When working in Qatar, at one point I decided to stop using taxis 4+ times a day and to rent a car. So I rented the cheapest car I could. I was given a Suzuki Celerio – a tiny subcompact.
This will be another of my historical reviews. I don’t even have a photo to hand of this car, so a stock photo will have to do.
The car I rented was a Celerio – at that time, this was a rebadged Suzuki Alto, although since that time the Celerio is now a real car alongside the Alto. It was powered by a 1l 3-cylinder engine, linked to a 4-speed automatic gearbox. The 1l engine makes 67 bhp (50 kW) and 66 lb-ft (90 Nm) of torque, and, when connected to the 4-speed auto, has an incredible 0-60mph time of 17 seconds.
Ok, so let’s dive right in.
The bad parts – this car is slow. Not just because I’m used to driving much more powerful cars now – even at the time, it was slow. The automatic gearbox is incredibly unresponsive, and the small engine struggles considerably to move the car around. Pulling out of side roads in Doha was coupled with having my foot flat on the floor, a lot of noise, and very little movement, resulting in a pretty terrifying experience every time I drove. In addition to this, there is prodigious body roll, despite the small size of the car, so cornering is also exciting.
In addition, this car is tiny. This means you take up very little road space, and are generally both not very visible and not that well protected. When coupled with the dearth of performance, that made for an unpleasant driving experience.
Because the car is tiny, it has very limited space – it had 5 doors, but the rear passengers are very squashed, and the boot is miniscule. A small suitcase laid on its side would fit in the boot, but nothing else.
Finally, the 1l engine with the auto ‘box mean the car should be relatively efficient, but having to drive on the limit all the time to not get squashed countered that considerably.
So, the good parts? Ok…
You can, in fact, get four people into this car – as a five door vehicle, everyone has a door to themselves. If you really hate the people in the back, you could even fit a fifth person, though they will not appreciate it.
If the car was placed in a more suitable environment – say a European city not filled with giant American trucks – then it would work as a small runabout to get around the inner city, and would be very light on the wallet.
The car is cheap. This is demonstrably because it’s tiny and not great to drive, but if you need a new car for less than the price of most 4 year old used cars, this would have been the car for you.
-Not great to drive
Efficiency I’ve left off the rating, because while it was bad for me, in a city better suited to the car, I suspect it wouldn’t be so bad.
This was a car that, at the time, filled a market segment. It was cheap. These days, people expect more.