THE Suzuki Celerio is the Japanese manufacturers most-affordable car and if you think that must mean a lack of refinement or equipment then you may be pleasantly surprised.
The Celerio is never going to wow you with plush interiors or cutting-edge infotainment systems but after spending a week with the mid-spec Celerio SZ3 I can tell you that you won’t be feeling short-changed.
There are just 3 trim levels to choose from – the SZ2, SZ3 and SZ4 – with prices starting at just £7,499.
Unusually, for a city car in this price bracket, all models get 5-seats as well as 5-doors. They also come with central locking, a 2-speaker CD Tuner and DAB radio as well as electric front windows.
You won’t find Sat Nav or a colour infotainment screen on any model but then again, you wouldn’t in most rivals either.
If you want air con and remote central locking then you’ll need to step up to the SZ3 (£9,149) where you’ll also gain 14in alloy wheels, a USB connector and Bluetooth connectivity for your smartphone with controls on the steering wheel.
Celerio SZ4 models (£10,949) gain a couple of extra audio speakers, electric rear windows and door mirrors as well as front fog lights, polished black and chrome Alloy Wheels and some exterior chrome trim.
All models come with a 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder, 68 PS petrol unit and a 5-speed manual gearbox – although an auto box can be specified if you wish on the SZ4.
Inside is typical Suzuki with durable rather than plush surfaces but a youthful look that is easy on the eye and dials that are clear and uncluttered.
The steering wheel is adjustable for height but not reach; however the driver’s seat is adjustable for height so you shouldn’t have trouble finding a comfortable driving position.
Visibility is good all round thanks to slim pillars and the Celerio’s deep side windows.
Up front you and your passenger have plenty of space and there are enough storage areas for all your knick-knacks although the door bins are a little on the narrow side so you won’t be putting your bottle of water in there.
Rear access is easier than expected thanks to the high roofline and doors that open nice and wide but you won’t want to squash 3 adults in there. Two will be fine but 3-up needs to be smaller children only. Don’t forget though, on the likes of the Kia Picanto, Volkswagen Up and Citroen C1 you don’t even get the option for 3 in the rear.
Boot space in the Celerio is class-leading at 254 litres and the rear seats can also be folded 60/40 to give even more cargo space.
While interior space is impressive for a small car it’s the way the Celerio drives that will convince most that this City car should be on their short-list.
I took the Celerio SZ3 on a trip across the Peak District, through Glossop, along the Woodhead Pass and onto Leeds city centre with the little car taking it all in its stride and averaging almost 60 mpg across the 50-odd miles of mixed roads.
The Celerio is quite stiffly sprung when you compare it to the likes of the VW Up! or the Kia Picanto and this means it handles those twisty A-roads much better than expected. Okay, it’s not as much fun as a Ford Fiesta but when it comes to smiles-per-pound it really can’t be beaten.
Even on the motorway you find you can keep up with traffic easily – 68 PS may not sound like much but the Celerio is incredibly light and so traps along nicely at 70mph in 5th gear.
Sound insulation isn’t the best so you’ll get some engine noise and quite a bit of wind noise entering the cabin but it’s no worse than most rivals and not so bad that you can’t easily hold a conversation with your passengers.
The steering is a little lifeless at speed but I expect most of the Celerio’s miles will be covered around town where it feels just fine. The ride quality is fine too with that stiffer suspension preventing a lot of body-roll around sharper bends – although you may feel the worst pot-holes a little more than in softer-sprung rivals.
The gear-change is a delight, so navigating around town is a relaxed affair and the turning circle of just 9.4 metres is also very good.
So, The Suzuki Celerio is a very capable car for not a lot of money. It’s not going to set your heart racing on any level but it will be reliable and it could save you a large wedge of cash if you’re in the market for a practical City car.
AT A GLANCE:Suzuki Celerio SZ3 1.0
OTR Price: £7,499
Engine: 1.0 litre petrol
Power: 68 PS
Transmission: 5-speed Manual
0-62mph: 13.5 seconds
Top Speed: 96 mph
Combined Economy: 78.4 mpg
C02: 84 g/km