We drive the second generation Maruti Celerio with 5 speed manual transmission to find out what’s changed and what’s not…
Words: Neeraj Padmakumar Photography: Amal Ramdas
Maruti Suzuki had recently launched the all-new 2021 Maruti Suzuki Celerio in India with ex-showroom prices starting from Rs 4.99 lakh. The top-spec variant comes at Rs 6.94 lakh. We try to figure out what the premium buys for you, in our first drive of the new Celerio, in Udaipur.
2021 Celerio is a generation upgrade in the true sense. While the first-gen car that had originally been launched in 2014, got minimal updates with the 2017 facelift, the next generation prefers to differ. Almost everything on this car, from the design to the platform and the engine are new. The cabin looks and feels fresh and is feature-packed too.
Celerio 2021 is underpinned by MSIL’s Heartect platform, which also forms the base for familiar monikers like WagonR, Swift, and Baleno. This essentially calls for a significant increase in the overall size, road presence, and cabin room. The car has grown significantly in dimensions. It is 3,695 mm long, with a wheelbase of 2,435 mm (10mm up from the previous car), has a width of 1,655 mm, and an overall height of 1,555 mm. It gets shorter overhangs at the front and longer ones at the rear. The tracks have gone up, translating to an increase in the overall width, over the previous car. These have all reflected into the boot space, which now is quite decent for a car of this class.
This could be the most vulnerable area on the new Celerio. The car gets a design that could at present, be almost alien to most Indian eyes. It looks like nothing we see around today and is no short of a ‘love it or hate it’ stuff. One might even get vibes of the car being a retro based on random JDMs from the 90s on the design grounds (Ok, that was rather ambitious!)
Talking more sense, the new Celerio tends to be smooth and rounded with its design. There are no sharp edges to be seen anywhere on this car. The front view is smart with the oval-shaped headlamps housed on a face that is evidently round, and with smart Boomerang patterns embossed in them. The hood looks smoother and slightly more upright than before. The grille is sleek, stylish and gets a pair of thin Chrome strips to add more elegance to it. Fog lamps now sit on a brand-new Black fiber housing and the bumpers are no more pale and plain, but sculpted.
The profile reflects the change in wheelbase and also marks the deviation in the roofline design from the previous car. The new Celerio has a slightly raked A pillar than before, and a tapering rear roofline. The rear windshield blends smoothly into the rest of the car. The B pillar is blackened and ORVMs are body-colored. The top-spec car rides on 15-inch alloy wheels, shod with 165/70 rubber from Yokohama. These wheels are finished in Black to increase their visual appeal.
What you would, however, dislike here are the door handles. While the previous Celerio had pull-type handles, whereas the new car gets ‘Oldschool lift’ handles (Yes, these finally made their ways to the production line from the test mule that we had spotted recently. while these might give no operational pain in the real world, a pull type handle would have hosted a more aesthetic design and placement of the request sensors, which now sit as separate entities on the front doors.
The rear feels neatly drawn and gets a curvy tailgate alongside a pair of stylish droplet-styled tail lamps. The bumper is sculpted and good-looking while the rear windshield has wiper and defogger on the higher variants. The rear design also reflects the size-hike of the Celerio 2021.
Interior And Features
The new Celerio has the entirety of its cabin redrawn. The dashboard now looks neater, and more stylish, despite being lesser in actual size. Black remains the interior theme of the new car. Overall material quality and fit and finish have improved greatly on the inside. The (hard) plastics of the dash look pleasing and there are a few customization opportunities available as well. The new gear knob for the 5AMT is as good-looking as it is ergonomic. But we drove the manual and let’s stick on to that for the time being!
Key highlights inside include stylish barrel-shaped air vents, central ventilation that gets a (not so perfect) different styling, 7 inch Smart Play Studio touchscreen infotainment system, electrically folding rear view mirrors, push-button start, and a ‘Stereoscopic instrument cluster’ that looks like an evolution from the Wagon R’s. This analog-digital combination cluster is neat and readable, but i will still wish it came with a more welcoming backlight instead of the present shade of Orange.
The infotainment system is the same unit previously seen on the likes of Swift, Baleno and even the Brezza. The screen is quite responsive and interfaces intuitive. There are the likes of Apple Carplay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth based connectivity on offer. The infotainment unit, however, has no physical controls, but you do get to find the basic audio and telephony controls on the steering wheel. The overall sound quality offered by the music system is decent for its segment. Applause be to the fact that the Celerio finally got a touchscreen infotainment system! Another interesting bit on 2021 Celerio is the rotary type manual setup for the headlight leveling. Apparently a cost cutting effort, this doesn’t interfere with comfort or convenience of the driver!
The car comes with a manual air conditioner that works quite well. The front rows are cooled in no time and despite having no rear vents, you will mostly have no cooling-complaints at the rear. The biggest plus, however, would be the additional room that the new platform has generated inside the new Celerio. The front seats now get generous leg rooms while the rear seats have it improved as well. Head rooms at both these places remain identical and improved from the gen 1 car. The seats are quite comfortable to be on. The rear bench can be folded in 60:40 manner. (The Celerio is the first offering in its segment to come with 60:40 split seats) The rear seats are mostly comfortable but could have had better thigh supports and slightly relaxed seating angle,
Overall, practicality is well addressed inside Celerio’s cabin. There are a number of storage spaces on the doors, central tunnel, charging ports, and a handsome boot capacity. However, the new Celerio has a few grave ergo-vulnerabilities as well! The car has its power window controls placed in highly awkward positions. The front window controls sit on the center console, beneath the touchscreen, while those for the rear are located behind the park brake. Operating these can be super distracting for the driver, on solo drives. Also, the design of the touchscreen housing and the central air vents have been done in such a way that the co-driver’s central vent can in no way, be adjusted to deliver air to the driver! While this might sound strange, consider this a concern rarely!
The new Celerio gets thorough revisions to its mechanicals. With the HEARTECT platform in place, the car gets an all-new persona. The architecture is claimed to offer a great sense of strength and dynamism. The engine is new as well. Second generation Celerio gets the new K10 C series engine. Essentially a 1.0 liter, 3 cylinder NA petrol unit, this engine has multiple changes gone into it, making it distinctly different from the previous K10 B series. K10C gets the Dual jet technology that we had recently seen on the new Swift along with Dual VVT. These are claimed to improve the overall fuel efficiency and performance greatly. This engine has major changes gone into its design and construction like new head blocks, EGR, valvetrains, integrated exhaust manifolds have all been improved, It even uses a different grade of oil for better efficiency. An interesting mention here, would be that the K10C is almost the same as the now-discontinued Baleno RS’s engine without the turbocharger!Except for a few areas of deviation other than the turbo, these engines are almost identical. The K10C is known to power more models in the Maruti Suzuki portfolio in the days to come
The familiar 5-speed manual and 5AMT transmissions are on offer, the latter has been recalibrated for better fuel efficiency and smoother shifts. The manual transmission also has its ratios reworked to suit the changes in the engine. There are obviously changes to the suspension as well.
How Does It Drive?
The gen 2 Celerio is quite comfortable to drive. It can be best had as a city car. The powertrain produces 67 hp and 89 Nm. While these are 1 hp and 1 Nm down from the previous car’s numbers, you would feel the overall driveability to have been improved. The dual injectors and dual VVT have facilitated stronger low-end and mid-range deliveries. The refinement of this engine is fabulous. Despite being a 3 cylinder unit, no big vibrations or clatter are felt inside the cabin in most rpms. You will have to rev really hard to break this! The engine is so silent while idling that I ended up trying to ‘start’ the engine a couple of times! The manual gearbox offers precise shifts and the ratios are evidently set to maximize fuel efficiency.
The new car seems to be quite ok with speeds as well. I could do 105 + kph and still be confident of the car’s composure. Also. it feels significantly more planted and comfortable around corners, carrying speed, than before. Credits for this could be given to the chassis and suspension; The Yokohama tyres offer good grip and further add to this confidence. The steering, however, feels almost identical to the previous car, and with a similar connect with the road, on offer.
The overall ride quality is good. You will definitely be more comfortable in this car, than what you used to be in gen 1. There is also less body roll felt here. I also felt the braking performance to have been improved as well. The front discs and rear drums now offer more bite and have better stopping power than before.
Killer Mileage Figures: 26+ Km/l
Fuel Efficiency is the key talking point of the new Celerio. It has ARAI-certified fuel efficiency figures of 26.68 kpl on the AMT variant and 25.23 kpl on the manual, essentially making it India’s most fuel-efficient petrol car. Not calling these numbers unreal, as even I could achieve an indicated fuel efficiency of 21.6 on the test car, under mixed driving behavior. Multiple things have been done on the mechanical fronts, to achieve these BIG efficiency figures. The car also comes with an idle start-stop as well.
Price And Variants
The new Celerio is available in a total of 7 variants: LXi, VXi, ZXi, ZXi Plus, VXi AMT, ZXi AMT, and ZXi Plus AMT. All variants except the base-spec get offered with AMTs. The LXi has a sticker price of Rs 4.99 lakh while the top-spec has an ex-showroom price of Rs 6.94 lakh. The entry point is now 50k farther from where it used to be in 2014, while the top-spec is now almost a lakh more expensive than the 2014 car. Most part of the price premium is in a way justified, as the extra money buys you a bigger, better, and more equipped car than before.