By the start of the modified enhanced community quarantine back in May, I was already begging for Suzuki Philippines to lend me a 2020 S-Presso for an extensive review. I even asked the company’s media representatives to check if one of its dealers have one available for a quick spin – but to no avail.
Truth is, the S-Presso is one of the most sought-after Suzuki vehicles at the onset of the pandemic. And you can attribute that to its affordable price tag and the importance of personal mobility in a time when public transportation was and is not a viable option.
A month has passed and I finally got my hands on one, and here are the things you should expect with the small high-riding hatchback.
Zippy and very easy to drive – this is the S-Presso’s main selling point apart from its price tag. Despite having three pedals and a non-short throw gear shifter, the new Suzuki vehicle isn’t a challenge to control. I had the chance to test the car in both heavy and light traffic, and zip around the tight streets of Manila. The car was light and wasn’t ill-mannered, things I appreciate despite the lack of some driving nannies.
Another thing to rave about the S-Presso is its remarkable fuel efficiency, which didn’t come as a surprise. Its 1.0-liter K10B engine is shared with the Celerio, another fuel-efficient vehicle, so clocking in 24.8 km/L at an average speed of 90 km/h on the highway was somehow expected. In the city, in mixed driving conditions, the S-Presso still amazed with a 15.7 km/L reading at around 40 to 50 km/h average.
The S-Presso also has a strong air conditioning unit. Even at its lowest setting, the A/C didn’t have to work hard to cool the cabin – and yes, that’s even during high noon in a car without tinting. There isn’t much cool down, though, but the point is, Suzuki Philippines did a great job in fitting the S-Presso with an A/C that’s fit for this country’s climate.
Lastly, the S-Presso’s leg- and head-room were abundant even for taller individuals. I asked a friend to sit in the cabin behind my driving position and to my disbelief, he fitted in quite nicely. He towers at 5’10” while I stand at 5’6”.
Despite the S-Presso’s greatness in providing more-than-sufficient leg- and head-room, its horizontal creature space is limited. The driver and the front passenger sit close to each other, while the bench rear seat is only comfortable for two persons regardless of built. That’s quite expected, though; the S-Presso is narrower than your popular small hatchbacks like the Honda Brio or Toyota Wigo.
The S-Presso also needs more stability at high speeds. Its zippiness in the city transcends while driving on the highway, so expect some jerkiness here and there, like a child high on sugar.
Speaking of highway runs, the S-Presso has poor noise insulation, to the point that highway drives can easily get rowdy with all the wind, road, and engine noise populating the cabin. Worse, this is evident even during standstill; there were two occasions when I had to check if there’s a window left open in the middle of heavy EDSA traffic.
Lastly, and this may come as a nitpick, the S-Presso doesn’t come with a tachometer. Sure, the central-mounted, orange-lit digital instrument cluster has an old school charm, but yes, you won’t be able to monitor your RPM while driving. This is kind of an essential since this car comes with a 5-speed manual gearbox. For experienced drivers, it won’t be a problem since you can play it by ear (as I did), but for beginners, well, that’s something you can train on.