The compact hatch that can

Published June 3, 2022, 8:02 AM

by Neil N. Pagulayan

All-new Suzuki Celerio drive

Having been a while since Suzuki invited us out for a drive, the newly-launched Celerio was a welcome reason to drive out of town. The previous generation of the Celerio was known to be fuel efficient. In fact, its CVT variant scored higher than its manual variant in the DOE fuel economy run some years back, scoring the best mileage in the gasoline category. This all new Celerio has big shoes to fill.

Our drive started at Suzuki Sucat, with a route passing through SLEX and on to STAR Tollway headed to the Old Grove Farmstead in Lipa, Batangas, a roughly 70-km drive one way.

The all-new Celerio’s design is a departure from its previous generation’s look. The new design language is a “liquid expression,” more fluid, resembling a “water surface” according to Suzuki. The front end looks more aggressive than the previous generation. The rear combination lamps are placed higher up and flared rear fenders give it a wider and more stable look. It also looks sportier with 15-inch black alloy wheels.

The Celerio we drove was equipped with Auto Gear Shift (AGS). AGS is Suzuki’s “automated manual transmission,” where a hydraulic actuator operates the clutch and changes gears for you. I uses an actual clutch and gearbox, unlike a traditional automatic transmission which works differently. You’ll notice there is no P or Park, just R for reverse, N for Neutral and D for Drive. A flick of the gearshift to the left gives you a semi-automatic mode allowing you to decide when to change gears.

As we left the Suzuki dealership, we were met with the tail end of rush hour traffic. This is usually where a manual transmission is least enjoyed, but the AGS made it easy, working just like an automatic transmission. It would allow you to creep forward in traffic just by modulating the brake pedal. Handy in a traffic jam is a new feature on the all-new Celerio, the Engine Auto Stop Start System (EASS) which shuts off the engine when the car senses you’ve been stopped for a while. It saves you fuel and at the same time, reduces your emissions.

The interior is spacious. One my carmates was six-feet tall and he found the back seat comfortable with adequate headroom and leg room, provided the person sitting in the front seat isn’t as tall as him. The entertainment system is a 6.2-inch touchscreen with Weblink 2.0, Bluetooth and USB connectivity and audio controls on steering wheel. The rear seat is 60/40 split and cargo space is 295 liters, which expands when you fold the seat forward.

Once we made it to SLEX and on to STAR Tollway, we picked up the pace and we saw the potential of the 1.0L three-cylinder engine. It did quite well despite the fact that we were three quite “sizeable” individuals weighing the car down. The 1.0-litre K10C DUALJET engine puts out 67-horsepower with 89-Nm of torque. On paper, it may not seem much, but there’s a lot of useable power and torque.

Letting the car shift for you takes some getting used to. The manual mode of the AGS was as quick shifting as a manual transmission. Downshifting and the long acceleration between upshifts is satisfying on the open road. Unlike an automatic transmission, you need to lift off the gas momentarily. The car senses this and it will shift up smoothly. You’ll also need to do this each time when you shift up or down when you use the AGS’ manual mode.

Under the right conditions, the Celerio can achieve 28.25 kilometers per liter as per Suzuki and the Automotive Association of the Philippines (AAP).

The all-new Celerio is a very capable small car, handling well on the highways and even more so in the city. It has ample interior space for a car its size and enough power for your daily drive and won’t let you down if you decide to take it out of town.

The all-new Celerio has Suzuki’s TECT (Total Effective Control Technology) body, anti-lock brake system (ABS), electronic stability program (ESP), dual airbags, seatbelt pretensioners, rear parking sensors and Hill-Hold Control.

It’s priced at P708,000 for the GL M/T and P754,000 for the GL AGS we drove. For its price, it’s definitely leveled up, equipped with convenience and safety features not found in competitors in this category.