Meet the 2024 Suzuki Fronx 1.5 GLX, the slope-roofed, tall-riding, coupe-styled crossover that’s here to impress. Firstly, a special mention should go to the humble Japanese carmaker that is setting sales records all over the place in a very demanding environment.
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According to the official sales by NAAMSA, Suzuki Auto South Africa sold 5 235 new cars in January 2024. In an environment where most new-car sales are contracting, that’s seriously impressive. And it places the brand firmly in third position overall in South African new-car sales. So, what of the Suzuki Fronx 1.5 GLX we’ve been testing?
SUZUKI FRONX 1.5 GLX MANUAL
There have been a flurry of slope-roofed compact crossovers joining the market of late. And it’s no surprise the majority of them hail from India, because the Indian government gives tax breaks to car manufacturers that adhere to an overall length restriction of four metres. And the fact the Suzuki Fronx 1.5 GLX manual is Indian-built makes it affordable to sell in South Africa – retailing just R324 900.
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In a nutshell, this crossover replaces the Vitara Brezza and with 170 mm of ground clearance, it’s effectively a tall-riding Suzuki Baleno. A Baleno Cross, if you will, although the carmaker opted for the slightly divisive Fronx nameplate. Which is a portmanteau of ‘Frontier’ and ‘Crossover’ just by the way. However, when you experience its peppy drive and composed road manners, you’ll care less what it’s called.
LIGHT AND STURDY
Furthermore, the Suzuki Fronx 1.5 GLX is based on the sturdy Baleno architecture. It measures 3 995 mm long to adhere to the Indian restriction. It is 1 765 mm wide and stands 1 550 mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2 520 mm. Hopping into the front seat – even for a six-footer like myself – there’s little issue with head and shoulder space. Height adjustment on the Suzuki Fronx 1.5 GLX’s seat would have made it even comfier, but all-in-all it is perfectly usable. Boot space is rated at 304 litres, which is par for the course. However, because it’s a hatchback, you can fold the rear seats for extra utility space and stow longer items without any hassle.
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The GLX is the higher-specced Fronx on offer. Combined with the easy-shifting manual gearbox, it is the pick of the range in our opinion. Although we do acknowledge the majority of buyers will probably aspire to the two-pedal automatic version. Moreover, you’ll note the blacked-out roof which gives it a low, sleek silhouette. Gunmetal alloy wheels, distinctive two-tier LED headlamps and 9-inch touchscreen infotainment with wireless Apple CarPlay up the ante on the inside. Throw in a user-friendly 360-degree reverse camera, 4.2-inch LCD driver-info display, automatic climate control and cruise control, and you’ll want for nothing in the Suzuki Fronx 1.5 GLX.
HOW DOES IT DRIVE?
There’s only one engine available in the sub-4-metre Suzuki. It’s a naturally aspirated 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine which is good for 77 kW and 138 Nm of torque. As mentioned, the five-speed manual seems to be the ideal transmission for this rev-happy engine. Against the stopwatch we recorded an impressive zero to 100 km/h sprint of 9.35 seconds. Anything below the 10-second range for a commuter car such as this is worthy of praise.
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The no frills, no fuss four-cylinder petrol is happy to build speed all the way to the red line or pull in a linear fashion from modest revs. It’s quiet and easy-going at moderate throttle, although, like so many vehicles in this segment, it could benefit from a sixth gear on the highway. Consumption-wise, the manufacturer claims 5.5 l/100 km on a combined cycle for the Suzuki Fronx 1.5 GLX manual, but we recorded a reliable 5.9 l/100 km in the real world.
EAGER TO PLEASE
When you’re in a bit of hurry and have to get a wriggle on, we can report that it drives exceptionally well. Despite the extra ride height, the overall drive is not dissimilar to that of a Baleno. The steering is light and easy – if a little numb around centre point – and the ride quality is composed and compliant. The Suzuki Fronx 1.5 GLX weighs not much more than 1 000 kg so it feels light on its feet and eager to please.
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Furthermore, the 170 mm ground clearance is a boon for everyday usability. Where most hatchbacks might touch a sleeping policeman, the Suzuki Fronx 1.5 GLX zips over without incident. Of course, ABS with EBD, electronic stability control, hill-hold control and six airbags come standard on the Suzuki Fronx 1.5 GLX.
On evidence from our review, we think the Suzuki Fronx 1.5 GLX manual if the pick of the bunch. The upgraded 9-inch infotainment and 4.2-inch driver display alone is worth the R324 900 price of admission alone. Build-quality wise, we are really impressed with the latest batch of compact crossovers coming from India. And long may they continue to find happy homes in South Africa as cash-strapped motorists seek out the best possible value.
- Model: Suzuki Fronx 1.5 GLX MT
- Engine: 1.5-litre petrol
- Transmission: 5-speed manual
- Power: 77 kW
- Torque: 138 Nm
- 0-100 km/h: 9.35 seconds (tested)
- Top speed: n/a
- Consumption: 5.9 l/100 km (tested)
- Price: R324 900
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