By: IOL Motoring Staff
Sandton - The Suzuki Celerio, which replaces the Alto in the South African market this month, was designed on the premise that compact doesn't have to mean cramped.
At only 3.6 metres long and 1.6 metres wide, it's definitely an A-segment hatch but, like the original Fiat Uno, it's almost as tall as it is wide, with very short overhangs (at 2425mm its wheelbase is only 1175mm shorter than the whole car) and lots of headroom, to maximise both perceived and actual interior volume.
There's only one engine option - a 998cc, naturally-aspirated petrol three for which Suzuki quotes 50kW at 6000 revs and 90Nm at 3500rpm, driving the front wheels through either a five-speed manual gearbox or a five-speed 'automated manual' transmission.
There's no torque convertor, instead it uses an electro-hydraulic clutch actuator to change gears without the need for a third pedal, synchronising clutch control, gearshift and revs for (allegedly) smooth shifts.
It offers both full auto and manual modes, and has a creep function for stop-start city traffic. Other than the slave cylinder for the clutch and a handful of electronic bits and pieces, it's no heavier than the manual box, and it avoids the power losses associated with a conventional 'fluid flywheel'.
So much so, in fact that Suzuki claims it's the most fuel-efficient self-shifter on the SA market at a combined-cycle fuel-consumption rating of 4.6 litres per 100km. As ever, we'll reserve judgement on that figure until we've driven one to work and back for a day or five.
Dual front airbags and ABS are standard across the range, as are aircon and power steering, but the base-spec GA derivative - in manual only, comes without any audio system or central locking.
Those you get in the GL spec - with or without third pedal - as well as radio/CD/MP3 player, Bluetooth, power windows, keyless entry, a multifunction steering wheel and a two-year or 30 000km service plan.
1.0 GA - R109 900
1.0 GL - R124 900
1.0 GL AT - R135 900
These include a three-year or 100 000km warranty; service intervals are 12 months or 15 000km, whichever comes first.