The name may sound a little strange, but there is nothing odd about the new Suzuki Fronx that comes to market in two specification options and a choice of a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

The Fronx – pronounced ‘Fronks’ – does not replace anything in the Suzuki range, even though the Brezza is now being discontinued. It is, in every sense, an all-new car with svelte coupé styling riding on 16-inch alloy wheels shod with 195/60 tyres to give it a ground clearance of 170 mm.

However, it is not a true SUV and it is not a hatchback and sits somewhere between the two styles, giving some weight to Suzuki’s tagline of ‘Shape Your New’.

“With our new Fronx, we want to show South Africans that they do not have to compromise on style, performance and safety when buying in the compact SUV segment,” says Brendon Carpenter, Brand Marketing Manager of Suzuki Auto South Africa.

Coupe Body Style

“The coupé SUV body style, with its bold front grille and sloping roofline, offers a fresh choice in this market segment, and the K15B 1,5-litre petrol engine promises great performance and low fuel consumption and, to sweeten the deal, we have added all the must-have styling options, such as roof rails, daytime running lights and alloy wheels to all models, regardless of their specification level or price.”

The name comes ‘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.

The five-door Suzuki Fronx is 3,995 metres long and 1,765 metres wide. It rides on a 2,520-metre wheelbase, meaning there is enough space for five adult occupants in the cabin.

By comparison, the Grand Vitara is 4,345 metres long with a 2,6-metre-long wheelbase. On the other side of the Suzuki SUV spectrum, the Suzuki S-Presso is 3,565-metres long.

Vital Statistics

Other vital statistics worth noting include the luggage volume, which measures 304 litres with a full-sized spare wheel. This grows to 605 litres with the rear seatback folded forward. All models have a 60:40 split folding rear bench seat.

A launch drive through the Western Cape Winelands provided a good opportunity to get to know the newcomer, including the formidable Bain’s Kloof Pass that I tackled in the base model manual version.

Staying within the parameters for which this vehicle is designed, its road mannerisms were well above par and, on the pass, it quickly became one with the road, fluidly accepting the many directional changes carmly and with no compromise from the higher profile tyres.

The second portion of the ride was in the top-spec GLX Auto and this offers a little more in the way of specification with a slightly larger touchscreen, keyless entry with push-button start, a heads-up display and additional crash bags.

Apart from the extra occupant protection, I could not find anything in the base model that was missing from the impressive specification list and the choice for any buyer would probably come down to that and the level of traffic on their daily route – where automatic is so much less work.

The 1.5 GL is priced at R279 900 with the top-level GLX auto R335 900 and this is seriously good value-for-money pricing when comparing the Fronx spec-for-spec against market competitors.

What You Get

So, what does that buy you? All versions of the Suzuki Fronx have a leather-clad multi-function steering wheel with buttons for the Bluetooth cell phone connection, audio controls and cruise control. The steering wheel is adjustable for height and on GLX models there is also adjustment for reach.

Also included across the range are power windows front and rear, automatic climate control with rear-seat ventilation, central locking, electric power steering, dual rear-mounted USB charging points, a front-mounted 12V charging socket and a centre console box that doubles as both an armrest and storage compartment.

The GL model has a centrally mounted 7-inch infotainment system that also displays images from the reverse camera. On the GLX, the infotainment system is sized up to 9-inch, and the image from the reverse camera is replaced by a 360-degree composite video image from the front, side- and rear-mounted cameras.

As with virtually all Suzuki models, the infotainment screen offers full Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.

The GLX models also have a full-colour information screen in the instrument cluster and, in keeping with the silver accents outside, it has silver trim in the cabin and door handles matched with faux leather inserts in the door panels.

Power and Torque

Getting it going isa 1,5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that delivers 77 kilowatts at 6 000 r/min and 138 Nm of torque at 4 400 r/min. The Fronx weighs in at 1 010 kilogrammes, giving it a great power-to-weight ratio.

The numbers may not look impressive but the lightweight package means 138 Nm is more than adequate for what the Fronx is intended to do and experimentation showed even in firth gear there was capability enough for most open road overtaking requirements.

Underpinning the Fronx is the lightweight Suzuki HEARTECT platform that offers greater impact protection at a lower weight. In the Fronx, Suzuki has fitted a rack-and-pinion steering system, a MacPherson-strut front suspension with ventilated disc brakes and a rear torsion beam suspension system with drum brakes.

Safety Specification

Safety comes in the form of  two crash bags (Six for the GLX), ESP (electronic stability programme), hill hold control (HHC), anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and ISOFIX child seat anchors on both sides of the rear bench seat.In the GLX, Suzuki has added both front side airbags and side curtain airbags as standard.

Every Suzuki Fronx is offered with a 5-year/200 000 km mechanical warranty and a 4-year/60 000 km service plan. A comprehensive 5-year roadside assistance plan and a 6-year unlimited kilometre anti-corrosion warranty are also part of the purchase price.

Colin Windell - proudly CHANGECARS