Alfa Romeo
Land Rover
Suzuki Alto "Sub-light" hatch
Light fantastic
November 2009

MEET the car that eats hybrids for breakfast.

The new Suzuki Alto, with its amazing fuel economy, is the vehicle we should all be driving if we are really serious about saving the planet.

The manual version of the 1-litre, 3-cylinder newcomer comes with average fuel consumption figures of 4.8 litres per 100km, but driven wisely it can achieve less than four.

This was proven during the recent Global Green Eco Challenge that saw 49 vehicles drive 3147km from Darwin to Adelaide.

The Alto recorded an outstanding 3.91 litres per 100km, or more than 72 miles per gallon in the old money.

In doing so, the Suzuki Alto beat its advertised economy figures by more than 18.5 per cent to win its class. It covered the trek using just 123 litres of petrol.

Suzuki is no stranger to engineering successful lightweight vehicles.

This began almost 40 years ago with the LJ10 in 1968. Then came power-to-weight sensations like Sierra and the original Vitara.

Now we see the revolutionary Alto, which is considered a “sub-light’’ or “city’’ car.

While the class is still unfamiliar to many buyers in Australia, it is a well-established segment in both Europe and Asia.

The Alto is the smallest of the Suzuki family, weighing just 850kg.

Its first generation was launched in 1979 and it has sold 10 million units globally since then. It is known in India as the Maruti Suzuki A-Star and is also known as the Celerio or Nissan Pixo in other parts of the world.

At 3500mm long, 1600mm wide and with a wheelbase of 2360mm, it is only a tad shorter than the sporty Swift (3755mm wide and 1690mm high).

Suzuki has crafted the baby from high-strength steel that contributed to its four-star crash rating - a great achievement for a vehicle of the Alto’s dimensions.

Aside from being the leanest, meanest chariot around, it’s price - from $12,490 - is hard to beat.

The Alto is available in two specifications – GL and GLX.

Standard features on the GL include air conditioning, CD stereo system with MP3 auxiliary input, remote central locking, ABS brakes, front power windows and six airbags, including head protecting side curtain airbags.

The GLX adds alloy wheels, front fog lights, a six-speaker sound system, and ESP stability control.

Available as a five-door model, the Alto is offered with a five-speed manual gear box or an optional four-speed automatic

Soundproofing was a priority for engineers with vibration damping materials beneath the cabin and around the engine bay keeping noise out of the cabin. Minimal road and wind noise also contribute to a smooth and quiet ride.

While the Alto’s size clearly is best suited to the urban environment, where it moves easily through traffic and slots into the smallest of parking spots, it is perfectly comfortable on the open road, sitting on the highway speed limit without any fuss.

The 1.0-litre engine is no thriller, but it gets the job done.

A motorcycle-type single speedo and tachometer in the GLX at least make things look a bit sportier.

The Alto easily seats four people (two kids in the rear) and up front there is surprising leg and head room.

A height-adjustable steering wheel helps lankier drivers and there is plenty of storage space around the cabin.

There is not much room in the boot, but the 50/50 split rear seat allows flexibility if you have more luggage than passengers.

The Alto, which is built at Suzuki’s Manesar facility in India, is on sale now.


Alto GL Manual $12,490

Alto GL Automatic $14,490

Alto GLX Manual $14,490

Alto GLX Automatic $16,490



ENGINE: 1.0-litre, 3 cylinder

POWER: 50kW at 6000rpm

TORQUE: 90Nm at 3400rpm

TRANSMISSION: 5-speed manual, or 4-speed auto

FUEL ECONOMY: 4.8 litres/100km average

0-100km/h: 14 seconds

TOP SPEED: 155km/h

PROS: Economy, price, cute as a button

CONS: Lack of performance, back seats for kids only

BOTTOM LINE: From $12,490