NADA steps up

With the imminent publishing of the second draft to the Code of Conduct for Competition in the South African Automotive Industry, Vehicle Repair and Servicing and Parts Supply, the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA) says the association supports the concept of customers having a choice of where to maintain their vehicle.

Whether this is just lip service to a Bill that will be passed into law or not, the fact NADA is making the statement signals a huge success for the Right to Repair campaign that has been tireless in its quest to break all, or some, of the stranglehold auto dealers have had on customers.

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“Where the vehicle is within warranty and/or maintenance plan, the nearest franchised dealer remains the best place to look after the customer’s vehicle,” says Mark Dommisse, National Chairperson of NADA.

“These dealers understand the technology and design of the vehicle and are best-equipped to diagnose any faults. Franchised dealers employ qualified technicians, who undergo regular training with the manufacturer to ensure that they are fully abreast of the latest technology incorporated into the vehicles they work on. A well-trained specialist is best equipped to repair any faults.

“Today’s automobile is a technical piece of engineering with cutting-edge technology and design. The franchised dealer utilises correct tools, specialised diagnostic equipment and extensive, vehicle-specific training on a customer’s vehicle when it is in their service area, resulting in peace of mind that it is being well taken care of.

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“For those customers choosing to purchase their vehicle with a maintenance plan, they are largely unaffected by the cost of these repairs, having already provided for their maintenance requirements within their purchase.

“Where the parts or vehicle are out of warranty and/or maintenance plan, the customer’s choice is even greater, where the customer is free to choose a franchised dealer on the above basis or use an independent specialist based on their affordability,” says Dommisse.

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Les Mc Master, director of Right to Repair South Africa (R2RSA) says the whole point of the Right to Repair campaign is to allow you to select where your vehicle is serviced, maintained and repaired at competitive prices.

“There is a need for a fair and competitive regulatory environment that enables freedom of choice for consumers and gives aftermarket Small Medium Enterprises a chance to stay in business. South African legislature needs to follow the international Right to Repair trend which promotes South Africa’s existing consumer and competition laws.

“As things currently stand in South Africa, dealerships sell most vehicles with a built-in service plan. What this means is you buy the vehicle with a non-negotiable service plan included in the price. What you need to realise is this service plan could be hugely expensive and cost anywhere between R30 000 to R 60 000 or more. Added to that you are also charged a hire purchase interest.”

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In a recent Vehicle Service Survey concluded by the Automobile Association (AA), 53% of car owners surveyed said they service their vehicles at the original dealer franchises, while 37% take their vehicles to private mechanics. The rest either service their vehicles themselves or do not service their vehicles at all.

Speaking on behalf of NADA, Dommisse notes franchised dealers represent about 25% of the market and that independent workshops service the vast majority of South Africa’s car parc.

The association recognises the need to strive for greater transparency and value-add in the way service and maintenance plans are built into the price of new vehicles, but much of this onus rests with the Franchisor who controls the price structure of a vehicle. Dommisse stresses these plans remain a peace-of-mind benefit to new and pre-owned customers as a guarantee that today’s price will be applied to all future service.

“In a debt-stressed country, as well as an industry reliant on an unstable currency, securing pricing today and ensuring budget certainty, is absolutely fundamental,” he says.

NADA supports and has contributed to a range of policies and programmes such as the Automotive Industry Code of Conduct for South Africa in terms of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), client Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), and now a Code for expanded competition. Although cautious, NADA supports the Competition Commission in its drive for a more regulated and open aftermarket, provided safety and sustainability remain at the heart of all matters.

“We have supported this practice for a long time, looking out for the interests of consumers within stringent franchised dealer agreements,” says Dommisse.

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“However, we urge consumers outside of warranty to choose their repairers carefully, based on the chosen facility’s credibility and the customer’s ability to have recourse on any repairs or parts supplied. This practice not only protects the value of the customer’s vehicle but ensures the safety of those driving them.

“Consumer beware.” That, in a nutshell, is the advice from Johan van Vreden, the ombud for the motor industry of South Africa (MIOSA).

“All the responsible players in the industry have registered with the MIOSA, in the interest of customer satisfaction and protection against customer exploitation. “Will you take your sick child to an unqualified medical practitioner? Therefore, if your vehicle needs a repair, ensure the service provider is qualified and registered with the MIOSA.

“By dealing with a service provider not registered with the MIOSA you are dealing with individuals who are operating their trade with little regard for the consumer. It also becomes extremely difficult for the MIOSA to assist consumers where non-compliant service providers are involved.”

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“We want to see change. We want equality, transparency and sustainability in our industry. R2RSA plans to make these things a reality and we call on you, the consumer, to support the cause and ask questions before making that car purchase,” says Mc Master.

“As NADA, we fully support fair practices in the motor industry when they create a healthy balance between benefiting customers and franchised dealers alike. This will allow South Africans access to a sustainable and credible industry with the ability to keep safe and reliable vehicles on our roads,” says Dommisse.

So, you’ve made the decision – you want to buy a car and you’ve decided which one. A big question you should be asking is how you want to service the car?

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Chasing the title

The Sasol GTC Racing Team heads to Port Elizabeth for round five of the Sasol GTC Championship with the aim of defending Gennaro Bonafede’s title lead at their main rival’s home track, a sure-fire recipe for fast, close racing on 14th July.

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The BMW GTC racing cars have proven quick around the Aldo Scribante in the past: last year, Bonafede qualified in second place on the starting grid while Robert Wolk won his first GTC championship race at the same track.

A curved ball facing all the teams, except the Audi squad, who is based at the coastal venue, is that the track has been completely resurfaced with an international specification tarmac. The Aldo Scribante circuit had a reputation of being abrasive so the free practice sessions on Friday will be crucial to refining the team’s set-up for the track’s new characteristics.

Heading into the season midpoint, Bonafede has two victories and three podiums, earning him a four point advantage over his nearest rival and the defending Sasol GTC Champion, Michael Stephen.
Wolk has two podiums to his name and is five points adrift of Volkswagen’s Daniel Rowe.

Team Manager Vic Maharaj is confident of his team’s ability and set-up philosophy: “The team has the knowledge, ability and methodology to find the ideal race trim during the practice sessions. The pace is in the cars and the drivers; the cars were very good in East London last month and I hope for the same level of performance again”.

“We are going into the lion’s den as the Audi team is the only one to have experience of the new tarmac. I’m not too concerned though; it’s a case of analyzing the surface and establishing the grip levels. I will use both cars with different settings to maximize our track time to get the cars race-ready”, Maharaj concluded.

Championship leader Bonafede is excited about his new challenge: “I’m so excited about going to Port Elizabeth and having no idea what to expect. I love new challenges. It will be great to get out in practice and run a lot of laps to see what works and what doesn’t. The racing is going to be a lot closer as well as faster”.

Wolk enjoys the Port Elizabeth circuit: “Aldo Scribante has a great combination of fast and slow corners. I really enjoy racing there. The track may be dusty and slippery on race day as the new surface beds down. What I do know is that the tyres will have an easier time on the new surface with a more consistent level of grip. Practice will be pivotal to the weekend. After that, it’s up to me to extract the best performance from my car”.

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The Sasol GTC Racing Team takes to the track on Friday, 13th July for three 20-minutes practice sessions. Official qualifying on Saturday takes place at 0915, followed by two races at 12h40 and 15h10.

By David Ledbitter

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Manufacturing awards boost industry

The changing face of the manufacturing industry in South Africa will be given a boost in November with the debut of the first awards officially recognising innovation and excellence in Advanced Manufacturing.

The National Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Awards, is hosted under the auspices of the DTI co-funded, national Composites Cluster with a wide scope including the key drivers of the 4th industrial revolution.

All companies operating in the advanced manufacturing field, including 3D printing, robotics, automation, AI, laser cutting and etching, CNC machining, software, big data, IOT and composites will be eligible for national recognition.

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Companies or organisations may make submissions in six categories including: Scholarly impact in advanced manufacturing, Industry advancement in advanced manufacturing, Export proficiency, Contribution to Import replacement, Composites Innovation and Most promising ‘start- up or newcomer’.

Composites Cluster MD, Andy Radford, formerly an industrialist at the CSIR, before the Composites Cluster was established with the support of the South African government, said the awards would play a key role in advancing the country’s advanced manufacturing agenda.

“As we push to consolidate and develop our manufacturing strategy, it is essential as a collective – government and private sector stakeholders identify, promote and reward innovation in the advanced manufacturing and composites industry.”

Radford said the awards, which would be made annually at the African Advanced Manufacturing and Composites Show (with the inaugural event set to take place from November 7-9) would also “aim to showcase South Africa’s capabilities and popularise Advanced Manufacturing in industry and to learners.”

He said entries close on July 27.

The National Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Awards will take place as part of the African Advanced Manufacturing and Composites Show, which will include a dynamic, interactive exhibition, conferences and factory tours.

Organisers say several international delegations have already confirmed, including leading Advanced manufacturing companies from France and Germany, while a focused campaign will draw dominant advanced manufacturers from Africa.

“While manufacturing remains an essential part of South Africa’s economy – contributing around 19% of GDP, our efforts towards Advanced Manufacturing in South Africa are highly fragmented, but we do have significant pockets of excellence,” Radford says.

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“The African Advanced Manufacturing and Composites Show will not only bring all the key role-players and technology partners together towards a common vision, it would also inspire emerging engineers.

“Three-dimensional printing, lasers, automation and artificial intelligence are exciting tools to encourage a new generation of engineers and scientists but we need to expose them and industry to these technologies and there is no time to waste.”

Radford added the KPMG 2016 Global Manufacturing Survey, showed the extent to which global manufacturers were racing for advanced manufacturing leadership.

“Some 25% of 360 respondents said hey had already invested in three-dimensional printing and additive manufacturing technologies. An equal number had also already invested in artificial intelligence and cognitive computing technologies.

“Two-fifths of survey respondents said they would definitely channel significant amounts of their research and development investments towards robotics before 2019.

“The message is clear that certain manufacturers and manufacturing countries will ensure their sustainability and growth in Industry 4.0 where others will be left increasingly far behind in servicing an increasingly demanding global client base.

“The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium venue, alongside the North End Lake, is ideal for the outdoors demonstration of boats, vehicles, and drones all of which encapsulate Advanced Manufacturing technologies and indoor exhibits showcasing automation, computing and 3d printing, among others.

The show will be accessible to both trade and public visitors.

Radford said the organisers of the Show have a vision and strategy to ensure that the African Advanced Manufacturing and Composites Show attracted global role-players in all areas of Advanced Manufacturing, including Composites and especially African role-players.

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To this end Radford said delegations from France and Germany have already confirmed while an MOU had been signed with UK Composites and a marketing campaign would target African buyers.

 

The rush is in the rear

That it is a rear drive front engine layout gives Toyota’s new Rush SUV a big tick in the checkbox list even before looking at any of the other specifications attached to this small, entry model to the segment.

That it is the company’s chase to attract first-time SUV entrants is borne out by the modest 1,5-litre four-cylinder DOHC engine, with outputs of 77 kW at 6 000 r/min and 136 Nm of torque at 4 200 r/min. The engine utilises Toyota’s VVT-i system to boost efficiencies and buyers have a choice of either a 5-speed manual transmission or 4-speed automatic.

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Toyota claims the manual-equipped Rush uses 6,6 l/100 km with the automatic version 6,7 l/100 km, with the CO2 figures 156 g/km and 158 g/km respectively.

Following the front engine, rear wheel drive layout (FR), the suspension system consists of McPherson struts up front and a Multilink design in the rear. The suspension setup has been engineered to offer good rough-road damping and be complaint on mixed surfaces (tarmac, gravel and dirt).

One of Rush’s key features is the 220 mm ride height, which combined with a 31-degree approach and 26,5-degree departure angle, allows easy traversing of mixed surface roads – and wading depth is 600 mm.

The 17-inch alloy wheels are shod with 215-60-R17 tyres and a full-size spare wheel is also provided.

It is no secret – and the monthly sales figures bear this out – the SUV has morphed from speciality niche vehicle to sought-after mainstream with buyer comment usually referring to raised seating position and better handling over increasingly potholed roads as primary purchasing decision factors.

Starting at the front, the new Toyota Rush features a prominent angular design with pointed, upswept LED headlamps and large trapezoidal grille. The grille features wide horizontal slats finished off in dark grey and a centrally mounted Toyota emblem. An inverted contour line separates the upper and lower air-dams and creates a triangular space which house the fog lamps. A silver-hued skid plate and twin hood bulges round off the front façade.

 

The side design has a noticeable crease line that flows from the front wheel to the rear tail lamp edge while matching black roof rails and body-colour rear roof spoiler create a cohesive image.

 

The rear design centres on the LED-equipped rear lamp clusters, which carry strong horizontal lines and a similarly inverted contour line flowing from the bumper to the rear diffuser area.

 

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The interior layout sees the upper dashboard house a touchscreen audio system, equipped with Bluetooth, USB and Android Auto Plus Show/Apple CarPlay functionality. The lower dashboard contains the dual-zone electronic climate control, 12-volt accessory connector and storage area.

 

High-contrast taupe trim and chrome accent pieces are utilised on the facia and door panels to add an air of brightness to the cabin and create an inviting space. A 3-spoke leather steering wheel with tilt function and remote switches provide the driver with a firm grip of the road.

 

The instrument cluster features large, highly legible graphics with a cool blue semi-circular motif and chrome surrounds. A centrally-mounted multi-information display relays user-selectable information to the driver, which includes a colour Eco indicator.

 

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The seats are finished in patterned black fabric with complementing black fabric inlays on the door panels. The rear seats feature three independently-adjustable headrests and 60/40 tip-forward function. 

 

Some 609 litres of luggage capacity is provided, whilst offering seating for five. The rear seats can also be folded forward independently to further boost cargo space.

 

The exterior features list includes power adjustable and retractable exterior mirrors, auto-off LED headlamps, roof rails and fog lamps.

 

The 6-speaker touchscreen infotainment system not only offers the Android Auto Plus Show, Miracast and CarPlay functionality, but features built-in Satellite Navigation. An integrated Reverse camera and Park Distance Control (PDC) add both convenience and safety.

 

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A broad array of safety features are included in Rush; the active safety systems include Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Hill Assist Control (HAC).

The passive safety systems comprise a total of six air bags – driver, passenger, side and curtain air bags are provided.

 

A six-service/90 000 kilometre service plan comes standard, backed up by a 3-year/100 000km warranty. The service intervals are set at 15 000 kilometres.

 

Pricing:

Rush 1.5 MT – R299 900
Rush 1.5 AT – R 313 500

 

Beetle mania hits town

Beetle mania is coming to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown (soon to be renamed Makhanda) in the form of six Volkswagen Beetles, each with its own special history.

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Nestled on the university lawns between Lucas Avenue and the Albany Museum, is the ‘Meet the Beetles‘ installation where six, carefully selected Volkswagen Beetles are on display at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

“The purpose of the installation is to provide festival goers with a taste of the treasures of Volkswagen’s museum, the AutoPavilion in Uitenhage. The Beetles each have a story which appeals to fans of the iconic ‘love bug’ also crowned the ‘Car of the 20th Century’,“ says Matt Gennrich, Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) General Manager for Communications.

‘Meet the Beetles‘ showcases Jan, the oldest Beetle in South Africa, film star Herbie, Delilah with her super low mileage, Jeroen the Mexican-built, Trans-Saharan Traveller from Amsterdam, Matti – the last Uitenhage-built Beetle and Nomhle the most beautiful Beetle with her bling!

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The National Arts Festival, which opened on Thursday, 28 June features a wide variety of performances and installations, including ‘Meet the Beetles‘ and its art installation.

Four of the six Beetles were positioned counter to the lay of the land with Delilah positioned on a popular thoroughfare ensuring the public can walk around the ivory beauty with her fuchsia pink number plates.

Jeroen the Beetle who travelled the length of the African continent has sidled up to an Acacia – the most African of trees. Central to the installation is Jan, the oldest Beetle in South Africa, placed carefully on ramps by the VWSA Product Engineering Team who assisted in positioning the valuable collection.

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Rounding off the setup is a collaborative artwork for kids of all ages – a classic hippie Beetle to be computed in using wax pastels. And to end every day is an illumination of the exhibits and T1 tents which glow into the evening enticing festival goers to a second visit.

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‘Meet the Beetles‘ runs for the duration of the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. It is open 24 hours a day, but staff is on site to assist guests between 9am and 5pm. It is located on the university lawns between Lucas Avenue and the Albany Museum.

There is also unique branded merchandise on sale at the stand which includes winter favourites like beanies, scarves, gloves, hoodies, and much more.

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VW Golf in SA turns 40

In the annals of enduring love affairs, the one between South African motorists and the Volkswagen Golf is ongoing with as much passion involved as the day the first of the front-wheel drive hatchbacks was launched back in 1978.

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Now, 40 years down the line and up to Mk 7, the little charger still promotes plenty of petrolhead frenzy and lively debate.

Design work on the Golf began in 1971, with production starting in Germany in March 1974 and deliveries to customers commencing in June 1974.

After 31 months in production the Mk1 had already sold 1-million units and its success would continue in South Africa where the hatch back was launched in May 1978. Production in Uitenhage started with 65 units a day with a local content of 57%.

Its space-saving front-wheel drive and 1.5-litre four-cylinder transverse front-mounted, water-cooled engine, with just 70 horsepower delivered impressive performance. The initial launch price of the 1100 cc L two-door was R3 985 while the rest of the line-up included the LS four-door priced at R4 135, whilst the 1500 cc GLS four-door manual and automatic retailed for R4 940.

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During the years after 1978 a number of variants were introduced into the model line-up including a diesel version at the end of 1978 and the high performance 1600 cc Golf GTS with its matt black bumper, extra-wide radials, bib spoiler, four headlamps, GTS logo and stripes along the bottom of the doors and quarter panels.

In less than 12 months (April 1979), the 20 000th Golf was already produced in Uitenhage and by February 1980, the 50 000th Golf, a GTS model, left the production line. By 1981, the 100 000th Golf had been produced – just over three years since its introduction.

Four years since launch of the Golf Mk1, in 1982 the Golf 1 GTI was launched in South Africa, creating a whole new concept in performance motoring, the ‘Hot Hatch’.

In 1983, almost 10 years after being launched in Europe, the Golf Mk1 was replaced by a larger and more sophisticated second-generation model.

This paved the way for Volkswagen South Africa to retain the Golf Mk1 so as to maintain a presence in a segment which was about to be vacated by its successor and so the concept of the Citi Golf was born.

No other vehicle in the history of motoring in South Africa has broken as many records and sold in such high numbers as the Golf Mk1. The Citi Golf was produced for 25 years in South Africa and more than 370 000 units were sold before production ceased in 2009.

In 1992, the fuel injected Golf 3 was launched in South Africa with an all-new 1,4-litre petrol engine. Also offered was a naturally aspirated version of the 1.9-litre diesel engine, delivering 47 kW. Air bags were first offered on the Golf in 1992, and from 1996 anti-lock brakes were standard across the range.

In 1999, the Golf 4 replaced the Golf 3, setting new class standards. The fourth generation was a deliberate attempt to take the Volkswagen Golf further upmarket, with a high-quality interior and higher equipment levels.

The last generation of the Golf to be built in South Africa was the fifth generation which was launched in August 2004 and raked up 1 300 sales in its debut month. In the following year, a Candy White 2,0-litre Golf became the 750 000th Golf to be produced in Uitenhage.

After 30 years and more than 813 000 Golfs made in Uitenhage, production of Golf was stopped in South Africa in December 2008. This was due to the rationalisation of models to maximise volume production and meet objectives of the Motor Industry Development Programme (MIDP).

The sixth generation imported Golf was launched in South Africa in April 2009. The model sold in South Africa currently, the Golf 7, was launched in February 2013 and is a segment leader in 2018 with a share of 35%.

 

 

 

 

Celerio updated – no price change

It is always a bonus when a car goes through it ‘refresh’ process and eases back into the market with changes but no increase in price – as has the Suzuki Celerio, although this time the revisions are all aesthetic and specification levels are untouched.

The revised Celerio sports a redesigned front bumper, which features an integrated lower air intake and more aggressive design.

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Starting from the tar up, the bumper has a more integrated lower air intake, which narrows towards the top and ends narrower than the grille below the front number plate holder. The shape of the intake is mimicked by the moulded colour section around it to accentuate the wide blacked-out grille with its large Suzuki emblem.

With the new bumper, Suzuki’s designers created a distinct separate section for the front fog lights, which stretches all the way to the front lights and integrates neatly with the Celerio’s shoulder-liner. As before, Suzuki will add front fog lights as standard on the GL model.

Viewed in profile, the shoulder line now runs across the car from the rear light clusters all the way to the front fog lights, as well as redesigned wheel covers,

At the back, the new design is rounded off with the addition of a wide rear garnish strip that aligns with the shoulder line on the vehicle, which visually widens the Celerio’s stance on the road. As before, the GL specification level is distinguishable from outside by the colour coded mirrors and door handles and by the addition of chrome accents in the front grille.

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The general layout of the front console and central instrument cluster remain unchanged but there is a two-tone design to the dashboard, with a lighter coloured bottom section.

The two-tone theme is mirrored in the new cloth upholstery, which has a lighter patterned section in the seat-inlays. The cloth was selected for its durability and ease of cleaning.

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Both the entry-level GA and more luxurious GL models offer power steering, air-conditioning with pollen filter, vanity mirrors in both sun visors, a security cover and shopping bag hook in the luggage area and a 12V accessory socket as standard.

Both also offer anti-lock brakes, two front air bags, seat belts for five occupants, a high mounted additional stop lamp, an immobiliser and childproof rear door locks.

The GL specification level gains a Bluetooth-enabled audio system with phone integration and USB jack. GA models have been fitted with the necessary wiring and two speakers for optional radio fitment.

Other creature comforts in the GL model include front and rear power windows, remote central door locks with a hazard-lamp answer-back function and integrated security alarm, tilt adjustment for the multi-functional steering wheel and electrically adjustable rear side mirrors.

On the instrument cluster, Suzuki adds a tachometer and outside temperature gauge. It has also added cloth inserts in the doors, a 60/40 split foldable rear bench seat and a day/night rear-view mirror to the GL specification level.

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The Celerio is fitted with Suzuki’s K10B 1,0-litre, three-cylinder engine, which offers 55 kW at 6 000 r/min and 90 Nm of torque at a peak of 3 500 r/min.

Owners can choose between the five-speed manual transmission and the five-speed automated manual transmission (AMT).

Suzuki has also retained the standard 2-year/60 000 km service plan on Celerio GL models.