Suzuki’s all-new five-door Alto hatchback has arrived on the twentieth anniversary of the launching of the original version.
The latest seventh generation Alto is a far cry from the 1979 Alto SS80 which was assembled at the Suzuki plant in Wanganui.
The newest rendition is larger, stronger and higher specified, yet uses less fuel and boasts lower emission levels. It is the only car in its class with six air bags as standard. There is clear lineage, however, between the first generation Alto and the European inspired 2009 model.
Both are front wheel driven and are powered by three-cylinder engines, although the new Alto has a larger capacity motor producing more power.
In 5-speed manual gearbox form, the stylish Alto has a recommended retail price of $16,990, including on road costs, while the four-stage automatic transmission version is $18,500.
“Alto will redefine the term ‘value motoring’ with the lowest new car price currently available,” said Gary Collins, Automobile Sales Manager for Suzuki New Zealand Ltd. “Not only is the Suzuki $1,000 less than its nearest rival, it has two more air bags, superior fuel economy and far lower emissions,”
Aerodynamic styling translates into low wind noise and efficient operation while engine noise is well suppressed for enhanced occupant comfort.
The distinctive body shape majors on a smooth front end, large windscreen and bold headlamp design, elements that contribute to a low drag coefficient of 0.30.
New Alto is the fifth and smallest member of the Suzuki world strategic models and, with an overall length of 3,500mm, is only marginally smaller than the top-selling Suzuki Swift.
The concept was to build an eco friendly car with low CO2 emissions, low fuel consumption and lightness through downsizing.
At the same time, the car had to be smartly designed and embody a roomy, comfortable cabin with a good level of appointment.
One specification level is available in New Zealand in a package that includes power steering, electric operation for the front windows, air conditioning with pollen filter, digital clock, six air bags, front seat belt pretensioners, anti lock braking with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) function and brake assist function and full size spare wheel and tyre.
The Alto comes with halogen multi-reflector headlights, two-speed wipers with intermittent action, two trip meters and a rear window wiper and washer. A stereo audio tuner with compact disc/MP3 and auxiliary input socket for MP3 player is also standard.
In manual gearbox form, the car has a curb weight of 855 kg, rising to 880 kg for the automatic. The Alto scored four stars in recent ANCAP safety ratings.
There are twin front air bags, plus side and curtain air bags, energy absorbing trim and a head impact protection pad. The brake pedal is designed to protect the foot in the event of an accident, and the car also includes ISO FIX child seat restraints, child-proof rear door locks, side impact beams front and rear and an engine immobiliser.
Alto’s new K10B double overhead camshaft engine is the result of three years’ development. This multi-point fuel injected three-cylinder unit has four valves per cylinder with an offset crankshaft offering better volumetric efficiency.
With a piston displacement of 996 cm3, the K10B develops 50 kW of power at 6,000 rpm and 90 Nm of torque at 4,800 rpm.
In the official combined fuel cycle test, the Alto manual averages 4.8 litres/100 km (58.85 miles per gallon), while the automatic versions achieves 5.5 litres/100 km (51.36 miles per gallon).
With automatic transmission, the Alto has a top speed of 150 km/h, rising to 154 km/h for the manual gearbox variant. Ventilated disc brakes are fitted up front with rear drums, and the 14-inch diameter steel wheels are fitted with 155/65R tyres. Front suspension is by MacPherson struts and coil springs, with a highly rigid suspension frame complemented by further strengthening in the strut mounting areas for better handling.
The rear suspension comprises Suzuki’s proprietary three-link rigid axle design which has been tuned for optimum handling and stability in extensive testing on European roads.
Alto sits on a 2,360 mm wheelbase, is 1,470 mm high, a trim 1,600 mm wide, and has 150 mm ground clearance.