Suzuki have just launched their funky new Alto city car in to the highly competitive A-class segment. I got to drive it down in Bloemfontein last week and was actually very impressed with the way it handled itself. Facing stiff competition from the likes of Hyundai’s i10, the Alto should appeal to those looking for an affordable, economical cabbie to take them from A to B.
The Suzuki Alto is currently available in two derivatives; an entry level GL and the better specced – and more expensive – GLS. Wearing a miserly price tag of R104 900, the GL comes locked and loaded with standard equipment like power steering, air-conditioning and dual front airbags. Disappointingly, it does away with the ABS/EBD, central locking and height adjustable steering column native to its more luxurious sister. Speaking of which, the range-topping R119 900 GLS improves upon the relatively rustic GL model with a set of smart 14-inch alloys, colour-coded door handles and mirrors and snazzy front fog lamps. Other GLS specific goodies include front electric windows, a six-speaker sound system with an MP3-compatible CD tuner, 50:50 split folding rear seats, a tachometer and a luggage compartment cover to keep your belongings safe from prying eyes.
In the metal:
The new Alto is now the smallest model in the Suzuki lineup and, focusing on reduced weight and compact dimensions, has an eco-footprint to match. Designed using styling cues that appeal to discerning European tastes, the Alto’s smooth curves allow it to cut through the air with remarkable efficiency; something that definitely contributes to its excellent extra-urban fuel economy figure. In terms of overall appearance, however, the Alto is certainly one of the better looking cars in its class and stands out with its bug-eyed headlights and gaping front air intake. There’s a hint of Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 107 in the way its front bumper bulges beyond its wheel arches but other than that the Alto’s sheet metal is fresh and original.
All good on the inside:
Despite the fact that the Alto’s interior is very plasticky – there’s none of the nice soft-touch variety present – it all seems reasonably well screwed together and free from any annoying rattles and squeaks. The switchgear is reasonably ergonomic too and the controls for the radio and ventilation system are all very easy to locate and operate. In terms of the overall driving experience, the Alto’s large glasshouse gives excellent all round visibility, which makes parking in even the tightest spots an absolute doddle. The driving position is decent and even I managed to get my lanky six-foot frame comfortable behind that well raked windscreen. One thing that did irk me slightly, however, is the rev-counter in the GLS model that – mounted on a separate pod to the right of the main instrument cluster – seemed to be continually obscured by the steering wheel. But other than that and the quality of the aforementioned dahboard plastics, the Alto’s cabin offers pretty much everything someone shopping in this class will ever need.
Born to run:
Small cars often surprise you when you get behind the wheel and the Suzuki Alto is no different. On a par with the Hyundai i10, it feels nimble at all speeds and is actually rather entertaining to fling around corners of varying geometry. Understeer is well controlled and, most impressively, the steering is nicely direct and alive with a considerable amount of feedback. The ride is genrally composed but, due to the short wheelbase, does tend to become a bit pogo-like on choppier surfaces. The Alto’s engine – a 50kW/87Nm 996cc three-cylinder petrol unit – does a really good job at hauling it along the tarmac and, with one person behind the wheel, avoids feeling terminally underpowered. What really impressed me, however, was its ability to cruise out on the highway; a steady 140km/h was easily maintained on the portion of our test route that ran along the N1. Finished off with an unexpectantly growly exhaust note and a particularly slick five-speed gearbox, the Alto proves that affordable motoring doesn’t always have to be dull. Available at Suzuki dealerships across the country, it’s well worth taking for a test drive if you’re on the market for something cheap, economical and surprisingly cheerful.
Suzuki Alto Fast Facts:
Engine: 996cc, three-cylinder petrol
Power: 50kW at 5500rpm
Torque: 87Nm at 4500rpm
0-100km/h: 16 seconds (claimed)
Top Speed: 145km/h (claimed)
Fuel Consumption: 5.7l/100km (claimed combined)
Price: GL: R104 900 / GLS: R119 900
thanks for the Great review, i have been looking for a car for a while and i have booked my test drive!! i am so excited and hope it is as great as you say it is!!
Hi Alwin. Glad my review was a help. Yes, the Alto really is a great city car. I did find the interior a little too plasticky but other than that, it offers a lot for the money. It drives rather well too, which is very important in my book. Let me know what you think of the test drive. Regards, Thomas
Hi Thomas, i went for a test drive and fell in love with it instantly!!i currently drive an Atoz. nothing can get more plasticy!!
My New Suzuki Alto GLS will be arriving tomorrow, i think it is worth every cent!! thanks for letting me know about these great cars!! i would never have heard about them and would have ended up with something half as good for the same price!!
Hi Alwin. Yes, the Alto is way better than the Hyundai Atoz – it drives really well for a car of its size and caliber too. Glad my blog helped you find out more about it. Be sure to log on from time to time to get the latest news and reviews from the world of motoring. All the best, Tom.
thanks again Tom
I will Deff be visiting here more often, and i have told a few ppl about these reviews so i hope you make alot of people buy great cars!
You’re welcome. We’re also launching our brand new times live site this Sunday, so log on for even more motoring news, revies, galleries and multimedia.
thnx for the great review about the alto
but i wnt to know which is more better in terms of performance
alto or i10 1.1 liter engine.
Hi Youssef. Glad you enjoyed the Alto review.
Okay, the Hyundai i10 1.1 is (on paper) slightly quicker than the Suzuki Alto in terms of both top speed and acceleration. However, don’t discount the Alto because it really is an awesome little performer. Thomas
thnx thomas for ur reply
but what do u mean by (on paper)?
is the alto is quicker in reality
It looks cute and I am pretty sure my girlfriend will love this car. Sadly a quick check on Google shows that the Alto has gotten only 3 stars for the Euro NCAP crash test.
I think safely is something people shouldn’t take for granted. Better to go for the I10 which has a 4 star crash test rating.
It is great to know what people in other part of the world think about Suzuki Alto. Suzuki Alto was also recently launched in Malaysia, and the response has been good so far.