Suzuki Celerio – my best car of 2015
Whatâ€™s the protocol when a carâ€™s pedal assembly collapses twice in a day when you put it through your standard emergency brake tests?
That was the question I was being asked late on a Friday evening, and I have to confess that I had no idea what the answer was.
Our tester, Lewis Kingston, was fine. I expected at least a hint of fluster in his voice – but apparently not. Ever the pro, he simply relayed what had happened as he drove the Suzuki Celerio at our test venue, how heâ€™d slowed the car down at our test track and how heâ€™d documented all of the failures in as much detail as he could.
So, to Suzuki. One failure could be put down as an error, but two identical problems clearly pointed to something more worrying. Now the situation was a matter of public safety.
It was the launch weekend for the car, complete with massive dealer test drive events and national media campaigns costing hundreds of thousands of pounds. But Suzuki dealt with the issue professionally, cancelling all drives and staying in contact every few hours over the weekend as they hurried to identify the problem.
That they did all that and instigated a fix in a matter of weeks was remarkable. That Steve Cropley was sitting beside me in the office suggesting that it was now a matter of importance that we cast aside concerns and demonstrate our faith in Suzuki’s expertise by running a long-termer was inspired.
I say inspired not just because it demonstrated a faith in the industry we cover – and criticise as often as we praise – to overcome adversity, but because it gave us all a chance to try the remarkable Celerio in the course of real life.
Suzuki, of course, has a remarkable pedigree in small cars, and the Celerio is the result of all that know-how. Sure, itâ€™s an unremarkable package to look at, but it is without peer in terms of cabin space and real-world economy. For an extended period I took to driving my family around in it, four up and very happy. Itâ€™s a useful distance wider than most rivals, powered by a motor with just enough poke and oh-so cheap to run â€“ all in, it is one of the very best judged city cars, and usefully capable (if unexciting) on the open road, too.
It was carefree motoring at its best, and perhaps the most telling moment came when I swapped it for a McLaren for the weekend. I live a privileged life when it comes to cars, of course, but as I fired up the supercar there was a significant part of me that felt burdened by the weight of responsibility that the little Suzuki did away with.