After a remarkably quiet 2013 Maruti Suzuki has begun spreading its gigantic wings all over 2014. They begin the year with a brand new offering aimed squarely at the Indian market. The Celerio, if you aren’t aware of it by now, is a hatchback that will eventually replace the A-Star and the Estilo. The Celerio is built on an all-new platform that has been in the making for close to three and a half years. A team of around 175 designers, engineers, product planners, visualisers, marketeers etc from both India and Japan have combined their efforts to this end. Except whoever came up with a name that sounds like aveggie in a salad mated to Mahindra’s favourite latter is anyone’s guess. According to Mayank Pareek, COO Maruti Suzuki, Celerio means a ‘celestial river’, but don’t ask me what’s the connect, I’m as clueless as you and many Maruti Suzuki employees are! But get past the name and what you can clearly see its antecedents in the Alto, there are definitely faint hints of inspiration from Maruti’s largest selling car.
The Celerio is 3.6-metres long (2.4 metre wheelbase), 1.6-metres wide and 1.5-metres high, making it much larger than the A-Star. Its silhouette has all the elements of the small Suzuki hatchback language, but the fascia and the design is completely new. The front design is part of Suzuki’s new design language with a curved two stat grille connecting the headlamps. The headlamp console and the front bumper are angular giving it a modern feel. Both the shoulder-line and waist-line are bold, but they don’t add much value in this small car. The top-end variant gets a nice set of alloy-wheels. The rear is typical Maruti with the tail lamp cluster similar to that of the bigger siblings. There are multiple horizontal lines here that actually make the car look more compact from this angle
The cabin of the Celerio is very Maruti-like in its excessive use of plastic. But, thankfully the quality of plastic used redeems it from seeming too tacky. The dashboard layout is quite modern and pleasing. There is also considerable symmetry to the features of the dashboard. The gear-shift stick is positioned at the base of the centre stack within easy reach for the driver in both the manual and the automatic variants. The three-spoke steering wheel is healthy to hold and feels like it to belongs to in the premium hatch category. But, the seat squabs are thin and feel like they may not be the most comfortable during long journeys. There are a number of storage options including cup-holders. The luggage space in the boot is about 235 litres – above average for the segment. The Celerio’s cabin feels surprisingly spacious for a car of its dimensions. There is considerable legroom at the rear bench and since the centre tunnel is not very tall, even the third passenger in the middle should be quite comfortable. There is enough shoulder room too, which hasn’t been compromised by the lesser overall width of the car. Depending on the variant, you can also get features like steering mounted controls, music system with Bluetooth connectivity, 14-inch alloy wheels and keyless entry
The Maruti Celerio CNG gets is power from a 1.0-litre K-Series engine. This engine produces 59bhp of power and 78Nm of peak torque. It is mated to a five-speed manual transmission. There is no AMT available on the CNG version. The power on the Maruti Celerio CNG is a bit lesser than the petrol version. However, it doesn’t feel underpowered at any point of time. Most of the power comes at high rpm so for best performance one has to rev up a bit. The driveability of the car is also good. The Maruti Celerio CNG is so easy to drive in city and even on the highways. The Maruti Celerio CNG has a mileage of about 16km for a kilogram of CNG. This is what it will give in the city and it depends on how do you drive the vehicle. We weren’t very hard on the accelerator but we did encounter a lot of traffic
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
The suspension is soft enough to iron out road imperfections but the light car that it is, allows Maruti to keep the tune stiff enough for the Celerio to feel composed at high speeds. You don’t feel as nervous north of 100kmph in the Celerio as you would in an i10. The Celerio is a predictable handler too, fun to chuck around corners when you pick up the pace but the tyres could have offered more grip, especially in the diesel as there is more weight up front. It is a given that a Maruti has to be an easy car to use in the city, and with the Celerio it’s no different. Light steering and good visibility out of the cabin coupled with nearly straight lined sides make for some precision driving when you are weaving through traffic. If there is one drawback in the diesel, it’s the lack of low end punch.
The Maruti Celerio is an improved product, compared to the A-Star whose direct replacement it is. However it isn’t a vastly improved product which makes you question why the manufacturer did not go the long haul in taking a car which bombed so miserly, to the next level. The regular manual version of the Celerio doesn’t appeal much with the EZ Drive model being the only saving grace here. By using the intelligent and cost effective option, Maruti Suzuki will offer the cheapest automatic car in India in the Celerio. Although very jerky, the ease of driving offered by the Auto Gear Shift in the Celerio is sure to appeal to those on a budget. Being a Maruti Suzuki with a vast dealership network and aggressive pricing (for the lower trims), the Celerio is bound to be a success. However if you want a manual hatchback at this price point, there are better options. The Maruti Celerio is a jack of some trades but master of none. Maruti continues to cut corners on several fronts and sadly safety is at the forefront of this exercise. The Celerio’s Auto Gear Shift is the only reason worth considering the vehicle.