Maruti S-Presso: Is it time to switch from hatchback to mini SUV?

Maruti S-Presso review India AMT

The monsoon this year has been a brutal one and our road infrastructure has been at the receiving end of its wrath. Road conditions in the cities are crumbling and hence, these days, you do not ‘want’ an SUV as much as you ‘need’ one. Thus, it is no surprise that any car that is not an SUV today is being made to look like one.

Even hatchbacks are now SUV shaped. What was once a trend started by the Renault Kwid has now been embraced wholeheartedly by Maruti. Now, Maruti knows more about the small car market than anyone else, hence their first 'mini SUV ' promises to be a genre-bending success.

But it will not be easy for Maruti. Sales of the Alto have skidded, while the demand for entry-level small cars has gone down. In a simple series of questions, here we answer whether you should buy the Maruti S-Presso or not.

Maruti S-Presso review India AMT

Is the S-Presso a proper SUV?

The definition of an SUV is not clear, but since SUVs are classified according to their ground clearance, the S-Presso with its GC of 180mm slips into this club. In terms of looks, Maruti has nailed the 'mini Brezza' look. There are boxy lines and emphasis on squarish design elements, plus big wheel arches. The high bonnet and the big headlamps joined to the grille are certainly lookers, while the rear and side are less successful with an Alto-like design. Still, from the front the SA-Presso carries home the point of being an SUV better than the Kwid. Also if you dip into the accessories list, the S-Presso looks quite good with the DRLs, alloys and skid plate.

Maruti S-Presso review India AMT

Is the S-Presso spacious?

Very. The S-Presso has been packaged very well and space has been extracted optimally from its modest footprint. Due to the raised stance, ingress and egress is very good and the slim seats liberate a lot of space at the rear. As the image above shows, a six-footer can easily sit behind with the front seat adjusted to his height. Headroom is fantastic and legroom is very good too however it is best for two only at the back, though three can just about squeeze in. The storage is decent too: the front doors have small door pockets, but there isn't one behind the seats or on the rear doors. The boot is way more spacious over an Alto.

Maruti S-Presso review India AMT

How is the quality?

Affordable does not mean cheap and the S-Presso shows that Maruti has come a long way. The quality, fit and finish and lack of cheap/exposed stuff makes this a big leap from the earlier Alto and the quality is even better than in a Celero. Also, the design is interesting with the massive round shaped centre console being surrounded by two air vents. There is no instrument cluster in front of the driver. The orange accents also enliven the cabin, while the features list gives you more over other cars at this price.

Maruti S-Presso review India AMT

The 7-inch SmartPlay Studio touchscreen infotainment system is the latest one and is slick to use with very good graphics. You can pair your phone for navigation. There are also steering controls, voice recognition and 12V socket. The air-con, however, is a manual one. In terms of safety features, the S-Presso gets ABS, a driver-side airbag, rear parking sensors and seat-belt reminders as standard, while a passenger airbag is optional.

Maruti S-Presso review India AMT

Does it drive like a hatch or an SUV?

The S-Presso feels like a nimble hatchback, which is perfect for the city. You sit high with a good view and the compact size is a plus point. The steering is very light and effortless and the AMT is smooth and a good bet given our traffic conditions. It has no jerks, even at low speeds, and 1.0 petrol engine (BS6) makes 68 bhp and 90 Nm. This is surely a a peppy unit and ideal of city driving with plenty of punch. It is feel quick in the city and goes to 100 kmph easily.

Maruti S-Presso review India AMT

It is only at higher speeds that the AMT version gets noisy and acceleration becomes laboured. On the highway, overtaking in the AMT requires some planning. That said this BS6 unit is the best 1.0 petrol in the market right now.

The manual S-Presso is more fun to drive, especially with the smooth shifting 5-speed gearbox and a light clutch. It actually feels faster and is happier at high speeds. However, the S-Presso is best kept as a quick urban car as the steering or the light body does not inspire confidence on highways. But as a city tool, there are hardly any better cars.

Maruti S-Presso review India AMT

Kitna deti hain?

While the official figure is 21+ kmpl, we coaxed out 18-19 for the AMT and 21 for the manual. This is much more efficient than any other car in its class in terms of real world efficiency.

Maruti S-Presso review India AMT

The verdict

Ignore the Rs 3.6-lakh starting price as the Rs 4.6 lakh for the top-end AMT plus a few necessary accessories nudges it towards the Rs 5-lakh mark. For the price, the S-Presso has a lot of positives and makes sense as a very good city car. The ground clearance helps in clearing potholes and bad roads easily, while the engine is quick enough for city use. The interior and unique design is what makes this a different proposition. The S-Presso is not just a small entry-level car and in some ways justifies its 'mini SUV' tag. Compared to its competition, you get a BS6 engine and a good mix of features. You simply cannot get a better automatic car at this price. It seems that Maruti has struck gold again!