Suzuki has been one of the kings of the small car field globally for many years and its machines just keeps on getting better. The Japanese giant does pretty well in motorbikes as well, something that can’t be said for many other car makers. Suzuki’s all-new Celerio replaced the Alto early in 2015 and has been doing pretty well for itself in the sales race.

Celerio is bigger, smoother and quieter than the Alto and does an excellent job of providing transport for four adults at a most modest price, a tag that begins at a mere $12,990 for a manual and $13,990 with an automatic transmission, both drive-away prices.

Design

Some people have been surprised by us describing the shape of the Suzuki Celerio as being similar in concept to that of the very clever BMW i3 electric car.

Let me explain; Suzuki and BMW stylists began by penning a large, spacious box then smoothing out the edges and corners to give their cars something reasonably pleasing to the eye. Glamorous, sleek and sexy? No, but this pair of functional cars certainly have a visual appeal in their own right, particularly to those who put function ahead of fashion.

Features

The AM/FM radio tuner is a fairly basic four-speaker unit but it provides distortion free signals and seems to hold on in weaker signal areas better than most in this class. However, signals do vary according to weather and other influences so we can’t claim proper apples-to-apples testing.

It is one of the most voluminous cars in its class and will take medium-large suitcases

There’s a CD player, MP3, USB and Bluetooth connectivity so the baby Celerio is pretty well up to date in the communication area.

Engine

Suzuki’s new Celerio is powered by a smart little 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine that generates just 50kW. There’s 90Nm of torque at 3000rpm.

Transmission to the front wheels is by either a five-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

Safety

Celerio’s standard safety features including six airbags, ABS and ESP, electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and brake assist (BA).

Driving

You wouldn’t exactly say there’s stretch-out limo-like comfort for four adults in a Suzuki Celerio, but try for yourself and you will find it comes closer than you might expect. The doors are large and open wide so even those who are getting on in years will find ingress and egress simple.

Boot space has been trimmed to 254 litres in capacity to make space for good rear legroom, but is still one of the most voluminous in its class and will take medium-large suitcases. The low loading lip makes for simple loading.

Naturally, the rear seat backrests fold down (60/40 per cent) to give added boot space. With everything down, and the Celerio loaded to the roof, there’s just over 1000 litres, one cubic metre, on offer.

Obviously an engine producing just 50 kilowatts means Suzuki Celerio is a long way from being a sporting hatch, but it’s enough to push along a car weighing a mere 830 kilograms (add 30kg if you specify the auto) briskly enough to keep up with the traffic.

The body has a tight feeling that’s almost European, something that’s not easy to do in a light vehicle of this size

Hills and heavy loads require that you keep working at the five-speed manual gearbox or Celerio struggles. The manual is easy to use, and keen drivers will enjoy buzzing the little three-cylinder unit well into the rev range to get the best from it.

Six speeds would have been nice but keep in mind the Celerio’s ultra-low price. We anticipate a six-speeder down the track.

The automatic is a CVT with all that means in the way of added efficiency because it can keep the engine at optimum revs all the time.

Ride comfort is generally good, though big bumps and dips can catch Celerio out at times. Sensible 165/14-inch steel wheels assist in this ride comfort. The body has a tight feeling that’s almost European, something that’s not easy to do in a light vehicle of this size.

Handling is competent, but again this is no sports machine. It’s unlikely the typical owner will get anywhere near the little Suzuki’s limits. If they do, sophisticated electronic aids will get do their best it get it back onto a safe line again.