A few months ago, we brought you a detailed review of the 2017 Suzuki Cultus VXL. At the time, there were rumours that Pak Suzuki will be launching an automatic variant of the Cultus as well, but nothing was concrete. Lo and behold, Suzuki did bring the automatic variant at the end of the year 2017 namely Suzuki Cultus AGS. The AGS stands for Auto Gear Shift. We’ll be explaining what that is later in the review. So let’s start.
Suzuki Cultus Introduction
Suzuki Pakistan launched the first gen Cultus back in 2000 after the automaker discontinued the popular Suzuki Khyber. In 2007-08, Pak Suzuki replaced the carby engine with an EFI unit (same engine, different fuel injection). The same EFI unit was later made Euro II compliant in 2012. Up until April 2017, Suzuki Pakistan was selling the same vehicle with minor cosmetic changes every now and then. During its tenure, Suzuki offered the car with a CNG kit as well. The older Cultus remained in production for almost 17 years. Pak Suzuki really took its time to bring a replacement.
The new Suzuki Cultus was finally revealed in 2017 whereas the AGS was revealed later in the year. The new Cultus is available in two manual variants and one automatic variant:
Suzuki Cultus AGS 2018 is priced at PKR 1,528,000 whereas the manual VXR Cultus is priced at PKR 1,270,000 whereas Suzuki Cultus VXL 2018 is priced at PKR 1,391,000. The AGS Cultus is visually same as the regular VXL Cultus. The major difference is, of course, the transmission, and the interior changes (gear lever, console, and cluster) Suzuki has made to accommodate the different mechanical part.
The exterior of the new Cultus vastly differs than the previous model. The new Cultus is a massive jump from its last generation. It is just a new car from scratch.
Looking at the car at first, one can argue that the car now looks related to Suzuki family. It’s like a middle child between Suzuki Swift and Suzuki Wagon R. The car overall looks modern and contemporary. The VXL variant comes with chrome front grille and fog light.
Looking at the car profile, you will notice how flowy the design of the new car is. There are no angular, sharp edges and the whole car is softer and smooth cuts and overall flow. You get 14” alloy wheels with 165/65R14 General Tycoon in the AGS Cultus.
Moving to the back of the car, you have an elongated trapezoid brake lights. The rear windscreen is slightly narrow but has decent width.
To see how the new Cultus fit size-wise between other available hatchbacks, here is a simple table below with the dimension of other similar vehicles.
You will also notice the character lines on the roof of the new Cultus. Instead of an embedded radio antenna, Suzuki went with a physical antenna on the roof, and it is rather large. Overall body panels fitting and gaps were pretty consistent. The car is nicely put together.
Suzuki Cultus AGS Interior
The build quality of the interior is pretty decent and is an overall improvement compared to the previous model. However, the dashboard is as stylish as you would expect from a mid-level Pakistani hatchback. Suzuki Pakistan has offered multi-tone interior (dashboard trims and upholstery) in the Cultus. The feel of the dashboard is not exceptional, but it is not bad either.
Steering wheel looks darker and should have had the matching dashboard tone. You will notice the abundance of silver bits in the interior of the car, making it pop out compared to the VXR version.
Right in the middle of the dashboard, you get a factory fitted Clarion audio system that supports Bluetooth (media audio/phone call), USB and AUX. VXL AGS comes with 4-speakers. The sound quality is pretty decent, but the connectivity on Bluetooth was a little bit difficult.
Dashboard and cluster
The dash meter is fairly simple. You get the bigger dial in the middle that shows speed, a smaller dial on the left shows RPM, and on the right, you have a digital meter. Being an auto car, the digital display shows various gear related information like the gear indicator, and gear mode (manual or auto). Other information that is displayed is fuel level, trip meter, clock, distance to empty indication, and outside temperature etc.
One thing that actually surprised us was the build quality of the interior. All the interior parts and panels were put together nicely. All the rubber seals were seated perfectly, all the plastic panels (except one) were properly aligned and seated.
The cabin was relatively quiet, and except the rumble of the K10 engine, you will not be disturbed by the outside noise as such. There was no plastic parts creaking or suspension squeaking noises. The driver-side power window button is one-way; the mirror slides down automatically but does not go up. The boot has storage space of 254 litres. The rear seats can be split 60:40. The gear level in AGS is situated at an unusual level like it is in the manual Cultus. The lever is placed not only slightly upwards to the dashboard, but also its raised at an angle. You will also notice that there is no Park position on the automatic gear.
- storage spaces
- cup holders (5)
- door panels
- 12V outlet
- electronically controlled side mirrors and
- power windows
Suzuki Cultus AGS Drive
Suzuki Cultus AGS has the same 3-cylinder K10B water-cooled engine mated to the auto transmission that comes in the regular manual Cultus. You will find the same engine in Suzuki Wagon R as well. The car is reasonably quick for a 1000cc automatic. It makes 67 BHP at 6000 RPM and 90 Nm of torque at 3500 RPM.
Auto Gear Shift
Now let’s discuss what this new Auto Gear Shift transmission in this auto Suzuki Cultus is. Basically, the AGS is an “automated manual transmission” system. What Suzuki has done is, that it has installed an electronic actuator (its AGS unit) on top of the regular manual five-speed transmission that comes in the normal Suzuki Cultus. The electronic actuator changes the gear according to the speed and the load. There is no physical clutch pedal for the driver to press and change gear. Considering it is an automated manual transmission, there still is the lag between the gear changes that you feel after lifting your foot off the clutch pedal in a manual car. The AGS gets an efficiency of a manual gearbox from an automatic gearbox whereas having the convenience of an automatic transmission (not manually shifting gears).
But to cover that lag, there is a trick to driving it. At maximum RPM you will feel the car shows a little lag changing gears when throttled hard. To cover that, you need to tap the race pedal once to make the car shift quicker. In a drag race, AGS Cutlus might be a little faster than the manual Cultus if driven right.
Compared to imported 1000cc cars like the Vitz or Passo, the Suzuki Cultus AGS has a much better drive. The gearshift is smooth, and the engine does not make the ruckus you might have heard the other 3-cylinder CVT imported cars make. As mentioned above, there is no Park position on the gear lever like you find in regular automatic cars.
The Cultus AGS 2018 was showing around 14 km/l during our testing. At extreme, it showed as bad as 8 km/l. Cultus comes with a 35-litre fuel tank.
Cultus Comfort & Handling
Talking about the interior space, overall, the new Suzuki Cultus AGS felt a little cramped compared to the previous generation car. There is more headroom, but otherwise, you will feel there isn’t much width in the interior. Sitting in the driver seat, you will notice how your legs from the knees and below kind of feel trapped between the door trim and the extending centre console lining. If you are six feet or above, you will feel constrained trying to move in that space.
The rear is the same story. The new Suzuki Cultus is supposed to fit five people; two in the front and three in the rear. You can fit three adults in the back, but they will not be comfortable, that’s for sure. It is one thing to ride for half an hour like this. But if you are traveling on the motorway or worse, on your local intercity roads, you might need to stop a bit more frequently to stretch your legs. Also, the backrest of the front seats felt flat. There was minimum lateral support for the back.
The ride quality of the new Suzuki Cultus AGS is way better than the previous Cultus. You can feel that the suspension is designed for Pakistani road. It takes up bumps and bad roads quite nicely. The car just breezed over cat eyes and bumpy roads. There is McPherson strut in the front and torsion beam in the rear.
Road grip, braking and safety
The road grip is pretty good for a small family hatchback. You can quickly change the direction at appropriate speeds without the fear of it losing grip.
The turning radius is 4.7 meters. Moreover, the new variant AGS comes with passenger and driver side airbags. Seat belts are 2-point retractable. Since it’s a new car and it complies with usual safety standards around the world, you get Suzuki’s safety concept body design to minimise injury to pedestrians. The car comes with keyless entry and an immobiliser. It is also equipped with ABS.
Parts Availability and aftermarket support
Suzuki Pakistan has a massive 3S network across Pakistan. The company provides full after sales support so finding new parts will not be an issue. But some new parts of these new Suzuki cars are fairly expensive, especially the body parts. So although you get a 3S support, fixing the car might not be that cheap.
The new Cultus is a step forward. The AGS technology is relatively new on Pakistan. So it is not possible to confidently say how it would perform after a thousand kilometres have racked up. Besides, fixing a new tech is always an issue in Pakistan. There was a time a few decades ago when auto transmissions were considered a no-go just because there weren’t many who could diagnose or fix them. Although times have changed a lot since then, until the local mechanics are assimilated with this new technology, the Suzuki Cultus AGS might see some resistance from the potential buyers in the start.