New Suzuki is just

so sensible

Suzuki Celerio, rear action
Suzuki Celerio, boot
Suzuki Celerio, side, static
Suzuki Celerio, dashboard
Suzuki Celerio, front seats
Suzuki Celerio, front action 2
Suzuki Celerio, side action
Suzuki Celerio, front action

THEY'RE a level headed lot, buyers of small Suzuki cars. Not much for fripperies and pointless add-ons of the sort that tempt people to splash out on much dearer machines.

So this latest Suzuki represents a level headed approach to moving people (unusually in this class of car, up to five of them) about in some comfort and with modest expenditure.

Oh, and buyers will also find quite a lot of goodies for their £7,999, along with an engine that produces few enough nasties from its exhaust to qualify for zero road tax.

A lowly group seven insurance rating and an official, but unlikely 65mpg also ease the pain of ownership.

With its arrival delayed by a few weeks while surgery was done to put right a potential problem with the brake pedal which emerged on the first few models to arrive in the UK, the Celerio is on sale now.

And for those owners looking for a bit of swank in their new Celerio, there is the chance to spend an extra £1,000 to add such inessentials as polished alloy wheels, a black radiator grille, and slightly more practical touches - including electric door mirrors, front fog lamps and an extra pair of speakers. Most buyers will not be tempted, Suzuki reckons.

And coming soon, for a likely £500 extra, is an even more economical and cleaner version of the new car's little 1.0-litre petrol engine.

This unit gives an official 78mpg and emits a lowly 84g/km but otherwise performs almost exactly like its cheaper sibling. A version with a basic automatic gearbox is on the way, at a yet undisclosed price. It's performance is identical to the manual model.

You wonder how many canny Suzuki buyers, the vast majority of them mature private buyers with modest annual mileages, will be tempted away from any but the base model, called SZ3 in Suzuki speak. Especially when you see what they get for keeping the price down.

Standard kit includes alloy wheels, air conditioning, a DAB radio and Bluetooth and a CD slot. There are also seat belts for five, and six airbags, although the Celerio scored only a disappointing three stars in the European safety crash test because that version was tested with only four airbags, like some Continental buyers will be offered.

As well as building sensible cars for sensible people, Suzuki takes a sensible approach to the likely success of the Celerio in the UK, accepting that the £2,000 premium over the Alto, the previous but now axed cheapie in the Suzuki showroom, is going to rein in sales a bit.

Forget swanky and expensive ad campaigns for the new baby; you are more likely to see the car sitting in a Tesco near you than draped with a diamond encrusted model in the pages of your favourite glossy magazine. Yes, you'll be able to book a test drive as you shop for loo rolls and something for supper.

Built in Thailand but designed in Japan, the Celerio look modern and modest at the same time. Nothing to offend the eye in lines that promise surprising headroom and a bigger boot than you expect in a car this small.

Its modest three-cylinder engine provides enthusiastic noises and enough urge for most needs, helped by a light clutch and gearchange. Nothing very sporty, you may be relieved to hear, especially when you sample a ride that took the rough with the smooth on some typical English byways on the car's launch.

Better still was the 57mpg shown on the car's trip computer - another standard fitting and mildly unexpected in a car at this price.

It's yet another useful feature on a car that's clearly made to be practical transport with solid sense running through it like a stick of Blackpool rock.

The only flight of fancy in the whole Celerio package is the name - a bit of Spanish that translates as 'celestial river in the sky.' Well, you've got to let Suzuki's imagination loose on something.

£7,999

67bhp, 998cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed gearbox

96mph

13.5 seconds

65.7

7

99g/km

12%

3yrs/60,000 miles

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