Suzuki Alto Road Test
By Ken Walker
14th December 2009
Mighty mouse is back. Suzuki started with small cars back
in the seventies or was it the late sixties (you know, last century)
following the growing trend of the then Morris Mini, also with the name
Alto. Lo and behold it is here again but better than before (as it should
be). And who will ever forget the Suzuki 4 x 4 with the 3 cylinder engine?
On this occasion we have driven the Suzuki Alto GL 5 door hatch. This is
the latest entry level offering from the long standing Japanese manufacturer
of capable, affordable motor vehicles.
Fitted with a 1.0 litre 3 cylinder petrol engine with 4
valves per cylinder and naturally a double over head camshaft, this magic
little hatch cruises the F3 Freeway with the big boys. And whatís more, does
The 5 speed manual gearbox was easily manipulated
along the way with short shifts and a very light clutch, not a lot of down
changing occurred. But if necessary it was only back 1 cog. This was very
Driven through the front wheels
the 3 cylinder DOHC power plant develops 50kW at 6,000rpm and 90Nm of torque
at 3,400rpm. Yes it does like to rev and needs to be revved as well. Oddly
enough, I believe Suzuki manufactures motorcycles with larger engines!
Alto offers fuel efficiency with consumption of just 4.8 litres per 100kms
and also gives low emissions of just 113g/km. These numbers are very good
and comparable to ever popular, yet expensive hybrid and diesel models.
Small by most standards the diminutive Alto does not take up a lot of
space in the family garage. Overall length is just 3500mm, while it is not
very wide either at a little under 1700mm. Parking spaces in the city are
also easier to find and occupy.
But being a small vehicle does have
some other drawbacks, it only has seating positions for a driver and three
passengers and those said passengers occupying the rear seat will need to be
children under the teenage years. There is not a lot of leg room in the rear
if a male driver of average height (175cm) is behind the steering wheel.
The interior is quite functional
with trim and fabric designed for a lot of use. It appears that it will be
long lasting and take any abuse that youngsters might throw it in the way of
spilt drinks and food. The rear seat backrest is split 50/50 to enable an
extension to the luggage area.
Electric power windows are fitted to
the front doors only with manual winders operating the rear door windows.
The exterior mirrors are also adjusted manually; fortunately the driver can
easily adjust the left hand mirror also as it is within reach. Air
conditioning is a standard inclusion as is the audio system with CD player,
MP3 playback function and an auxiliary input socket for iPods and the like.
Suzuki has seen fit not to fit an ashtray or cigarette lighter, a move we at
Next Car applaud. SRS airbags are fitted, 2 front, 2 side and 2 curtain, a
total of 6 making the most of technology for enhanced occupant safety. Entry
is by keyless remote control central locking.
We mentioned the
package was driven through the front wheels giving mighty mouse a top speed
of 155kph and it achieves the 0-100kmh in sub-sub sonic time of 14 seconds.
These figures were supplied by Suzuki and itís doubtful anybody would
want to drive this vehicle at 155kph.
Alto GL has steel wheel rims fitted with 155/65R14 radial ply tyres. A rare
feature in current times is a spare wheel the same size as the road wheels
but this package has one. How good is that, given the size of the Alto?
With weight and space saving the flavour of the day at present, it is
good to see this convenience surviving in the Alto.
Steering is rack
and pinion with electronic assistance. Front suspension is MacPherson strut
and coil spring, while at the rear end is a 3 link rigid axle with coil
springs and this system works very efficiently with good ride quality. The
steering is responsive with a positive feel with very good tracking. Front
brakes are ventilated discs with drums at the back.
The little Alto
is priced very keenly with prices starting at $12,490 before on road costs.
Adding automatic transmission adds $2,000 to the price. The higher spec GLX
model is priced from $14,490 plus on road costs. Metallic paint adds $475 to
the price of either model.
Suzuki produces quality vehicles and
certainly the Alto GL Hatch is no exception. We liked the attention to
detail with quality control outstanding. This marvel would be ideally suited
as a gofor (go for this, go for that) or a students runabout, but not as a
long distance tourer.
In our opinion the Suzuki Alto is most
definitely worthy of consideration.