The new Celerio was launched just a few months ago and we attended the launch plus have already tested the GL manual version. Suzuki SA have one of the most comprehensive ranges of small cars available in SA currently.

Their recent sales success shows how popular they are with the buying public. A combination of exceptional value for money and ongoing economy regarding running costs is proving to be a winning recipe and their monthly sales are reflecting this with Suzuki now holding 3rd place among manufacturers.

Part of the success is the providing of a model that suits every need within their ranges, thus the Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) version of the Celerio. Allowing for the fact that many motorists have licences that allow automatic cars only, there is a massive need for affordable cars filling this market space. At the end of the day it's a case of filling a need that fits your budget.

The new Celerio has grown from the previous model and provides more space for both passengers and luggage. More importantly, it offers far more luxury and safety spec at the price. The AMT is only available in the higher GL spec level so includes items like a 7" touchscreen with full connectivity and reverse camera, stop-start technology, ESP, and automatic air-conditioning.

The 1L 3 cylinder petrol engine delivers 49kW and 89Nm to the front wheels. With the standard lightweight Suzuki construction, performance is certainly adequate for general urban driving. Of course, also in typical Suzuki fashion, it delivers exceptional fuel economy. We averaged 5.2l/100km for the test period.

Now to the AMT, automatic transmission. It offers 5 gears as in the manual version but does away with the clutch. It could simply be described as a clutchless manual gearbox. There are 2 modes available, full automatic or manual override/ tiptronic.

It's interesting that William and I preferred different modes in this case. I felt that leaving the car in auto mode resulted in extremely jerky and slurred shifts between ratios. Lifting your foot off the accelerator pedal just before the shift helps but I definitely preferred using the manual system of a push or pull on the gear lever when wanting to change gears. Even in manual mode, the car will downshift automatically as you slow down when approaching a stop. Either way, it's a case of having to get used to the car and then adjusting your personal driving style. Once you have done this, the car becomes far easier to drive smoothly.

The fuel economy bonus can make you forgive the foibles.

Overall, the Celerio AMT fills an important niche in the market for many buyers and the value for money of the package speaks for itself. The Celerio GL AMT is currently priced at R209 900 and this includes a 2 year/ 30 000km service plan plus 5 year/ 200 000km warranty.


Alan Rosenmeyer:   MotorMatters: