The Celerio diesel, with its tiny 793cc, twin-cylinder diesel engine, wasn’t really one of the most sought-after cars in our fleet. However, in the long time it spent with us (since June 2015), the Celerio delivered an astounding figure of around 17kpl in Mumbai city driving right from day one, and on the highway, the numbers were even better. The diesel Celerio’s ARAI-claimed overall fuel efficiency figure is 27.62kpl and in real-world testing, it managed to hover around that mark, and that is a big deal.
Sure, the fuel economy numbers from this lightweight two-cylinder diesel engine were fantastic, but a big downside is the refinement. Yes, this car is noisy, both inside and out. The shiny new Celerio received dubious stares from my neighbours every time I brought the engine to life, thanks to the commercial-vehicle-like engine note. Despite all the additional sound-deadening material that Maruti says it has added, there’s a fair bit of engine noise that creeps into the cabin. You don’t expect this from a car that costs almost Rs 7 lakh.
The Celerio’s styling may not be eye-catching, but is simple and practical.
On the highway, I realised that the engine loses breath when pushed hard. It feels best while cruising at 80-90kph in fifth gear; the Celerio diesel can do this the whole day without complaining. But it’s in the city that the Celerio feels most at home, with enough poke to keep up with the flow of traffic. Also, the clutch is quite light and doesn’t tire you out in stop-go traffic. The electrically-powered steering, however, is heavy for such a car, unlike the petrol-powered Celerio which requires noticeably less effort to steer. Also, over time, the gearshifts became notchy, and slotting it into reverse gear was quite a task.
The model we had was the top-spec ZDi (O) variant. It gets a decent four-speaker music system with USB, AUX and Bluetooth. And being a top-spec trim, it’s got steering-mounted controls as well, even for Bluetooth telephony. Safety is taken care of by ABS and dual front airbags. It also comes with a height-adjustable driver’s seat, power wing mirrors and a rear wash/wipe which make the features list quite decent for a car in this category.
I used the Celerio for what it was intended – city driving, especially during the Mumbai monsoons. Those who know Mumbai know that the roads – figuratively speaking – have more craters than the surface of the moon, and the Celerio did pretty well in ride quality. Its suspension has decent amount of travel, which means it did absorb most of the bumps, save for a few sharp ones which thud through.
Although I am not a big fan of the one-piece front seats in the Celerio and most new Marutis, they are fairly comfortable. My grandmother found the front seat to be at the right height for comfortable ingress and egress. What she was also happy about was the boot. At 235 litres, it may not be class-leading but the opening is wide enough, which means we could fit her wheelchair in easily.
The 235-litre boot was wide enough to hold my grandmother’s wheelchair.
Mechanically, the Celerio didn’t skip a beat in its time with us. And though we put it through quite a lot, there was not a single squeak from this Maruti.
No doubt, the diesel engine with its poor refinement and very modest performance falls far short of the class-best and leaves me wanting for a better power plant. But in all fairness, the Celerio did a fair job of transporting me to office daily and taking my family around town on the weekends. With its ultra-frugal nature, decent boot size, roomy cabin and decent ride quality, the Celerio diesel did its job well. If only it was a nicer car to drive.