softer side, leading to good levels of impact absorption of various types of bumps and ditches. The suspension system has a good level of refinement, resulting in smooth transition of NVH levels into the cabin from road undulations. The S-Presso is meant for mobility from origin to destination without any bells or whistles, and it carried out this task very well indeed. It is not a car meant for highly-enthusiastic driving, and it sticks to the duty at hand appropriately.

While the design language of the S-Presso has been aimed at providing an SUV-like stance, it is essentially a hatchback with aggressive styling that some might find quirky

SAFETY, ROUND-UP

The S-PRESSO has been designed keeping safety in mind, especially with the continuous and consistent effort to reinforce passenger and pedestrian safety. The car is compliant with the current Indian safety regulations including frontal offset crash, side impact and pedestrian safety, with the HEARTECT platform providing better impact absorption and energy dispersion power to the body structure. In addition, the S-Presso comes equipped with dual airbags, ABS with EBD, seat belts with pre-tensioners and force limiters, driver and co-driver seat belt reminder, high-speed warning alert and reverse parking sensors. All these safety features, some mandated and others ahead of regulation, enhance the desirability of the S-Presso by making it a safe vehicle for occupants.

The Maruti Suzuki S-Presso has been launched at a price range of Rs 3.69-4.91 lakh, ex-showroom, and has been put up to fight against its closest competitor, the Renault Quid. The focus on design, both external and internal, shows that the company is going forward in addressing the ever-increasing fondness of Indian consumers towards SUVs. While the interior design is refreshing and convenient, the exterior design is what could be the deciding factor for a consumer in choosing or rejecting the S-Presso. However, it should be noted that throughout our drive, the S-Presso brought a lot of pondering eyes towards itself, with numerous enquiries about the car. Therefore, while the S-Press is a ruggedly-designed, SUV-inspired hatchback, it is a long way from having any form of nomenclature associated with sports utility vehicles.

TEXT: Naveen Arul

PHOTO: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay