First drive: Suzuki Celerio
This is the Suzuki Celerio - no, that's not a name for a washing machine - a new A segment supermini designed to offer you more choice for your money in the growing city car class. As production of Suzuki's other models, the Alto, Splash, SX4 and Grand Vitara comes to a close, the brand is putting all of its eggs into this little hatchback.
What is it?
The Celerio is a five-door city car that combines class-leading efficiency and interior space with high specification levels. Suzuki claims that the Celerio focuses on two key selling categories within the 'mini segment': value for money and quality. It sits between the likes of the Toyota Aygo and Ford Fiesta in terms of market placement, with a price tag as small as the car itself, but with a generous amount of equipment.
What's under the bonnet?
Two petrol engines are offered including a brand new 1.0-litre Dualjet unit, which is due to the launched in April. The Celerio will only be available with a lower powered 1.0-litre from launch but both engines have three cylinders, are mated to five-speed manual gearboxes and have an average fuel economy of more than 60mpg. The entry 1.0-litre is free to tax, too, thanks to low CO2 emissions.
This engine is the same used in the outgoing Alto and Splash models. It emits 99g/km and has a claimed fuel consumption of 65.7mpg. The newly developed 1.0-litre Dualjet benefits from an improved compression ratio and the addition of a dual-injection system, resulting in an average fuel economy of 78.4mpg and CO2 output of 84g/km. It will also be available with a brand new Auto Gear Shift (AGS) gearbox, which will be an option for the top of the range Celerio SZ4.
What's the spec like?
In keeping with the simplicity theme, there are just two trim grades available. The entry-level SZ3 is priced from £7,999 and the top of the range SZ4 is only £1,000 more at £8,999. Both models are crammed with equipment and feature 14" alloy wheels as standard. Even the entry-level SZ3 features all of the important gadgets including air conditioning, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, DAB digital radio and electric front windows. Both models also come with ESP stability control and ABS.
Although the Celerio is minute, measuring 3,600mm in length and just 1,600mm in width, it has been cleverly packaged to offer best-in-class boot space and has a surprisingly spacious cabin. Its tall roofline provides generous headroom in both the front and the rear - enough for someone of six-foot to squeeze in the back - and the legroom isn't too bad either. It has a luggage capacity of 254 litres and if you fold the rear seats, this extends to 726 litres. It looks quite snazzy, too. Black is the predominant colour inside, while the seat fabric and door panels are lined with a polka dot pattern, in keeping with the exterior body colour. The Celerio has a bold centre panel, which is highlighted by a subtle chrome lining.
First drive: Suzuki Celerio
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The Celerio is up against some tough competition, but it will provide you with more equipment for your money. The Celerio's biggest rivals include the Toyota Aygo, Hyundai i10 and Skoda Citigo, but these come with a significantly larger price tag and will leave you with a lesser-specced alternative. Although it's not quite as enjoyable to drive as the i10 or the likes of Volkswagen's Up! the Celerio is loaded with much more kit and it feels much bigger inside.
What's it like to drive?
The little Suzuki feels most at home around town, whipping around city streets and into small spaces with ease. It's not too fond of speed bumps or uneven country lanes, but that can be forgiven when it's not designed for ventures out into the wild. The Celerio does redeem itself on the motorway though - it's satisfyingly stable on the open road and cruises comfortably when passing traffic, but it does suffer from loud tyre noise when you hit a change in road surface. Thanks to its box-like shape, the Celerio offer greats visibility, which is important for both city and motorway commutes.
The AOL Cars verdict:
The Celerio may not be the most exciting car in its segment and it's certainly not the best looking. But for pure value for money, the little Suzuki outshines its rivals - no other A-segment car can offer the same level of equipment at such a small price. The Celerio is built purely for practicality and that, it achieves perfectly.
Model: Suzuki Celerio SZ4
Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol
Power: 67bhp, 90Nm
Max speed: 96mph
0-62mph: 13 seconds
Emissions: 99g/km CO2
Sophie Williamson Stothert