The Suzuki Celerio, which replaces the Alto at the bottom of the company’s model range in Australia from the first quarter of 2015, scored a disappointing three stars in Euro NCAP testing this week.
The budget contender scored the lowest result published this week, next to the five-star Skoda Fabia, Nissan Pulsar (Euro version), Tesla Model S and BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, and the four-star Renault Megane, upgraded from three stars with the fitment of a seatbelt reminder.
Suzuki’s sub-par score consisted of a 61 per cent rating in adult occupant protection, 74 per cent for child occupant, 68 per cent in pedestrian safety and 38 per cent in the safety assist category.
The passenger cell itself remained stable and dummy readings found good protection in place for the knees and femur of front-row passengers. The lack of standard side airbag for the rear meant NCAP did not conduct a pole test, which hurt the final result.
NCAP was also complimentary of the Celerio's pedestrian protection credentials, though the lack of a speed limited, lane-assist and low-speed city braking — not unreasonable at this price point, you might suggest — hurt its cause.
The result, should it translate to Australia, would give it one fewer star than the outgoing Alto, which has repeatedly sold as Australia’s cheapest new car. However, Suzuki’s local arm is understood to be confident of a four-star ANCAP rating for Australia.
Potentially, if side curtain airbags are made standard and the pole test allowed, an extra star could be given, and Suzuki seems unlikely to scrimp on safety for the Australian market in such a way.
Unlike the old Indian-made Alto, the Celerio will be sourced from Thailand, and will challenge models such as the five-star Mitsubishi Mirage at the bargain-basement end of the market.
It is the second safety stumble for Suzuki this week, with its Indian subsidiary Maruti getting zero stars for its version of the Swift in domestic NCAP testing. The Australian Swift gets a commendable five-star rating.