First Drive – Maruti Celerio Automated Manual Transmission

Anjan

Anjan Ravi,

I’m a true-blooded petrolhead. Hope you enjoy our news stories, launch coverages, motorshow coverages and test drive reports.

Indian Autos Blog got to take the newly-launched Maruti Celerio for a quick spin. Here are our driving impressions.

Exteriors:

Maruti Celerio VXi AMT Drive front
Grille and headlights are the only elements of the exterior which look fresh.

The styling of the Celerio does not look special, nor does it stand out in anyway. We found the design of the headlight cluster and grille to be fresh, otherwise, the Celerio has the “seen one, seen them all” design fever. The rear end of the Celerio has too much in common with the Alto 800.

Interiors:

Pulling the door handle, you instantly know that the Celerio is built like any other Maruti, which is to say average at best. Our impressions were confirmed after feeling few of the plastic parts of the car. Though the parts feel cheap, they will last the life of the car, as proved by other Marutis such as the Swift, A-Star, Wagon R etc.

The instrument cluster is the only interior part we like in the Celerio. The dashboard on this VXi AMT variant looks barren with controls only for the AC (a music system is not offered).

Maruti Celerio ZXi dashboard
Music system, steering mounted controls offered only on top-end ZXi trim. Seen here is the ZXi MT. Maruti will not offer the ZXi with the AMT though.

The VXi AMT model we drove is barely equipped with any features. There is no remote keyless entry, no music system, no rear mudguard… its easier to list out the features that are available than vice-versa. Chiefly, the VXi AMT comes with front and rear power windows, power steering and manual AC.

The Drive:

The 1.0-liter 68 PS K-10 engine in the Celerio feels nearly the same as the A-Star in terms of NVH, though slightly better. Slot the gearlever into D, and the hatchback moves with a sense of urgency. The engine is peppy in city speeds and power is more than adequate, partly thanks to the extremely light kerb weight of the car.

Maruti Celerio VXi AMT Drive gearshifter
Manual mode also available on the AMT gearbox.

In a conventional automatic car, the loss of power during a gearchange is hardly felt. However, the Celerio’s AMT is not a conventional system. Think of it as a robot engaging the clutch, changing the gear, and disengaging the clutch again. As a result, you can actually feel that moment wherein the engine is idling (because the gearbox is busy swapping gears by engaging and disengaging the clutch), but the car is yet to pick up momentum.

Gear changes on the car are jerky compared to a traditional automatic transmission. A jerk is especially felt when moving up and down 1-2-3 gears.

The AMT is not the smartest automatic system. Sometimes, it makes the mistake of shifting down two gears (from third to first) for a gentle prod on the accelerator, and sometimes it gets confused as to which gear to pick.

If you’ve never driven an automatic transmission before, this may not matter much to you. However, for those of you who have, it will take some time getting used to the automated manual transmission.

Maruti Celerio VXi AMT Drive gear shift indicator
Shifting through lower gears is extremely jerky.

An area where we think the AMT could show its flying colors would be in the fuel efficiency department. The Celerio’s on-board display registered a figure of 12.5 km/l, which is as much as you would get with a manual transmission car of the same size. For the record, Maruti claims an ARAI-approved fuel efficiency of 23.1 km/l.

While we can comment about the ride only after spending more time with the Celerio, initial impressions about the suspension’s capability to handle Indian roads are very positive.

Verdict:

The Celerio is not a Honda Brio/Hyundai Grand i10 competitor, that’s for sure. At best, the Celerio is an upgraded version of the A-Star, which it actually is.

Starting from INR 3.9 lakhs, the Celerio MT is not what we call ‘value-for-money’, as at the end of the transaction, you feel a bit short-changed. Instead, we would pay the extra INR 28,000 and get the Brio E-MT.

Maruti Celerio VXi AMT Drive rear 2
Rear styling has too much in common with the Alto 800.

The Celerio VXi AMT priced at INR 4.59 lakhs is a good deal. For anyone wanting a hassle free city commuter, or even a first car in the family (if you’re averse to a manual), the Celerio AMT is a good buy. Priced INR 39,000 more than a manual version, the AMT technology seems to be at the reach of an average car buyer. However, Maruti has ignored explaining the subject of maintenance of the AMT system. It remains to be seen whether the AMT would prove as inexpensive to fix/maintain as an ordinary transmission.

What we Like in the Maruti Celerio AMT:

  1. AMT technology will appeal to the first-time car buyer
  2. AMT variants seem well priced

What we Dislike in the Maruti Celerio AMT:

  1. Interior fit and finish
  2. Overpriced, featureless base MT variants
  3. AMT unavailable on ZXi/ZXi-Option variants

Maruti Celerio VXi AMT Image Gallery

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