IT’S almost cheap enough to put on a credit card. So noted a forthright female friend when I mentioned the Alto costs only $11,790 for the starter GL model.
She did cringe when I pulled up to head out on the town though, expecting something larger.
But as she settled in, elbow to elbow, the little Suzie won her over with its bright red paint scheme and bug-eyed headlights. As it whipped through the inner-city traffic she was even more startled by the quality of its ride, composure and zip.
Most people who have driven or been ferried around in Suzuki’s little car warm to it. It’s winning over friends everywhere.
There are two reasons why — fuel economy and ease of parking.
The five-speed manual Alto sips fuel at the rate of 4.8 litres of petrol every 100km, allowing a reasonable range from its 35-litre tank before you have to duck into a servo.
It’s the ideal city car. The diminutive 1.0-litre three-cylinder is surprisingly capable around town and the five-speed is a breeze.
Being a three-cylinder it does throb like a heartbeat at idle, but this quirky characteristic only adds to its charm.
It comes into its own in crowded supermarket carparks.
You can manoeuvre the Alto into the tiniest spaces, duck in to grab the groceries and be on your way while some drivers are still reversing their juggernaut off-roaders into place.
The $12,490 GLX manual we drove has a few tasty must-haves such as electronic stability control but also nice alloys, foglights, tachometer, four-speaker stereo and heightadjustable driver’s seat. The only thing we really missed in the spec sheet was electrically adjustable exterior mirrors. However, adjusting the passenger’s mirror is reasonably easy because the car’s so compact.
The GLX has all the goodies, but even the base GL does not skimp.
It has six airbags, anti-skid brakes, airconditioning, CD stereo with MP3 input and remote central locking.
What really surprises people about the Alto is its big-car-like ride. The suspension is firm but rides the bumps well and the steering is direct and well weighted. The front seats too, which are based on those in the bigger Swift, are comfortable.
Small children will fit in the back, but it’s tight for adults. The boot is relatively small.
Since it went on sale 10 months ago Suzuki Australia has been struggling to keep up with demand.
We can understand why. Likes: Parking is a breeze Dislikes: No electric exterior mirrors