JIMS 2008: SUZUKI ALTO The future of small cars
Suzuki is set to take on the compact car segment with the exciting new Alto – its strategic world model that combines an unprecedented level of style, performance and efficiency for this class.
The Alto’s reveal at the 2008 Johannesburg International Motor Show at the end of October comes fresh after its unveiling at the Paris Motor Show just three weeks earlier. This reinforces the significance of this trend-setting model from a global perspective, and as a highly anticipated future entrant in the South African market.
“The Suzuki Alto combines eye-catching style and easy urban mobility with great performance, superb fuel efficiency and low CO2 emissions,” says Kazuyuki Yamashita, managing director of Suzuki Auto South Africa.
“It meets the lifestyle needs of today’s motorists, as well as the pressing global need for environmental capability. Despite its compact dimensions, the Alto is extremely well packaged, offering impressive levels of space and comfort. “
Yamashita adds the Alto is one of the most fun-to-drive city cars available, making it a great ambassador for Suzuki’s ‘Way of Life!’ philosophy.
In international terms, the Alto is the second model in the second phase of Suzuki’s world strategy – a concept that is focussed on producing cars delivering user-friendliness and expanded possibilities for family members.
Matched to its high levels of comfort and convenience, the Alto stands out with a design that combines sporty, European-inspired looks with great aerodynamics, making the new Alto the most stylish car of its size.
“The Alto reflects the unparalleled knowledge of small cars that has made Suzuki so successful in this segment all over the world. The aim is to achieve annual sales of 60 000 units in Europe when it is launched in spring 2009,” Yamashita states.
“We expect the Alto to make significant inroads into the crucial small car segment when it is launched in South Africa in the third quarter of 2009. It will add a dynamic and exciting fifth model to our range, complementing the existing line-up of SX4, Swift, Grand Vitara and Jimny models,” he concluded.
Compact and stylish
The Suzuki Alto is aimed primarily at urban people who want a small car offering style and enjoyment, together with sound environmental credentials.
At the heart of the new Alto concept is Suzuki’s belief that people should be able to enjoy economical, eco-friendly motoring without sacrificing style, comfort, practicality or performance.
Its compact dimensions play a large part in realising outstanding environmental values by keeping weight to a minimum, but without detracting from user-friendliness.
A defining aspect of the Alto’s trend-setting appeal is its distinctly sporty appearance. The design is both elegant and energetic, with the additional benefit of being aerodynamically efficient:: the drag coefficient is just 0,30. This promotes both fuel efficiency and low emissions.
The cabin layout apportions most of the space to the front seats, but still provides ample accommodation for four adults. Belying its compact dimensions, there’s a useful amount of luggage space behind the rear seats in standard configuration.
Folding down the rear seatback significantly expands the luggage volume and adds to the car’s versatility.
The Suzuki Alto is powered by a multi-point fuel-injected three-cylinder 1,0-litre petrol engine that is light and compact, with low friction characteristics.
Maximum power output is 50 kW at 6 000 r/min, with an accompanying torque peak of 90 Nm at 4 800 r/min. A smooth-shifting five-speed manual gearbox is standard.
In keeping with the efficient nature of this advanced Euro 5-compliant engine, its overall fuel consumption is rated at an exceptional 4,5 l/100 km, while its CO2 emissions are pegged at just 103 g/km.
Adding to the driving appeal, Suzuki used its vast experience in motorsport to develop an involving and rewarding handling package that is linear in response, with gentle roll movements, light steering feel, and good absorption of shock and vibration.
This has been achieved through the use of an advanced independent front suspension, featuring MacPherson struts, a high-rigidity suspension frame and further strengthening of strut mounting areas for superior handling.
The rear suspension boasts Suzuki’s proprietary three-link rigid axle design, with the coil springs and dampers tuned for optimum handling stability, developed through extensive testing on European roads.
Perfectly in line with its urban orientation, the Alto has a minimum turning radius of just 4,5 metres, making it exceptionally easy to manoeuvre and park in tight city spaces.
The uncompromising level of safety evident in Suzuki’s established model range has been carried forward to the Alto, while new features have been developed for this new model.
The Alto’s body reflects Suzuki’s Total Effective Control Technology (TECT) concept in the form of an exceptionally strong cabin safety cell, complemented by crushable structures that absorb impact energy, as well as frame members that disperse impact energy away from the occupants.
Use of high-tensile steel for major body parts means the resulting high level of occupant safety is achieved without adding excessive weight to the car. Energy-absorbing trim materials on the pillars provide further head protection.
Although the specification for SA models will only be finalised closer to the launch timeframe, the Alto will boast a high level of standard safety features. This includes dual front airbags, ISOFIX child seat anchorage points and ABS brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD).
Customers can also expect a high value proposition, linking an impressive level of comfort and convenience features to very competitive pricing, and a complete ownership experience that sets a new standard for this category.