Robin Reviews…The Suzuki Celerio

There’s something satisfying about driving a vehicle that doesn’t feature the world’s best technology. The lack of it is not necessarily a bad thing but it does put the driver more in tune with the road and less fiddling about with fancy infotainment touchscreen systems.

Suzuki was the third-best seller in the country once again in the month of February, evidenced by the Japanese automaker selling 3240 new vehicles in February, its highest figure ever. From a different perspective, the new monthly record is significantly higher than their full-year sales of 2819 vehicles in 2008, the manufacturer’s first year in South Africa.

The brand’s recipe for success is simple: they build models that are affordable to the majority of people, while also being solid and dependable. From the Swift Sport to the Vitara to the S-Presso, their model range caters for a wider scope of buyers who want something reliable as brand-new and not break the bank in the process.

According to Suzuki South Africa, the new Celerio is “1 of only 3 vehicles priced under R200 000 in SA to be equipped with ESP” and “The only entry-level competitor to be equipped with ESP.” There’s no having to read between any lines as the model is a class leading below the R180 000 entry-point bracket.

What Brendon Carpenter, Brand Marketing Manager of Suzuki Auto South Africa, said of the Celerio: “As our most affordable model at the time of launch in 2015, the Celerio has welcomed an entire generation of new car buyers to Suzuki. It has also won us many awards, including the winner of Best Budget Car categories in competitions such as the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards and the CAR Magazine Top 12 Competition.”

Hi Celerio, nice to meet you!

As you can see from the headline, the model under the spotlight here is the Celerio. A bit of background – the very first model was introduced to the local market in 2015 (a direct replacement for the Alto range), serving as one-third of the brand’s small-car brigade alongside other offerings like the Ignis (priced from R199 900) and newcomer S-Presso (R152 900). The compact city slicker then underwent a minor refresh in 2018 and now, in 2022, Suzuki has launched a brand-new second-generation model to the masses.

There are three trim levels to choose from and pricing is as a follows:

  • 1.0-litre GA Manual – R174 900
  • 1.0-litre GL Manual – R194 900
  • 1.0-litre GL Automatic – R209 900

The small city slicker also comes standard across the range with a two-year or 30 000km service plan, a five-year or 200 000km mechanical warranty, a five-year or 200 000km Roadside Assistance and a six-year or unlimited anti-corrosion warranty.

Powering the Celerio is a three-cylindr 1.0-litre DualJet engine with figures of 49kW and 89Nm, mated to either a five-speed auto or manual gearbox.  Each combination has very low fuel consumption figures of 4.2-litres/100km for the automatic and 4.4-litres/100km for the manual. It is not always the case where automatic models have a lower fuel spend than their manual counterparts. Just like its predecessor, the new Celerio is available in GA and GL trim, with the latter being the top-of-the-range. Here is an overview of some of the standard features that are available with each spec:

The model spec driven on launch was the GL in manual trim, featuring the glossy black 15-inch wheels which is a stunner in the flesh (definitely go for that one). There are also seven colour options to choose from: Fire Red, Speedy Blue Metallic, Glistening Grey Metallic, Midnight Black Pearl, Caffeine Brown Pearl, Arctic White Pearl and Silky Silver Metallic. Suzuki took customer feedback serious when designing the new Celerio and it shows. The exterior is improved thanks to flared rear fenders revised head and tail lights and a sturdier front section which is reminiscent of a Smart ForFour.

For those interested in size technicalities, the chassis length is the same as the predecessor - measuring in at 3695mm but is 55mm wider and 5mm lower, with a ground clearance of 5mm. Suzuki worked wonders with proportions in making a small car look bigger. Luggage capacity is rated at 295-litres (60-litres more than the outgoing model) and can be increased with 60:40 split folding rear seats.

No expense was spared on the interior and nothing in it reminds you of the previous generation, starting with the cool 7-inch colour screen, steering wheel with audio controls, as well as centrally-mounted switches and a centre vent grill. Basically, it has what you need in the right places, which is what everyone wants, right?

How does it drive?

Right from the off you're acutely aware of the limited power and also purpose this car was made for - inner city commuting. The small shifter is easy to swap cogs with and its relationship with the clutch is a happy one. Though the body gives the impression that it seems heavier, it weighs below the 1000kg (805kg to be precise) mark and feels sturdy, even while doing high-speed highway driving. One feels at ease with knowing the chassis won't start doing strange things the faster you go and the lack of engine drone is particularly satisfying as well.

You feel the lack of power when navigating an incline or simply to pass by another motorist which is to be expected in a small city car where engine power is not the focal point. What it does best is save fuel and after gallivanting around parts of Johannesburg for most of the day, the fuel indicator on the digital instrument cluster showed no change.

It is about time that Suzuki finally replaced the Celerio with something more attractive in both the looks and pricing department. It also comes at a time where the price of fuel might well exceed the R40 a litre mark and saving fuel will be at the top of everyone's agenda.

Now that you’ve got the knowledge, it’s time to shop! Head to gumtree.co.za or your Gumtree app (click for Apple & Android) and don’t forget to use your location settings to find local service information close to home.

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