Suzuki’s small car takes on a big drive

Suzuki S-presso AGS


We’re beginning to notice a pattern. Baguio city has become a recurring favorite destination among the car brands for us to test out their new vehicles. When you think of it, it is an ideal destination; you have Manila traffic leading up to the North Luzon Expressway (unless you take the Skyway), then there’s the long stretches through NLEX, SCTEX and then TPLEX. And the winding uphill twisties, with three to choose from (Marcos
Highway, the legendary Kennon Road, and the new Asin road).

An improved S-presso


This mix of conditions is perfect for showcasing the latest improvement to Suzuki’s top-selling S-presso, the Auto Gear Shift (AGS) transmission. Is the AGS Suzuki’s silver bullet to economically conquering our roads? That’s the objective of the drive.

Already available in the market for some time, Suzuki spruces up the S-presso line-up with a new top-of-the-line variant, the AGS.

Besides the long-awaited automatic transmission, the S-presso AGS gets two-tone 14-inch alloy wheels, and a new entertainment system with Apple Carplay and Android Auto.

Its ground clearance is 180mm, making it taller than most sedans and hatchbacks. Even when it has passengers in the rear, it has a bit more give and won’t be scraping its underside on most speed bumps in the city.


With a short and narrow profile, plus electric power steering, it’s easy to maneuver in tight spaces. Priced at P660K, this puts it in the lower price range of other vehicles in its price and size category making it a very practical choice, and its cute too.

Ideally the S-presso is a city car, but can hold its own on an out-of-town drive. Bear in mind, my car mate was 6’1” but he could fit comfortably in front and behind. Admittedly, the cargo space is a bit small, but there’s enough space to squeeze in three people and some luggage for a weekend out of town.


The S-presso is still powered by the same 1.0L three-cylinder gasoline engine which puts out 66-hp max power at 5,000 rpm with 89-Nm at 3,500 rpm, mated to a five-speed manual transmission with Auto Gear Shift.

Yes, a manual. This manual has an Intelligent Shift Control Actuator, which operates the clutch and at the same time changes the gears, making it novel and quite cool at the same time. You have two options, you can choose to the let the vehicle change gears for you when you move the gear selector to D (like an automatic transmission) or slide it left and drive in Manual Mode (M), which is as responsive as if you were driving a manual transmission.

A true test


To put the S-presso to the test, we met up early at Suzuki’s newest dealership in Taguig operated by Autohub. Besides testing the new AGS, another goal was to find out who would have the best fuel mileage from Taguig to Baguio.

We were to drive as we normally would to see what kind of real world fuel consumption per kilometer we could get for the roughly 270-km trip. Our vehicles were fueled to the brim and sealed. We left around 9:30 am and took Skyway Stage 3 over Metro Manila to quickly end up on NLEX.

Our first stop would be at Lakeshore for our lunch and snack packs for the remaining trip. This was also where we made our driver change. My car mate, Alfred Mendoza, would drive to the roundabout at the end of TPLEX. There, we would change and I would resume the drive up to Baguio.

When we reached the end of TPLEX, we learned that Kennon Road was closed due to the risk of landslides. We took Marcos Highway, encountering drizzles as we started up the gradual uphill grades.

At this point the S-presso was holding its own on the climb and easily passing slower vehicles. As we started to catch up to vehicles stuck behind slow heavy laden trucks, overtaking needed to be a pre-planned event. On inclines, the little three-cylinder 1.0L engine needed a bit of a run up to get more speed and torque. Despite the rain and low clouds, with the right timing, the S-presso powered through the drive up. We opened our windows and turned off the ac as soon as the temperature had dropped. It was both to enjoy the cooler breeze and help the engine cope better, but it really wasn’t necessary. It has surprisingly adequate power. We finally made it up to Baguio at a normal driving pace, not in a rush, but just right.



There’s no doubt that the AGS is a big step forward for this model and we felt the benefits as soon as we got into the traffic jam on C5 as we left our start point. Coaxing it to shift up is easy, just step on the gas as you would a manual, release the accelerator pedal as you would as if you were going to change gear. Voila! It changes gear up. Down shifting is easy, if you want to pass other vehicles on the expressway, just step on the gas as you would to accelerate and AGS will downshift you 1-2 gears as needed.

How was it on the inclines? This is where you start to feel the limitations of the small engine. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with it, you can still get around the slow trucks.


Other aids like Engine Auto Start Stop (EASS) helped squeeze out more savings on fuel consumption in city stop and go traffic.

In the end, our fuel economy figures were respectable. We racked up 294-kms from Taguig to Baguio. This included a few kilometers toward Kennon Road only to find out it was closed. Even after that, we had consumed just a little over a half a tank, or 16.26 liters, out of the S-presso’s 27-liter fuel tank. That computes to 18.08 km/liter; not bad.

Overall, the S-presso AGS accomplished its tasks for the drive: it got us to Baguio, and quite efficiently at that.