The Celerio is a small A+ segment car that has a big task to fulfil for Suzuki.
It was first launched in February but then sales were briefly halted because of a brake pedal malfunction during emergency brake testing by a UK motoring magazine.
Now the Celerio Euro 6 compliant five door hatchbacks with a redesigned brake pedal assembly, an additional new and even more fuel efficient engine option plus an AGS semi-automatic gearbox option are fully on sale. The small five door Celerio hatchback has a big job to do as the range replaces the popular Euro 5 smaller and cheaper Alto hatchback and the slightly larger Splash models. Celerio prices start from £7,999 for the SZ3 model and £8,999 for the SZ4.
The mainstay engine in the range launched in February remains the 1.0-litre three cylinder 68hp petrol unit with CO2 emissions of 99g/km and the official Combined Cycle fuel economy of 65.7mpg. This engine is available with both levels of specification. The AGS semi-auto gearbox is now available with this engine with the same CO2 and mpg performance but only with the higher SZ4 car specification. This model costs £9,799 that is £800 more than the manual model and looks expensive for an automated manual gearbox.
The main addition to the Celerio line-up is the introduction of an even more frugal and lower CO2 Dualjet version of the existing 1.0-litre petrol engine. The CO2 emissions are lowered to 84g/km and the Combined Cycle fuel economy goes up to an impressive 78.4mpg. This engine is only available with the five speed manual gearbox and with the SZ3 specification level. This model is priced at £8,499 which is £500 more than the non Dualjet version so customers need to work out whether the extra cost is worth 12.7mpg better fuel economy. Both versions of the engine are under 100g/km in terms of CO2 emissions so VED road tax for both units is zero cost. In terms of outright performance both engines give a top speed of 96mph with the new Dualjet unit taking 13.0-seconds for the zero to 62mph acceleration time – just 0.5-seconds faster than the cheaper unit.
In terms of real-life fuel economy, during my original press launch test driving in February the Celerio 99g/km model returned 56.3mpg. Now during the test drive on the winding country roads of North Somerset and the Mendip Hills the Dualjet version returned a fantastic 75mpg, just 3.4mpg lower than the official Combined Cycle figure. I have to admit this latest press launch event was no ‘drive it like you stole it’ exercise – more ‘drive it like you own it’ so we didn’t resort to carpet-slipper use of the accelerator. We just took note of the gear-change indicator points suggested on the car’s computer read-out and drove it like most normal people would, keeping up with traffic conditions without excessively revving the engine for overtaking.
The fact that this Dualjet version offers slightly more torque of 93Nm with marginally lower fourth and fifth gear ratios made it more responsive and flexible in the mid range which resulted in less gearchanging which seems to have helped the fuel economy. Some of the technical changes for the Dualjet version of the 1.0-litre triple engine include improved thermal efficiency, a higher compression ratio, dual injectors for each cylinder and the reduction in friction for the internal components which are small changes which add up to a lot in terms of fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions. It is just a pity that Suzuki estimate than only 10% of Celerio UK customers will pay the extra £500 for this engine over the original one. It is also a pity that Suzuki only offers this engine with the lower SZ3 trim level and not the SZ4 – it is all down to price customers are willing to pay in this sector they said.
Ed Norman Suzuki GB’s product planning manager said they expect to sell around 6,000 Celerios in the UK this year which is significantly less than the Alto and Splash models it replaces. He said even though the Alto, Splash, SX4 and Grand Vitara models are now all deleted from their range, because they were at the end of their life-cycle, with the new Celerio, new Vitara compact SUV, the existing and very popular supermini sized Swift hatchbacks, the SX4 S-Cross crossover and the long serving tiny Jimny 4×4, they still expect to match last year’s UK record sales of 37,400 units. In terms of the start-stop launch of the Celerio due to the initial brake problem he added, “We have not lost any significant amount of sales. We have a very loyal band of customers so they were happy to wait for the problem to be solved which we did very quickly. In fact some customers bought a Swift instead.”
The new Celerio is built in Thailand but it is a global model. The all-new styling is an evolution of Suzuki’s well known City Car design used for the outgoing Alto and Splash models. With an overall length of just 3,600mm and a width of 1,600mm it retains the tall-height body style now being 1,540mm. There are four 90-degree wide-opening passenger doors and the extra height gives ample headroom for easy access. The extra width will be appreciated by the rear seat passengers and can accommodate three people at a squeeze. Behind the seats is a 254-litre deep boot, the largest in its sales sector and with the rear seats folded down this goes up to a roomy 726-litres.
Its fuel economy, low taxes, high spec, low price and the interior space for occupants and luggage are the Celerio’s main reasons-to-buy features. The quality of the interior is acceptable, the plastics are a bit hard but the seats are comfortable and the equipment impressive. Ride comfort is also very good for such a relatively small car. The suspension does good job of smoothing out humps, bumps and potholes, usually bugbears for small cars. Given its height there is a fair amount of body lean during cornering at higher speeds but the grip seemed trustworthy with the steering light and predictable. There was noticeable wind and road noise intrusion into the vehicle but given its price that is understandable. A bit more sound-proofing would not go amiss. The tall body height and large glass areas make visibility for parking good although I would like to see rear parking sensors fitted to make squeezing into small parking spaces a bit easier.
The Celerio SZ3 models will account for around 75% of UK sales due to its lower pricing but the specification still includes air conditioning, Bluetooth, 14-inch alloy wheels, CD tuner with DAB radio, two-speakers, tachometer, computer display, remote central locking, height adjustable driver’s seat, 60/40 split folding rear seats, electrically operated front windows, electronic stability programme and front, side and curtain airbags. The SZ4 spec level additions are black polished 14-inch alloy wheels, body colour door mirrors, electrically adjustable door mirrors, front foglights, four-speakers, rear electric windows and front seatback pockets.
In its emerging A+ sector, somewhere between the A City Car segment and the B Supermini sector, the Celerio has a big job to do for Suzuki in terms of sales and it has a big task in impressing loyal Suzuki customers who have previously loved the smaller and much less costly Alto five door hatchback to pay more to move up to a Celerio. Certainly it has all the ingredients to do that and the £99 per month, Suzuki’s PCP 42-month purchase plan, is an attractive offer it would be silly to ignore. With no VED road tax and the potential for 70mpg plus fuel economy – you know it makes sense!
MILESTONES: Suzuki Celerio 1.0 SZ3 petrol Dualjet 5-Door City Car. Price: £8,499, range PCP personal contact purchase prices from £99 per month. Engine/transmission: 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder, dual injectors per cylinder, normally aspirated Euro-6 low-friction petrol engine 68hp, 93Nm of torque at 3,500rpm, 5-speed manual. Performance: 96mph, 0-62mph 13-seconds, 78.4mpg Combined Cycle (75mpg on test), CO2 84g/km, VED road tax £0, BIK company car tax 13%. Insurance group rating: 7E. Warranty: 3-years/60,000-miles. Dimensions/capacities: L 3,600mm, W 1,600mm, H 1,540mm, boot/load space 254 to 726-litres, five seats. For: Ultra efficient new low CO2 and impressive petrol engine, very low running costs, low insurance costs, roomy and comfortable for a City Car, easy to drive. Against: Functionally efficient, road/wind noise intrusion, no higher SZ4 spec option level for this engine. Miles Better News Agency