Suzuki Celerio test: this year's cheapest car to run
MALIGNED for their fiscal ways, our world's tight-arses are often the butt of discounting jokes (see what I did there?)
Yet those fiscally responsible have the luxury of possessing a pot of gold for whenever they need it… and for those who can't see the point of investing heavily on transport, the chances of buying a new car are scant.
Although the Suzuki Celerio may change minds. This year it topped the RACQ and NRMA cheapest car to run survey.
That's not some Mickey Mouse accolade either. The motoring clubs do their sums across depreciation, fuel consumption, registration, insurance and servicing.
Their calculations revealed the Celerio weekly ownership cost is less than $100.
Although, even though the manual sits at $12,990 drive-away, it's not all about being cheap. Our test has revealed the Celerio is one of the surprise packets of 2015, for not only its frugal ways but also driving aptitude.
Filing into the micro machine segment, the Celerio won't fill the people-mover void but is aimed at the second family car or young person's first purchase.
Four adults can find enough space within the compact cabin, which features wide use of hard plastics - standard fare for this genre.
There's nothing too high-tech that will have you getting lost via the various dash buttons, and even linking your phone via Bluetooth is fast and simple. The audio quality is good and we had some highway conversations without any issue… we can't say the same about some other budget models due to the road noise and feedback issues from the microphone/speakers.
Seats are flat but soft and spongy, and we had no issue finding a comfortable driving position, even though the steering wheel only adjusts vertically and can't be pulled closer to the driver.
On the road
Figures etched on paper sound underwhelming to motoring aficionados.
Powered by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder generating just 50Nm and 90Nm, about half that of your run-of-the-mill Corolla or Mazda3, the pint-sized Celerio punches well above its weight.
In fact, it's that weight which plays a pivotal role in the Celerio's fleet-footed ability. Tipping the scales at just 830kg, it gets along nicely.
Land speed records won't be broken, yet we still found the three-potter partnered with the five-speed manual responsive and good for wide-ranging metro and rural conditions.
Sitting on 110kmh just above 3500rpm the Celerio feels comfortable. Only when you are sandwiched between trucks do you feel the cute dimensions, but the little Suzi has nicely weighted steering and feels confident courtesy of a wheelbase (distance between the centres of the front and rear wheels) that has grown 65mm compared to the old Alto.
In fact, the impressive highway ability of the Celerio highlights the need for cruise control. It's not available, but it can certainly handle longer travels and its super frugal on the flats.
What do you get?
Bargain basement motoring means you go without some niceties, but it does have a CD stereo with MP3 capability with USB input, full Bluetooth connectivity with steering wheel mounted controls, air-conditioning, central locking and power windows all around.
The ANCAP safety rating is four stars because the Celerio doesn't have the minimum safety assist technologies (like autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and fatigue detection), but it does have six airbags, along with anti-lock brakes and traction/stability control.
Also worth a look are the Mitsubishi Mirage ($11,990), Holden Barina Spark ($12,890) and Nissan Mira ST ($13,490).
Combining some city and highway travel, we squeezed 4.5 litres for every 100km out of the Celerio. That's lower than the official figure.
Capped price servicing is available, but the intervals are at six months/10,000km, whereas most vehicles nowadays are annual or 10,000km.
For such a small car the 254-litre boot is generous, plus the seats split-fold 60-40 which is great for oversized cargo.
Up front there are two cup holders, which accommodate larger drink bottles (which can also fit in the doors), and another one in the back.
Storage includes a good nook next to the USB plug which is perfect for phones, but you go without a console bin due to the tight dimensions.
Right, let's get it out the way. The name is ridiculous. It's a worldwide name, and we're all too familiar with those falling into line with company requirements.
The Celerio is unobtrusive in design. More utilitarian than eye-catching, its allure depends much on the colour you choose - it comes in white, pink, yellow, blue, silver, grey, black and red. Oh, it will cost an extra $475 premium for anything other than white.
Finding value nowadays seems to be a constant battle. For those wanting reliable, cheap transport, then the Celerio fits the bill.
There is no doubting the automatic derivative is the most popular, but the manual offers some extra zing and is willing to please.
What matters most
What we liked: Surprisingly good to drive, won't find anything better in the affordability realm.
What we'd like to see: Impressive highway manners mean cruise control would be an asset, instrument icon to show when the lights are on.
Warranty and servicing: Three-year/100,000km warranty, which is extended to five years/140,000km with Suzuki dealership servicing. Capped price servicing is available at $199 each with every fourth maintenance visit $249. Service intervals are six months or 10,000km.
Model: Suzuki Celerio.
Details: Four-seat front-wheel drive micro-size hatchback.
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder generating maximum power of 50kW @ 6000rpm and peak torque of 90Nm @ 3500rpm.
Transmission: Five-speed manual.
Consumption: 4.7 litres/100km (combined average).
Bottom line: $12,990 drive-away.