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2014 Suzuki Alto previewed

The next Suzuki Alto five-door hatch promises to be bigger and roomier, with the design being previewed in the A:Wind concept unveiled in Thailand.

Measuring up with the same 1600mm width as the current Alto, but 100mm longer at 3600mm, 70mm taller at 1540mm and riding on a 65mm longer wheelbase at 2425mm, it claims to offer more rear leg room, wider-opening doors and 'class-leading' luggage capacity -- although the cargo figure isn't given.

The concept has the usual show garnish, including jazzy 16-inch alloy wheels and a sharply-styled nose with headlights integrated into the spindle-like grille. Under the bonnet is the same 996cc (round it up to 1.0-litre) three-cylinder petrol engine, and while Suzuki hasn't revealed outputs, it could at the most be a small rise on the current Alto's engine, which develops 50kW of power at 6000rpm and 90Nm of torque at 3400rpm.

There could also be a change of transmissions, with the front-wheel drive Alto's five-speed manual -- claiming 4.7L/100km -- likely to continue but the 5.3L/100km four-speed auto to be replaced by the continuously-variable transmission previewed in the concept. The car will go into production early in 2014 and is likely to arrive here late that year.

However, while our Alto is currently built in India, Suzuki has so far only outlined plans for the new one to be built in Thailand. But with Suzuki referring to the A:Wind as a "global compact car" it seems a certainty to also roll out of the brand's other main production facilities. With the Chinese-built Chery J1 having to exit the Australian market -- culled by the November 1 manadatory requirement for all new cars to have electronic stability control -- the Alto has regained its crown as Australia's cheapest car, with an entry price of $11,790.

That price tag is unlikely to move much higher, as despite the affordable level, the Alto is trailing the main rivals in a crowded field of nearly 30 light cars on the Australian market, with sales of 2490 year-to-date 26 per cent down on 2012 -- and considerably behind the leading Mazda2 on 13,136, Toyota Yaris on 12,269 and Hyundai i20 on 11,659.

This reporter is on Twitter: @KarlaPincott