SMALL car specialist Suzuki aims to scale the heights with its latest offering the Celerio.
It is charged with replacing two successful models – the Alto city car and Splash supermini – in one fell swoop.
And the Japanese brand is hoping the newcomer, named after the Spanish phrase for celestial river, will sprinkle stardust on what’s a hugely important few months for the company.
The back end of spring will see another completely new model, the Vitara, replace the current ‘Grand’ version as Suzuki re-aligns its UK product range.
First up though is the Celerio, costing from £7,999 with an elevated driving position and interior that opens up a new world of space.
In their quest for the maximum-size cabin in a compact body, the brand’s designers went back to basics to deliver a roomy interior within a body of just 3,600mm and width of 1,600mm.
So plenty of height plus a non-slanting roofline allows for greater headroom while a 2,425mm long wheelbase ensures decent space for five people.
You can never expect too much from the boot in cars of this size but the capacity of 254 litres has yet to be bettered in its area of the market.
From launch the Celerio is powered by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with low CO2 emissions of 99g/km and capable of returning an average 65.7 miles per gallon.
Considering it only develops 68bhp, the little car fairly whizzed through a 120-mile test route, labouring only on steep uphill sections and showing excellent dynamics through the assortment of country lanes.
In April there will be a second powertrain, also a 1.0-litre unit, but featuring Suzuki’s Dualjet engine technology with greater torque and offering an even higher fuel return of 78.4mpg and emissions of just 84g/km.
Also available at that time will be the manufacturer’s newly developed Auto Gear Shift featuring an intelligent shift control actuator at the top of the transmission that operates the gearshift and clutch automatically.
A unique feature of the Suzuki AGS is a low speed ‘creep’ facility which allows the car to move in gear without the accelerator being applied – ideal in slow traffic and when parking.
An early production model had been brought over from the factory in Thailand where Celerio is built and while the auto couldn’t be easier to use the gear changes weren’t as seamless as I had hoped.
Overall though the Celerio is a cracking little car, inexpensive, ideal for the urban environment and very capable in faster conditions too. It represents value at the price.
On the downside it feels very light and the cabin plastics are on the cheap side. Its launch was also delayed by three weeks due to a potential brake pedal problem.
It is available in two trim grades called SZ3 and SZ4, with a £1,000 increment separating the pair, and such is customer confidence in the car that Suzuki has already taken more than 1,000 advance orders.
Standard kit for the range includes six airbags, ESP, air-con, alloy wheels, DAB radio, CD, USB and Bluetooth, while SZ4 adds stuff like polished alloys, body coloured door mirors, a chrome front grille, fog lamps, electric door mirrors, rear electric windows and four speakers.
Six colours are available, of which five are optional metallic finish and one a solid colour.