New Suzuki Celerio: A budget car done right



Given its performance since the start of 2022, it would seem that Suzuki cannot do anything wrong.

With sales of 3 000 plus units a month now becoming a familiar occurrence, the brand from Hamamatsu added another feather to its cap in February when it placed third behind Toyota and Volkswagen among South Africa’s best-selling brands.

Segment ready

However, despite this, the silver “S” has admitted that the upper A-segment has not been its strong point in recent years.

Despite achieving worthwhile success with the cutesy looking Alto, its replacement, the angular Celerio, never came close to matching the same figures in spite of being more spacious and with a bigger engine.

To this end, Suzuki, last week, officially unveiled the all-new Celerio that is not only more substantial in size, but also better equipped and more fuel efficient.

ALSO READ: Rounded and more substantial new Suzuki Celerio unveiled

Arriving less than four months after its world debut in Indonesia, the Celerio is once again the product of Maruti Suzuki in India, but in a reversal of its predecessor, employs the lightweight Heartect platform used by the Swift.

A touch heavier than before, but still tipping the scales at a measly 805 kg in base GA spec, the Celerio harks back to the Alto by being more of a looker in a way its predecessor simply didn’t.

A redesign done right

Eschewing the slab-sided, upright design the segment has become known for, the Celerio appears suitability conventional in that it measures longer and wider than before.

Boot space has been increased by 60-litres for a decent total of 295-litres.

Boasting an impressive 170 mm of ground clearance, the strides made on the outside is further reflected on the inside.

A considerable step-up from the previous model, the swaths of grey plastics broken up by silver accents feel hard and anything but soft, yet solid and unlikely to be described as flimsy or brittle so often exhibited by budget offerings.

Rear has been styled to resemble the Baleno

Despite the reported claimed space improvement, the rear, admittedly, gives a feel of more on the cramped side with headroom not favouring taller passengers.

In addition, the comparatively high loading lip and deep boot floor won’t find universal favour, however, the rear seats can be folded forward, if not completely flat, to unlock more space.

As a further bonus, a full-size steel spare is located beneath the boot board.

A loaded small car

The “more of everything” ethos continues on the specification front.

As before, the Celerio offers a choice of trim levels; the mentioned GA and the flagship GL in a three-model line-up headed by an automatic transmission option on the latter.

New Suzuki Celerio South Africa launch
Interior is new and on the GL, highlighted by a new seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system offered on no other Suzuki model.

Notable items on the GA include rear parking sensors, ABS with EBD, dual front airbags and a segment first standard Electronic Stability Programme.

The only model provided at the launch, the GL swaps the GA’s 14-inch steel wheels for 15-inch alloys, while also gaining all around electric windows, a tachometer, electric mirrors, front fog lamps and a model specific seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

On the move

Given its expected usage in urban conditions, the launch route around Midrand and the Johannesburg CBD didn’t provide much of a challenge as the Celerio felt resoundingly eager and spritely.

In part due to its mass, the secondary contributing factor involves its engine, which for the Celerio is brand-new and equipped with Suzuki’s DualJet technology South Africa receives for the first time.

New Suzuki Celerio South Africa launch
Boot space has gone up by 60-litres, but the high loading lip and deep floor won’t be to everyone’s taste.

Carrying the K10C designation, the three-cylinder produces 49kW/89Nm.

While this might seem chronically underpowered on paper, it delivers a linear flow of power that makes the Celerio feel anything but ponderous.

Though available with a new five-speed automated manual transmission, or AGS for Auto Gear Shift on the GL, the five-speed manual was the sole ‘box available and one that suits the characteristics of the engine well.

You want efficiency?

Less clear-cut, but admittedly expected, the unit becomes breathless at higher speeds while emitting a typical strained three-cylinder soundtrack, though it doesn’t become alarming as the slick gearbox allows momentum to be retained with a few downshifts.

Likely to be the Celerio’s biggest drawcard is its fuel consumption.

In spite of the claimed 4.4 L/100 km for the manual, the recorded 5.3 L/100 km, achieved with the air-conditioning on and the start/stop system off, still impressed given the mixed driving conditions and times stationary.

New Suzuki Celerio South Africa launch
15-inch alloy wheels come standard on the flagship GL.

As a comparison, the AGS is said to consume unleaded at a rate of 4.2 L/100 km, making it the country’s most fuel efficient new vehicle on paper.

Given its market of origin and ground clearance, the Celerio’s ride soaks-up imperfections and poorly maintained roads with ease while also featuring a light feel to the steering.

However, the former pair leads to significant body roll likely to become an issue when cornering suddenly or forced to swerve in an emergency situation.

Conclusion

Competing in a segment known for being controversial for a number of reasons, the Celerio makes for a hard-to-ignore package likely to prove a lot popular than the 300 units Suzuki expects to move on a monthly basis.

New Suzuki Celerio South Africa launch
Celerio name sits a lot better on the newcomer than before.

Feeling anything but nasty or just plain cheap without any substance, it certainly rates as a big step up from the previous Celerio.

Price

The Celerio comes in seven colours; Arctic White Pearl, Midnight Black Pearl, Caffeine Brown Pearl, Silky Silver Metallic, Glistening Grey Metallic, Speedy Blue Metallic and Fire Red with a five-year/200 000 km warranty and two-year/30 000 km service plan standard across the range.

  • Celerio 1.0 GA – R174 900
  • Celerio 1.0 GL – R194 900
  • Celerio 1.0 GL AGS – R209 900

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