Suzuki is back to specialising in what they do well – producing superminis and 4x4s with the launch of the Suzuki Celerio. Sitting below the Suzuki Swift, it is aimed at the city car market.
The Japanese company briefly flirted with the saloon market when they launched the Kizashi in 2009. I remember it as an impressive car to drive. But, it was not a sales success and production stopped in 2014. Suzuki confirming it would not be replaced and the company would stick to its small car and 4x4 market strengths.
In an age when much Japanese vehicle design seems to be trying to stand out with overly-fussy detailing, the Suzuki Celerio is a notably simple, neat design. The result is arguably lacking a little bit in distinction, but that is unlikely to concern most buyers. It is a similar story with the interior – functional, rather than over styled.
The Suzuki Celerio is a little bigger than other city cars and it shows. That slightly larger size and a design that maximises interior space (for example by using torsion-beam rear suspension) has been combined with clever packaging.
Despite its compact dimensions, it offers good accommodation for this class. Yes, your elbows may occasionally make contact with your front seat passenger, but space and headroom in the front is generally good, thanks, in part to a very upright seating position.
The biggest surprise is to hop round to the rear doors where it is not only easy to get in and out, but the space inside is impressive. With the driver’s seat in its rearmost position, I usually have no hope of getting in to the back seat of a city car or supermini. But, I experienced no such issues with the Celerio – my knees were just gently in contact with the seat back and headroom is ample.
This space story continues to the boot. Often on such a small supermini, I find that even a recycling crate will not fit in without dropping the rear seat back. But the Suzuki Celerio swallowed the box no problem. There is a little bit of a sill to lift it over, but the boot floor is deep – thanks in part to not having a spare wheel (a compressor and puncture repair compound are fitted in its place).
A minor irritation is that you have to be quite deliberate in shutting the tailgate, otherwise it doesn’t fully lock.
Equipment levels are good for a car whose cost has just four digits ahead of the decimal point. For your £9799, on-the-road price the Celerio gives you a full complement of air bags, including a curtain airbag, manual air conditioning, brake assist, tyre pressure monitor, DAB radio and – importantly for smartphone users – Bluetooth connectivity.
Start up the Suzuki Celerio and when you rev it you can hear the increasingly familiar thrum of a three-cylinder engine. In the Celerio it is just under one litre at 998cc.
For such a small engine, it is delightfully willing and even feels a quicker than the 14 second 0-62mph time might suggest. It revs freely and you can keep up quite a remarkable pace. However, this car cannot deny the laws of physics and – present it with a long motorway or dual carriageway incline – and it can struggle to maintain 70 mph in fifth gear.
The handling is safe and secure. While the steering is not the sharpest or the most communicative, I found myself having enough confidence to maintain a reasonable pace on twisty roads, aided by vice-free handling and good body control.
The ride quality is also notably good for such a short wheelbase car and noise levels are also good for a car in this class.
Where the Suzuki Celerio really scores is in fuel economy. The headline figure for combined fuel economy is 65.7 mpg and, as my experience attests, this seems more realistic than many official figures. Using the car’s trip computer, I found myself easily achieving mileage-per-gallon figures in the mid to high 50s and even the low 60s on one drive.
With 99g/km carbon dioxide emissions, the Celerio also just squeezes into the band that ensures it gets free road tax in the UK.
The Suzuki Celerio makes a lot of sense as a city car that will also prove a pleasant-enough companion on country drives and even motorway cruises.
Nicely weighted controls and a particularly sweet gear change make this a very easy car to drive. Sure, an enthusiast could hanker after more weight and directness in the steering – but, this is a city car for city drivers, not a sports car for enthusiasts.
It is remarkably spacious for a supermini offering genuine space for four passengers (five, with three children across the back seat). It is also very easy to drive and, importantly, it is genuinely economical. Factor in the keen price and it should achieve its aim of strengthening Suzuki’s hold on the small car market.
Suzuki Celerio 1.0 SZ4
Carbon dioxide emissions: 99 g/km
VED band A
Combined fuel economy 65.7 mpg
Top speed: 96 mph
0-62: 14 secs
Power 68 PS
Engine size 998cc petrol/diesel
Boot capacity 254/726 (back seats up/folded)