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The sensible choice

Suzuki Celerio CVT

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    Text and Photos by Neil Pagulayan

    Suzuki is well known for making small affordable vehicles with small displacements, and with the small car segment opening up here in the Philippines, their expertise in this kind of product is an advantage.  With more offerings like these available locally from other brands, the Filipino is the sure winner as these cars will be more within reach of first time car buyers.

    Launched last year, this Celerio looks better than its predecessor. It sports better looking headlights, a new front with a larger restyled grille, fog lights and bumper, and sharp lines that add a more serious character to this little car.  Around the rear, you’ll find bigger brake lights and a roof-mounted spoiler that also houses the third brake light.

    This is bigger than the last generation, 100mm longer, 70mm taller and its wheelbase has been stretched 65mm, making it 3600mm long, 1600mm wide and its wheelbase is now 2425mm.  This makes for a roomier cabin.

    The interior feels well thought out, with a mix of different textured materials, which has a black  theme with silver accents. Suzuki has gone to great lengths to make the interior as spacious as possible, which will surprise you when you get inside. The fabric seats offer adequate support despite how thin the seats look.  Both front seats (with integrated headrests) are easily adjustable to find the right driving position.  There’s enough space to fit you and four friends. It also has a 60:40 split rear folding seat and 254 liters of luggage space.

    The design is driver-centered, the chunky three-spoke steering wheel is easy to grab with an easy-to-read instrument cluster that includes a tachometer, a large speedometer and an easy to read info display that shows range, both instantaneous and average fuel consumption, and a trip meter. The audio system that comes standard has AM/FM/CD/MP3 with USB and Aux connectivity. Sound quality is pretty good coming from its small speakers.

    One of the best things about this car is what’s under the hood — a K10B 1-liter 3 cylinder DOHC 12V MPI gasoline engine — that puts out 67Hp at 6000rpm and torque of 90Nm at 3,500rpm. It’s mated to either a five-speed manual or CVT.  It may not look like much on paper, but both variants are actually fun to drive.

    Keeping the Celerio planted on the road are Mcpherson Struts in front and a torsion beam with coil springs in the rear.  You get 14 inch alloy wheels with 165/65 tires as standard equipment. Electric power steering makes for lighter feel and less load on the engine, adding to its already exceptional fuel economy.  It’s accurate and unlike other cars, returns good feedback on road conditions.

    There are quite a few safety features like Suzuki’s patented Total Effective Control Technology (TECT) design which integrates a lightweight impact-absorbing body using high-tensile steel with side-impact beams, anti-lock brake system (ABS), childproof rear door locks, dual airbags and side impact beams. Also included are an immobilizer, rear window defogger and a keyless entry system.  Power windows,  door locks and power side mirrors are also standard.

    The CVT variant I got to test had a sport mode button on its gear shifter, and activating this had a marked effect on its upshift through its virtual “gears”.  With the “sport” mode turned off, you still get pretty good acceleration, better than most cars in its class.

    The Celerio is available in eight colors: Snow White Pearl, Star Silver Mettalic, Mineral Gray Mettalic, Super Black Pearl, Ablaze Red Pearl, Cerulean Blue, Sunshine Yellow and Raspberry Pink. And it is priced at P507,000 for the 1.0L Manual and P542,000 for the 1.0L CVT.

    The Suzuki Celerio is a big leap from its predecessor, keeping the small car on the outside, but offering you more space on the inside.  The ride is fun but remember, it will struggle for speed when you load in your friends and luggage for a weekend drive. But that’s something expected from any car with a small engine. Even so, you don’t sacrifice fuel economy, which is the Celerio’s raison d’etre.

    Anyway you look at this car, it makes sense. In this day of unstable fuel costs and terrible daily traffic jams, you’re sure to survive it in this car.

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