The thing about testing cars for review purposes is that often, in one way or another, nature will conspire to intervene. Such was the case with my time spent with Suzuki’s new Celerio.
Let me explain. Besides testing the vehicle as regular transport – for daily routine and journeys such as the daily office commute, trips to the shops, or social events with friends and family – the single most important element is a standard route that covers a good mix of urban, rural and highway driving which can be used for all vehicles on test for comparison purposes.
Of course, ideally, when driving this route, you’d want the same, or as similar as possible, weather conditions.
Back to the new Celerio…
All was going well with the test until midway through the highway route when nature intervened and sent howling wind and torrential rain onto my test route. Perched on 175/60 15-inch tyres, the little Suzuki felt more like an apple bobbing in a bucket of water but nonetheless navigated the squall perfectly fine, ultimately leaving me impressed with Suzuki’s clear understanding of, and ability to manufacture small cars that do not feel as if they were created from cheap aluminium foil.
While there was some side buffeting that required counter steering - other bigger cars around me on the road visibly struggling to move in the wind - I emerged the other side of the storm safely in one piece. Fuel consumption did not, though, made redundant by the head-on wind, and the fact that the Celerio had to fight for every inch of tarmac, I conceded and abandoned any hope of an accurate fuel-consumption test.
The new Celerio is redesigned from the ground up, with the angular shape of the outgoing model giving way to a more rounded and gently sculpted shape. The ‘S’ badge is set upfront into a deep oval grille flanked by teardrop headlamps.
At the rear, it features similarly rounded droplet-style tail lamps and high-level third brake light.
Integral to all Suzuki models - and the reason for the Celerio’s increased stability is Suzuki’s HEARTECT platform which provides structural rigidity, despite its low mass. The new Celerio comes equipped with an updated and upgraded version of this technology. This has allowed Suzuki to move the wheels to the outermost corners, improving road holding while reducing weight to just 805 kilograms, crucially, without compromising crash safety for the occupants.
Boot space is 295 litres which can be increased by folding down the 60:40 split rear seats. A reshaped luggage bay with a flush-fitting parcel shelf, luggage hooks, and a deeper base for easier loading of bulky items, also houses a full-sized spare wheel.
Moving on to the front…
The dashboard design integrates a new 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with controls, including power windows, and door locks, positioned beneath and air-conditioning controls further down. The revised central console puts most of the features and controls in the hands of both the driver and front passenger.
The infotainment system boasts a USB port, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. It also offers vehicle notifications, alerts, and information, such as instantaneous and average fuel consumption, fuel range and information from the integrated rear parking sensors.
However, it is under the bonnet where the Celerio introduces its newest and best feature – the new DualJet engine with multi-point fuel injection from two injectors per cylinder, generating 49 kW at 5 500 r/min and peak torque of 89 Nm at 3 500 r/min.
Without getting too technical, Suzuki engineers have added roller rocker-type valve mechanisms, variable valve timing for the four valves per cylinder, exhaust gas recirculation and oil cooling jets under each of the three pistons for greater thermal efficiency and a generally lower operating temperature.
Combined, this results in a plucky, willing engine despite its diminutive outputs. Sure, acceleration is leisurely and top speed is not very frightening, but then at this price point and positioning in the market, are these even cause for concern? Unlikely.
Far more important in these times where fuel prices continue to reach for the moon, is fuel consumption which is a claimed 4,6l/100km – allowing for a tank range of approximately 700km, and CO2 emissions of just 92g/km.
The new model comes fitted with a McPherson strut and coil spring front suspension, a torsion beam, and coil spring rear suspension for a better ride and handling.
Safety comes from anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, emergency brake assistance, an electronic stability program (ESP), and two crash bags.
Okay, let’s wrap this up…
I have always disliked the term ‘buying down’ since I know of nobody who would voluntarily give up a ‘B’ or ‘C’ segment car to buy an ‘A’ segment offering. The reality is bracket creep, with the ever-increasing price of vehicles moving the goalposts for buyers, who must look at the smaller alternatives to remain within budget.
Here, the Celerio scores top marks for managing not to feel like a small car. The slightly thinner, yet still comfortable seats, allows for the maximum interior space, ride and handling easily challenging more expensive, bigger cars, and an ambiance that in no way suggests ‘cheap’, the new Celerio with an asking price of under R200k is a promising contender in this segment.
For even further peace of mind, the new Celerio comes with Suzuki’s 5-year / 200 000 km mechanical warranty, a roadside assistance program for the same period, a 6-year unlimited anti-corrosion warranty, and a 2-year / 30 000 km standard service plan.