- We like...Ride, space, price
- We don't...Tiny boot
Little, Indian-built city car offers transport for four at a mini price. But how keenly ds it rate for all-up value? For a car this cheap and basic, it’s all about price. And for such a little amount of your hard-earned, the Alto packs in a heck of a lot. If you pick the cheapest of the line-up, the SZ2, you get a four-seat, five-door city car that sits in the cheapest insurance group of all and promises up to 64mpg overall from its 1.0-litre petrol engine. You also get anti-lock brakes and four airbags.
Sounds good, especially if, as at time of writing, you can get the car and see change from £7000. At this stage, we at motors.co.uk should butt in to confide that the Alto and Nissan’s Pixo are, badges, seat trims and a few body details excepting, the same car. Both start life in Suzuki’s factory, in Delhi, India.
And – just now – the Suzuki is the cheaper and better equipped.
As four-seaters go it’s acceptably roomy, although grown-ups sat in the back may notice their heads brushing the roof lining. The boot is small and slot-like, while getting to it requires tugging at a lever in the driver’s footwell to release the tailgate, or else shoving key into lock and twisting.
The cabin is definitely cheap but cheery enough and there are adequate places to stow your belongings. That said, lack of a lid on the glove box means valuables have to be hidden under the seats. And, if you go for the lowest-priced Alto, the SZ2, you must waggle your door mirrors into place, although electric front windows and remote locking for the four doors are in place.
Move to our SZ4 test car and you’ll find air conditioning, too. Like the SZ2, electric front windows are fitted but there’s no switch for the passenger’s on the driver’s door. If you’re driving solo and wish to open it, you must reach across the cabin. There’s also a rev counter in a pod stuck atop the dash to the right of the other dials: it looks like a cheap add-on.
Alloy wheels and curtain airbags also come as part of the deal. Even so, at £1000 dearer and an insurance group higher, it underlines that cars like this make most sense when kept cheap.Whichever you buy, though, you’ll get the same 1.0 three-cylinder petrol engine. This zips the car along merrily with just the driver aboard, but will struggle up hills, especially when every seat is taken. It’s not quiet and you must rev it to see enough of its modest power. But the racket it makes is at least an engaging one as it thrums up to speed. It’s got enough in it to take you across town but it’ll be less fun if taken for a long motorway jaunt. Its low emissions and agreeable fuel economy are plus points, however.
The Alto rides reasonably for such a small vehicle but big breaks in town tarmac leave it skittering.
As cheap cars go it ranks among the better – it feels fairly solid and drives nicely. However, look at how the Alto stacks up against the Pixo – and other contenders such as Citrn’s C1, the Hyundai i10 and the Kia Picanto – before you sign an order for one.
To view and buy new and second-hand Suzuki Altos, click here
To read our review of the Nissan Pixo, click here
- Engines1.0 petrol, three-cylinder
- 0-60 mph13.3secs
- Insurance groups2E
Motors.co.uk value verdict: