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Maruti Suzuki Celerio
    Change Model
Customer Rating
: 2/5
Expert Rating
: 8/10
Warranty
: 2 Yrs. / 40,000 Kms (Whichever is earlier)
Ex-showroom price in 
Delhi
 help (Rs.Lakhs)
    Change City
4.35 Lakhs-5.48 Lakhs

Strong Areas

  • Stylish Demeanour
  • Well-Equipped Cabin
  • Value For Money 
  • Good Ride 
     

Weak Areas

  • No Diesel Option
  • Average Performance
  • Pricey Top-End Variant
  • Average Space 
     
Maruti Suzuki Celerio
 
 

Maruti Celerio Drives EZ with AMT

The most affordable automatic car in India, Celerio AMT is effortless to drive in the city and also gets a manual mode. 


Author

By

ecardlr.com National

Introducing the automated manual transmission to budget hatchback buyers, Maruti Suzuki brought out the Celerio in 2014 and it was the biggest attraction at the company’s stands in Auto Expo at Greater Noida. While manual variants have also been launched, Celerio AMT’s practicality for driving within cities made the car an instant hit.
       
Based on Suzuki A-Wind concept that was exhibited at Thailand Motor Show in November 2013, Celerio took the place of A-Star in India and it was largely the 7th generation Alto as per the positioning in international markets. But Maruti can also manage an overlapping product range and the strategy is naturally better than losing a customer to competition. So if Hyundai sells Eon, Santro, i10 and Grand i10 in its showrooms, Maruti too does not want to disrupt the sales of Alto 800 and K10 that are still going strong and it brings in the next generation A Star as Celerio. The name ‘A Star’ was avoided as the car didn’t do well in the Indian market.

The 998 cc, 3 cylinder engine churns 67 bhp at 6000 rpm and has 9.1 kgm of torque at 3500 rpm. It is mated to 5 speed manual and 5 speed automated manual transmission. The top end ZXi trim has not been launched with AMT yet (at the time of this review). But here’s a report on the excitement inducing VXi AMT trim:

Exteriors

Unlike the bug eyed front of Alto 800 and A-Star, Celerio has more of conventional styling for its face and this mild design has attracted all kinds of buyers in the budget car segment. Even if the look is somewhat bland and certainly not contemporary as for a Hyundai i10, it is clean and inoffensive. Indeed the wrap around headlamps, the chrome slats on redesigned Suzuki grille and the broad front bumper do seem attractive. Round fog lights on the bumper are not standard for the VXi trim but can be taken as an add-on.

         

The side profile is a replica of the A-Star’s and the Celerio measures 3600 mm in length with a wheelbase of 2425 mm. At 1560 mm of height, it is slightly taller than Hyundai i10 but its design is proportionate for a hatch that stands high. And a kerb weight of only 810-830 kg makes it very light. The swooping line between the front wheel arch and tail light looks appealing. While the standard tyre size 165/70 R14 comes with steel wheels for VXi variant, you can opt for alloys. Indeed there is a lot of cost cutting in this mid segment trim – the ORVMs and door handles too don’t get body colour treatment.

       
From the rear it looks similar to Alto 800. Large glass area will aid in visibility. Even though the tail lamps are blocky, they extend towards the sides for a slight wrap around style. The rear bumper does not protrude out much and the small exhaust outlet is almost hidden from view. A high mount stop lamp is integrated with the spoiler.

Celerio has a plain and minimalist design but it is charming and will suit the tastes of most first time car buyers.

Interiors

Stepping inside the Celerio you will notice how it provides more headroom than the A-Star because of that extra height. So you sit up high on the front seats. The legroom is also adequate. Seat height adjustment is offered only with top end trim and it’s not there on this Vxi AMT version. But the seat can be pushed back sufficiently to let tall drivers get into an ergonomic driving position. Seats are slim but comfortable and offer good back support. The rear also feels spacious and seats are comfy but could have been better for thigh support. They have small and fixed headrests. With thin seats in front, there is good legroom and the headroom is also enough to accommodate a 6 footer at back. Celerio’s rear may not be as spacious as Indica Vista’s but it is certainly better than its predecessor A-Star.

                

The materials used are rather elementary and parts feel rather hard to touch. However, on the whole, the cabin is ergonomically designed. Dashboard is swept back and this frees up space in front. It has a 2 tone colour scheme like the rest of the cabin. The U shaped centre console takes in the AC and audio system but with the VXi variant, you do not get the audio system as standard. There are large knobs for the air con and it does a good job of cooling the cabin.

                  

Even with its simple design the instrument panel looks elegant – the speedo gets a matte silver outline and has easily readable fonts. On the right hand side the MID displays the gear being used in large digital format. Indicator stalks are not very chunky but have a silky feel to their plastic. The gear lever feels solid and comes with good slotting action. Maruti has used Swift’s steering and gear lever unit in this hatch.

               

With thick A-pillars you may face some visibility issues especially while turning on curved hilly roads but the rearward visibility is good. Rear glass defogger is offered only on ZXi variant. The internal rear view mirror is large and has day-night modes.

There are small cup holders on the centre console and a cubby hole is also provided below the AC vent on the right side. Door pockets are not very deep for front but rear door pads get bottle holders and another bottle holder is provided on the rear centre console. Celerio’s boot has a capacity of 235 litres and the 60:40 rear seat can be folded for extra luggage space.

So this hatch’s cabin is practically designed and feels adequately comfortable in its segment.

Engine, Transmission and Performance 

The unique selling proposition of this car is its AMT and this is called the ‘EZ drive. How it works is quite clear-cut. There is no clutch pedal and driver input is not required for changing of gears. But unlike a conventional automatic it does not employ a torque converter and has an electronic control unit through which hydraulic actuators located in the engine bay operate the clutch and shift gears. In other words, the mechanical functions of operating the clutch and changing gears have gone from the cabin to the engine bay. The good thing is that the 5 speed ‘box is the same as in the manual variant of this car and this keeps running costs low.

Before starting the ignition the gear lever needs to be slotted in Neutral. You then press the brake pedal to start up the engine. (There is no Park mode or gear unlock button as in a usual Automatic) Once it gets started, slot into Drive mode (D) and it gets going. As you release the brake, the car begins to move ahead without any accelerator input. But it does not move very fast and goes only up to 6-7 km/hour before you press on the accelerator. And with the accelerator input you will be pleased see that throttle response is quite immediate and a lot like a pure manual.

It is on the city roads, amidst traffic that AMT shows its advantages. There is no clutch pedal to press and you don’t have to frequently shift between Neutral, First and Second. In bumper to bumper traffic simply release the brake a little bit and the car can crawl forward without any accelerator input. Your left leg stays completely relaxed while driving the Celerio AMT.

Gears can also be shifted using the M (manual) mode. You simply need to push the lever forward for a downshift and pull it back for an upshift. Although this will feel unconventional if you’ve been driving manuals for years but you will soon get used to it and it is nice to use the manual mode – the box also holds on to the gear you need in here. It is a high efficiency solution but not very slick to operate if the car is loaded. The shifts feel tardy, the ‘box takes its own time and the downshifts tend to generate a bit of stagger.

Moving on to highways, Celerio takes 15.4 seconds for 0-100 km/hour dash. The gear indicator on the MID keeps you informed of the gear that is engaged. With a light foot on the pedal upshifts happen at about every 10 km/hour. This means that at 20 km/hour the car gets into second gear, at 30 km/hour into 3rd at 40km/hour into 4th and so on. Between 1200-1400 rpm it is at 40 km/hour and in 4th gear. If the rpm levels come down to 1100 or less, it will downshift to a smaller gear.

It will take some practice to get used to overtaking on highways. The AMT executes the first half of the overtaking action nicely. The engine works on kick-down and is also willing to drop 2 or 3 ratios simultaneously – for instance from 5th to 2nd.  But one frightful thing is that as you begin to pass the vehicle ahead and build up the revs, at times the AMT starts to upshift mid-way and this results in break in acceleration when it is required the most. The shift is rather slow and not urgent as it would be if you had a manual. So what’s the solution? You probably guessed it! Before overtaking, it is wise to put the transmission in manual mode and it will then hold the gear all the way to redline to prevent an untimely upshift. If used properly on the highway, this AMT is much better than some of the continual variable transmissions with cars in the Indian market. 
 
Manual mode of course has other advantages – it gives enthusiastic drivers the control they seek on their vehicle.

To start the car on a hill or incline you, it is important to use the handbrake and there is a sticker on the driver’s door advising on same. If you switch your foot immediately from the brake pedal to accelerator while starting on a hill, this hatch will start to roll back before it uses the clutch and moves forward. On a sharp incline it can go back as far as 3 feet and this is obviously dangerous. So use the parking brake when stating off on a slope. Then the Celerio will rollback only about an inch or two and there will be a gradual start-off. A 'Hill Hold' braking feature would have been a neat addition for this AMT car.

The retuned version of 998 cc engine used in Alto K10 and Wagon R makes 67 bhp at 6000 rpm and has 90 Nm of torque at 3500 rpm. This three cylinder engine is not very smooth and vibrations are felt at idling. Indeed, if you open the hood and check the motor, it is quite shaky. But with Celerio’s light kerb weight, it does well on performance front. The hatch is always eager to go and does not feel sluggish in any of the modes – AMT or manual. This rev happy petrol engine can easily go to 6100 rpm where it reaches its limits and then starts to sound coarse. But it is hardly audible while cruising at constant speed and turns over 3000 rpm at 100 km/hour in 5th gear.

Ride and Handling

Ride quality for Celerio is compliant and it can effectively deal with the uneven road surfaces at low speeds. It’s only the sharp ridges on poor tarmac that send jerks into the cabin especially on the rear seat. At higher speeds there is more vertical movement on bad roads again disturbing the rear seat occupants. The LXi trim might offer a softer ride as it comes with 13 inch wheels with taller sidewalls.

For a hatch that is taller than its predecessor (A Star), the body roll is well controlled. The road grip is decent and the stability on highways, even at 100-120 km/hour is also appreciable.

With its light controls, high seating position, zesty engine and the convenience of AMT, the Celerio is delightful to drive in the city. The steering has a turning radius of 4.7 metres and the car is easy to maneuver in Indian driving conditions. Light to use in the city, the steering does weigh up well at high speeds. The brake pedal has a sharp bite and they do their job well for an automatic car. We just wish Maruti offers an ABS on the VXi at least as an option.

Fuel Economy

Most of the three cylinder small cars are innately fuel efficient and it also goes for the Celerio. Further, instead of being a conventional automatic, the hatch is an AMT and that too results in good FE. The ARAI claimed economy for Celerio AMT is 23.1 km/litre. Driving the car under varied conditions including not very ideal ones, we could derive 12.2 km/litre in the city and 15.7 km/litre on the highway.

Verdict

The price for Celerio LXi AMT starts at Rs 4.14 lakhs and the VXi AMT is priced at 4.44 lakhs (ex showroom price Delhi). The manual variants have a price range of 3.76 lakhs to 4.79 lakhs (ex showroom price Delhi) and Maruti has also launched a CNG variant of the car.

As a well rounded car, this new hatch has been beautifully customised for Indian budget car buyers. It may not be very attractive in terms of looks but is a sensible package that offers ease of drive and is fuel efficient. The cabin has adequate space and then there's the wide Maruti service network for any after-sales work.
 
Comfort:  3.5/5
 
Refinement: 3/5
Safety: 3/5 
 
Ride: 3.5/5
 
Handling: 4/5
 
Value for Money: 4/5

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