Alto hits the right notes

Suzuki Alto
Suzuki Alto
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Small cars have never made more sense than they do now and all the signs point to models from the diminutive end of the motoring spectrum becoming ever more relevant in the future.

The Alto is the latest in a long line of small car efforts from Suzuki and it’s been usefully improved in this guise – as it needed to be if this brand is to make hay as the demand for compact, affordable cars increases.

There are more fashionable choices in the citycar sector of course, but most of them are significantly pricier. Add in low running costs and cheeky up-and-at-’em handling and this Alto remains well worth considering for budget buyers.

The Alto’s 1.0-litre petrol engine looks ideal for a compact urban vehicle – and it’s a bit more sophisticated these days thanks to the addition of Dual VVT variable value timing. The 3-cylinder unit musters 67bhp and 90Nm maximum torque at 4,800rpm. That doesn’t sound thrilling but in a car that tips the scales at 855kg, it’s enough to cover the 0-60mph sprint in 14 seconds. Stick at it and a top speed of 96mph is also attainable. Worth mentioning too that an optional four-speed fully automatic transmission is available, a relatively unusual proposition in this segment. The Alto is 3500mm long with a 2,360mm wheelbase and that helps it achieve a super-tight turning radius of 4.5m that should be ideal for manoeuvring into tight parking spaces or executing the odd cheeky U-turn.

It was once enough for a citycar to be small and efficient. Today, as small cars become a more mainstream choice for urban motorists, there’s a demand for them to display a lot more individuality and style. With the Alto, Suzuki has risen to this challenge creating a look it says ‘exudes urban energy’. You can be the judge of exactly what it’s exuding but with its huge teardrop headlights, oversize grille and sharply rising beltline, the car is definitely distinctive.

The interior design of the Alto is rather less successful than the exterior. The grey plastics that used to be the staple of budget small cars a few years back no longer quite cut it and some of the Alto’s aren’t of the best quality. The 1.0-litre petrol engine can return an impressive 65.7mpg on the combined cycle along with emissions that now dip under the important 100g/km barrier at 99g/km.