Maruti Suzuki Celerio Diesel: Expert Review
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The Celerio has been an epoch-making car, not just for Maruti Suzuki, but for the Indian automobile sector as well. It debuted as the most affordable automatic, featuring the country-first Automated Manual Transmission and garnered a lot of appreciation. Now, post a year and a half, the Celerio has been launched with a diesel engine, having the world’s smallest series production diesel engine(passenger cars) on-board. Currently, it is not only the most affordable diesel car in India till date, but also claims to be the most fuel-efficient one, with a 27.62kmpl ARAI rating.
We kept the Celerio DDiS125 for more than a week and tried to dig a little deeper, as there’s a lot riding on this car.
Except the DDiS badges, there are absolutely no visual differentiation between this diesel model and its petrol or CNG counterparts. It gets the same curvy design, which the carmaker denotes as CICO (Curve In Curve Out) styling, dominated by a wide smiley grille and sweptback headlamps at the front.
The 14-inch alloys on this top trim look sporty, and the crease along the doors makes the side profile appealing. While the rear continues to be the most ordinary looking area of the Celerio.
The story on the inside also remains absolutely similar. The two-tone theme makes the cabin roomier and the dash layout is rather functional than being fancier. The faux dark wood inserts on the centre console, gear lever housing and door pads come as an option, like the chrome kit for the exteriors. Otherwise, brushed silver trim comes as standard.
Plastic quality is decent and so is the fit and finish, but loses marks when compared to the competition. The music system looks well integrated and offers AUX, USB, and Bluetooth connectivity options with steering mounted controls. The orange-lit instrument cluster is very easy to read and displays numerous information including instantaneous fuel efficiency, average fuel efficiency and range.
The ingress/egress is seamless, ergonomics are up to the mark, and the fixed-headrest front seats, surprisingly, works well too. Overall, it’s a nice and roomy cabin to be in.
Engine & Performance:
The biggest highlight of this car is its 793cc, all-aluminium, two-cylinder diesel powerplant. The first-ever in-house-developed oil-burner by Suzuki Motor Corporation, with four years of research & development, and an investment of over INR 900 crores. Putting out a meagre 47.6PS at 3500 rpm and peak torque of 125Nm at 2,000 rpm, the smallest diesel passenger car unit doesn’t sound very convincing on paper, but believe me- it’s not that bad.
The moment you crank the engine to life, it gasps up slowly to a clattery idle. The engine sounds like a typical parallel twin and instantly reminds you of two Tata products- Nano and their successful LCV, the Ace. But at the same time, you can’t expect a two-cylinder unit to sound like a V8. Once it rolls off the line, and the rpm needle touches the 1,500 mark, the engine noise reduces drastically.
The car takes off considerably well from rest and there’s very minor delay before the small turbo kicks around the 2,000rpm mark, so driving at city speeds isn’t too much of a bother. But in case you are running a full house, then scenario might be a bit sluggish, as I was driving alone on most of the occasions.
The time you get into the solid mid-range between the 2,200 and 3,500 rpm mark, the tiny engine responds brilliantly and leaves you with no complains. But the moment you floor the accelerator pedal and cross that mark, the same lovable engine starts running out of breath. Push it to about 4,000rpm and there is still a little power to offer there, but the NVH level shoots up menacingly and begs to be spared from there on.
The gearing ratio has been kept on the shorter side, especially the first gear. The second is relatively long and that result into falling off boost and have to keep slotting between the two in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Ride and Handling:
The Celerio diesel weighs 70 kilograms more than the petrol sibling, therefore the suspension has been tuned to accommodate the heavier oil-burner unit. But honestly, the ride and handling doesn’t feel too different from the petrol variant, which has always been Celerio’s strong point.
Despite of its tall-boy design, the car moves quite reassuringly at higher speeds. The steering feel is also nice and light, though it could have been more direct. The 4.7-metre turning radius, lets you take tight turns without a fuss and makes it very good city offering.
The model pictured here, the range-topping Celerio ZDi(O) featuring all bells and whistles, has been priced equivalent to the base Swift diesel, which will make buyers think twice. But the lower models can surely be considered, keeping the incredible fuel economy, and the low maintenance Maruti Suzuki has to offer. So, if you’re looking for a practical, yet affordable diesel hatchback, and can deal with substandard refinement and just about acceptable performance, then look no further.