In a fortuitous coincidence, the “Long and Winding Road’ by The Beatles popped up on the playlist as I started the swooping curves on the road between Sudwala and Sabie in Mpumalanga, the 4/4 timing of the song almost like a sine wave mirror of the road ahead.

Driving the Suzuki Fronx 1.5 GLX Auto and getting into the rhythm of the curves – just quick enough for it to be fun but not enough to produce white knuckles on Mrs W who was sitting beside me and absorbing the glorious scenery, the issue of compromise came to mind.

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In every facet of life compromise is a player in what we do - my compromise was keeping under the speed limit to mitigate Mrs W’s trepidation on really winding roads. The second, happening at the same time, was the four-speed auto gearbox fitted to the Fronx.

Sure, it would benefit from a modern six or eight-speed auto shifter but that would add significantly to the price of R344 900 and move it up into a bracket for which it was never destined - so, the compromise is understanding and living with the fact it will have to drop a cog or so to maintain momentum of inclines.

Having experienced this on the initial launch drive, I decided to experiment and used the N4 and the standard fitment cruise control to see how it would fare at keeping to the set speed of 120 km/h and what this might do to the fuel consumption.

As to maintaining the speed there was no problem and the changedowns happened early enough so little momentum was lost and, as far as consumption went, the average of 6,2 l/100 km was quite impressive.

On the return journey along the same N4, I kept cruise control off and went a ittle quicker on the downslopes and slower on the inclines trying to minimise gear changes and simply became an irritating mobile chicane on the road, achieving no significant reduction in consumption.

Where no compromise was offered, or needed, on the round trip that also included long sections of dirt road within the Kruger National Park, was in terms of the overall comfort and driveability of the Fronx and, for a car that sits in the budget stream of the compact SUV category, seat padding and design along with the interior layout punch well above their fighting weight.

For some perspective, the price rivals to the Fronx GLX would be the Nissan Magnite 1.0 Turbo Acenta Kuro auto,  Chery Tiggo 4 Pro 1.5 Comfort and the Mahindra XUV300 1.5TD W6 SE (although this has a manual gearbox).

The coupé SUV body style, with its bold front grille and sloping roofline, offers a stylish choice in this market segment, and  styling options, such as roof rails, daytime running lights and alloy wheelsare standard fare.

Enough Space

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.

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.

However, the boot is quite deep so there is a large lip to overcome when loading or, especially, unloading heavy items.

The top-spec GLX Auto offers a comprehensive specification list with a slightly larger touchscreen, keyless entry with push-button start, a heads-up display and four additional crash bags compared to the other derivtives in the range.

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  there is also adjustment for reach.

Standard Specification

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.

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

The GLX also has 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 comes from a 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 this is quite important - it is intended to be an urban runabout for the most part and more than capable to undertaking the annual family holiday trip.

It is not designed or set up to be a challenger on the road to a Swift Sport. Simply, it is cost-effective mobility.

Greater Protection

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 comes in the form of  six crash bags), 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.

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