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Next-gen Celerio aims to woo Gen Z

S. Muralidhar | Updated on: Nov 26, 2021
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Maruti rebuilds and redesigns the model to deliver more style, space and safety

Maruti Suzuki’s dominance of the small car segment continues, even though it may not be as unchallenged as it used to be a decade ago. The trio of affordable B-segment cars from Maruti’s Arena portfolio - the Wagon-R, Swift and Celerio - have held steady, delivering significant volumes for the brand. The relatively less visible of the three, the Celerio, has sold nearly six lakh units since its launch. Maruti is certainly hoping that the model is on its way to crossing more milestones. Is the all-new 2021 Celerio set to continue the momentum?

 

The Celerio’s strengths, aside from it being a Maruti, were its accessible pricing and raised compact hatchback stance. This first generation Celerio wasn’t that good looking and wasn’t the best in terms of space in the cabin. From many angles, it also seemed like it was built to a price. The new 2021 Celerio sets out to correct a lot of those shortcomings.

Design

The focus for the second generation Celerio has been to make it more appealing to younger buyers who, by now, have become the decision-makers of the purchase. The first-gen’s upright body panels have been replaced by a curvy, more jelly-bean like design. The bug-eyed, busy front fascia of the new Celerio still allows it to retain the upright stance, which then means that the driver’s seat will be high-set and should give you a good view of the road ahead. The peeled-back headlamps and pert bonnet grille are a departure from the previous gen’s design. The oversized airdam in the large front fender is finished in a contrast black and houses the fog lamps. The body side panels aren’t upright anymore, instead they sport subtle curves that catch the light and break the monotony. The high shoulder line would have restricted the greenhouse, but the tall roof compensates and still keeps the cabin well-lit.

 

 

 

The doors are wider in the new Celerio (48mm more door opening space) and offer easier ingress. The rear door cuts into the thick C-pillar, which gives one a hint of the increase in boot space in the new Celerio. The 15-inch glossy black alloy wheels in my top-spec test mule looked good and raised the design appeal of the Celerio. The weak bit when viewing the car in side-profile is the pull-up type door handles and remote request unlock button that’s set on the side. The rear design is dominated by the teardrop-shaped tail-lamps. The tailgate is small because of the relatively small rear glass and it also means the loading lip for the boot is set high. The rear fender is large, but curved inwards, mimicking the front design.

 

The new Celerio has been built on the new 5th-Gen Heartect platform that’s supposed to be stiffer and safer. It has also grown in proportions, getting an additional 55mm in width, which has resulted in a small increase in shoulder width in the cabin and increased luggage space in the boot (40 per cent more at 313-litres now). There has also been an increase of 95mm in the knee clearance for the driver.

Cabin

The interior of the outgoing Celerio was what identified it most as a model in the lower rung of the B-segment. The buyer in the A and B segments have also matured in the interim; so, an upgrade to the cabin was needed and that is what the new Celerio gets. The interior is better finished and sports a more elaborate, appealing layout. The dashboard features multiple contoured panels and a variety of textures and finishes for the plastic panels.

 

Maruti calls it a centre-focused design with the dashboard character lines sort of culminating at the 7-inch infotainment screen atop the centre stack. A low centre-console between the driver and front passenger seat and a dashboard layout that is upright and short allows for more room at the front. Maruti’s cars usually feature really good airconditioning; in the Celerio, the aircon vents get some special treatment with larger barrel shaped ones on either side of the dash and a set of two smaller vents flanking the infotainment screen. The top-trim Celerio that I was testing featured faux aluminium accents on various features of the dashboard and the steering wheel. It also had steering-mounted controls for the audio and phone. Infotainment system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Aircon controls are manual; but the power window controls positioned on the centre stack will take some getting used to.

 

The seats are better constructed with more shapely squabs and can be adjusted for both height and backrest angle. The analog-digital instrument cluster seems to have been borrowed from the WagonR with some minor changes. Overall, the new Celerio’s cabin is a step up from the predecessor and in terms of perceived quality feels like a cross between an ‘Arena’ and a NEXA model. There are still a lot of plastic panels all around and it still feels like a Maruti cabin.

Performance

The 2021 Celerio gets the next-gen K Series engine. Code named K10C, the new one-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engine features some new tech like dual injectors, cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and dual variable valve timing (VVT) improving combustion and delivering both lower fuel consumption and lower emissions. The key measure of the improvements that this new engine brings to the model is, of course, the rated mileage of 26.68kmpl; making it the country’s most fuel efficient petrol car.

 

The engine delivers 67hp (49kW) of peak power and 89Nm of peak torque. The output numbers are almost identical to the outgoing model, but the character of this new engine is very different. This feels more refined, is peppier and has much less of that gruff 3-cylinder character that the predecessor had. Power delivery is fairly linear and gear ratios are set fairly evenly. My first test mule was the 5-speed manual transmission variant and it has two good features going for it - a light clutch and a clean shifting, very likeable manual gearbox.

 

The AGS variant of the new Celerio (Maruti’s version of the automated manual or AMT) is a mixed bag. Compared to the previous gen’s AGS that was high on shift shock, the new one is certainly an improvement. But what it still lacks is a more engaging, eager shifting style. It has understandably been tuned for maximising efficiency and to provide for an easy driving style in the city cycle. Suspension is the other department in which Maruti has upped the game for the Celerio. The McPherson strut and torsion beam combination for the front and rear works with the stiffer chassis.

 

The new Celerio still feels a little unsettled over broken patches at high speeds, but it is a lot more confident and soaks up potholes at slow speeds. High speed handling isn’t it’s forte either with a complete lack of feedback from the over-assisted steering. The Yokohama tyres that were shod onto the 15-inch rims in my test mule offered good grip; but handling at corners is still very much like the average small car.

Bottomline

The new Celerio is an improvement over its predecessor. It is more appealing in its design, powertrain performance, and cabin quality and space. But the most interesting statistic for buyers could well be that claimed high mileage (will vary based on variant). Be that as it may, the Celerio also gets a decent level of equipment like auto start/ stop, push button start, electrically-folding door mirrors and a bunch of safety features like dual airbags, ABS with EBD and even hill-hold assist (in AGS variant).

Prices for the new Celerio start at ₹ 4.99 lakh for the LXI MT and go up to ₹ 6.94 lakh for the ZXI+ AMT.

 

Published on November 26, 2021

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