ROAD TEST: SUZUKI CELERIO
The car company is now at No 22, last year, having sold 37,400 vehicles.
Big things, then, are anticipated of the new Suzuki Celerio, the tiny city car. And despite its daft name (my computer insists on shifting it to Celery every time I type it) I think they might only be on to a winner.
The Celery, sorry, Celerio is a great looker and also the current lone choice of one, three-cylinder, 998cc, engine will deliver on-road thrills, but, importantly, the car does deliver on three fronts - price, space and, best of all, specification.
With on the road costs beginning at a wallet- friendly GBP7,999, would-be purchasers will get a lot of car for their money.
For a start, it has the largest interior of any small hatchback and will easily seat four adults without anyone feeling unduly cramped - there are, really, five seat belts and while that may be pushing it a bit, the extra person could be adapted on shorter journeys.
Practicality is good, also, with class-leading boot space. With all seats in place there's 254 litres of loading room, which is marginally bigger than the Hyundai i10 as well as the Volkswagen up!, along with a total of 726 when the rear seats are folded.
However, the trump card is the bang you're getting for your dollar; a fashionable way of saying you are getting plenty of stuff as standard that may come as additional elsewhere.
There are just SZ4, SZ3 and two trim levels, and at entry level you'll be able to anticipate five doors, air conditioning, alloy wheels, CD /tuner including DAB radio, USB and Bluetooth connectivity and notable safety features, including six airbags.
In addition, there are various cubbies dotted throughout the cabin, including two cupholders and also a decent-sized glovebox.
Although the most affordable Celerio is about GBP800 more expensive than the least expensive Alto (at book costs), it does come in at about GBP1,600 less than the base-version Splash, but my view is that it is a substantially better-worth auto whichever one you compare it with.
There might only be that one engine but it does offer the prospect of low running costs. Maintained fuel consumption is 65.7mpg and at current tax rates the 99g/km of CO2 it emits means there's no car tax to pay.
The engine is a five-speed manual as well as on my first drive together with the auto during last week's UK launch for the motoring press, I found it a very willing performer. Like all three-cylinder engines, there's a fine throaty noise that is pleasing to these ears and while you need to work the gearbox difficult to get the most out of its 67bhp, it'll readily cruise at maximum on the motorway (and more) without making it an uneasy experience. With some slight body roll on corners, additionally, it felt quite "planted" on the road, while the suspension setup made for a decent ride.
Without exception, colleagues agreed with me that we had been surprised by how well such a small car wouldn't at all and had performed have been fazed by taking it on a long distance draw.
Later this year (around April) Suzuki will introduce an automated variant of the gearbox, which offers the same efficiency and economy amounts as the manual but, on my brief drive in the launch, did little to persuade me in its favour - I found the changes annoyingly jerky - given that it will carry a cost premium.
A more efficient DualJet one-litre engine will also become accessible in the springtime - it's not substantially different in functionality terms (same power output but somewhat more torque) but does offer economies thanks to the increased mpg (78.4 maintained) and lower emissions (84g/kilometer).
No costs were being quoted for this specific engine would not be overly wide of the mark, but my guess is a premium of GBP500.
Pre-orders for this car were at 1,000 ahead of the launch and Suzuki that is given is hoping for about 6,000 sales in the first year, which already looks to me like a success.
And while you might have the ability to purchase more affordable (Dacia Sandero) no other car on sale offers so much kit for so little outlay.
On that basis, it's got to be worth a look.
My reference to models being removed, refers to the SX4 and Grand Vitara in addition to Splash and the aforementioned Alto. There'll be a new Vitara, nevertheless, in a couple of months' time.
Model: Suzuki Celerio Sz4
Cost: GBP8,999 OTR. Range from GBP7,999