So, after using the Nano for a long time, I finally got my hands on one of the newer long termers in the fleet, the top-spec Celerio ZDi (O).
Apart from the exterior styling and the cool alloy wheels, one thing that brought a smile to my face was the DDiS badge on its sides. Having read through numerous reports about the car (read: ultra-frugal fuel economy) before it arrived, I was excited about the savings on fuel bills. Once I’d driven it for a few days, I found the reports to be all true. The Celerio, in bumper-to-bumper city traffic, delivers close to 17kpl with no stress at all, with the figure climbing higher when used on the highway; it reminded me of my faithful Nano which never delivered less than 15kpl.
But great fuel economy isn’t the only thing the Celerio has in common with the old Nano. Unfortunately, the other similarity is on a negative note and that’s the raspy engine. Yes this car is noisy, both inside and out. I did notice some questionable stares from the neighbours, as soon as I fired the engine, thanks to the commercial vehicle-like engine note. And that’s not it; although Maruti says it has put additional sound deadening material under the bonnet lid, a fair bit of engine noise still creeps into the cabin. You don’t expect this from a car that is priced close to Rs 7 lakh. What you do expect for this kind of money is the decent four-speaker music system with USB, aux and Bluetooth compatibility. What’s more, being a top-spec trim, it’s got steering mounted controls as well, even for Bluetooth telephony. It also has ABS and dual front airbags to take care of safety.
The Celerio does a fair job of transporting me to office daily and taking my family around town on the weekends. Although I am not a big fan of the one-piece front seats in the Celerio and most newer Marutis, they do provide decent comfort. Also, the ride quality is good, especially on Mumbai’s crater-laden roads. And yes, the clutch, for a diesel car, is very light and that helps in a big way, especially in rush hour traffic.
Another bugbear, apart from the engine noise, is the heavy steering; the petrol-powered Celerio’s steering though, is much lighter.
These small problems aside, mechanically, the Celerio hasn’t skipped a beat during its tenure with us so far, and though we’ve put it through a lot, there’s not a single squeak or rattle from this Maruti. The Celerio is still new and with its ultra frugal nature, I can safely expect it to cover a lot more ground before it is featured in the next report.