Review: Suzuki Celerio 1.0 GL manual
Johannesburg - Like its larger Baleno sibling, the Suzuki Celerio lurks in the shadow of the ever-popular Swift. Consider that, in May, the importer sold a record 1 764 Swift hatchbacks, with 475 of these going into rental fleets, while the recently launched second-generation Celerio managed just 178 sales.
Could it be that people are just more familiar with the Swift nameplate or has the Celerio found itself in a tight spot, pricing wise?
Consider this. At the time of writing (June 2022) the smaller Suzuki S-Presso, which found 783 homes last month, was priced between R156 900 and R184 900. The larger Swift ranged from R189 900 to R242 900. The Celerio found itself in the rather tight gap between R174 900 for the GA and R209 900 for the GL auto.
The Suzuki Celerio 1.0 GL manual model featured in this test costs R194 900 and, at face value, that’s just R13 000 shy of the equivalent Swift GL model. But here’s where it gets a bit tricky – as the Celerio GL (as the flagship of the range) actually has more features than the mid-range Swift GL, with the smaller sibling gaining Suzuki’s 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system and 15-inch alloy wheels.
At face value, then the Celerio still offers a lot of car for the money, especially given that there aren’t too many decent options in the sub R200 000 bracket these days.
Power comes from a normally aspirated 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, that produces 49kW and 89Nm. But as puny as that sounds, consider that the Celerio GL has a kerb weight of just 830kg, which actually makes for a reasonably good power to weight ratio.
As a result, the little hatch has no trouble keeping up with traffic on urban avenues. It also cruises relatively well on the open road, although it does feel a little under-geared as you approach 120km/h.
Hills and overtaking manoeuvres will also require you to work the little engine hard and stir the slick-shifting five-speed manual gearbox a bit.
Is the Suzuki Celerio economical?
Given today’s ridiculous fuel prices, the biggest ace up this car’s sleeve is its fuel consumption.
Suzuki claims a combined figure of 4.4 litres per 100km and, if the on-board readout on our test car is to be believed, they’re really not too far off. On a 100km highway run, where traffic generally kept us between 100km/h and 120km/h, our Suzuki Celerio sipped just 4.05 litres per 100km. After resetting the trip for some town driving, we saw a figure of 5.6 l/100km, which is certainly an impressive figure for the urban jungle, with all of its stopping and starting.
What’s it like to drive?
All in all, this is an easy and comfortable car to drive, with light steering, a slick gearbox and easy-to-modulate clutch.
On-road refinement is decent by segment standards. The ride is relatively comfortable over most surfaces and although that sweet-sounding three-cylinder engine can get a bit vocal at high revs, overall noise insulation is acceptable.
The Celerio doesn’t drive like a cheap and nasty little car. Out on the open road it actually feels solid, stable and sure-footed, at least with the 15” rubber that you get on the GL. Corner hard though and you will notice quite a bit of body roll, but the car grips well enough and there is stability control in place, as a backup for those emergency manoeuvres.
But is the Suzuki Celerio practical?
Despite its compact dimensions, with the car measuring 3 695mm in length and 1 655mm in width, the Celerio certainly isn’t a sardine can on wheels. It’s somewhat bigger than its predecessor and not too much smaller than the Swift, which is 3 840mm long and 1 735mm wide.
But what really impresses is its space utilisation. Like most modern Suzukis, the Celerio is uses company’s Heartect architecture, which makes very clever use of the available space.
Sitting behind my driving position in the back seat, I had sufficient legroom. That said, fitting three rugby props abreast would be quite a challenge. The boot swallows 295 litres of luggage, which is relatively generous by class standards, and even more than the Swift’s official claim of 265 litres.
Interior quality and features
The cabin of the Suzuki Celerio is very much dominated by hard, dark and sombre plastics, but overall perceived quality is really not bad for the segment, and everything feels solid and durable enough.
The touchscreen in the GL model elevates things a bit with its modern graphics and it’s also easy enough to do. There were two ergonomic bugbears though. Firstly the dashboard lacks a volume knob, although drivers can adjust it on the steering wheel and passengers do have the clunky option of buttons on the side of the touchscreen.
The front electric window controls are also positioned on the central dashboard, just below the screen, and it takes some getting used to but you’ll eventually become accustomed to it.
Not only is the Suzuki Celerio somewhat easier on the eye than its awkward looking predecessor, but it also has a more substantial feel to it and, compared with its sometimes stodgy rivals, it really doesn’t set a foot wrong when it comes to quality or refinement.
But most importantly in these times – it’s genuinely economical too.
Priced at R194 900 in GL manual guise, the Suzuki Celerio offers decent value too, but its biggest challenge is that it’s not too much of a stretch from there to a Swift GL. Then again, if you can somehow stretch that budget to R225 900, the far superior Baleno is the one you ultimately want.
FACTS: Suzuki Celerio 1.0 GL manual
Price: R194 900 (June 2022)
Engine: 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder, petrol
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Drive: Front-wheel drive
Power: 49kW @ 5500rpm
Torque: 89Nm @ 3500rpm
Fuel use, mixed use : 4.4 L/100km (claimed)
Fuel use, freeway: 4.1 L/100km (tested)
Fuel use, urban: 5.6 L/ 100km (tested)
Boot capacity: 295 litres
Kerb weight: 830kg
Fuel tank capacity: 32 litres
Warranty: 5-year/200 000km
Service plan: 2-year/30 000km