Little Suzuki packs

in plenty

Suzuki Celerio, front
Suzuki Celerio, front, static
Suzuki Celerio, rear
Suzuki Celerio, side
Suzuki Celerio, interior
Suzuki Celerio, boot
Suzuki Celerio, boot, seats up
Suzuki Celerio, rear seats
Suzuki Celerio, 1.0-litre engine

WITH a car that is cheap, cheerful and surprisingly capable Suzuki is turning two models into one.

The new Celerio is replacing the Alto city car and the slightly larger Splash as the Japanese car maker goes about revamping its line up.

Temporarily, the Suzuki range will shrink from eight to four models until the arrival of a new Vitara SUV.

The Celerio - the name means celestial river - is the new baby in the range but it is big on equipment and on space coming as a five door, five seater with the largest boot in this class of car.

It is also keenly priced starting form £7,999 which undercuts others such as the Toyota Aygo and VW up!

After its launch was stalled by three weeks while Suzuki rectified a potential brake problem, the Celerio is coming on stream in two trim levels both powered by a three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine with tax free emissions of 99g/km and a claimed fuel return of 65.7mpg.

Come the spring a leaner three pot with a stop/start facility will join the line up along with a semi-automatic option which is a first for Suzuki.

Compared to similar boxes in other little cars it is not quite as refined - you can hear the selector working away as you move out of neutral - but on the road it works well.

Second guess the change points and you will get a much smoother drive by coming off the throttle and in manual mode it works a treat.

Where it impresses as an automatic is with economy which officially is no different to the manual meaning it dips below the 100g/km road tax threshold - a strong point for those who want a small car that's easy to drive.

In reality it was not quite as fuel efficient, showing an average of 52mpg on the trip computer while the manual model returned at least 60 to the gallon.

Exactly what the manual Celerio averaged remains a mystery since a quirk with the Suzuki software stops the average fuel readout showing any more than 60mpg.

Nevertheless, the Celerio's economy is not to be shirked at and the engine is a zippy little number with plenty of pull.

The manual version has a five speed gearbox and its 0 to 60 time is 13.5 seconds, topping out at 96mph. The auto is slightly slower while the stop/start Dualjet engine will outstrip both clocking up 0 to 60 in 13 seconds and returning a claimed 78.4mpg with a CO2 figure down to 84g/km.

On the road the Celerio exhibits no bad habits with a comfortable driving position that gives a good all round view.

Room inside is above average for a car that measures 11ft 9ins long and space in the back is generous.

Boot capacity is 254 litres with the rear seats up which is a shopping bag bigger than the boot on an up! although with the rear seats down the Suzuki is not quite as capacious at 726 litres compared to the VW's maximum of 959 litres. The Aygo is comparatively tiny with just 168 litres available.

The dashboard on the Celerio is nicely comprehensive and straightforward. It's well put together and has a mature feel with black trim.

Standard equipment includes air conditioning on all models as well as a digital radio with Bluetooth connectivity and there's plenty of cubby holes all round. Stability controls, a hill holding system and tyre pressure monitors are also part of the manifest but there's no spare wheel - just a repair kit.

Higher grade SZ4 models cost from £8,999 and get some extra garnish such as chrome highlights, polished alloy wheels as well as front fog lamps and electric windows all round.

Pound for pound the Celerio makes a lot of sense. It's practical, easy to drive and economical to run and for most that is all that's required from an everyday car.

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