Two years ago, the Global New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) tested a Suzuki S-Presso for the Indian market in order to determine its crash safety rating. Unfortunately, the humble hatchback picked up a zero star rating for adult occupant protection (AOP) and only two stars for child occupant protection (COP).

With such a low safety rating, it seems the S-Presso's reputation as an affordable vehicle has come into question especially when it comes to passenger protection. Luckily, it seems that the S-Presso offered in other markets fared better when it came to crash testing.

Global NCAP, together with the Automobile Association of South Africa (AASA), has announced that under its new test protocols, the Suzuki S-Presso was able to secure a three-star safety rating in its latest crash test.

Suzuki S-Presso NCAP safety rating goes from zero to 3 stars image

The vehicle that was tested, which is a South African-spec of the S-Presso, came with dual front airbags whereas the Indian-spec model only has an airbag for the driver. While not seen, it looks like Suzuki also made some improvements to the car's body and frame which resulted in the driver and front passenger being more secured in their seats. If you check the test video from two years ago, both front occupants bounced around inside the S-Presso during the crash.

As a result, S-Presso was able to provide marginal protection for adults; scoring 8.96 points out of a total of 17 points. Both the driver and front passenger received good head protection. However, the vehicle still performed inconsistently as it showed weak protection for the driver's chest, marginal protection for the legs, and adequate protection for the driver's feet. The front passenger, meanwhile, fared better and received adequate protection for the chest and feet, while the legs received similar protection as the head.

For child protection, the S-Presso was able to score a low 15 points out of a total of 49. It's actually similar to the safety performance that was conducted on the Indian-spec S-Presso two years ago. The low safety rating was due to the lack of ISOFIX anchorages, lack of a three-point seat belt in all seating positions, as well as the absence of a child restraint system (CRS).

“The safety performance of the S-Presso in South Africa has been far from satisfactory and claims of improvement are not reflected in levels of child occupant protection which remain the same as the Indian version we tested in 2020. There has been significant progress with vehicle safety in the Indian market with a welcome requirement for the fitment of six airbags as standard. We hope that Maruti Suzuki will not apply a double standard for the vehicles they sell in Africa compared to those sold in India,” said Alejandro Furas, Secretary-General of Global NCAP.

Suzuki S-Presso NCAP safety rating goes from zero to 3 stars image

William Groenewald, the CEO of AASA, shared that while the S-Presso's safety improvement is a welcome one, he added that he wishes more could be done as the safety of motorists in the country is an important aspect.

“While the adult occupancy result for the S-Presso is encouraging there is room for improvement, especially in relation to the child protection rating. The safety of motorists in South Africa is critical and we welcome the visible efforts by manufacturers in this regard and urge them to continue investing in this important facet of their production,” added Groenewald.

With the S-Presso receiving a better grade this time around from Global NCAP, perhaps the safety upgrades could make their way to other markets like the Philippines. While its affordable price tag will attract buyers, we do hope Suzuki also prioritizes vehicle safety, especially for models like the S-Presso.