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Suzuki Celerio 2015 review: road test

EXPERT RATING
6
Chris Riley road tests and reviews the Suzuki Celerio with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

You’ve probably all heard the stories.

How the Celerio missed out on five stars for safety. And how it suffered catastrophic brake failure in the hands of testers in the UK.

Suffice to say they’ve fixed the brakes and are no doubt working out exactly what they have to do to get five stars.

In the meantime, the Thai-built Celerio is here and it can be yours for as little as $12,990 driveway, no more to pay - the auto for $1000 more.

Celerio is a replacement for the Indian made Alto that was launched here in 2009.

The no frills four seater is 100mm longer, 70mm higher and has a longer wheelbase with slightly wider 165/65 series 14 inch wheels and rubber.

At the same time it is 60kg lighter and has 55mm more rear legroom.

Cars like this are reminiscent of things we were driving in the '80s, but with six airbags and all the other safety gear thrown in. Why put ourselves through that grief all over again?

Mainly for the price and the fact these cars are small, manoeuvrable and use hardly any fuel - which makes them ideal for the city. Just remember they’re not meant for long distance travel, nor are they long on features because you’re not likely to spend much time in them.

Safety

The safety story should be a strong one because Celerio comes with all the safety gear, including six airbags and electronic stability control. But just like the Alto before, it gets only four stars for safety.

Suzuki was hoping for five and was understandably mortified when it didn’t qualify.

It’s the kiss of death in today’s car market.

Suffice to say they’ve fixed the brakes

It didn’t miss out by much but it did receive a much better score than the Alto, 32.49 versus 25.55 out of 37.

Because Celerio did not have the "prerequisite" number of safety assist technologies, it was ineligible for a pole test. And good performance in the pole test is required for a 5 star rating.

To put this in context, Celerio’s chief competitor, the Mitsubishi Mirage is a five-star car, but it too would probably fall short if it was tested again under the newer, stricter procedures.

The engine

Celerio is powered by the same 1.0-litre three cylinder petrol engine as Alto, with 50kW of power and 90Nm of torque.

It’s paired with either a five speed manual or CVT style continuously variable auto, which helps to reduce fuel consumption.

Three pot engines are notoriously coarse because they lack balance. But they’ve done a pretty good job ironing the wrinkles out of this one.

Fuel consumption is rated at 4.7 for the manual or 4.8L/100km for the CVT, compared with 4.5 and 5.2 previously. We were getting 5.3 from the CVT.

Inside story 

You can argue about the styling and that its lost that gob-smacked look, but the styling is certainly more generic.

It’s bigger inside too and has a much larger boot.

In fact, Suzuki is claiming best in class, with 10 per cent more luggage area than Mirage and 50 per cent more than Barina Spark.

In addition they’ve redesigned the tailgate to make loading easier.

The decor is characterised by cheap plastic and even cheaper generic cloth liner to go with it.

The wheel is tilt adjust only and while the driver’s seat has height adjustment.

Looks like they’ve taken spec’ out of the car, with a temporary spare, blanks where there should be fog lights and a four speakers instead of six.

Celerio comes with cloth trim, aircon’, power mirrors and windows, Bluetooth connectivity and four-speaker audio with a USB port.

Driving

Wow. It’s not too bad.

It’s relatively smooth, reasonably quick off the mark and generally had no trouble keeping up with traffic, even on the motorway.

But it can become a bit manic as the revs climb if pressed too hard and the skinny tyres don’t offer a hell of a lot of grip.

Our initial test vehicle had an electrical problem that resulted in an intermittent loss of engine power as well as other problems.

To cut a long story short we swapped it for another car that thankfully showed none of these symptoms, but note the audio system can lock up unless you exit the Bluetooth section before moving off.

We drove the Celerio in a variety of environments.
 
The ride quality is impressive, both on the motorway and lousy, potholed back roads - but commuting will be a chore without cruise control.

Verdict

For many these tiny cheap but safe cars could fit the bill. They are small, manoeuvrable and designed for city dwellers who just need to get from A to B.

Pricing Guides

$7,997
Based on 9 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$6,988
Highest Price
$9,999

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(base) 1.0L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $6,988 – 7,997 2015 Suzuki Celerio 2015 (base) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6