A budget car with big ideas
It’s not one for road trips but it’s lekker for city traffic
SUZUKI’s new “XL Small Car”, the Celerio, may have a name that sounds like something you can mix into a salad, but all jokes aside, this lil’ car can make quite a satisfying appetiser in your garage.
Suzuki this week launched six Celerio models — all with the same 1,0 threecylinder fuel-injected engine. Prices start at R109 900 for the entry level GA with no service plan and top out at R139 k for the GL.
The option of no service plan, by the way, is a good one for anyone who has a mechanic in the family and full marks to Suzuki for allowing this freedom.
Another bit of freedom in the two entry level GA models is the radio — there isn’t one. There are, however, two front speakers and an aerial plug just waiting for you to add that sound deal your uncle got for you. A good air-conditioner and two air bags complete the entry level models’ interior fittings’ list.
With the GL models come a radio, CD player with Bluetooth, electric mirrors, fog lamps, power steering and a tilting steering column.
On its little 14-inch steel wheels the Celerio’s styling isn’t going to turn heads at the traffic light — its body shape looks like it could be the love-child of a Toyota Etios and a Datsun Go — but like those Indian-built rivals, the Celerio also comes with more space inside than you’d think.
Which is why Suzuki calls it the “XL Small Car”. When I first fitted myself inside, I didn’t really grasp the amount of space at my disposal. But when I gave it a proper look around, I realised that if I dropped the back seats, I could have a little picnic for two in there.
I’m a big guy who normally scrapes my coif against the roof lining, but in this XL Suzi I can wear a Stetson and not touch sides.
BEING A BIT OF A CREEP
I did not get to drive the Celerio with Suzuki’s new “automated manual gearbox”. The press statement says an electro-hydraulic actuator “allows clutchless operation of a manual gearbox without the energy losses usually associated with conventional torque converter-based automatic transmissions”.
The system synchronises clutch control, gearshift action and engine speed, and has a creep function to allow smooth operation in stop-start city traffic.
Watch this space as we test drive that creep function next.
PASS, PASS DAMMIT!
The Celerio ticks a lot of boxes, but long road trips is not one of them. Despite the peak torque starting at a relatively low 3 500 rpm, you only get 90 Newtons from that three-cylinder block, which makes overtaking the thousands of trucks on the N3 a matter of constant swearing.
But drive this wee world car in the city and the fuel consumption will make you sing. All the Celerio asks is that you just tickle the go-faster pedal with the right toe and in return it will give you 21 km per litre (4,6 l/100). Depending on your load and terrain, that could mean driving 750 km on the 35-litre tank.
With the focus on economy, the Celerio will never be the pepper in a salad, but it could be the roasted broccoli: affordable, surprisingly tasty and very good for you.
All this makes it a very good contender for the title of perfect budget car, be it for students or a granny who needs to run to the shops a few times a week. In this price range, the Celerio competes with the Datsun Go 1,2, the Geely MK 1,5, the Chery QQ3 1,1, the Chevrolet Spark 1,0 and the Tata Indica 1,4 LE.
• Facts and impressions gathered during a Suzuki-sponsored launch.
Just tickle it: the Suzuki Celerio promise over 20 km per litre if you take it easy.
Not to shabby Nige: the interior is neat in this price range and if you drop the back seats, you can have a little picnic in there.