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The new Maruti S-Presso: Smell the coffee

S Ronendra Singh | Updated on November 08, 2019 Published on November 08, 2019

Size S: Smaller than a regular SUV, the S-Presso is better suited for congested roads

Maruti hopes that young buyers will be drawn to its mini SUV

We are on the highways of Rajasthan, test-driving the new S-Presso. Whenever we stop for a tea break, the questions we hear are the same — how much does it cost, and how low is the mileage?

These are not issues that trouble Gen-X, who have been eyeing the new wheels with considerable interest. Its maker, Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL), calls the small car a ‘mini SUV’ because of its distinct sports utility vehicle character — and that’s what appeals to the young.

Sameer (name changed), a 29-year-old employee of a multinational company, is happy with his latest possession — and the admiring glances it has been drawing on the road.

“The best part is I got the S-Presso delivered within 10 days of the launch and, since it’s very rare on the roads, people sometimes tell me that they’ve not seen anything like this and ask me if it is imported,” he says.

An added appeal for the younger generation is that despite the car’s sporty looks, it costs considerably less, and, being smaller than a regular SUV, is easier to drive and park on congested roads.

The S-Presso, launched on September 30, targets the section of young buyers that likes to get its hands on something new before anybody else — quite like the way they vie for the latest iPhone.

“We are confident that S-Presso will bring excitement in its segment, attracting the ever-evolving young customer,” MSIL managing director and CEO Kenichi Ayukawa said at the launch.

Built on Suzuki’s Fifth Generation HEARTECT (greater rigidity, stability and control to the driver) platform, the S-Presso is compliant with all the latest Indian safety regulations including frontal offset crash, side impact and pedestrian safety.

Its safety features include dual airbags, anti-lock-braking system (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD), seatbelts with pre-tensioners and force limiters (which pull the driver and passenger firmly to their seat in the event of a collision), driver/co-driver seatbelt reminder, rear parking assist system, high-speed warning alert and reverse parking sensors.

These features, hitherto available in some high-end cars and SUVs, are part of new vehicular safety norms.

MSIL hopes that S-Presso’s USP — like its name, which conjures up an alluring image of steaming coffee — will be its ability to lure millennial eyeballs. It hopes to attract those who’d love to drive an SUV but cannot afford one yet.

“I have driven a compact SUV, but now I have booked an S-Presso because the bigger vehicle entails higher maintenance. The S-Presso will cost us less in maintenance while giving the feel of driving an SUV,” says Shruti (name changed), a 35-year-old employee of a marketing firm.

The main competitor in the S-Presso segment is the all-new Renualt Kwid, which also has an ‘SUV-inspired’ look and features such as a touchscreen and funky gear knob for its automatic version.

“The SUV-inspired Renault Kwid has been a true game-changer and volume driver for Renault India. The all-new Kwid’s next-gen technology combined with its sleek style and innovative design will ensure that Kwid continues to be a major disruptor in India’s entry car segment,” Venkatram Mamillapalle, country chief executive officer and managing director, Renault India Operations, said at the launch of Kwid last month.

The S-Presso has a proven 1.0 L K10 engine with BS6 compliance and is equipped with both manual and AGS (Auto Gear Shift).

Not everybody, however, likes S-Presso’s tall body design — described by critics as a ‘soap box-like’ or ‘boxy’. But since the launch, MSIL says it has been getting 700-800 bookings every day for the vehicle. The bold colours — orange, blue, granite grey, silver, red and white — appeal to the young, it says.

Most buyers have opted for the top two versions — VXI and VXI+ — priced between ₹4.24 lakh and ₹4.91 lakh (ex-showroom). It gives about 22km per litre (test conditions). The standard S-Presso is for ₹3.69 lakh (ex-showroom).

A new road: Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director (Marketing & Sales) Maruti Suzuki India

 

“We launched the S-Presso to match the changing needs, tastes and lifestyles of our young customers,” says Shashank Srivastava, executive director — marketing & sales, Maruti Suzuki India. “The S-Presso has been appreciated by customers across India for its commanding position, road visibility and pick-up. We are hopeful that it will bring disruption in the segment.”

He may be right, for in my 200-km drive from Jodhpur to Khimsar and back in two days, I was comfortable with the seating positions, the leg space and the shoulder room. I have constant back pains, and have to keep adjusting the driver’s seat to ease the pressure on the muscles. With the S-Presso, I didn’t have to do that even once. That, for me, was the icing on the cake.

Published on November 08, 2019
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