Big in Japan
When you think of Japanese car manufacturers, Suzuki probably isn’t the first brand that springs to mind. However, over the past 10 years the Suzuki car range has undergone a revolution led by the wonderful Suzuki Swift, one of the prettiest cars you can buy. Suzuki have also just launched another cracker, the new Vitara which unashamedly steals some of it’s look from Range Rover. At the beginning of 2015, Suzuki has another new car launch, one that may have passed you buy. This new model is called the Celerio & it arrived in Suzuki dealerships to replace the old Alto & Splash models, two cars that had a small but loyal following amongst UK car buyers.
This five-door hatchback is referred to by Suzuki as an ‘A+ compact’, meaning it sits between the likes of the Citroen C1 & Volkswagen up! & larger models such as the Ford Fiesta & Peugeot 206. The Celerio is 3600mm long & 1600mm wide with a 2425mm wheelbase, so it does fit snugly between the two.
Small it maybe, but it’s Tardis-like inside with 254 litres of luggage space with the rear seats up, or 726 litres with the seats folded. Add in a high roofline which offers generous headroom & a flat cabin floor minus the usual transmission tunnel & the Celerio offers enough space for an adult to sit in the middle rear seat. In the cabin, there’s also a decent sized glove box & several bottle holding sized cubby holes. If you want to make use of the door pockets though, you’ll need very small hands as these are very narrow indeed .
When the Celerio arrived at our offices, I have to say that I wasn’t overly excited by it’s looks. Unlike the Swift & new Vitara, the Celerio is is a bit bland, guess because of it’s practical shape. But after a few days of driving one, I started to see it in a new light & it’s actually not a bad looking little car that happily nips about town as well as performing better than expected on the motorway. Furthermore the Celerio is definitely a better looking & better proportioned car than the Alto & Splash models it has replaced.
With even small car customers wanting extras in their sub-10K cars, the Celerio scores most marks for it’s high level of standard equipment. I was testing the more expensive SZ4 model which costs just £8,999, the entry model SZ3 is £1000 cheaper, & it comes as standard with a host of goodies, including DAB with a 4 speaker system, a USB socket, Bluetooth, 14” alloys, green tinted glass, all around electric windows, ABS with EBD, ESP, driver & front seat passenger air bags, side & curtain airbags & daytime running lights.
Performance & economy aren’t bad for a city car either, with a top speed of 96mph & a 0-62mph time of about 13 seconds mated to CO2 emissions of 99g/km & a combined fuel economy of 65.7 mpg.
The day that the Celerio arrived at work, I decided it drive it to Lancaster & back, a distance of about 140 miles up the M6, to see how it performed out of it;’s comfort zone. It happily ran at just over the speed limit & coped really well with some terrible British Summer weather on the journey. Because the drivers seat is height adjustable this helped me get comfy on my trip. The compact size of the Celerio meant that all the switches & buttons fell easily to hand. Having DAB radio is a Godsend for 6Music lovers – I had driven a £37,000 car the week before which didn’t feature it- so my journey was made more bearable by spending 2 hours in the company of Marc Riley a definite plus for me if not for everybody else !
With the wind & rain lashing down, the cabin was a little noisy due to the water on the road but in the dry & around town I found the Celerio a pleasant place to be. Pot holes though were a hazard for the small wheels & the car does tend to bounce a little over rough ground. Parking though, is very easy as the Celerio has a tiny turning circle of just 9.4 metres. In fact, as practicality goes it’s a good match for Hyundais i10, which is probably it’s closest competitor along with the VW up!/Seat Mii/Skoda Citigo combo in 5 door format.
Having driven over 250 miles in the Celerio, I cam to the conclusion that if you want a spacious city run-a-bout that can cope well on the motorway when required, then the Celerio ticks all of your boxes. It’s also very well equipped & has a great price point. On the negative side, it may not be the best looking car out there or offer the most fun when driving, so if these are more important to you than practicality, then look no further than Suzukis other small car, the Swift, which is still one of the best cars to drive that money can buy & it looks great as well.
Overall a Sophie Dahl 3/5