Jaco Van Der Merwe

By Jaco Van Der Merwe

Head of Motoring

South Africa’s S-Presso safer than zero-star version, says Suzuki

Local model features higher standard specification level.

Suzuki Auto South Africa has allayed concerns over the safety specifications of its budget-friendly S-Presso following Wednesday’s damning outcome of a Global NCAP test.

The mid-spec VXi version of the S-Presso sold in India by Maruti Suzuki scored a zero rating as part of the Safer Cars for India programme. The poor rating is mainly due to high damage readings in the neck region of adult front passenger test dummies.

According to Brendon Carpenter, Suzuki Auto South Africa’s national brand manager, South African buyers must take into considerations that the local S-Presso is a safer vehicle due to higher specification levels than the one that was tested by Global NCAP.

“The model that was used in the crash test is an Indian-specced model that is built exclusively for the Indian market,” said Carpenter. “That particular model only features an airbag on the driver’s side and it also doesn’t have front seatbelts that feature pre-tensioners with load limiters.

“In South Africa, a driver and passenger airbag are standard across the S-Presso range, along with front seatbelts that include pre-tensioners with load limiters. The additional airbag and seatbelt enhancements make the local model a much safer vehicle. The S-Presso offers good value, but not at the expense of safety.”

It is not clear if and when the local S-Presso will be subjected for testing by the Safer Cars for Africa programme, an initiative of the AA. The programme is currently awaiting its latest round of test results on SA-specced vehicles which are expected in December.

“We have noticed the zero rating the Indian S-Presso received in the Global NCAP crash test, but we can’t comment at this stage,’’ said Layton Beard, spokesman for the AA.

“There is a clear difference is safety specification levels between the Indian and SA S-Presso, so to jump to any conclusions regarding those results at this stage would be both premature and unfair. Simply put, the car that was tested is not the same one you can buy off a showroom floor in South Africa.

‘’We can’t comment on any model we might have identified for future testing while we are still awaiting the outcome of our current round of tests and therefore can say that the S-Presso is necessarily in the mix. All local cars are in the mix and which models are going to be tested next will be decided on in due course.”

The latest three vehicles tested by Safer Cars for Africa, which started in 2017 in conjunction with Global NCAP, brings its total number of tests up the 15. Of the 12 first vehicles tested, the Nissan NP300 Hardbody and Chery QQ3, both without airbags, have been the only ones failing to score a star. The only Suzuki tested by the programme thus far, the Ignis, scored a three-star rating last year.

The tests are conducted in a laboratory in Germany during which the vehicles are slammed into a collapsible aluminium barrier from the front at a speed of 64km/h. There are occupied by four crash test dummies which consists of two adult occupants in front and two children in the rear.

Essentially a hatch back with distinctive SUV-styling, the S-Presso made its global debut in India late last year. After being launched in South Africa early this year it has become one of Suzuki’s best sellers in a short space of time, helping the brand reach a record sixth place on the list of monthly top-selling manufacturers. Priced at R145 900, the 1.0 GL derivative is the most affordable passenger car in South Africa.

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