Review Motoring

Maruti Celerio seems to be a sure winner

The new second-gen Maruti Celerio is said to be the country’s most fuel-efficient petrol car. However, there is more to this hatchback than just that. It is now slightly larger than before, is new inside and out, sits on Maruti’s new-age Heartect platform and has a new engine under the hood too. As before, there are manual and AMT options, with prices for the midsized hatchback ranging from ₹4.99 lakh to ₹6.94 lakh (ex-showroom India). So what is the new Celerio like?

Maruti has gone in for a clean slate design with no visual links between the new Celerio and its predecessor. While the original was conservative to look at, the new one is more cheerful with a more rounded shape that looks better in person. It is not a classically handsome car, but the new Celerio sure has more presence than the old one. The slightly larger dimensions (it is 55mm wider) help to this end too.

The oval grille flanked by the curved, swept-back headlamps give the Celerio a cutesy face with the blacked-out section on the bumper adding a touch of sportiness to the design. At the sides, you will note fairly thick ‘A’ and ‘C’ pillars, a conventional glasshouse and soft contours at the doors and wheel arches. Top-spec models ride on darkened 15-inch alloy wheels.

Sadly, the old model’s premium pull-type door handles have made way for inferior lift-type ones. And while you do get keyless entry, the position of the request sensor on the door makes it look like an afterthought. There is a nice flow from the shoulder to the tail lights, with the Celerio’s rear continuing the curvaceous theme.

Maruti Celerio seems to be a sure winner

There is more flavour to the interior too. The winged look to the dashboard is stylish, the 7-inch touchscreen gets due prominence and the part digital instruments from the WagonR also add to the appearance. The cabin looks more upmarket than the old car’s and there are plenty of storage spaces too. Feel your way around though and you will find that quality has not taken much of a leap with hard plastics making up most of the cabin.

The Celerio is not a tall car, but getting in and out is easy. Drivers will appreciate the inclusion of height adjust for their seats. As on the earlier Celerio, the front seats feature single-piece backrests with integrated headrests and score well enough on comfort. Frontal visibility is good, but the relatively thick A-pillars do create a blind spot at crossroads. What also takes getting used to is the centrally located switches for the front windows and central locking — they sit below the touchscreen rather than on the doors. Similarly the rear window controls sits between the front seats rather than on the doors.

Rear seat comfort is good, but not great. The large windows provide a decent view out, there is ample knee room for taller occupants, and the seat is well-cushioned too. Trouble is, the fixed headrests are too small to offer any real head support to taller passengers, and their low and angled position also makes them uncomfortable.

Where the Celerio has taken a big step up is in luggage space. The 313-litre boot can hold two large suitcases and two cabin bags with ease, and there is the option to fold the 60:40 split rear seat backrest for more room.

On the equipment front this ZXI+ variant featured here packs in quite a few features. There is keyless entry and go, driver seat height adjust, electrically adjustable mirrors, steering-mounted audio controls and front and rear power windows. Infotainment duties are handled by Maruti’s Smartplay unit that comprises a 7-inch touchscreen. The system does well to offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, though the screen catches quite a few reflections. What is missing is a reverse camera that would have helped better justify the top-spec versions’ relatively high price. And while auto climate control is not on the features list, the air conditioner did a good job of cooling the cabin.

In terms of safety equipment, the Celerio gets dual front airbags, ABS, front seatbelt reminders and rear parking sensors as standard, while the AMT version also gets hill start assist.

The Celerio debuts Suzuki’s K10C Dualjet engine in India. The familiar K10 in the name tells you it is a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder unit, while the new Dualjet signifies the use of two injectors per cylinder which essentially help in a more fuller burn and better economy. Idle start/stop is standard fit, too, and helps to the end of maximising economy. The most efficient of the Celerios, the VXI AMT, has been rated with an economy figure of 26.68kpl. In terms of power and torque, the new engine’s 67hp and 89Nm unit is actually 1hp and 1Nm down over the old unit.

There is a clean build of power from low in the rev band and, while not peppy like the larger-hearted Swift, performance in town is actually quite nice. There are no flat spots or hiccups in the delivery and you will like the smoothness with which the Celerio goes about town. The stop/start tech also works well. At long enough halts, the system switches the engine off and depressing the clutch brings the unit back to life. The system is quick to respond, but the trouble is, with the engine off, the air-con also shuts off, leaving only the blower on; not ideal on a hot day. You do have the option to switch idle start/stop intervention off via a button.

The Celerio will happily keep pace with city traffic and gets to highway speeds with ease too, though on the open road you will have to plan overtakes. For its part, the five-speed manual gearbox that comes allied to a light clutch does not call for much effort.

The Celerio AMT is also a rather nice proposition for those who do not want the bother of shifting gears at all. Gearshifts are, for the most part, timely and the AMT-typical head nod or pause between shifts is well contained too. It is still not as smooth as a torque converter or CVT, but the AMT sure has come a long way since the first of the type on the original Celerio. You can take manual control via the snazzy gear lever too. The system responds well enough to manual inputs though, again, it is best to adopt an easy-going driving style.

If your driving will primarily be in low speed city settings, you will take to the Celerio’s friendly manners. It has a small turning radius, is easy to park and the suspension also does a good job of soaking up the bumps. At higher speeds too, the Celerio feels quite sure-footed, although the suspension does crash through on potholes — handling is not exciting, but the car feels composed.

What remains a complaint is the lifeless steering. Though it is easy to twirl, it does not self-centre adequately, so you always have to keep a firm hand on the wheel.

Priced between ₹4.99 lakh and ₹6.94 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Celerio goes up against the Tata Tiago, Hyundai Santro and Datsun Go. While the mid-spec versions that make the bulk of sales score well on value, the range-topping versions come across as a touch pricey for what they offer. And it does not help that the Wagon R with a larger and more powerful 1.2-litre engine costs less.

The new Celerio might not be a revolutionary product, but there is no denying that it offers most of what typical urbanites want. It is easy to drive, spacious, and the tag of being India’s most fuel-efficient car is sure to be a draw in its own right.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 3:29:29 PM |

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