Suzuki Celerio review
With its practical shape and low cost, the Suzuki Celerio is a decent little runabout
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
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!.
Things get worse when you realise there are no personalisation options on offer – you can’t even choose a different alloy wheel design. The £415 optional metallic paint is the only real way of expressing any extra flair on the Suzuki.
Compared to the subtle exterior design, the Celerio’s interior is busier, with a mix of colours, materials and textures that makes things feel cheap. However, despite the bargain bin plastics, build quality is strong. The dash swoops down to a big centre console that houses the radio and heating controls, while there’s a USB socket underneath and a handy space to leave your phone when charging.
Silver plastic highlights run round the bottom of the dash in a U-shape, plus there are more bright inserts for the top of the gearlever and air vent surrounds. It’s a small touch that adds a splash of contrasting colour to an otherwise drab and plasticky cabin.
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.
Unlike the Suzuki Swift, there’s no small car magic to the way the Celerio drives. This is a more utilitarian choice for people who want a comfortable, usable city car. With an elevated driving position compared to many compact hatchbacks, the view of the road ahead is great, meaning you can place the car on the road easily.
With 14-inch wheels and relatively high-profile tyres, the low-speed ride around town is smooth, too. However, if you push harder and hit bigger bumps at speed the Celerio loses some of its composure.
It rolls in corners, due to the squidgy rubber and lofty height compared to the squat duo it’s up against here, and the steering isn’t all that precise – you always feel like you have to turn the wheel more than you expect to go round a bend.
There’s lots of steering lock, though, which means the Suzuki has the smallest turning circle of the three, at 9.4 metres. Combined with the impressive all-round vision, the Celerio is simple to park and manoeuvre in tight spaces.
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 isn't particularly punchy and it needs to be worked hard to get up to motorway speeds, but around town it's nippy and responsive.
Sales of the Celerio got off to a shaky start: just one day after the car hit dealers, Suzuki had to recall all models to rectify a potential problem with the vehicle’s braking system. However, the fix was carried out quickly and the brand is confident safety won’t be affected.
Overall safety levels aren’t too impressive, though, with the Celerio only scoring three stars in Euro NCAP’s recent round of crash tests – the 61 per cent adult occupant protection rating was particularly poor. This is partly because head-protecting side airbags aren’t fitted as standard.
Suzuki didn’t score well in our Driver Power 2014 satisfaction survey, either, and finished as the worst manufacturer in 33rd place. However, in terms of reliability, it was ranked 12th. Its dealers beat many premium brands for service in our survey, with a score of 86.5 per cent, so the response should at least be positive if you do have to get a problem sorted.
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.
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.
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.