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The Celerio diesel is tuned for gentle cruising.
The Celerio diesel is tuned for gentle cruising.

First look: Maruti Suzuki’s Celerio diesel

Efficient and a good car for city roads

photoMaruti Suzuki introduced the Indian market to the automated manual transmission (AMT) with the petrol engine-powered Celerio hatchback last year, and it became the most affordable automatic car, starting at 3.90 lakh (ex-showroom, New Delhi). It remains a popular option among people looking for a budget hatchback. On 3 June, the car maker introduced the diesel version of the car, which is the company’s first indigenously developed diesel engine.

Diesel engines are important for car owners who commute long distances on a daily basis, want higher fuel efficiency, thus keeping the running costs low.

Not many entry-level cars in the Indian market use diesel engines because small-capacity diesel engines are hard to engineer well and also expensive to make. There are very few other diesel options in India at the moment. Hyundai’s Grand i10, for example, has a 70 bhp, 1,120cc three-cylinder engine and Chevrolet’s Beat has a 58.5 bhp, 936cc three-cylinder diesel. The Chevrolet Beat was, in fact, India’s most fuel-efficient hatchback, with a fuel economy rating of 25.44 kilometres per litre (kmpl), till the new Celerio diesel came along. Maruti has upped the ante; the car has a rating of 27.62 kmpl from the Automotive Research Association of India.

This is an all-new engine, which has been designed from scratch. Known internally as the E08A, the diesel engine will also be the first two-cylinder engine, after the Tata Nano. Displacing a mere 793cc, which would make it the world’s smallest automotive diesel engine, the unit will put out a mere 47 bhp at a relatively relaxed 3,500 revolutions per minute (rpm). While that kind of power is barely sufficient, what will help is the healthy torque of the diesel—12.1 kgm (versus 9.1 kgm for the petrol version). And what will also help the car is its light weight, which ranges from 880-900kg, depending on the variant.

Clearly, this car is tuned more for gentle cruising. If you adopt a relaxed driving style, the Celerio diesel will pull you along cheerfully and it is pretty good at that. It takes off quite smartly from rest and there’s little delay before the small turbo gives it a boost, so driving at city speeds isn’t too much of a bother. Try to press on, however, and the Celerio diesel runs out of breath. Yes, there is some amount of grunt in the revolution per minute mid-range and you can make use of this in the higher gears, but the power soon tails off. We did manage to get some indicative acceleration numbers on our brief drive around Goa, but those didn’t prove to be too impressive; it accelerates from 0-100 kmph in around 19-20 seconds, which isn’t too far from the Chevrolet Beat diesel. And while the clutch is light, the gearbox did need a bit of effort to slot in occasionally. So, expect enough performance to drive around in a relaxed manner, but not much beyond that.

The Celerio diesel is quite similar to the petrol-powered car. The car has a long travel suspension that is comfortable, the steering is light and direct and there’s plenty of space on the inside.

In terms of features and equipment, the diesel models mirror those of the petrol. It is priced from 4.65-5.71 lakh (ex-showroom, New Delhi). We believe it is perfect if all you’re looking for is a practical and efficient car.

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