IT WASN’T much of a vacation at all, not least for the littlest Suzuki, when my geologist partner needed to make a trip to look at, umm, rocks – a 1300km return run to the ACT.
The Suzuki Celerio was not our first choice of chariot, unsurprisingly. After all, it’s not like this little city car is meant for the many rigours of the open-road joust, which often include strong winds and meandering semis driven spare by stupefyingly low speed limits. The tiny Suzi doesn’t even have cruise control as an option.
We need not have worried.
Heaving with geological paraphernalia – tools, flasks, weather-proof (and fashion-proof) clothing, boots and camping gear for two – 1FU-3RE hit the blacktop with quite a burden. Yet the Thai-made tearaway was still strong enough to pull away stoutly from traffic lights, and spirited enough to squirt past slower vehicles as long as there was sufficiently empty road ahead and the driver wasn’t afraid to explore the 6000rpm redline.
At an indicated 110km/h (actual 103km/h) in fifth, the tacho sat at 3200rpm, yet the 50kW/90Nm atmo triple beavered away with a soothing resilience. While it wasn’t exactly quiet, there was less wind noise than expected, even in quite blowy conditions, while the Celerio was remarkably planted for a car weighing just 830kg unladen; and the ride that has so impressed us around town continued to do so away from the urban limits.
Only two breaks punctuated the run up Highway 31 to Canberra, underlining the fact that the lack of cruise control didn’t bring on right-foot fatigue. And the front seats – even the one occupied by a 200cm human – proved quite resilient in terms of thigh support, dismissing fears that they might be too flat and bum-numbing over longer distances.
Could we drive one of these around Australia? Quite possibly, though the vast glass area probably contributes to the air-con’s reluctance to fully cool the cabin on really hot days, while the clammy plastic steering wheel, more than anything else inside the car, betrays the Suzuki’s bottom-end pecking order.
Furthermore, returning home in heavy rain exposed a lack of sound-deadening; the wheel wells and underbody magnified the wet-road hissing heading south again, which became very tiring after a while.
Still, the Suzuki never raised a sweat during its interstate vacation. While you’d never call it a grand tourer, there’s nothing to lampoon here either. It might even take on a Chevy chase.
While the 254L boot does a sturdy job taking in rock samples and the odd bike, can’t say the same for the flimsy parcel shelf.
THE BRUNSWICK JOB
In its first three months, our Celerio’s appetite for unleaded has varied between 5.3L/100km (with plenty of highway cruising) and 6.5L/100km, which included heavy urban commuting with at least two additional occupants, and the air-con blasting away constantly. These are some way off the official 4.7L/100km, but the fizzy triple, light gearshift, tight steering and taut yet supple chassis tune encourages enthusiasm. It’s like weaving through Turin in The Italian Job (the 1969 original, of course).
This article was originally published in the May 2016 issue of Wheels magazine.