Packs Maruti-Suzuki's first-ever in-house diesel engine.
The Maruti Celerio can be considered as Maruti-Suzuki's version of a litmus test. An instance supporting this is the AMT (Automated manual transmission) gearbox, which was first fitted in the Maruti Celerio Petrol.
Thanks to its refined driving characteristics and effortless drivability, it became an instant success among prospective customers, and gave Maruti enough confidence to equip the AMT unit in its more successful models like the Alto.
So it's not surprising that the Maruti Celerio was chosen as the ideal vehicle to test the waters for Suzuki's first ever self-developed diesel engine. This is one of the biggest risks taken by India's largest car manufacturer, as an investment of INR 900 crore was made on the development of their home-baked 2-cylinder DDiS 125 unit, which will soon spawn a family of engines
With an all new diesel engine under the hood, does the Maruti Celerio DDiS 125 have what it takes to redefine the entry-level diesel hatchback segment, or has Maruti compromised on refinement for an highly competitive pricing? Lets find out...
Exterior Styling and Features:
The Maruti Celerio diesel looks virtually identical to the petrol-powered model. For certain differentiation , it sports a "DDiS" badge on the front wing and "DI" suffix for the trim designation.
To recap the exterior, the Maruti Celerio features a simple design that is easily recognizable and isn't disappointing to look at. This particular model is fitted with all the optional accessories available for the Maruti Celerio, which includes chrome appliqués on the headlamps, chrome fog lamp enclosures and chrome garnish for the taillamps.
Up front, it sports a simple dual chrome slat grille directly flanked by large swept back headlamps. The lower fascia gets a multi-slat black plastic radiator grille and a pair of round fog lamps on either side.
Coming to the side, it features a subtle shoulder line from the front wheel arch to the taillamps, which adds certain definition to the side profile. As stated before, the small DDiS badge is fitted on the Celerio's front wing. It is quite a cheeky move by Maruti, as it banks on the successful reputation of the original DDiS engine, the 1.3-liter Fiat-sourced motor, to add some faith in the new 2-cylinder unit.
At the back, it gets a pair of nicely shaped vertical taillamps, subtle rear spoiler, rear wiper, separate door handle and a shapely rear bumper housing the registration plate.
Interior Styling and Equipment:
Like the exterior, the interior of the Maruti Celerio DDiS 125 is identical to its petrol-powered twin brother. People acquainted with a Maruti product will feel at home inside the Maruti Celerio.
Similar to most vehicles in the entry-level segment, the Maruti Celerio comes with a two-tone black and beige dashboard. Our review unit featured a black faux wood trim on the center console and door armrest, which is a welcome upgrade over the silver trim found in the Maruti Celerio petrol.
As part of the optional accessories, it was also fitted with illuminated scuff plates, an orange ambient footlight, and exclusive floor carpets. While it does endow a premium look to the interior, the resulting price tag could narrow the gap between it and a bigger diesel hatchback.
Being an entry-level diesel hatchback that starts from INR 4.65 Lakhs (Ex-Showroom New Delhi), there is not much one can expect from the build quality. Regardless, the materials used are fairly economical, leaving nothing to fault with, although the Hyundai Grand i10 still sets the standard in this segment. The interior appears to be well screwed together, and doesn't rattle when the diesel engine's vibrations seep inside during idle rpms
For an adult above 6-ft, the Maruti Celerio has a good amount of headroom in the front row, thanks to the tall height of the car. Seating comfort is only average, as the small side bolsters do little to support the back. The Celerio isn't one of the most comfortable cars to drive on long highways, and feels ideal around short city drives.
Seating at the back isn't all too spacious and comfortable. There is decent headroom and minimal legroom for a well-sized adult, although a third passenger will feel squished in between. Also, the seats don't have adjustable headrests or a foldable armrest in the center, hampering comfort during long journeys.
As for equipment levels, the ZDI trim level features a standard music system with Bluetooth connectivity, USB and AUX input support, power-operated ORVMs with turn indicators, and power windows at all four doors.
Also exclusive to the ZDI trim is a tachometer in the instrument cluster (what?!). Otherwise, it comes standard with an analog speedometer and a digital Multi-information screen that displays average fuel consumption, real-time fuel consumption and the total range.
The steering wheel borrowed from the Maruti Swift is nice to hold, and comes with audio buttons mounted on the left spoke and bluetooth telephony controls beside the steering pad. At night, the steering-mounted buttons are not as well illuminated as rest of the buttons in the center console, which had us squinting. This is a small issue though as over time, it can be easily controlled without taking your eyes off the road itself.
Despite the increase in awareness of occupant safety in India, the Maruti Celerio only comes with an acceptable level of safety equipment in the range-topping ZDI (O) trim, which includes dual airbags and an ABS. The ZDI trim only gets a driver airbag, while the lower trims have to rely on the car's body structure and passive safety features.
Engine Performance and Drivability:
Now we come to the most important part of this review - the diesel engine.
Debuting in the Maruti Celerio is an all new 793 cc 2-cylinder diesel motor (dubbed DDiS 125) that delivers 47 bhp at an early 3,500 rpm and 125 Nm of peak torque at 2,000 rpm. Not only is the DDiS 125 Suzuki's first ever in-house diesel engine, but also the smallest diesel engine ever fitted to a car before.
So the big question is - what is it like to drive?
Start up the 2-cylinder motor for the first time, and it quickly shakes itself to life, followed by a crass 2-cylinder rumble while idling. The vibrations can be felt though the steering wheel and pedals, which does put a question mark on the Celerio diesel's refinement levels.
Thanks to the relatively light hydraulic clutch pedal, the Celerio diesel takes off smoothly, while the incessant vibrations begin to dial down as the rpms increase. Slot into second gear, and the adequate mid-range performance can be accessed for quick overtakes. Further bolstering the Celerio's peppy drivability is its light kerb weight of 900 kg.
However, the DDiS 125 quickly runs out of breath when it enters the high rpm range, while the engine noise levels start to become vociferous. The maximum rpm is limited at around 4600 rpm, although there is absolutely no point reaching such high rpms, if you're looking for power.
The diesel engine is paired to a 5-speed manual gearbox, which slots easily into gear and has short throws. Given that power is flat at high rpms, you'd have to constantly upshift to access the narrow mid-range boost for faster acceleration, before you run out of gears and reach a top speed of 130 km/h.
Also affected by the empty top-end is its highway/expressway drivability. The Celerio diesel accelerates briskly between 70-100 km/h, before the speedometer needle crawls to higher top speeds. It proved to be difficult when attempting to overtake other cars that were smoothly cruising at speeds above 100 km/h.
That being said, the Maruti Celerio DDiS 125 feels at home in cities or rural roads, where 47 bhp and 125 Nm are adequate enough to overtake more powerful vehicles. Its city drivability is peppy, energetic and not too hard-hitting on the wallet, with respect to fuel consumption. Speaking of which....
This is one of the two strong selling points of the Maruti Celerio that is going to grab everybody's attention. The Maruti Celerio DDiS 125 is capable of registering an ARAI-certified fuel mileage of 27.62 km/L, making it the most fuel efficient car in India.
Realistically, we managed to achieve a staggering fuel consumption of 17 km/L, which makes the Maruti Celerio diesel the most fuel efficient car we have tested on IAB. This figure combines the fuel consumption registered during high speed runs, start/stop traffic, highway cruising and long periods of idling. This impressive figure can be attributed to its light kerb weight and compact diesel engine.
Ride Quality, Steering and Braking:
The ride quality of the Maruti Celerio isn't something to brag about. It is a standard fare that soaks most small irregularities without a problem, while large potholes can send sizable jolts into the cabin. Yet, the Maruti Celerio is decently comfortable at safe speeds on smooth roads. And the 165 mm ground clearance is good enough to leave the Celerio's underbody without any scrapes.
Like the ride quality, its handling also doesn't carry any surprises. As with any entry-level Maruti hatchback, the suspension is tuned to a slightly firmer setting, so that the body doesn't roll or heave about. At high speeds, the Maruti Celerio doesn't exhibit instability (unlike the Alto), instilling much-needed confidence.
As for the steering, the Maruti Celerio diesel's EPS system is slightly firmer than the Celerio Petrol. Yet, it stills feels adequately light around the city, and adds enough weight as the speed increases.
Stopping power comes from a pair of ventilated disc brakes in the front and drum brakes at the back. The review unit also featured an ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System). The brakes work seamlessly, and brings the car to a quick halt. Complimenting the good stopping power is the linear brake pedal feel, which is easily predictable and doesn't require time to get used to.
The Maruti Celerio DDiS 125 was launched on June 3, 2015, in the Indian market, and the price of each variants are given below. Note that all prices are ex-showroom New Delhi.
Maruti Celerio diesel LDi – INR 4.65 lakhs
Maruti Celerio diesel VDi – INR 4.95 lakhs
Maruti Celerio diesel ZDi – INR 5.25 lakhs
Maruti Celerio diesel ZDi (O) – INR 5.71 lakhs
Starting at INR 4.65 Lakhs, the Maruti Celerio DDiS 125 is the least expensive diesel hatchback in Maruti's product range, which is the other strong selling point.
However, if you're looking for a decent level of equipment, the only options are the ZDI and ZDI (O) variants that cost north of INR 5 Lakhs (ex-showroom). Combine the taxes and insurance costs, and the overall OTR price could be hard to justify, given that it only has a 47 bhp 2-cylinder diesel engine (which still has a reputation to build in the Indian market).
The Maruti Celerio DDiS 125 is one of those cars that you wouldn't want to recommend right away, but also not shun away completely. It has its fair share of negatives as well as positives that puts it in such a tricky spot.
While the all new 2 cylinder diesel engine is a fuel sipper and peppy around the city, it quickly loses out on power when it enters the top-end during fast highway runs. And the engine noise can be quite unnerving when you hear it for the first time. Also, the narrow price gap between a decently equipped Maruti Celerio ZDI and a bigger diesel hatchback is quite close, which could be a deal breaker for some.
That being said, the Maruti Celerio DDiS 125 starts to make sense when your daily commutes are concentrated in the city, where its meager horsepower and good peak torque is sufficient to scamper around. Complimenting this is its sub-compact proportions and excellent fuel consumption.
So, if you're the sort of person who just ought to get from A to B within a city in the most fuel-efficient manner, the Maruti Celerio DDiS 125 could be an option worth considering. And let's not forget, the prospective owner will have Maruti's unmatched service network to make use of.