Suzuki Celerio SZ3 1.0 Dualjet

Road test: Suzuki Celerio SZ3 1.0 Dualjet

The Suzuki Celerio is one of the cleanest standard internal combustion-engined cars GreenFleet has ever tested. Richard Gooding finds out that low emissions doesn’t necessarily mean low fun

What is it?

The Suzuki Celerio was launched in the UK in February 2015, and is a budget city car, aimed to compete with the Hyundai i10, Kia Picanto and Vauxhall Viva among others. A car with emerging market roots, it is built in both India and Thailand, and with prices ranging from £6,999 to £10,199, high‑end versions of the all-new Japanese city runaround are near to the price of mid‑level specification Volkswagen Up models. All Celerios undercut the current magic 100g/km of CO2, which means value and low running costs are just two of its trump cards.

How does it drive?

Two small-capacity petrol engines power the Celerio range. Both are 898cc, three‑cylinder units: one, ‘K10B’, is rated at 99g/km, while the second, ‘K10C’, has Suzuki’s ‘Dualjet’ technology which lowers emissions to just 84g/km. Only available in SZ3 trim, the 1.0 Dualjet manual Celerio is the cleanest car on sale under £10,000. To achieve the headline low CO2 emissions figure, the K10C Dualjet unit has increased thermal efficiency, an improved compression ratio and a dual-injection system with friction reduction technology to enhance the combustion efficiency (see panel).

Both engines develop 65bhp, which on paper, doesn’t sound like a lot, but, like the 68lb ft (93Nm) of torque afforded our test car, is plenty enough to provide the little Celerio with a decent turn of speed. There’s the usual three-cylinder throb, and the little engine is zingy and copes with most situations well, even motorways, although acceleration can suffer when out of the urban sprawl.

On the move, the Celerio is commendably quiet, the three-cylinder engine only making itself heard when getting up to speed. But even that’s fun, the distinctive off-beat engine note only adding to the driving experience. The five-speed gearbox has a nice positive action and is ‘mechanical’ in feel: a good thing which enhances the eager nature of the little Suzuki.

The Celerio is very much a fun car to drive and handles with vigour. The Suzuki strings together a set of corners impressively well, and, maybe surprisingly, rewards like few sub-supermini compact cars can. While the seats look very flat, they are actually very comfortable, and there is ample room in the back, too: two male passengers had no complaints during our test. Elsewhere, the 254‑litre boot runs larger cars such as the Ford Fiesta close for capacity.

The front matches the rear for impressive space, and while the plastics of the dashboard are towards the lower end of the quality scale, the price is a consideration here: the pay-off is that the five‑door only, 845kg Celerio comes with impressively more kit than many of its rivals. And sometimes fancy isn’t necessarily better – the two-line matrix display works well and the radio unit is better to use than some touchscreen systems for example, as it features old-fashioned rotary knobs.

How economical is it?

Suzuki quotes a combined cycle fuel economy of 65.7mpg for non-Dualjet K10B models, which rises to 78.4mpg for the more technologically-advanced and lower‑emission car. While we never saw values that high, we did record a highest figure of 71.4mpg. For most of our 373-mile test duration, we rarely saw values dip to below 50.0mpg. A gearshift indicator and fuel consumption/range display are provided to help monitor the car’s appetite for petrol.

Our average fuel consumption in ‘real-world’ conditions was 58.5mpg. In tests by industry title What Car?, the Celerio was crowned as the best car to offer the highest “True MPG” in its class at 62.9mpg. It was also the recipient of the same title’s ‘Best Budget’ car award under £8,000 for 2017, and has also won a Green Apple Environmental Award, which favours more environmentally-friendly cars.

What is Dualjet technology?

The Celerio’s newly-developed 1.0-litre ‘K10C’ petrol engine features major advances in thermal efficiency to aid fuel consumption and lower emissions.
These are achieved by an improved 12.0:1 compression ratio, the adoption of a dual-injection system and friction reduction technology.

Suzuki has adopted a cooled EGR system and piston cooling jets to suppress uncontrolled combustion ‘knock’ or detonation, while optimising the compression ratio to convert fuel energy to mechanical energy more efficiently. Greater combustion efficiency has also been achieved through the adoption of a dual injection system and bowl-shaped piston crowns, which achieve higher air turbulence inside the cylinder.

For ultimate thermal efficiency, the Japanese manufacturer has also utilised a variety of friction reduction technologies. The Dualjet technology also positions the fuel injectors very close to the engine inlet valves to allow a finer fuel atomisation (or mixture) which provides a more effective transfer into the powertrain.

The ‘K10C’ engine also features Engine Automatic Stop Start (EASS) when the car is stationary.

What does it cost?

Three trim levels are available for the Celerio: SZ2, SZ3, and the range-topping SZ4. SZ2 cars start at just £6,999, and aren’t as frippery-free as the price would suggest. Standard equipment includes body-coloured door handles, central locking, CD/DAB radio system with two speakers, driver’s seat height adjustment, electric front windows, power steering, rev counter, tilt-adjustable steering wheel as well as a 60:40 split rear seat.

Move up to our test car’s mid-range SZ3 trim – from £8,399 – and kit is even more impressive with 14-inch alloy wheels, body-coloured exterior mirrors, manual air conditioning, a pollen filter, remote central locking, tinted glass, and USB and Bluetooth connectivity as standard. From our week with the car, it is possibly all the kit you need, the only option on our test model being the £465 Cerulean Blue Metallic paint finish.

However, should you desire more, SZ4 Celerios start at £9,399 and add electric door mirrors and rear windows, four speakers, and front fog lamps. Top-line SZ4 models can be identified by a chrome accent on the front grille. The 1.0-litre K10B engine can be specified in SZ2, SZ3, and SZ4 trims, while the more economical Dualjet unit can only be ordered on SZ3 models. An automatic gearbox is solely available on SZ4 cars.

Safety kit is high on all Celerios, despite it low price. ABS with Electronic Brake Distribution and Brake Assist system; ESP; driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags; hill hold function; ISOFIX child seat fixings; rear childproof locks; and a tyre pressure monitor are all standard, making the little Suzuki a very safe car for its modest asking price.

As for rivals, the recently refreshed Hyundai i10 starts at £8,995 for the 108g/km 1.0 S model, rising to the 139g/km Premium SE at £13,045. The Vauxhall Viva costs from £9,175 in entry-level 104g/km SE guise, topping out at £10,575 for the 103g/km SL. The Volkswagen Up is priced from £8,995 in its most basic 101g/km Take Up trim, and its extensive range is completed with the 108g/km £12,455 High Up model. The larger and more traditionally-sized Dacia Sandero costs from £5,995 in Access trim, but emissions are higher than the Suzuki at 117g/km.

Lower-emitting dCi versions almost match the cleanest version of the Suzuki but they start at £9,195 in mid-level Ambiance trim.

How much does it cost to tax?

As all Suzuki Celerio models slot under the 100g/km tax threshold, all versions sit in the lowest VED Band A. This means all versions cost nothing to tax under the current vehicle tax system for both the first and subsequent years. However, once new bands come into force on 1 April 2017, the lowest-emitting Celerio will attract a £100 charge for the first year, while the standard rate for 2017‑2018 is £140. Versions which emit 99g/km will be charged £120 in the first year, rising to the same £140 rate as the 84g/km car thereafter.

Why does my fleet need one?

Aside from being one of the cheapest ways into low emission motoring (though that will be a little less cost-effective when the new 2017 vehicle tax rules are implemented), the Celerio is very well-equipped for the price, more practical than you might imagine, and is also a lot of fun to drive.

In an age blinded by technology, the diminutive Suzuki has an old-school, cheeky and unpretentious nature, and a very willing to please character which is refreshingly gratifying. It deserves to make many friends because of that alone, but add in the potentially low running costs and high levels of economy, and we can’t see the Celerio being anything less than the cost-effective and environmentally‑friendly winner than it already and deservedly is. 

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