No matter how hard you try, somethings just aren’t heard, like in the case of automobiles how often have we heard India’s largest car manufacturer having a flop model in its portfolio. Rarely, but when Maruti Suzuki’s product does fail to sell, the company quickly makes amends by discontinuing the model and replacing it with something better. Such has been the case always and that’s why the Japanese automaker is replacing not one but two of its poorly performing cars in India with one product. The Zen Estilo and A-Star are being replaced by the Celerio, a car which also fills in the shoes of the Splash globally. Does the Maruti Celerio have what it takes to replace three cars? Suzuki thinks so, its ideology behind developing the Celerio was to make a vehicle which has the economy of the Alto (A-Star) and space of the Splash (Ritz). We put the Maruti Celerio through the thick and thin to see if this Maruti has what it takes to be a success. Find best offers on Celerio
After the Swift, we’d say that the Celerio is the car that brings a fresh new face to Maruti Suzuki. Large curved headlamps, a twin-slat bonnet grille in chrome and an over-sized airdam below give the Celerio aggressive front looks. At the sides, the two parallel lines – tornado and the body side lines are prominent and lightly curved. The shoulder line has been set a bit high, but does not compromise the amount of light pouring into the cabin. The interior of the Celerio is quite airy, unlike the dark rear seat of the A-Star.
The rear of the Celerio features a simpler design, with a fairly straight-forward hatch door and the tail-lamps looking vaguely like they have been carried forward from the new Alto 800, though with a different combination. Overall, the design of the Celerio’s body panels seems to have been done with a dual-purpose in mind – to achieve a low co-efficient of drag for better aerodynamics and to ensure lower manufacturing costs. Open the door and they are fairly thin, in terms of width, including the plastic panels inside. But, they close with an assuring ‘thunk’.
Maruti Celerio CNG interiors are same as the other versions. It looks quite contemporary and is good value for the money spent. The Celerio has a dual-tone dashboard with beige and black colours. The finish is also good which makes it look premium. The CNG comes only in VXi, so it doesn’t get a factory-fitted music system, no ABS or airbags. here would be an addition of ABS, once the new regulations set in, but as of now you get neither. The features on the Maruti Celerio CNG are all four power windows, power steering, AC and integrated dual fuel gauges.
The Maruti Celerio CNG gets dual tone seats, which also look stylish. The space offered in the front row is good enough for tall people and the seats have decent support too. The best part is that the rear also has great leg room and knee room. Even tall passengers would find it comfortable to sit in. It is certainly good and comfortable too, but the limited thigh support could have been optimised. The CNG tank takes up all the space, hence there is hardly any luggage space in the boot. So, the only option will be to use a carrier for luggage.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;
Yes going by the facts, the Celerio diesel can be a bit of a dampener. Two cylinders, 793cc, 47.6PS of power at a fairly low 3,500rpm and 125Nm of torque at 2,000rpm. But don’t write it off yet. The Celerio is a light car, about 60kg lighter than its competition, and when it goes down to such small capacity engines, every kilo matters. The engine itself is an all-aluminium block with a turbo’s diameter the size of a few fingers. Performance isn’t anywhere close to brisk, but adequate to keep pace with traffic, and a downshift will help you in that overtake.
A weak bottom end is expected with just 125Nm of peak torque available at a fairly high 2,000 rpm but the way around it is keeping the engine in its midrange. The engine isn’t as vibey and noise inside the cabin is well-curtailed to give you a pleasant drive most of the time. Towards the top of the rev band though above 3,000rpm, as the tiny two-pot begins to shriek is when you will find the Celerio a bit unpleasant. The shift quality is good though, clean and quick slots with a clutch that’s a bit heavy but not jumpy.
All things said, the Celerio diesel is a car for the office commute for two. Any more passengers or luggage loaded and the engine will feel strained and out of breath to lug the extra weight
DRIVING DYNAMICS ;
The biggest plus point about the Maruti Celerio is indeed how easy it is to drive. Piloting the car in congested traffic is effortless, more so if you are driving the model equipped with the automatic gear shift. Ride quality is very good, more so at low speeds as the suspension is on the softer side with the tyres running a high profile. Ride quality can get a bit messy at the rear as speeds build up, more so on really bad roads where the complete vehicle rattles a bit. Steering has no feel, while it’s light at low speeds, it simply doesn’t weigh up at high speeds. The EPS unit has little feedback to offer.
Small cars can be quite fun to throw around corners but the low grip tyres don’t help the Celerio’s cause. Yes the Celerio handles quite well and is very stable at speed but it somehow isn’t as agile as the Honda Brio, a car with which it will rub shoulders in India. Lack of ABS on the Auto Gear Shift model isn’t understandable at all, nor is ABS only being offered as part of an option on the ZXi trim digestible. This comes from a manufacturer who offers ABS as an option on mid-level variants of the Ritz and Swift while making it standard on all diesel trims of the Ertiga. Braking performance is decent but the pedal could offer better feel.
These days, the imbalance in preference for diesel versus petrol is levelling out, and diesel engines have never worked at the entry-level end of the market because engineering driveability, refinement and economy to a cost has been too much of a challenge. Yet, here comes Maruti developing an all-new, small-capacity diesel engine from scratch for this segment. The company is convinced there are enough ‘die-hard diesel fans’ in India to justify the investment, so was it worth the risk?
The Celerio ZDi’s price comes within a hair’s breadth of the starting price of a Swift diesel, which will make buyers think twice. The bigger concern is that, as with the AMT gearbox in the petrol car, this engine will almost certainly move into more affordable models like the Alto and Wagon R, at which point, interest in the unexciting Celerio could fade once again.
But the reason you’ll want this car is its incredible fuel economy, and the low maintenance Maruti is known for. On that front, the car truly shines, but know that you have to deal with poor refinement and just about acceptable performance. It also lacks the flair of its rivals, but that said, it’s spacious, practical, comfortable and has decent driveability as well. We’re sure the Celerio diesel will be well received; let’s just hope it can hold buyers’ interest.