A few weeks ago, Suzuki Auto South Africa (SASA) introduced a new model to the market. We recently got our hands on a Suzuki Fronx GL manual for an extended drive to bring you this review.
Small SUVs or crossovers, if you prefer, represent one of the most prolific segments in the new car sector. Just about every automaker offers a product in this space. The The Suzuki Fronx is the latest to join the fray and appears on local showroom floors mere months after its international debut this year.
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Tripping Off The Tongue
The name Fronx (pr: Fronks) is not as easy off the tonque as say, Swift or Celerio. However, there is a reason for the chosen title. Suzuki says it is a combination of “Frontier” which refers to both the way in which the vehicle crosses a frontier for Suzuki in this market segment and how its design crosses a frontier between SUV and coupé. The second term is “X”, pointing to the crossover nature of the Fronx.
Its appearance is about as unique as its name. The little SUV borrows design cues from other models in the Suzuki family, such as split headlamp units. The coupe-esque roofline is another highlight. Our test unit was finished in a single shade of dark metallic blue, though we’d opt for a dual-tone colour scheme if we are going to order as new.
Positive comments about the Fronx’s appearance were plentiful. Many onlookers drew parallels between it and a few premium products on the market; VW Taigo, Range Rover Evoque and Jaguar F-Pace were mentioned. Although there were comparisons, few were in doubt as to what brand the model is, which shows a high degree of familiarity with the badge and design cues – kudos to Suzuki’s design team for that.
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The interior treatment of the Fronx is quite simple, although there is a decent level of standard specification even in the GL spec. Our test car has electric windows, central locking, climate control and power steering. The seats featured a comfortable, warm cloth covering. A touchscreen infotainment interface is standard, which also serves as the display for the standard rear-facing camera – handy. The system also offers Bluetooth connectivity as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality.
One, perhaps odd, critique we have of the interior is that the plastics used for the top of the dashboard are quite reflective. In the harsh midday sun, the top section of the dashboard casts a distracting reflection on the inside of the front windscreen. It can be annoying, but is somewhat dependent on your route and time of day, so it is not always noticeable. Oh, and the driver’s chair has no height adjustment, which may be a problem for taller owners.
There is plenty of space in the cabin for four adults provided none of them is too tall. There is also a large boot volume, which is quoted as 308 litres. This area swallowed the luggage of a pair of international travelers when we were tasked with fetching family from the airport after a recent trip abroad. The loading height of the boot (over 80 cm) is a little high, so owners who are ‘less than average’ height may find it awkward when loading heavier items.
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The Suzuki Fronx is available in four variants locally. There are GL and GLX trim levels and each is available with a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. Our loan unit was a Suzuki Fronx GL manual, which is the entry point to the range. The quickest way to tell them apart from the outside is the colour of the standard 16-inch alloy wheels. These are silver on the GLX or painted black on GL versions (as pictured).
There is just a single engine option across all derivatives, that of a 1,5-litre inline four. This naturally aspirated petrol engine develops 77 kW of power and 138 N.m of torque. Drive is sent exclusively to the front wheels. There are other engines available overseas, however there are no immediate plans for SASA to introduce any of those locally.
On the Move
The small-ish, naturally aspirated engine is a tried and trusted part of Suzuki’s repertoire. At the national ride-and-drive event we drove an automatic version. Now with more time under our belts we much prefer this engine with a manual transmission. It needs a little revving to get the best out of it, but that is better than the spaced-out ratios of auto’.
The engine is no firecracker, but even with four aboard with luggage there was no hassle keeping up with traffic or overtaking on the national roads. Our time with the Suzuki Fronx GL manual netted a fuel consumption figure of 6,2 litres/100 km. That’s a pretty handy figure although it’s worth noting that the tank size is just 37 litres, which is probably how the Fronx has such a large boot. A light steering action and well resolved ride make this car effortless to steer.
Suzuki Auto SA has been one of the undoubted stars of the local automotive market over the last few years. They’ve risen from being a bit player to being a regular holder of the top-three spot on the new car sales charts. This is due, in no small part, to the brand offering exactly what SA new car buyers need right now: affordable motoring.
The products, mostly sourced from India, offer small engines (ie low fuel consumption), good value for money (ie decent spec) and competitive pricing. The Suzuki Fronx is just the latest to fill this brief. The unit we tested is listed for under R280k, which will make it an attractive proposition for many buyers looking in this segment. Expect to see these filling car parks pretty soon.
Model: Suzuki Fronx GL manual
Price: R279 900
Engine: 1,5-litre inline four
Transmission: five-speed manual, FWD
Max power: 77 kW
Max torque: 138 N.m
0-100 km/h: n/a
Top speed: n/a
Fuel consumption: 5,5 L/100 km (6,2 L/100 km on test)