Suzuki Celerio review

Our Rating: 
3
3.0/5.0
2015 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

With its practical shape and low cost, the Suzuki Celerio is a decent little runabout

For: 
Practicality, standard equipment, low running costs
Against: 
Cheap interior, vague steering, questionable reliability

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The Suzuki Celerio went on sale in early 2015, replacing both the Alto and Splash city cars. It is bigger inside than a Skoda Citigo, offers more standard equipment than a Hyundai i10, and is cheaper to run than a SEAT Mii.

Prices start from less than £8,000 and all models get alloy wheels, air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity and a DAB radio. If that’s not enough, buyers can upgrade to the top-spec SZ4 for electric rear windows, body coloured trim and a four-speaker stereo. Quality can’t match that of its European rivals, but no city car on the market offers so much kit for such little cash.

Engine choices are limited to a pair of 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrols – though the more economical of the two won’t be available until April 2015. The standard engine is still very cheap to run, returning 65.7mpg and 99g/km of CO2 for free road tax. The Dualjet version will top 78mpg.

As you’d expect, performance takes a back seat, as this is a car designed for the city rather than the open road. That said, the tiny three-pot petrol packs plenty of punch and offers more than enough zip for darting around town.

Our choice: Celerio SZ3 1.0 67bhp

Styling

2.8

The Suzuki Celerio isn’t going to win any beauty contests. It’s a fairly inoffensive design, but the high level of standard equipment means personalisation options are largely limited to which paint colour you choose – with rival models offering far more in terms of extra kit and trim combinations.

The Celerio is a better looking and better proportioned car than the Alto and Splash models it replaces, but it can’t match the Renault Twingo or Toyota Aygo in the style stakes. While its boxy body offers bags of interior space, it looks quite slab-sided next to Peugeot’s dinky 108 or the classy Volkswagen up!.

That said, all models – even the basic SZ3 – come with alloy wheels and body coloured bumpers, while top-spec SZ4 cars add colour-coded mirrors, a chrome grille and front fog lights. Inside, all versions get DAB and Bluetooth, as well as air conditioning, a USB connection and CD player.

At a quick glance the changes are hard to spot, so unless you really feel the need to splash an extra £1,000 on the range-topping model, we’d stick to the entry-level SZ3.

Driving

3

Very few three-cylinder city cars will set the world alight with peppy performance and sports car-like handling. The Skoda Citigo and Fiat Panda come closest, but even then the underpowered engines will limit overtaking.

The Suzuki Celerio is no different. With 67bhp from its 1.0-litre petrol engine, its 0-62mph time is around 13 seconds and it has a top speed of 96mph. It feels nippy around town though, and the well-weighted steering allows for easy manoeuvring – especially when parking.

Suzuki Celerio rear

However, that well-weighted setup seems to disappear on faster roads, with a vagueness to the steering you just don’t get in a Hyundai i10. That car feels much more grown up on the motorway, and if you do longer journeys on a regular basis, the Hyundai is a much better bet.

As a city car, though, the Celerio more than holds its own – with great visibility and dinky dimensions. We’d avoid the AGS automatic gearbox regardless of the type of driving you do, as its slow and unpredictable changes make it a chore to use. The standard five-speed manual is much smoother.

Reliability

2

Like a number of other new cars, the Suzuki Celerio has suffered slightly at the hands of independent crash tester, Euro NCAP. It was awarded just three stars when it was examined in 2014 – some way short of the expected five star score for many modern cars. 

Part of the reason for that is due to the lack of basic kit on entry-level European cars. In the UK, the Celerio adds side curtain airbags as standard, which should help improve safety. Electronic stability control, tyre pressure monitoring and hill-hold control are also included. 

Disappointingly, Suzuki finished flat-bottom in the 2014 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey – coming a shocking 32nd out of 32 manufacturers. This is a big upset for the Japanese brand, especially as Toyota, Volkswagen and Hyundai all managed a mid-table finish. On the plus side, the solid (if a little cheap) interior build quality and simple mechanicals should ensure the Suzuki Celerio is a relatively trouble-free choice.

In February 2015 – just one day after the car went on sale – the Celerio suffered its first recall. The notice concerned potential high-speed braking failures resulting in all 100 UK registered right-hand-drive cars being recalled. Sales will resume once a fix has been put in place.

Practicality

4.4

The new Celerio has got the biggest boot in its class, and there’s enough room for five at a push. The slab-sided looks work in the Suzuki’s favour, allowing for plenty of headroom, while thanks to the generous wheelbase, there’s enough knee space for a six foot passenger in the rear. The driver’s seat adjusts for height, too, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get comfortable up front.

Suzuki Celerio interior

At 254 litres, the boot is three litres larger than the VW up!, Skoda Citigo and SEAT Mii, and two litres bigger than the previously class-leading Hyundai i10. It’s a decent shape, too, though the seats don’t fold flat and there’s a really annoying lip at the base. That won’t be an issue for most, but it’s certainly worth noting if you plan on carrying larger items on a regular basis.

Running Costs

4

It doesn’t matter which city car you go for, almost every car in this class offers rock-bottom running costs. The Celerio is no exception, with the entry-level 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine emitting less than 100g/km of CO2 for free road tax.

From April 2015, a new Dualjet version will be made available offering 78mpg and just 84g/km CO2 emissions. That’ll make it the most efficient car in its class – though in all honesty, the standard model will be frugal enough for most.

The Suzuki even boasts reasonably strong residuals, with all versions retaining around 39 percent of their value after three years. While that’s not much on an £8,000 car, it means you’re likely to get some money back when you do decide to trade in. Cheap insurance and servicing costs also help to minimize the impact on your wallet.

Last updated: 3 Feb, 2015
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