The Suzuki Alto may not sing as sweetly as a church choir, but when it comes to economics it hits all the right notes.
With prices starting around twelve grand and petrol sipping performance the new Suzuki light passenger car is perfectly in tune with a rarely opened wallet.
This fact has not escaped the notice of Australia’s leading motoring, commentators, with service clubs, the RACQ, RACV, NRMA, RAA and RACT, naming the little Suzuki Alto the country’s cheapest car to own and operate for the fourth consecutive year.
The features stay true to the Suzuki promise of outstanding value for money. Suzuki Alto GL sells for a mere $11,790, plus on road costs, the GLX is still a bargain, with an rrp of $12,490.
Standard features on the Alto GL include air-conditioning, CD stereo system with MP3 auxiliary input, remote central locking, ABS brakes, front power windows and six airbags.
To that already good list, the Suzuki Alto GLX adds alloy wheels, front fog lamps, a six-speaker sound system, tachometer and ESP stability control. Our test vehicle was a top-of-the-range GLX automatic.
The two specifications GL and GLX come with transmission choices of five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.
Powered by a three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine developing peak power of 50 kW at a high 6000 rpm and maximum torque of 90 Nm at 3400 revs, the Alto doesn’t set the world on fire off the mark – 17 seconds to 100 km/h with the automatic transmission – but is good enough for tootling around town.
A drag coefficient of just 0.30 and low rolling resistance tyres see the manual Alto’s combined fuel consumption down to 4.7 litres per 100km, with carbon dioxide emissions also falling in its latest model down by three per cent to 110 grams per kilometre compared to the original one. The automatic Alto has petrol consumption of 5.3 litres per 100km, but that’s still very economical.
The Suzuki Alto has an overall length of just 3500 mm, width is 1600 mm, height a tallish 1470 mm. It sits on a wheelbase of 2360 mm. The little five-door hatch has room for four occupants.
Major shortcomings, are lack of rear legroom and limited space in the cargo compartment (110 litres). Kids in the back are fine, but you have to really trim your luggage if all four seats are in use.
With dual front airbags, dual front-seat side airbags and dual curtain airbags, plus crush zones that absorb impact energy, frame members that disperse that energy away from occupants and a strong cabin structure, safety is well catered for.
Meanwhile, high-tensile steel in major body parts mean this top-level occupant safety does not add excessive weight to the body, thus helping with fuel economy.
Manufactured in Suzuki’s Manesar plant in India, the Alto was designed by Suzuki and tuned for Europe which makes for choppy going on some of Australia’s more uneven road surfaces. However, turning circle is a tight nine metres making it simple to park and to hustle through tight traffic.
The new Alto has its limitations but finds fans among townies who want a small car that makes them feel good about their reaction with the environment.
Price: from $11,790
Engine: three-cylinders DOHC, 50kW/90Nm
Warranty: three years/100,000km
Transmission: five-speed manual or four-speed automatic
0-100 km/h: 14 seconds (17 seconds)
Thirst: 4.7 L/100 km (5.3 L/100 km) 110g/km (126g/km)
Price: from $17,990
Engine: 85kW/155Nm 1.6-litre 4-cyl petrol
Transmission: 6-spd automatic; front-wheel drive
Economy: 7.3 l/100km; 91RON; 174g/km CO2
Ford Fiesta CL
Engine: 1.6-litre, 4-cyl petrol, 89kW/151Nm
Transmission: 6-spd dual-clutch auto, front drive
Thirst: 6.1L/100km, 91 RON, CO2 146g/km
Toyota Yaris YR
Engine: 1.3-litre, 4-cyl petrol, 63kW/121Nm
Transmission: 4-spd auto, front drive
Thirst: 6.3L/100km, 91 RON, CO2 147g/km