The Maruti Suzuki S-Presso has been in hot water since its shining zero-star Global NCAP safety rating came out. However, things have become a little interesting on this front of late. Suzuki’s South African arm does quite good business too, and in fact, the S-Presso is sold there as well. Moreover, the S-Presso is arguably the most affordable new car in South Africa. After the recent turn of events involving the India-spec model’s laughable safety standards, buyers in South Africa weren’t feeling too amused. Why is that? Well, the S-Presso sold in the South African market is made in India and then exported. So as you can imagine, those who already own this ‘Mini SUV’ there aren’t feeling too lucky.
However, before things could get out of hand, Suzuki South Africa’s official handle on social media took over. That is where it mentioned that the S-Presso sold in the country is safer than the one sold in India. You see, while Global NCAP (GNCAP) hasn’t crash-tested the Africa-spec S-Presso yet, its ultimate results shouldn’t be too dissimilar. Despite that, the carmaker was quick to point out that the model tested by GNCAP was a lower-spec variant sold in India. In India, the Maruti Suzuki S-Presso base variant gets just one airbag and no pre-tensioners or load limiters for the front seat belts. On the other hand, the model available in South Africa gets dual front airbags along with front seatbelts with pre-tensioners and load limiters as standard on all variants.
This higher safety standard is good news if you are a South African, though there is a caveat. While having an additional airbag and better seatbelts is certainly good, they won’t help much in this case. If you remember, GNCAP had rated the S-Presso’s bodyshell integrity as unstable. So even if the South African-spec version gets crash-tested, it will likely not fare much better than its Indian counterpart. You can only achieve only so much with airbags and better seat belts if the car’s occupant compartment is compromised. Furthermore, no variant of the S-Presso has three-point seatbelts for all seats or ISOFIX anchor points. Clearly, when the automaker here says that “its car is safer than the same car sold in another country,” that comparison is purely relative.
At the end of the day, the S-Presso is simply not a safe car in the absolute sense of the word. If you are in the market right now for an affordable new car, understand what you are in getting into before buying the thing. I completely understand the lure of bottom-of-the-barrel pricing, but that cannot be more valuable than your own safety. The fact of the matter with such cars’ despicable crash performances is this – the blame is not on just one entity.