The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.5
The Suzuki Celerio is a high-value city car that provides bags of space and lots of standard equipment for a bargain-basement price. It’s not the most comfortable or quietest car of its type to drive, and it feels rather dour inside, but if value-for-money is your priority, you should definitely give it a look.
Reasons to buy
- Huge interior space for a small car
- Affordable prices and generous standard kit
- Enviable reliability record
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
The Celerio has been designed to maximise interior space, so it’s no real surprise that the lines of the car are boxy and a little awkward. With a high roof and narrow footprint, it looks rather more top-heavy than many of its rivals. Both of the trim levels available come with alloy wheels and body-coloured door handles, but the SZ4 adds body-coloured mirrors and chrome grille accents to the list of styling goodies. On the SZ3, all those bits are plain black.
What's the interior like?
Climb inside the Celerio, and you’ll find very little to get excited about. Hardly any effort has been made to make the cabin a classy environment (no surprise given the car’s budget appeal), so all the plastics are hard and scratchy to the touch, and some panels feel rather flimsy. The colour schemes, too, are very much on the dour side. The centre console has big, clearly marked buttons, but some of the infotainment functions are still rather strange in the way they work. For instance, it’ll probably take you some considerable amount of time to work out how to pair your phone with the Bluetooth system. Plus, all models have a steering wheel that only adjusts for height, not reach. That said, it’s the same situation with most of the Celerio’s rivals, and all models have a height-adjustable driver’s seat.
How practical is it?
Generous interior space was one of the primary objectives in the design of the Celerio, and it does a really good job: for such a tiny car, it’s very roomy inside. Rear passengers get an impressive amount of headroom and legroom, and although the cabin is too narrow to transport three in the back on a regular basis, your middle passenger should be fine on short journeys thanks to a low, flat-topped transmission tunnel. What’s more, the five-door-only body style means getting in and out of all models is easy. The boot is among the class-leaders for capacity, too, with 254 litres of space. However, some rivals use their space in a cleverer way; the Suzuki has a big load lip, and unlike some rivals, there’s no false floor to level it out or divide up the loadbay.
What's it like to drive?
The best city cars deliver a comfortable and refined ride, while also giving drivers a decent slice of fun and security in the corners. However, the Celerio isn’t quite up to those high standards. The focus has definitely been put on comfort, with the soft suspension doing a good job of mopping up craggy surfaces. However, bigger bumps and potholes aren’t so well dealt with and you’ll feel a fair old knock when you encounter them. The softness of the suspension also pays few dividends in corners, where the body leans and lollops around more than you’d like, and the steering isn’t ideal, either. It’s very slow, the self-centring action is rather strong, and the action stops before fully returning to the straight-ahead, leaving you to do the last bit on your own. If you’re not used to it, you can find yourself wandering around all over the road. Still, at least the skinny tyres manage to provide a surprising amount of grip.
How powerful is it?
All Celerios come with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine giving 67bhp, but there are two flavours; a standard engine and one that’s designed to be more efficient. We haven’t yet tried the latter, and the former is a mixed bag. Like most three-cylinder engines, it feels pretty perky when you rev it, but the engine stutters at the very bottom of the rev range unless you tickle the throttle as you come off the clutch pedal. This can make the car tricky to drive smoothly in town, and even at higher engine speeds, the power delivery is a little bit staccato. The ever-present thrum you’ll hear will be either endearing or irritating depending on your mood, but you actually don’t hear too much noise from the engine on the motorway. However, that’s more to do with the cacophony of wind and road noise you do hear rather than anything else. It means the Celerio isn’t as relaxed a cruiser as its best rivals.
How much will it cost me?
Look at the Celerio’s prices compared with those of its best rivals, and you’ll notice that the Suzuki’s are significantly cheaper. However, factor in the essential kit (things like air-con) you get as standard with the Suzuki that you have to add to similarly-priced rivals, and the price advantage gets much bigger still. This really is one high-value little car, even though resale values won’t be that great, and you won’t get much of a discount when you buy. The standard engine has CO2 emissions of 99g/km (meaning low tax bills) and official fuel economy of almost 66mpg regardless of whether you go for the manual or semi-automatic gearbox, while the cleaner engine has even better figures of 84g/km and almost 80mpg, respectively.
How reliable is it?
It’s tricky to predict just how reliable the Celerio will be, but if you look at it on a purely historical level, the signs look very good indeed. The Celerio’s predecessor, the Alto, is one of the highest-scoring cars in the whole of Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index. What’s more, Suzuki ranks very near the top of the same study’s manufacturer standings. Let’s hope the Celerio can continue the trend.
How safe is it?
All Celerios have the same amount of safety equipment, and the roster is pretty healthy. Stability control, six airbags and a tyre pressure monitoring system are all provided as standard, as are Isofix child seat mounting points. However, some of the Celerio’s city car rivals are offering sophisticated technology such as automatic city braking these days, and some also have four- and five-star Euro NCAP crash test ratings. The Celerio offers no such system, and has only achieved a three-star rating.
How much equipment do I get?
This is an area in which the Celerio has the beating of many of its city car rivals. Despite its bargain-basement price, the entry-level SZ3 car comes with standard equipment including remote locking, electric front windows, Bluetooth, DAB radio, and – unlike many of its best rivals – air-conditioning. SZ4 trim only really adds electrically adjusting door mirrors, front fog lamps and powered rear windows, so we don’t reckon it’s worth the money to upgrade.
If you want as much space and equipment as you can get your mitts on for as little money as possible, then there’s every reason to consider the Celerio. It can’t match its best city car rivals in a number of other areas, but as a high-value proposition, it’s tough to beat.