Marcus De Guzman / Kelvin Christian Go | December 18, 2017 09:45
Mention Suzuki to any car-buying Filipino and most will immediately think of the sporty Swift, the go-anywhere Jimny or the flexible Vitara. Others, on the other hand, might mention the multi-purpose APV, the utilitarian Super Carry or the seven-seater Ertiga. But there is one more model that is smaller than the Swift, yet slightly bigger than the Alto 800. And that's the Celerio.
First introduced in the country back in mid-2015, the second-generation Celerio serves as the company’s contender in the growing A-segment hatchback. Unlike its predecessor which had a funkier, more youthful design, the all-new model features a more mature exterior along with a more refined cabin design. All well and good but with the competition busy introducing updates of their own, Suzuki opted to also give their own five-door hatch a much needed upgrade.
But will the new add-ons hurt the Celerio's affordable price tag? We find out.
Before anything else, yes the Celerio keeps its current look for the mild update. Suzuki could have made it flashier or sleeker, but honestly the Celerio does not need that kind of refresh. It’s good looking as it is without being too daring or too boring, whichever way you look at it. Plus, that striking Cerulean Blue paint job brings out the car’s lines and unique shape.
The Celerio also appears to be smiling all the time thanks to its distinct two-bar chrome grill, prominent headlights and angular front bumper. Another feature on the Celerio that I really like are the 14-inch directional alloy wheels that give it a semi-sporty look in my opinion. Rounding everything up are the eye-catching taillights that are slimmer in appearance compared to the previous generation which are chunkier.
In terms of size, the Celerio measures 3600mm long, 1600mm wide, 1540mm tall and has a 2425mm wheelbase. Side-by-side with its contemporaries, it is one of the smallest in its segment (joining the likes of the Honda Brio and Kia Picanto). But like what I said before, great things can come in small packages.
While its exterior dimensions are indeed small, inside, the Celerio looks (and feels) rather big. Open the doors and there is actually enough space to fit five people inside. Despite its limited interior capacity, Suzuki was smart enough to make use of all available space by cleverly making the front seats and door panels slightly thinner. In fact, passengers that are 5'7 and beyond will have no trouble sitting comfortably at the back. Luggage space is rated at 254 liters according to Suzuki which is not bad as it capable of holding two duffle bags and several other backpacks with ease.
For those that are thinking Suzuki has compromised safety, fret not as the company made extensive use of high-strength steel throughout the hatchback. In a nutshell, high-strength steel is lighter yet more durable than standard steel which makes it ideal for cars such as this.
Sitting on the driver's seat, I was taken aback that the Celerio offers a commanding view of the road. Normally small cars have a low driving position, but this Celerio it's a different story. Like many modern urban-oriented hatchbacks, I felt like I was sitting high, great for visibility in my opinion. Drivers of small stature will not have any trouble seeing out of the Celerio that I can be certain of. As for the cabin’s overall design, it’s simple and ergonomic. Sure it’s on the plasticky side, but the material used on the dashboard and certain touch points are of good quality.
But perhaps one of the greatest improvements done on the Celerio is the introduction of a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Unlike the pre-updated hatchback which was only available with a 2-DIN sound system, the new multimedia system comes with Bluetooth connectivity, as well as navigation which is not something you would always find on a car like this. Aside from supporting the usual AM/FM radio, CD, USB and Aux, the new infotainment system can also play videos which is great when you have kids around that want to watch movies.
Backing out of a parking slot is also easier as Suzuki equipped the 2017 Celerio with reverse parking sensors. Sure Suzuki could have equipped it with a reverse camera but the hatchback is already small to begin with and has great visibility all around. Plus, a camera-based system would have made the car more expensive.
A 1.0-liter DOHC three-cylinder engine called the K10B, powers the Suzuki Celerio. It puts out a humble 67 PS at 6000 rpm along with 90 Nm of torque at 3500 rpm. Since this is the range-topping model, the inline-three is connected to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that drives the front wheels.
While the engine only produces less than 70 PS and 100 Nm of pulling power, the hatchback only tips the scales above 800 kg. This means the Celerio is actually quick on its feet, as well as nimble to maneuever around city streets and along tight bends.
Off the line, there is some delay with the acceleration as the system does make use of a new drive-by-wire system. Once on the move however, the drivetrain delivered smooth power delivery while keeping the revs relatively low. Around the city with light traffic, the Celerio is capable of averaging between 11.0 - 12.0 km/l.
While it is down a cylinder, the inline-three actually revs quicker than similarly-sized four-cylinders. Punch the throttle and the engine will easily make use of all available revs. The CVT is geared towards fuel economy sure but it can still pick up the pace should one need to overtake or run at a faster speed. Moreover, the CVT can be set to 'Sport Mode' which makes the revs climb faster while also sharpening the car's throttle response.
While not exactly the car you'd take to the open road, the Celerio does make for a decent highway runner. Cruising at a steady 80 km/h, the hatchback remained stable and the powertrain hush in operation. Should one encounter strong winds while driving along the highway, one should be alert at all times. Why? Since it's pretty lightweight, the wind might influence the car's steering while on the busy highway. As for fuel economy, the Celerio was able to return between 18.0 – 19.0 km/l.
As far as handling and ride comfort are concerned, the 2017 Celerio performed admirably in both. The electronically-power assisted steering is finely weighted and does not feel too light or too heavy in both highway and city driving. It also delivered plenty of feedback which was nice as most systems have a rather numb feel. Thanks to the short wheelbase and far-flung wheels, the Celerio made short work of tight corners and sweeping curves.
For a small car, I was pleasantly surprised of its ride quality. I was expecting it to have a bouncier ride but it was actually quite pliant. Even if it was just me inside the Celerio (or with four other passengers), the Celerio remained comfy.
While there are plenty of nice things to say about the 2017 Celerio, there are some gripes that I have to mention about the tiny hatchback. For starters, Suzuki could have put more vibration absorption and sound deadening as three-cylinder motors are inherently unbalanced according to the many engineers we spoke to. This can be felt when the car is at a complete standstill which can be quite annoying when stuck in traffic. The CVT, on the other hand, could have been smoother when slowing down as it tended to be jerky at slower speeds. There is also the matter of the front cupholders which are placed too low inside the cabin.
So it gets a more high-tech infotainment system and reverse parking sensors. Surely these new additions have made the Celerio more expensive. Yes they have but not by much. Even with the added equipment, the Celerio is still priced at less than Php 600,000.
Retailing at a budget-friendly Php 569,000, the 2017 Celerio is one of the most value-packed A-segment hatchbacks in the market today. It is perhaps one of the most affordable models in its segment and already comes with a touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, as well as reverse parking sensors. Mind you, the same upgrades can also be found on the five-speed manual version.
Beside having some upgrades in place, the Celerio also comes with key safety features like; dual SRS front airbags, anti-lock brakes, engine immobilizer, childproof rear door locks, foglights and side impact beams.
For folks that are looking to buy their first car on a tight budget, I highly recommend checking the Celerio out as it ticks all the boxes of a properly equipped five-door A-segment hatchback.