2020 Suzuki S-Presso GL: Endearing and simple

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The all-new 2020 Suzuki S-Presso, a crossover-styled entry-level city car, is a real gem. Much like the unique euphoria of taking a shot of really good Italian espresso, the little Suzuki immediately creates that warm feeling inside. Alright, so of course after driving it for a week the S-Presso exposed some very acceptable compromises. I immediately want to express to you all that the compromises are acceptable beyond the obvious reason of pricing.

Even at the retail price of P518,000.00, it is still a healthy sum of money to spend on at a one-time purchase during these challenging times. So aside from the price, sure, I wish the audio system had six-speakers instead of the two that it has. I wish the rack & pinion steering was sharper instead of feeling like it used a rubbery recirculating ball system. And of course, I wish it had more power too. But within mere minutes behind the wheel, I just couldn’t stop smiling. The Suzuki S-Presso has so much character that it entertains you like you stumbled into a coffee shop and discovered, while in line, that there was a stand-up comedian performing, and he or she was intelligently hilarious.

It has been decades since I’ve driven a new car that had the combination of 14-inch steel wheels (fitted with Madras Rubber Factory or MRF for short 165/70R14 81S Z VTV Ecotred tires) with plastic hub caps, rear manual windows, manual mirror adjustments, a manual transmission, and a tiny powerplant. Yet, it was so enjoyable to drive around. It is endearing in its simplicity.

It is an attractive and versatile utilitarian hatchback that can sincerely be used every day as a workhorse as long as you accept its limitations. It looks deceivingly tall accentuated by its 180mm ground clearance and spindly tires. Our Metallic Silky Silver test unit (also available in Sizzle Orange, Fire Red, and Metallic Granite Grey) reminded me of my high school days driving a silver Toyota Corolla XL (E90) that also had unpainted bumpers. That Corolla had 14-inch Rota Italia alloys, and everything was manual. The only sophisticated component on the car was the aftermarket Alpine cassette head unit powering four-speakers. The 66 hp/72 lb-ft Corolla had a carbureted 1.3-liter 12-valve SOHC inline-4 engine mated to a four-speed manual, and had unassisted steering with vented discs up front and drums. It had no tachometer, no airbags and no ABS. I mastered my j-turns and car-tricks on that noble steed.

The Suzuki has a smaller cabin than that old Corolla XL, but it has a livelier and more efficient modern engine mated to a good five-speed transmission and managed by good brakes with ABS. It has rear parking sonar, rear ISOFIX child seat mounts, power door locks, keyless entry, front powered windows, a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, simple but neat digital instruments, and a strong aircon.  

The cabin is straightforward, modest, and tasteful. The build quality as well as the fit and finish are very good. It seats really only four adults with 239 liters of trunk space with a foldable rear seat. The S-Presso is a spunky little car that aims to please. The S-Presso 998cc inline three-cylinder DOHC 12-valve powerplant with variable valve timing produces 67 bhp / 66 lb-ft of torque with a top speed of 154 km/h and accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 12.7 seconds. The overall fuel economy is 16 km/l. I enjoyed driving the S-Presso way more than I did with the new Toyota Wigo TRS S despite the latter’s more generous amounts of standard kit. The Suzuki s-Presso recently just won the best-in-class at the 16th Annual C! Awards.

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