Why the Suzuki S-Presso should have an automatic variant

At only P18,000 above the half-a-million mark, the S-Presso is the hottest, most-affordable vehicle in the market this year. And this isn’t just a sweeping generalization — Suzuki S-Presso is the top-searched keyword combo on both Google and Youtube in March and we won’t be surprised if this is still the case for the month of April.

This information is hardly a surprise. Apart from seven-seat MPVs and SUVs, Filipino car buyers are attracted to affordable cars, which supports the ubiquity of small city slickers even in far provinces. The S-Presso fits that bill perfectly well but with an extra trait – a higher ground clearance at 180mm, which, by the way, is even higher than what the Hyundai Kona has and almost the same as the Vitara’s 185mm.

The extra space from the ground gives the newest entry-level Suzuki an added capability to go out of paved roads. Not that you’ll take this car for off-roading but really, this cute hatchback should allow you to go where a Celerio won’t dare go.

Small, maneuverable, and believed to return outstanding fuel efficiency figures, the S-Presso has the perfect recipe for a perfect city slicker – except for one thing: It only comes with a manual transmission variant.

This move by Suzuki Philippines is quite understandable. A vehicle equipped with a manual transmission typically costs less due to the fact that the good ol’ stickshift’s simplicity isn’t costly to build. Since the S-Presso is pegged to replace the Alto as the company’s entry-level vehicle in the range, Suzuki opted to offer the S-Presso in MT only to keep its attractive price tag. Adding an automatic transmission into the mix will likely increase its price by around P50,000 or more; such is the case in the Suzuki Dzire GL MT and GL+ AT variants. This puts the S-Presso in a tight spot as it will cross the Celerio’s price point – the car it shares its engine with.

However, a city slicker with a manual gearbox is a bit of an odd combo. You see, after this pandemic crisis is over and everything goes back to normal, heavy traffic will also start to creep in, especially within the nation’s capital. More than a month into the imposed quarantine, we’re pretty sure each of us who resides in the Metro misses the hustle and bustle of EDSA – or not. Daily drivers know the plight in stop-and-go traffic on major arteries. Having a third pedal in these situations is quite challenging, if not cumbersome at all.

With that in mind, an automatic transmission – whether it’s a traditional torque converter or the more modern CVT – should be a better choice for city-dwelling drivers. This may sound absurd coming from a motoring enthusiast like myself but having to pay for the extra convenience of one-fewer pedal is a price I’m willing to pay. What more if the buyers are just your typical consumers?

We hope Suzuki Philippines finds a way to add an AT version of the S-Presso locally, for the sake of convenience and completing the recipe of a perfect city car. Of note, there’s an available automated-manual version (or Auto Gear Shift in Suzuki speak) in other markets like India. If this variant makes its way into the Philippine market, we’re pretty sure that the newest entry-level Suzuki will have an increased level of interest – even greater than what it experiences these days.

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