A dynamic contender in the budget class
The Suzuki Alto is a trend-setting A-segment contender that has redefined the compact city car concept. Inspired by Suzuki's renowned compact car heritage, it offers a compelling combination of superlative design, packaging, safety, fuel efficiency and low emissions.
Those attributes are linked to sporty and involving dynamics, as well as high levels of comfort and convenience – and, of course, outstanding affordability and value for money.
The Alto offers economical and environmentally friendly, yet thoroughly entertaining driving characteristics, top-notch features and exceptional value. It is the product of an extensive Japanese and European market research, design and development programme.
The programme focussed on producing a stylish and modern compact car that perfectly matches demanding European tastes and standards – aspects which are equally pertinent in the exceptionally competitive Eurocentric SA market.
The result is an undeniably sporty five-door shape that exudes vibrant urban energy, despite the car's compact dimensions: it has an overall length of just 3,5 metres. At the same time, the Alto is sophisticated and elegant, while boasting an exceptional drag coefficient of just 0,30, enhancing overall fuel efficiency.
Two versions of the sprightly Alto are available, comprising the entry-level GL – which is ideally placed to satisfy the requirements of the price-sensitive end of the market – and the top-spec GLS, tailored to more discerning buyers demanding an uncompromising level of standard features in this segment.
Both models are powered by a highly efficient , all-aluminium 1,0-litre three-cylinder engine boasting multi-point fuel-injection, four valves per cylinder and Euro 3 emissions compliance.
Although the European versions of the Alto feature the latest Euro 5-spec engines, the Euro 3 unit was selected for the SA market due to its greater com-patibility with the quality of local fuel.
The engine is also better suited to the demanding high-altitude operating condi-tions experienced at the Reef, making it the preferred choice for the largest proportion of SA drivers.
The power unit delivers superior driveability and cruising ability, while its output characteristics have been complemented by the fitment of a shorter final drive that further benefits all-round performance.
Economical and eco-friendly, the engine is credited with a power output of 50 kW at 6 000 r/min and a torque peak of 87 Nm at 4 500 r/min. It boasts an uncharacteristically sprightly character for its segment, matched to a low kerb weight of just 895 kg.
This is sufficient to propel the Alto from 0-100 km in 16 seconds, and attain a more than respectable 145 km/h top speed.
More notably, however, the Alto is credited with a convincing combined cycle fuel consumption figure of just 5,7 litres/100 km, and a very competitive CO2 emissions rating of only 132 g/km.
As is the Suzuki norm, value-for-money is a compelling element of the Alto concept, and in both GL and GLS guise, this attractive newcomer continues to set the trend.
Despite its budget-friendly status, the GL incorporates an impressive level of standard equipment, including power steering that enhances the Alto's exceptional in-town manoeuvrability. Air-conditioning with a pollen filter, and dual front airbags, also count amongst its headline features.
These are complemented by an integrated immobiliser, front seatbelts with pretensioners and force limiters, dual rear ISOFIX child seat anchorage points, a remote fuel lid opener, and a 12-volt accessory socket.
There is a backlit digital clock, dual-speed front wipers with intermittent function, a rear window wash/wipe facility, and a wide array of practical storage compartments front and rear. A full-size spare wheel is standard, while a roof-mounted antenna is pre-installed to ease the aftermarket fitment of a CD receiver on GL models.
In keeping with its more upmarket positioning, the Alto GLS model gains alloy wheels, fitted with 155/65 R14 tyres that have been specifically designed to enhance fuel economy while still offering impressive grip.
Further distinguishing features include colour-coded door handles and mirrors, front fog lamps and remote central locking.
Additionally, the interior specification extends to tilt adjustment for the three-spoke steering wheel, a rev counter, front electric windows, a six-speaker sound system with MP3-compatible CD tuner, 50:50 split folding rear seats, a remote tailgate release, and a luggage compartment cover.
The safety equipment is also bolstered to include ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (EBA) functions, ensuring optimum emergency stopping performance.
The Alto GL and GLS models are launched at a recommended retail price of R104 900 and R119 900 respectively. A three-year/100 000 km warranty is included as standard, while buyers also benefit form a three-year/45 000 km service plan.
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