The box-fresh Celerio aims to rule the highly competitive budget-car segment once again. We hopped into the GL manual to determine whether the improved version has what it takes.

Suzuki has a knack for building budget-friendly small cars that are (seemingly) fun to drive. I’ve written these words before, and after sampling the new-generation Celerio, it’s a statement I stand by. 

Celerio

Recently launched in South Africa, Suzuki Auto SA bills the latest model as a small car with big value. Although PR speak, the local arm of the Japanese brand isn’t wrong in making this statement. Weighing (from) only 805 kg, the company’s entry-level hatch offers a tonne of features. 

According to Suzuki, the latest model is the most petrol-efficient five-door hatchback in our market, with a claimed average fuel consumption of 4.2 L/100 km (AMT variant), and the most affordable car in SA equipped with ESP. The latter system is standard across the range. 

The firm’s K10C petrol motor powers the box-fresh model. The naturally aspirated unit features Suzuki’s new DualJet tech, which offers multi-point fuel injection, allowing a higher compression ratio. The 1.0-litre engine produces 49 kW and 89 Nm of torque, available from 5 500 r/min and 3 500 r/min, respectively. It’s worth noting that, thanks to the engine’s lowered emissions of 84 g/km, the Celerio’s CO2 rating sits below the local tax threshold.

“The three-pot provided sufficient punch for piloting around town”

At the local launch in Johannesburg, we sampled the manual gearbox-equipped GL model (this trim grade can also be had with an AMT). Although driven 1 753 m above sea level, the atmospheric engine didn’t take too much strain. Thanks to the slick five-speed cog swapper and lightweight body structure (the Celerio is now underpinned by a new version of Suzuki’s HEARTECT platform), the three-pot provided sufficient punch for piloting around town. However, there were a few times on the motorway when shifting to a lower gear was required. 

celerio

The latest architecture has also improved road holding, ride quality and handling. Although sitting 170 mm from the ground, body roll was well-contained ‘round city corners. The turning circle of 4.7 metres enhanced low-speed manoeuvring. The new version’s McPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension set-up and 15-inch alloy wheels commendably soaked up road scars. 

Considering this is a compact hatch, the cabin was a comfortable place to be sat in during our stint in the City of Gold. The fore and aft fabric-upholstered seats, integrated to optimise space, were comfortable during our drive. Thanks to its boxy shape — its exterior design arguably mixes some of the design cues of the S-Presso and Swift — my 1.7 metre-tall frame sat comfortably behind the steering wheel. Suzuki says it has also raised the front pews for a more commanding driving position and visibility. Boot space is rated at 295 litres. 

Celerio

GL models feature a seven-inch touch-enabled infotainment system, incorporating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The screen-mirroring functionality is accessed by plugging your smartphone into a USB port sited up front. Music is relayed through a two-speaker audio system.

The standard set-up relays vehicle information and alerts to the driver. I wasn’t very fond of the system’s standard graphics, however. That said, I do use Apple CarPlay most of the time. In addition, range-topping trim gains a digital tachometer, supplementing the large, analogue speedo. 

All models ship with ABS, EBD, a duo of airbags, Isofix child-seat anchorages, and engine start/stop functionality. The five-speed AMT variant gains hill hold assist. For additional peace of mind, a standard five-year/200 000 km warranty is included across the line-up, with GL models gaining a two-year/30 000 km service plan. 

At a glance

Suzuki Celerio 1.0 GL MT

Suzuki is renowned for producing affordable, fun-to-drive small cars. The new Celerio is no exception. If you’re a first-time buyer, a young professional looking to purchase your first new car or someone wanting a fuel-efficient hatch for traversing ‘round town, the Celerio may well be the pick of the bunch. 

  • Price: R194 900
  • Engine: 1.0 L, 3-cyl, petrol
  • Transmission: 5-spd MT
  • Driven wheels: F
  • Power: 49 kW @ 5 500 r/min
  • Torque: 89 Nm @ 3 500 r/min
  • 0-100 km/h: n/a
  • Top speed: 150 km/h
  • Fuel consumption: 4.4 L/100 km
  • CO2: 92 g/km