DESPITE being one of the smaller players in the global automotive industry Suzuki has always excelled when it comes to making capable and value-for-money small cars and 4x4s.
Its latest entrant into the small car market is the Celerio, which brings much to the segment and has plenty to recommend it.
It replaces Suzuki's Alto city car and its Splash mini-MPV and in some respects sits as a sort of half-way house between the two.
What it offers above all else is practicality and an impressive amount of space in what is to all intents and purposes is a pretty small package.
The lines between city cars, superminis and their ilk have become somewhat blurred and some would probably describe the Celerio as a microcar. What it is, is a competitor for the likes of the Hyundai i10, SEAT Mii and a raft of other similar cars.
What it doesn't have, and arguably its biggest drawback, is the funky small car styling that has become a popular theme in this segment, though conversely its design lines are inoffensive if a little bland and boxy.
Once upon a time small cars were veritable afterthoughts by manufacturers. The margins on them meant they didn't spend much money developing them and the investment always went into products higher up the range where more money could be made.
However, since the advent of the MINI, small-car buyers have become a lot more discerning and invariably want something more - whether its styling that bears more of a designer stamp - be it retro or contemporary - or the ability to personalise the product.
In many ways the Celerio sticks to the traditional small car blueprint of being fairly simple and straightforward - cheap and cheerful if you like.
That said I do think there's a market for no frills small cars that offer value for money and deliver on practicality.
When it comes to practicality the Celerio really does tick plenty of boxes. Longer and taller than virtually all its competitors, it also has a bigger boot and has the ability to transport three people in the rear, unlike many other cars in its class.
While I don't think I'd fancy being in the middle row rear seat for a road trip from Calais to the Cote D'Azur it is nonetheless capable of fitting five people in with a relative degree of comfort.
Currently there are two Celerio trim levels - SZ3 and SZ4.
The interior is fairly simple and spartan and though there's a noticeable absence of soft touch plastics it is comfortable and the instrumentation is clear, well laid-out and easy to use.
Both the SZ3 and SZ4 share the standard 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine producing 67bhp, mated to a five-speed manual gearbox.
While the SZ4 is better equipped both models offer generous specification, presumably in a bid to woo potential buyers.
To drive the Celerio is engaging enough. It's characterised by that small car fun feel due to the fact its four wheels are pushed out about as far as they can go.
A compliant and supple suspension set-up makes for a comfortable rid too, though there's a noticeable bit of body roll at times.