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Suzuki Celerio 1.0 SZ4

Click to view picture gallery“Suzuki has been making (and
  selling lots of) small cars for longer
  than most drivers can remember.
  Now, at a stroke, they
ve replaced
  not one but two of their range

  out go the Alto city car and the
  Splash mini-MPV, replaced by
  the all-new Celerio...

CLUES TO ITS ROLE can be found in its official 'A+ global city car' tag. In case you're wondering, this refers to its class-leading interior space which is standard city car (the car market's so-called compact A segment) plus some.

So, just how much above and beyond its less spacious peers is the new Celerio? Five doors access five seats and 254 litres of boot space, all fitted within a city-friendly 3.6-metre footprint: which makes it pretty versatile either in town as an urban commuter or as a family's honourable 'No 2' or even, for those who drive alone but who, from time to time, need some extra space for impromptu passengers or packages.

“The four big side doors
all open wide so
no head-banging is
involved getting in or
out — and four
near-six-footers will
travel without
The four big side doors all open wide (actually to a full ninety degrees) and entry/exit is made even better by the tall (1,540mm) body height and the non-slanting roofline no head-banging is involved getting in or out.

Once aboard there's masses of headroom and decent space for knees and feet both in the front and the back; and the fabric upholstered seats are supportive in all the right places. Four near six-footers will travel without complaint.

The Celerio comes with five cupholders and five belts currently only one other competitor in this new Suzuki's market segment offers seating for five as standard and three grown-ups really can sit side-by-side in the back without any border disputes flaring up.

North of the rear bench is a sizeable 254-litre boot not only is it the best-in-class but it's also usefully deep. Moreover, fold the rear seats and you'll have an accommodating 726 litres to use for whatever you like. Not surprisingly, motorists sizing up the new Celerio will also probably have looked at similar models from Kia (Picanto), Peugeot (108), Skoda (Citigo), Toyota (Aygo) and Volkswagen (Up).

Under the Celerio's snub-nosed bonnet beats a three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine that generates 67bhp. Emissions, at 99g/km, are the tax-friendliest kind: you pay no road tax. Delivering an official combined 65.7mpg, it stretches every gallon of tax-laden unleaded that you pay for at the pumps.

The triple-cylinder is an agreeably high-revving engine which when worked hard is accompanied by a distinctive three-pot growl that sounds fun driven normally it's actually unexpectedly smooth and quiet.

While the 66lb ft of peak torque doesn't hit until 3,500rpm, the one-litre powerplant is pretty tractable and responsive at low urban speeds.

“MotorBar’s road-testers
don’t try to achieve
the best ‘economy run’
figures but drive just like
real people — our week’s
test average came out at
an impressive real-world
Out on less restrictive roads it has enough pep to keeps things lively provided you make proper use of the five gears. No problem there as the high-set gearlever is slick changer. However, if you think the only way is auto then you'll be pleased to hear that the Celerio also offers an automatic option.

It's an accepted fact of life that official consumption figures aren't often borne out in the real world but as all cars have to suffer the same lab testing procedures there's not a lot that can be done hence the value of real-life road tests.

Regular visitors to MotorBar know that we don't try to achieve the best 'economy run' figures but drive just like real people in the Celerio's case, a week's demanding motoring resulted in an overall average of 55.9mpg. Pretty impressive given that the three-pot is a very driveable unit.

If economy with a capital 'E' is what rocks your boat then know that a 78.4mpg version is available: the manual Dualjet 1.0-litre engine will cost another 500 but is not only even more parsimonious with the juice but also comes with lower emissions of just 84g/km.

The Celerio's maximum speed of 96mph is perfectly adequate for this size of car and means decent cruising at the legal limit. Getting off the line to the benchmark 62mph is likewise also perfectly okay and you certainly won't have any trouble 'keeping up' with traffic.

Small cars usually come with a compromise already made for you in the ride department. The good news here is that the Celerio rides comfortably; the usual culprits of degraded road toppings and humpty-dumpty surfaces are coped with well and without any bounciness (another bugbear of many small cars). And when you take it on motorways you'll find it reassuringly stable and satisfyingly easygoing.

“The Celerio’s steering
is quick and light but
then it’s likely to spend
most of its time
manoeuvring in cramped
metropolitan landscapes
where its tight turning
circle will be a
real bonus...
If you're the one behind the wheel then you'll be pleased to find that the driving position is all it should be: light controls and foolproof ergonomics; large buttons for the hi-fi; straightforward and efficient AirCon; crisp 'n' clear dials; and a useful number of cubbies.

Add to that the fine all-round visibility and slim screen pillars and you have a car that's relaxingly easy to place and drive, particularly in heaving traffic.

Press on and you'll notice some lean when taking corners at faster speeds but that's down to its usefully taller body; besides, road grip is reassuring and can be trusted to get you through.

As expected, the steering is quick and light but then it's likely to spend most of its time parking and manoeuvring in cramped metropolitan landscapes where its truly tight turning circle will be a real
bonus and where its large glass areas are a major plus point for both parking and placing.

Because you're paying less than 9K for your Celerio SZ4 (the SZ3 entry model costs even less 7,999) doesn't mean you go short of the essentials: AirCon with a pollen filter, Bluetooth hands-free, CD tuner with DAB digital radio, driver's computer, power windows and door mirrors, tinted glass, gear shift indicator, power steering, daytime running lights, tyre pressure monitoring, height-adjustable front seatbelts, 60:40 split/folding rear seats and black polished alloy wheels are all standard-fit items. You also get an electronic stability programme and six (front, side and curtain) airbags.

Majoring on a comfortable and accommodating cabin and low running costs, the easy to drive and live with Celerio lives up to its promise proving that two into one can go as it successfully replaces both the Alto and well-liked Splash while providing plenty of room for passengers and load-lugging.

Suzuki Celerio 1.0 SZ4 | 8,999
Maximum speed: 96mph | 0-62mph: 13.5 seconds | Test Average: 55.9mpg
Power: 67bhp | Torque: 66lb ft | CO2 99g/km