Given how SUVs are all the rage these days, car makers are now coming up with entry-level hatchbacks that look rugged, giving it the stance of a ‘micro SUV’. With its upright bonnet, tall stance and high ground clearance, the S-Presso is Maruti’s take on a small SUV-like design. It is Maruti’s budget model that is aimed squarely at the Renault Kwid. The S-Presso is based on the new Heartect platform, but we’re comparing with a car from a segment above – the Ford Figo. In 2019, it received a few cosmetic updates which give it a sportier look along with the new Dragon petrol engine. We compare the two to see which makes more sense.
The S-presso is based on the Future-S concept that was showcased at the 2018 Auto Expo, and while the Future-S looked modern, the S-Presso tends to come across as a rather strange-looking design. It’s got a tall stance, but more over, is very boxy when viewed from any angle. Up-front, it gets a narrow grille, flanked by rectangular headlights. It also boasts of black front and rear bumpers. Along the sides, it gets flared wheel arches that give it a beefy look, while the rear too, looks rather boring with those rectangular tail lights. Overall, we think the S-Presso is a bit too disproportionate for our liking.
The Figo remains more-or-less the same as before, albeit it now gets some updates that give it a fresher look. The grille looks bolder than before, while the front bumper too has been reworked too look sportier. The BLU variant gets a black roof, wing mirrors and wheels. It has C-shaped fog lamp surrounds that get blue accents. At the rear too, the bumper has been revised, while the tail lights remain the same.
The cabin of the Maruti Suzuki S-Presso impresses in more ways than one. There’s ample headroom and legroom, and despite its small dimensions, the boot is quite accommodating. The quality, fit and finish isn’t all that bad given its pricing. It gets a circular theme for the instrument cluster, and the switches and buttons feel good to operate. Ingress and egress is never an issue, and the seats are comfy and supportive. Comfort at the rear could’ve been better as the seat base and backrest are a bit small. The headrests don’t really provide the support that is needed.
Inside the Figo, there’s a new 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and the dashboard is free of clutter with very few buttons. The infotainment system isn’t the same Sync 3 unit you get on the Aspire. The Blu variant comes with blue accents on the seats and door pads. The quality of plastics is decent, but other cars in its segment feel better. The front seats are wide and comfy, and the rear seat too, comes with ample support and legroom. It also gets adjustable rear headrests. There are lots of storage spaces at the front, and boot space, at 257 litres, is more than sufficient.
The Figo comes with features like side and curtain airbags, reverse parking camera, front fog lamps, rear defogger, rear wiper, blue accents on the exterior and interior, dual-tone paint shade with contrast black roof, 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, on-board navigation, automatic climate control, power folding wing mirrors, rain sensing wipers and auto headlamps, leather-wrapped steering wheel, driver and passenger airbags, ABS with EBD, engine immobiliser, driver and passenger seatbelt reminder, high speed alert system and rear parking sensors.
The S-Presso comes loaded with front passenger airbag, 7.0-inch SmartPlay Studio infotainment system with voice recognition, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, steering-mounted controls, rear parcel tray, internal wing mirror adjustment, front seatbelt pre-tensioners, body coloured wing mirrors and door handles, parking brake warning, driver airbag, ABS, rear parking sensors, front seatbelt reminders, speed alert system, digital speedometer, vehicle immobiliser and 13-inch steel wheels.
Performance & Handling
The steering is nice and light, and so is the clutch, and it has a tight turning circle, so maneuvering is a piece of cake. Due to the high-set dashboard and narrow windshield, the view from the driver’s seat isn’t great. The S-Presso is powered by a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine that produces 67bhp and 90Nm of torque, paired to either a 5-speed manual gearbox or an AMT. Performance is more than adequate, and it feels peppy. It effortless climbs to 100kph, and overtaking on the highway is an easy affair. Push the engine hard, and that’s when it gets vocal and unrefined. It soaks in the bumps well, and the ride remains flat even with four occupants onboard. Around corners, it rolls about quite a bit because of its tall stance, and the steering, though light, is not responsive.
The Figo we’re driving is powered by a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder engine that makes 95bhp and 120Nm of torque. Start up the motor, and it settles into a refined idle. Vibrations can be felt, but as you get moving, it gets smoother. However, rev it hard and it will get vocal. The new Dragon petrol motor is punchier than before and feels responsive at around 5000rpm. Performance on the highway is decent, and the new gearbox works well with its short throws. There is also an option of a 6-speed torque converter automatic gearbox. The steering is direct, and there is a bit of body roll. At high speeds, the car stays planted, and it soaks in bumps without any fuss.
The S-Presso will appeal to those looking for something different, and are willing to ignore the fact that it is indeed weird to look at. The space in the cabin is great, it rides well over the rough stuff, is an easy handler and comes with a big boot. The Figo is undoubtedly the pick of the two here, for it handles well, comes loaded with equipment and a powerful, new petrol engine. It is also solidly built and feels way ahead in terms of quality levels compared to the S-Presso. So if you’re looking for a capable family hatchback, look no further than the Figo.