So, I finally decided to review this car, after one year and around 7600 km on the Odometer. Some background:
The choice of Celerio was far from obvious when I first embarked on a journey for a new car in the beginning of 2016 after selling off my old Amby 2000 DSL in late 2014. 2015 was my car-free year (actually I used our family car, the Ertiga VDI, whenever I required the car, but otherwise used my bike).
Though I was initially thinking of a second hand diesel, then I thought that since petrol prices and diesel prices are getting closer, it makes sense to go for a lower priced petrol car which is brand new.
So, initially I considered the Alto K10, the Kwid and the Datsun Go. Alto K10
- too small a car for my frame even with the front seat pushed all the way back. Kwid
- at the time, the waiting period was too long > 6 months and even the dealership at Mount Road was disinterested when I inquired. Datsun Go
- A very good concept, with best cabin space among the cars I inquired, yet I was unimpressed by the features offered on even the highest trim and seriously, a doorless glove compartment? The test drive also left me slightly underwhelmed.
Being disappointed with the lower range, I slightly increased my budget to close to 5 lakhs, and then looked at the other variants both in the Maruti stable and outside. Most specifically I was interested both in Celerio
and despite the higher budget, the newly launched Mahindra KUV 100
caught my eye and I seriously considered this one, since I love long drives and it just felt like a fun car for long drives. Took a test drive of both and was mightily impressed by the KUV size and cabin spacing and the even drive quality. It just felt a solid car. On the other hand, the Celerio was butter smooth, offered better VFM
with respect to features and simply felt better for city drive due to its smooth engine and easy maneuverability, whereas even the lowest trim of the KUV was upward of 5 lakhs with not many features. Further the KUV's petrol engine was still something new from Mahindra and I wanted a trouble-free car for city driving and occasional long drives.
Other options looked at but not seriously considered: - Tata Indica V2
- only because it is one of the few diesel hatches below 5 lakh, but otherwise not really an option because it is too rough a car. We owned one from 2002 - 2007 and it is not a very smooth car or trouble free after 25-30K kms. - Hyundai i10, Chevrolet Beat, Ford Figo, Maruti Swift
etc. - mostly higher priced and not well-featured in the lower variants.
- Wagon R
- not a big fan of its boxy design and I wanted a more contemporary car.
Finally fixed on the Celerio and chose the VXI trim, which I felt was good enough, since I had an old Alpine MP3 CD system with excellent speakers gathering dust after being removed from our old Palio which was sold off in 2012 or thereabouts. I am not big on remote locking and central locking with front driver door was good enough for me. Further I didn't mind the manual internally adjustable ORVM.
The ABT dealership at Guindy offered me some good discount on the Wagon R, but not so much on the Celerio. However, I pushed the bargain by opting for a year end 2015 model and though this led to a lack of colour choice, luckily the silky silver was acceptable to me and loved by my wife. Though I would have preferred a red or blue option, but my wife is not so keen on the bold colours. I further got a "discount" by opting for own insurance and not the dealership one, because dealer-policies are slightly inflated for dealer commission, but the advantage is that they usually have a cashless arrangement. Nevertheless, I went for New India own insurance and got the on-road price to less than 5 lakhs for the VXI (O) MT. Which was great, considering that the actual on-road price advertised on websites was around 5.25 lakhs at the time.
So delivery was on the first week of March 2016. And I got the old Alpine audio system fitted in no time through Neotone radio at Walaja road, Mount Road, who is an old friend. I also got a bluetooth cum mobile charger for hands-free phone experience. Driving Experience:
It is a wonderful smooth engine and I enjoyed the first long trip I took to Salem from Chennai within the first 1000 kms. I managed to get a decent mileage of around 19 kmpl for the entire long drive and within the city prior to the first service, I was getting only 11-12 kmpl , though I am a conservative driver and rarely use the pedal hard. But of course, I knew that before the first service, you cannot expect ideal mileage from any new car. Having driven diesel mostly before this car, I found the shifting of gears in petrol to be extremely leisured and forgiving. The city driving was also excellent, and the thing I enjoyed most was that this is a car that is good for the narrower roads, where space is at a premium. But the best thing was that this is a car that can accommodate around 4 large people and 5 medium sized people comfortably. Mostly though, the main occupants are myself and my wife.
After the second service this vehicle has become even smoother and given better mileage in the city. I now consistently get 13-15 kmpl in the city (through tank-to-tank fill method) and the avg fuel display regularly shows 15 and above kmpl nowadays. Though in bumper-to-bumper traffic, mileage does take a hit. On my second and subsequent long drives, I have consistently got more than 20 kmpl on the highway, driving smoothly at 90-100 kmph speed and dropping down to 80 kmph on slightly busier stretches. I feel this is a good speed for driver and passenger comfort on our Indian roads and besides gives the better fuel economy.
Recently however, I had a small accident vide a motor cycle hitting my rear bumper at a signal stop. The bumper was crushed on the left side and I had it repaired at ABT Maruti. However, because of my non-cashless, I had to pay the full amount and apply for reimbursement from New India. Thanks to my bumper-to-bumper policy however, I would not bear a big loss. Subsequently within a week after that, my front windshield got cracked at a spot (I am not sure how) and again I went for windshield replacement vide Windshield Experts (who have a cashless arrangement with New India) so I ended up paying only the policy excess and a small sum for consumables. Thereafter, on my third service to ABT this month, I had the guy pick up the vehicle for service. During the 3rd free service, unfortunately the ABT guys had a small accident during the road test wherein the front right door panel and quarter panel were damaged apparently by a bike guy. I wrote a mail to them asking for particulars and luckily no FIR or third party injury was caused. I refused to pay for this damage or claim from my insurance and insisted that the ABT does it free of cost to me and claim from their own liability insurance, which they promptly agreed. So I paid only the usual charges for consumables, and oil change.
Overall, I am quite happy with this vehicle and also the MASS. The service manager was polite and helpful, and though flooded with vehicles, ABT does a decent and professional customer service and satisfaction. Positives:
+ Great city driving and maneuverability and ability to park in tighter spaces, due to its reasonably compact size.
+ Excellent cabin space and even in the rear, my family are able to adjust somewhat (though nobody tall can sit behind me when I drive).
+ Reasonably safe feeling even on highways, though I rarely went about 100 kmph and only averaged around 85-90 kmph, but still for Indian conditions, the speed is adequate and the fuel economy really makes me feel that it is worth the drive.
+ Superb engine, so noiseless that I once or twice even forget that the ignition is on and crank it when running (bad, I know).
+ MASS is very good, particularly ABT who do a professional and adequate job. ABT called me when service was due each time and also called back for feedback after the service. Very nice job. Negatives:
- Insurance was a bit of a negative for me. I am yet to receive the claim amount from New India for the first bumper damage. I feel cashless would have been a better option. I expect the reimbursement claim to be paid by this week.
- The car seems to develop small scratches and small dents at the lightest touch. I am quite wary on the road, but when I park on the road, due to lack of space and I feel that bikes tend to make scratches when they park close to the car.
- Safety feeling wrt weight and structural stability. This is more psychological factor but I feel Maruti compromises on body build quality to reduce weight for mileage. But overall this is not so much a negative against this car but in general against Indian Manufacturers at lower ranges. Having driven an Amby, most other cars feel too light-weight to me.
Finally here are some pictures: