Having driven the Celerio Diesel for only 10-odd km last weekend, I start to feel so confident about the engine that I decide to take the car to a friend who has been driving the Swift Diesel for over two years now.
“The engine is noisy,” he says, as he fires it. “But, hey, it is powerful,” he is now in second gear, at 40 kmph. As he presses the accelerator, he exclaims, “It appears to be even more powerful than my Swift Diesel!”
I am sure anybody who drives the Celerio Diesel would feel the same. This tiny 793cc diesel engine, which develops a maximum output of 47.6ps@3500rpm and a maximum torque of 125Nm@2000rpm, will surprise you in more ways than one. But first let’s talk about the car.
The Celerio Diesel doesn’t look any different from the Celerio Petrol, but for a diesel badging. It gets the same bold and curvy design which the company calls CICO (curve in, curve out) styling, and the same ‘happy’ face—the wide smiley grille flanked by sweptback headlamps—as its petrol sibling. The stylised front bumper with a large air dam and character lines on the bonnet look contemporary. Yet it remains an out-and-out Maruti and this is apparent from various angles, especially when looked at from the rear. The Celerio Diesel may not be called stylish in the true sense of the word, but functional it definitely is. Let’s find out how.
Step inside and you will realise how spacious the car is. “The cabin feels almost as spacious as my Swift’s; in fact, the headroom appears to be more,” the friend, who is over 6-feet tall, again exclaims. (He hasn’t been in a Celerio earlier.) The Celerio, despite the fact that it is an entry-level car, has a surprisingly good cabin quality. There is generous headroom, shoulder-room and legroom all around. The car is 3,600mm long, 1,600mm wide and 1,560mm high. What really works for the car is its wheelbase of 2,425mm, which ensures ample legroom for rear passengers. It is one of the few small cars which can accommodate three tall people at the rear (though with some amount of adjustment). The boot space is a decent, but very usable, 235 litres.
The driving position is good. The seat height is just right, the vision all around is clear and the A-pillar doesn’t obstruct your view much. The design fabric chosen by Maruti is fresh and the dashboard looks fresh. All the buttons are easy to reach and the steering wheel is nice to hold.
The top-end variant we drove is well-equipped, too. For shuffling music tracks, adjusting volume levels, answering and making calls, all we had to do was move our thumbs—steering-mounted controls in the car work really well.
Then there is a multi-information display that shows data such as instantaneous fuel-efficiency, average fuel-efficiency, range, etc.
The diesel engine in the Celerio is the first-ever to be developed by Maruti’s parent Suzuki Motor Corporation. The company has, so far, relied on diesel engines from Fiat to power its cars in India—such as the ones found in the Swift and Swift Dzire. The company says that this super-compact diesel engine—called the DDiS 125—has been tailored for the Indian market. It is an all-aluminium engine and comes equipped with a compact turbocharger and intercooler.
The result: it is highly-responsive and fuel-efficient. It’s also BS4 compliant. The gearbox is mated to a responsive hydraulic clutch system, which ensures comfortable gear-shifting and reduces effort on the clutch pedal. On the road, one of the most noticeable things about the Celerio Diesel is the way the turbocharger kicks in and the way it shoots the car ahead. In any gear, as soon as you cross 1800rpm, the turbocharger comes into action. And if you are in the right gear, the turbocharger will ensure that this tiny, two-cylinder engine (yes, the engine has only two cylinders!) will even leave such cars behind which are powered by bigger naturally-aspirated diesel engines. In fact, a Mahindra Bolero driver did try to race us. The result: in about 2 minutes, the only place he was seen was in our rear-view mirror.
And do I really have to tell you this? The Celerio Diesel is India’s most fuel-efficient car, with a claimed mileage of 27.62 kmpl (under standard test conditions, ARAI-rated). In fact, when we drove it on the highway we got close to 24 kmpl, and in city traffic conditions we got about 22 kmpl. Mighty impressive. However, if there is one thing that might put you off, it is the engine noise. On some streets of Delhi, we didn’t have to honk to alert the pedestrians, the engine sound did it!
Maruti has launched the Celerio Diesel at a starting price of R4.65 lakh, while the top-end trim costs Rs 5.71 lakh. It will primarily compete with Chevrolet Beat diesel and Hyundai Grand i10 diesel—both of which, though slightly bigger cars, are costlier too. What works for the Celerio Diesel is that its cabin is almost as spacious as the aforementioned cars, it drives slightly better than at least one of the aforementioned cars, and it is more fuel-efficient than both the aforementioned cars.