The holiday season is usually all about minimising family interaction and maximising tinkering time with my long-neglected classics. With an Alfasud recently joining the fold, hands (and credit card) would certainly be kept busy.
Except this time around three friends needed new cars, and pronto. Without warning, Mel’s 2006 Suzuki SX4 met its end in a ditch, Vic’s 2002 Renault Scenic’s electricals expired, and Viv’s decrepit 1992 Camry finally called it a day. Three emergency missions, one plucky Celerio, and no time to lose.
Varying requirements and a vast choice of cars to consider meant a couple of days with each, visiting many different dealerships across the length and breadth of Melbourne. With the air-con cranked up and often all four seats occupied, the Suzuki soon came under the microscope.
First impressions? Everybody commented on how easy it is to get in and out of something so small. All appreciated the light and breezy ambience that the deep side windows so helpfully provide. And nobody complained about the seat cushions, despite initial concerns about them possibly being too flat. In fact, there weren’t any grumbles or gripes at all.
At some stage I had asked each friend how much they thought the Suzuki Celerio cost. All said $15,000. All couldn’t believe it retails for $12,990 driveaway. And one even wondered why she shouldn’t just buy “this little cutie” instead – until she learned it’s only a four-seat city car with limited luggage space.
During this time my already healthy regard for the Celerio kept growing. Even on regular unleaded and with four bodies on board, there was very little noticeable performance drop-off. The steering remained satisfyingly weighted and amply responsive, and the suspension’s ability to absorb bumps and isolate noise is in a higher league than most rivals.
Regardless of all the driving, my sanity prevailed. And that’s telling because shopping for new cars can be stressful and fatiguing. At one point I thought, “This is far closer to a Swift than the Alto it replaced”.
That the Suzuki still felt good even after Mel, Vic and Viv signed away for their respective Skoda Yeti, Volkswagen Golf and Mazda 2 only highlights the pleasing amount of engineering integrity in what is still Australia’s cheapest new car.
Come to think of it, the Celerio is probably a more relaxing holiday proposition than trying to fix non-working tail-lights on an ’82 Alfasud. I ought to be very grateful for my friends.
CLASS OF 91
My previous long-termer, the Peugeot 308 Active 1.2 turbo, was run almost entirely on 98 RON super-premium unleaded, and it consistently returned lower consumption figures as a result. For the Celerio, however, its status as Australia’s cheapest new car dictates that only the least expensive petrol be used – regular 91 RON. That decision was made after the first few tankfuls featured 95 RON premium unleaded. Since then we’ve seen the Suzuki’s average edge up from 5.3 to 5.7L/100km.
This article was originally published in Wheels April 2016.