The Suzuki Alto was originally a “kei” car that was fueled by a sub-660cc engine. This original was first seen 30 years ago, and since then the Alto has released seven generations. It has been the go to car for drivers seeking an affordable rate for their ride. It’s also cheaper to build manufacturing wise, compared to let’s say, the Suzuki Splash. Being produced in Maruti ‘s (the company’s Indian associate) factory, it gains a lot of profit for the company. But the question lies mainly in the consumer and how much benefits he or she will really gain from getting a cheaper than usual car.
The latest Alto is 3500mm long—compared to a modern supermini, it’s half a metre shorter. This length is useful for optimum urban threadability. Its weight is just as functional at 890kg. It’s small enough given the size this model is meant to have. The exterior aesthetic isn’t too bad either. The paint is a metallic finish that ades into a matt beneath the bonnet.
As a basic car, there are no unnecessary frills in the Alto’s interior. You can expect electric front windows, a manual air-con, and remote central locking for first time car buyers and drivers. Despite its simplicity, the dashboard does sport dark and light grey colors to contrast the arid spaces of grained polypropylene. The large speedometer includes an LCD display beneath the big binnacle, both of which are viewable at the driver’s front. Rear passengers can easily settle in thanks to the Alto’s generous space. The tall build of the car allows not so average adults to fit in, but it will be a tight ride if there are three riding out back. Two will have no problems breathing through this space. You can split the rear backrest into one piece in the SZ3 model, but the 50/50 split only comes with the SZ4.
The three-cylinder engines deliver a performance that matters. The combination of a clean throttle response, the vehicle’s low weight, and a torque curve that peaks at 3400rpm allows the engine to give you an unexpectedly enjoyable ride. To make sure the engine performs at its best, keep it between 4000 to 5000 rpm. Overtaking actually helps in keeping momentum. Only the 1.0-litre three-cylinder is still available at 68bhp. The 13.5 seconds mark to gain 62mph from standstill isn’t very quick, but it does have an impressive fuel economy of 65.7mpg. Super light steering is an added plus to its ride and handling.
The Alto’s only engine is slow as expected from its power. You can also anticipate noise and some struggle when you have to go up or down hills before gaining momentum. The Alto comes with self-shifting transmission but we wouldn’t recommend it considering there are smoother auto boxes available. The economy and emissions aren’t very sound either as it goes down from the manual’s higher 65.7mpg; the auto only returns 55.4mpg. Obviously the manual is the better choice, not just for smooth performance and fuel economy, but also for a more relaxed ride along the motorway.
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