By some stroke of luck, Suzuki South Africa has managed to introduce one of the most frugal new cars into our local market amidst unprecedented fuel hikes. The new Suzuki Celerio boasts incredible fuel economy, cute aesthetics and more interior spaciousness despite its compact exterior dimensions. We got to grips with the city slicker in the hustling and bustling metropol of Johannesburg yesterday.
It couldn’t come at a better time amidst fluctuations with the price of petrol which seems more like a carbon copy of the 1973 oil crisis as each day goes by. As with the embargo by the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries from half a century ago, we are facing one of the worst effects on the price per barrel as a result of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues.
Hopefully this time around, the price of oil will not rise by 300% but regardless of what it will peak at in the near future, it is almost a certainty that consumers will become ever cognisant of the budget friendliness of their next vehicle purchase. That is where the frugal new Suzuki Celerio comes in as a salvation for entry level consumers.
The 1-litre 3-cylinder naturally aspirated motor puts out 49 kW and 89 N.m and while it might not set the world alight, the Japanese automaker claims that it can achieve a meagre combined fuel consumption of 4.2L/100 km when employed in the Suzuki Celerio with an AMT gearbox. The 5-speed manual GL which we drove is stated to achieve slightly more at 4.4L/100 km although we could only manage 5.3L/100 km in a launch drive that was dominated by stop-start urban routes through Johannesburg – mighty impressive nonetheless.
This frugal consumption is partly due to its lightweight stature of 805 kg which is 30 kg less than before. The new Celerio comes with more standard features and an improved HEARTECT structure which increases tensile rigidity and distributes force away from the cockpit during an accident impact. The new model is yet to be put through a safety test so no further information is available on its NCAP rating.
The new Celerio retains a sub 4-metre length while improving on outgoing interior spaciousness and boot capacity compliments of the new platform. Passengers taller than 180 cm will still find the second row headroom impeding for general comfort but the volume in the boot now stands at 295 L as opposed to 235 L from before. The substantial 60 L improvement will make a big difference in hauling bags and groceries comfortably although the high load lip and 5mm suspension raise will make raising heavy items into the boot worthy of a deadlifting set. Expect many scuffed rear bumpers from suitcases and heavy bags grazing the paintwork on the rear.
Fortunately, any more serious rear bumper damage from miscalculated depth perception can now be mitigated as the full range of Celerio will come standard with rear-parking sensors activated when in reverse-gear. Cost cutting for the affordable model becomes prevalent here with the on-screen graphic featuring the Baleno instead of its much smaller sibling. The Maruti build quality and hard plastic interior is forgivable for its low price and further list of standard features which include Engine Auto Stop Start (EASS) and ESP. The Celerio is one of only three vehicles in SA to include this feature while being priced under R200 000 and Suzuki South Africa pride themselves in the fact that all three models under this price bracket are their own.
On the topic of trim; the GA gets 14-inch steel wheels, steering-wheel mounted audio controls, information display with fuel consumption, air conditioning and dual front airbags while the GL comes with 15-inch alloys, body-coloured exterior trim, front fog lamps, electric mirrors, electric windows all-around, a 7-inch touch screen with smartphone sharing and a tachometer. The line-up can be specced in any one of seven colours with the Fire Red, Speedy Blue Metallic and Caffeine Brown Pearl being the only non-monochromatic of the selection.
When thinking of the outgoing Celerio, many prospective customers would laud its many strengths but state that its boxy and geometric exterior design was not appealing. The new model has set out to improve this perception and create a much softer design aesthetic which is more fitting for a small city car. The side profile has also been given some depth with 3D treatment that contours the doors and panels. It now beholds an aesthetic which is more endearing to prospective entry level buyers.
The GL M/T provided a pleasant experience from the driver’s seat with the only significant pitfall being moderate body roll when cornering or a sudden change in direction. The engine and gearbox is expectedly not very well equipped for high speed spurts on the highway but excels when trundling around urban avenues although low down torque is minimal so think twice for brisk getaways while the air conditioner is full blast and additional passengers require additional labour from the engine.
Pricing for the entry level model starts from R174 900 for the GA M/T while the Suzuki Celerio GL M/T which we tested comes in at R194 900. The top spec AMT derivative will set buyers back R209 900 and all come with a 2-year/30 000km service plan and 5-year/200 000km promotional warranty.
Suzuki expects to sell a moderate 300 units per month but this figure might increase substantially as buyers will become far more receptive to frugal city slickers in light of the uncertain global fuel prices. The Toyota Agya, angular Hyundai Grand i10 and Kia Picanto might find a formidable opponent in the new Suzuki Celerio.
Suzuki Celerio GL M/T
Price: R194 900
Engine: 1-litre, 3-cylinder, naturally aspirated petrol
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Power: 49 kW @5 500 rpm
Torque: 89 N.m @3 500 rpm
Driven wheels: front
0-100 km/h: N/A
Top speed: N/A
Fuel consumption: 4,4L/100 km
CO2 emissions: N/A
Rivals: Toyota Agya, Hyundai Grand i10, Kia Picanto