Motoring

with Liam Bird

Suzuki Celerio

HERE WE GO AGAIN WITH THE SILLY CAR NAMES – CELERIAC, CELERY, CELERIO.

THE NAME MAY BE PECULIAR BUT ACCORDING TO LIAM BIRD IT’S GOT A LOT GOING FOR IT IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A BUDGET CAR.

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If you’re a car manufacturer, bringing out a new city car can be a very tricky business. Do you go down the “personalisation” route and offer a myriad of options in the same way Fiat so successfully did with the 500? Do you plump for the solid and reliable but it’s-a-bit-spartan-if-you’ve-not-much-money path that VW took with their Up? Or, do you set your sights somewhere in between and include a big warranty – just to be sure – in the same way Koreans Hyundai and Kia did so well with their I10 and Picanto? As more and more people downsize and the city-car market gets ever more fiercely fought-out surely it can’t be easy.

Suzuki, the Japanese self-proclaimed “small car expert” – think Alto, Splash, Swift and Jimny too – say the answer lies in the latest addition to their line-up: The CELERIO.

Built to replace both the afore-mentioned Alto and Splash, the Celerio is, Suzuki say, an A+ compact car that exceeds A segment standards. Quite what that means, like you, I’m not entirely sure.

But, for the price (the Celerio range starts at £6,999) you certainly don’t feel short changed when it comes to standard fit kit. The base model SZ2 gets 6 airbags, ESP, tyre-pressure monitoring and an all-important DAB Radio. The mid-spec SZ3 (as tested and available from £7,999) gains air-con, alloys, and USB and Bluetooth, and the range-topping  SZ4  (from £8,999)  comes  with  two  extra-speakers, electric mirrors and electric rear windows, front fog lamps, body coloured mirrors, and a shiny chrome grille and polished alloys. All specs get ISOFIX.

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Perhaps more worthy of note than all of that though is that whichever spec your budget allows you’ll still get class leading luggage capacity – the Celerio’s boot has a capacity of 254 litres – and, if you go for the DualJet engine, class leading CO2 emissions of just 84g/km and the promise of 78.4 mpg on the combined cycle. There’s no built-in or optional sat-nav though, regardless of what your budget allows, and fripperies such as heated seats and cruise control, available on some the Celerio’s albeit higher specced (and higher priced, to be fair) competition are notable too by their absence.

That said, one look at the Celerio’s somewhat up-right and sober styling is all it takes to tell you that Suzuki’s frugal new entry is neither a grand-tourer, nor a sports-car. Although, and perhaps surprisingly, the Celerio will happily cruise all day long, at the legal limit, sipping fuel like an aged aunt sips sherry, while it does so. Plus it’ll seat five six-footers at a push (there’s a third rear three-point seat belt) and happily swallow a long weekend’s luggage.

Its natural habitat is in town. Light steering, pedal weights and gear-change, plus near goldfish bowl visibility and a comfy driving position make it the perfect ally when searching for the last of the High Street parking slots. Its wheel-very-much-in-each-corner layout and virtually vertical rear make it a doddle to park too. Suzuki doesn’t offer parking sensors on the Celerio’s option list – but don’t worry, honestly, you won’t need them.

That easy-going and easy to live with nature translates to the way the Celerio feels once free of the traffic too. The three cylinder engine thrums along smoothly and quietly and performance, let’s say is adequate: 0-62 takes 13 seconds.  The steering isn’t the most communicative of systems but it is direct, and there’s a fair amount of body roll  when  cornering  at  speed. Nevertheless the Celerio rides very well, feels pleasingly nippy and no matter how hard you drive it, or how steep an incline you point it at, it never lets its fuel consumption drop below 52mpg. Trust me, I live in the sticks, and I tried.

Free to tax and easy to live with, overall the Suzuki Celerio is a cheap car both to buy and to own. In places it feels it – the interior plastics are hard, the door pockets are too narrow and, if I’m really picky, its carpets are a tad thin. You’d never buy one either if you’re the fashion conscious type. But, that’s perhaps not where the Celerio’s been aimed. Yes, others cars in this class offer more style and others too feel stronger – but at what price? If you’re looking for a little car that doesn’t actually feel that small once you’re aboard and one that comes very well equipped for relatively little outlay, the reality is that the Celerio takes some beating.

Suzuki Celerio SZ3 Dualjet

Engine: 998cc 3Cyl Petrol

Power: 59 BHP @ 6000rpm

Torque: 68 lbft @ 3500rpm

Transmission: 5 speed manual, front-wheel drive

Performance: 0-62mph 13.0 sec

Max Speed: 96 mph

MPG: 78.4 Combined.

CO2: 84 g/km

Price: From £8,499 – (as driven) £8,914

www.liam-bird.com  @bird_liam  Many Thanks to Jade and Alun at Suzuki UK’s press office for the loan of the Celerio

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