Suzuki Celerio SZ4
Let’s face it, the ‘cereal box’ styling template that’s influenced many of Japan’s diminutive kei cars over the years was never going to win any beauty pageants. By their very nature, their proportions are slim and tall like a double-decker bus or, say, a cereal box, and Suzuki‘s new Celerio is no different.
The front of the Celerio is softened and looks like a friendly type of chap thanks to a large, smiley grille and some relatively oversized, wraparound headlights. Things get a bit more conventional the further rearward one looks, though, and aside from the diddy 14” wheels that all but the lowest specced models come with, there aren’t really any design features as such to catch your eye.
Inside the Celerio, it’s about as budget as it gets, but then, with a starting price of £6,999, that’s what you’d expect. The plastics are lightweight and thin and don’t look particularly well attached, especially around the A-pillars. What isn’t so budget is the Celerio’s approach to safety; it’s absolutely jam-packed with airbags and every model comes with seat and curtain protection, as well as the usual driver and passenger head-on units.
All Celerios come with DAB, and all but the very lowest spec SZ2 model have USB inputs and Bluetooth connectivity; none of these are particularly expensive options anymore, but they’re such a priority for younger drivers who are so dependent on their smartphones, that their inclusion is a highly shrewd move.
It goes without saying that that tall, lofty shape is more function than form and anyone who needs a car that’s capable of ferrying four adults around won’t be disappointed. That’s not to say any rear passengers would want to sit there for long periods of time, though; it may accommodate them, but it’s no limo.
The engine in all UK Celerios is a 998cc, three-cylinder petrol unit which, if you go up to SZ3 spec, can be provided in ‘Dualjet’ guise for a slight performance and mpg increase over the standard engine’s (13s vs 13.5s 0-62mph & 78.4 mpg vs 65.7). Our test car is fitted with the ‘normal’ engine, mated to the manual gearbox (auto AGS ‘box is available, but it’s SZ4 spec only and creeps dangerously close to £10K).
Three-cylinder engines’ popularity has increased exponentially recently, thanks to being low in cost and high in terms of economy and fun, and this Suzuki unit is no different. It makes the characteristic thrum you’d expect and once pushed, revs for fun up through the power bands. You’re never going that fast, in fact, you’re never going fast at all, but 70mph feels (and sounds) more than enough and getting there is good fun.
Whether your Celerio comes on standard steel wheels or 14” alloys, they’re super-skinny which makes handling interesting as the tiny rubber footprint scrabbles around for grip. As is so often the case with Suzukis, though, the Celerio’s more of a laugh than it possibly looks. It’s lack of weight and simple set up means it’s so easy to throw around and it reminds me of how cheap, low spec hatchbacks used to feel before they were laden down with lead weight safety features. Just be careful to avoid any major potholes and scars, though – when one of those spindly wheels catches one, the whole car feels like it’s falling down an abyss.
There are cars in this bracket that feel more substantially constructed and look more appealing than the Celerio, there’s no denying it. Its 1-litre, three-cylinder is an absolute treat, though and in terms of cheap thrills, it fights well above its weight.
By Ben Harrington
Specifications; Suzuki Celerio SZ4, Transmission – 5 speed manual, Layout – Front engine, FWD, Power – 65bhp, Torque – 90Nm, Emissions – 99g/km CO2, Economy – 65.7 mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 96mph, Acceleration – 13.5s 0-62mph, Price – £8,999 OTR, £9,414 as tested
For full details, go to; www.suzuki.co.uk