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Suzuki Celerio 1.0 SZ4

Click to view picture gallery“Introducing the Celerio, Suzukis
A+ City Car contender
  now with Start/Stop sales...”

IT WAS ALL GOING SO WELL LAST WEEK. Suzuki held the UK press launch for their new Celerio city car on the run-up to public sales starting on 1 February. The demo cars were in the dealer showrooms, customer road test were taking place then came a bombshell.

Following the official press launch, staff from a well-known car magazine were emergency brake testing the new Suzuki at high-speed when the Celerio suffered a problem an issue with the retraction of the brake pedal.

Full credit to Suzuki who immediately decided to recall all Celerios for safety checks and temporarily suspend sales. For the record the Celerio has been on sale in India and Thailand since last year but only right hand-drive vehicles on sale in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand are affected.

However, this one issue is unlikely to dent its sales potential and the Celerio 'Start/Stop' show will go on in due course... Suzuki have dubbed their all-new global city car 'A+' actually, this isn't a performance rating but refers to its class-leading interior space because it exceeds normal 'A' segment (city car) standards.

“The Celerio replaces
Suzuki’s Alto city car
range and also replaces
the slightly larger
five-door Splash models.
The new Celerio
is priced at 7,999 (SZ3)
and 8,999 for
the SZ4...
The Celerio replaces Suzuki's Alto city car range of 1.0-litre petrol models priced from 7,199 (currently on run-out offer at 5,999). Celerio also replaces the slightly larger five-door Splash 1.0 and 1.2-litre petrol models which were priced from 7,999. Suzuki GB expects to sell around 6,000 Celerio units in a full year, with prices of 7,999 for the SZ3 and 8,999 for the SZ4.

The CO2 emissions for the 67bhp, 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine are 99g/km, so owners don't pay any road tax; and the official Combined Cycle fuel economy is 65.7mpg with Benefit-in-Kind company car tax of 12%.

An even cleaner and more fuel-efficient DualJet (twin-injectors per cylinder) version of the 1.0-litre petrol engine with a manual gearbox will be introduced in April. This version's CO2 emissions go down to 84g/km and fuel economy up to 78.4mpg; the price increase is expected to be in the region of 500. Company car tax will be 11%. In the same month, an AGS (Auto Gear Shift) clutchless gearbox option will also become available (for around an extra 500) and will deliver the same emissions and fuel consumption as five-speed manual models.

The five-door Celerio's 3.6-metre length, along with five seats and 254 litres of boot space, means it can be used as a city commuter car for the young and not so young, can also be a family's second car, or the main car for 'empty nesters'. Its main competitors will be the Toyota Aygo, Peugeot 108, Citroen C1, Kia Picanto, Hyundai i10, VW Up, Skoda Citigo, Seat Mii and Fiat 500.

The Celerio's core specification for entry-level SZ3 models includes air-conditioning, Bluetooth, CD tuner with DAB radio, rev-counter, on-board computer display, remote central locking, height-adjustable driver's seat, 60:40 split/folding rear seats, electrically-operated front windows, electronic stability programme, front, side and curtain airbags, and 14-inch alloy wheels.

“The CO2 emissions for the 67bhp, 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine are 99g/km, so owners don’t pay any road tax. And the official Combined Cycle fuel economy is 65.7mpg — 56.3 on test...
Equipment added to the SZ4 includes black polished alloys, body colour and electrically-adjustable door mirrors, front fogs, more speakers, rear electric windows, and front seatback pockets.

Although the global sales Celerio is claimed to be all-new styling wise, it is an evolution of Suzuki's already well-known city car design used for the outgoing Alto and Splash models. With an overall length of just 3,600mm and a width of 1,600mm, it also retains the tall-height bodystyle.

There are four 90-degree, wide-opening passenger doors and the height gives ample headroom for easy access. The extra width will be appreciated by rear seat passengers and three adults can be accommodated at a squeeze. Behind the back seats is a deep 254-litre boot the largest in its sales sector. With the rear seats folded down, this expands to a roomy 726 litres.

Its high spec, low price and the decent interior space for occupants and also their luggage are the Celerio's main reasons-to-buy features. The quality of the interior is acceptable; the plastics are a bit hard but the seats are comfortable and the equipment impressive.

Ride comfort is also very good for such a relatively small car. The suspension does a good job of smoothing out humps, bumps and potholes all usual bugbears for small cars. Given its height, there is a fair amount of body lean during cornering at higher speeds although the grip, even on damp roads, is trustworthy. Plus the steering is light and predictable.

There is noticeable wind and road noise intrusion but given its price that's understandable a bit more soundproofing wouldn't go amiss! The tall body and large glass areas make visibility good for parking although I would like to see rear parking sensors fitted to make squeezing into small parking spaces that bit easier.

“Ride comfort is very good for such
a relatively small car.
The suspension does
a good job of smoothing
out bumps and potholes,
the grip, even on damp
roads, is trustworthy,
and the steering
light and
As for the engine performance, the normally-aspirated 1.0-litre, three-pot petrol engine has been refreshed to improve fuel economy and lower emissions. It's still a high revving unit with a distinctive triple-cylinder growl under acceleration but generally this unit seemed quieter and smoother than most other small capacity triples.

Maximum torque of 66lb ft is delivered at 3,500rpm, but even so it proved to be responsive at low, in-town speeds and relatively lively accelerating along open roads. It's mated with a five-speed manual gearbox but it would have given more refined cruising at motorway speeds had a sixth gear been available.

Officially, this engine will return 65.7mpg in the Combined Cycle and on test with two people aboard, the real-life figure was an impressive 56.3mpg. Top speed is a modest 97mph but it held its own cruising happily at 70mph on the motorway. Zero to 62mph acceleration takes 13.5 seconds.

Owners will like the high spec, low price, low running costs, and the roomy and comfortable cabin (for a city car). And it's easy to drive. However, it's functional-over-fun to drive, there's some road/wind noise intrusion, and no official five-star safety rating although UK-spec cars do have more airbags.

This small but capable car has a big job to do for Suzuki if they are to maintain their UK sales success. It has the potential to meet that task but it's a competitive market and growing sales sector where low prices and running costs are the priorities.
David Miles

Suzuki Celerio 1.0 SZ4 | 8,999
Maximum speed: 97mph | 0-62mph: 13.5 seconds | Test Average: 56.3mpg
Power: 67bhp | Torque: 66lb ft | CO2 99g/km