- Cheap to run
- Efficient engine
- Easy to drive about town
- Not the best interior
- Least safe car in class
- Struggles out of town
Cheap and cheerful city car
The Suzuki Alto was one of the cheapest production cars on sale in the UK before Suzuki pulled it from the market in 2014. First introduced in 1979, the last Alto was in its seventh generation. The Alto is a city car that is made for the money conscious and those on a tight budget who still want to own a modern car. Interior quality might not be the best, and it’s certainly not a great car to drive, but this is a bad car by no stretch of the imagination: It's cheap to run, easy to drive around town, and features some cheery aesthetics.
Simple design, poor build quality, limited space
The interior of the Alto is designed with one thing in mind: functionality. In this sense, it’s pretty successful because everything is simple to use, though material quality is basic, as you'd expect at this price. The boot isn't the biggest, so it’s not a car for people who carry a lot of luggage regularly.
The dashboard of the Alto is a simple design, with all controls exactly where you’d expect them to be. There’s no fussiness on show, and it isn’t what you’d call a contemporary design. Nevertheless, it may appeal to first time drivers and those who don’t like fancy gadgets. Interior quality is, however, definitely not an area where the Alto leads the way. There are hard, cheap-feeling, scratchy plastics used throughout. It’s not really the level you'd expect from a car this modern, but then again, the Alto is very cheap to buy and there's no doubt these plastics have an enduring toughness to them, even if they're not the nicest to the touch.
Storage space in the Alto is very limited. There’s enough room for a small shop, but with just 129 litres of boot capacity, it’s amongst the smallest in its class. Compare it with the Hyundai i10, which offers 252 litres, and it looks positively tiny. It’s also an awkward shape, and the boot lip is quite large, so getting anything in and out can be a bit of a pain.
Equipment levels in the Alto are very basic, especially in cheaper models. The entry-level SZ trim didn’t even come with air-conditioning or electric windows. The pop-out rear windows are a unique touch, in the sense that we’ve not really seen these on a 5-door hatch since the 1980’s. Whilst fashion might be appropriating 80’s fashion, we’re not sure pop out windows are a trend that’s worth bringing back.
Overall the interior of the Alto is a very basic affair. There’s no bells and whistles in the Alto, but if you’re happy to do without modern technology and storage space, it’s still a very cheap car to buy.
Fine around town, but not much else
The Suzuki Alto is a car built with the city in mind, and to be fair to it, it is an easy car to drive around town. The steering is light, which makes parking and weaving in and out of traffic a doddle. The turning circle is also incredibly tight, which makes it easy to do U-turns at mini-roundabouts. At speed there’s very little in the way of steering feedback, however, it really does struggle at anything above city centre speeds.
Suspension and Chassis
Ride quality in the Alto is pretty impressive, if you can put up with lots of body roll through the corners. The soft suspension system easily irons out loose road surfaces, speed bumps, and potholes, so it’s a comfortable car to drive in and around town. Get it up to motorway speeds and things go downhill. There’s a lot of wind, road, and engine noise, so you wouldn’t want to be doing long journeys very often.
Gearbox options in the Alto come in two guises. The standard throughout the range is a five-speed manual gearbox. This transmission is decent, offering reasonable gear changes around town. The optional four-speed automatic box offers smooth shifting around town, but it does compromise fuel efficiency and acceleration slighlty.
Only one engine on offer
When it comes to deciding how you want to power your Alto, you’ve only got one option- petrol. The 1.0 litre petrol engine is the only engine in the range, and it offers reasonable performance around town. It’s hardly an option for petrol heads though, as it packs in just 68bhp, and a relatively slow 0-62mph time of 13.5 seconds. It’s not great in anywhere but the city, but it feels nippy enough when at home in its natural, urban, environment.
Eco-friendly buyers will be pleased to know that the 1.0 litre petrol engine is also pretty good for the environment, as it produces just 99g/km of CO2 emissions. It’s not the greenest option in the city car class, but it’s still low enough to get you free road tax. Money savers will be delighted with the Alto as not only is it a very cheap car to buy, it also offers impressive fuel economy. With up to 65.7mpg on offer, you can save yourself plenty of money at the fuel pumps.
Overall the 1.0 litre petrol engine is nippy enough around town, good for the environment, and good for the pocket. It’s not the most refined and it needs to be revved hard at higher speeds, but keep the Alto in its natural environment and it performs at an acceptable level.
Disappointing NCAP results, poor standard safety kit
Unlike a lot of cars in its class, the Suzuki Alto failed to achieve the highest possible 5-star NCAP safety rating. In fact, it also failed to achieve a four-star NCAP rating. The 3-star rating that the Alto actually achieved is one of the poorest performances in the city car class. Scores of 55% in adult safety, 46% in child safety, and 35% in pedestrian safety are simply not acceptable in this day and age. There’s also little in the way of standard safety equipment. You’ll get two airbags and very little else on entry-level models. The Suzuki Alto is one of the least safe cars currently on sale in the UK. If you’re concerned about safety, you should avoid the Suzuki Alto.
Excellent value for money
The Suzuki Alto represents impeccable value for money. Not only is it incredibly cheap to buy at purchase point, it’s also cheap to run. 99g/km of CO2 emissions mean that you won’t pay any road tax, and fuel efficiency levels of 65.7mpg mean you won’t be spending too much money each week at the petrol pumps. Even for a city car the Alto is great value for money.
Insurance costs in the Alto are also remarkably good value. No matter which model of Alto you go for it’ll be in insurance group 4. Few cars are as cheap to insure as the Alto due to its basic specification, limited performance, and its lack of driver-focused handling.
Depreciation is a large factor with the Alto, but only if you choose to buy from new. With first year depreciation as high as 40%, you’re better off opting for an inspected used equivalent.
The Suzuki Alto is certainly an option to consider, especially for those on a tight budget. It’s some way behind the class-leaders, but the Alto does offer an efficient engine, a simple interior, and a comfortable ride. Don’t expect it to be anything other than a city car though, as it struggles when you take it out of its natural environment.
Buying a used Suzuki Alto online with Carspring
If you’re after a used Suzuki Alto for sale, it can all feel like a bit of an ordeal. What, with long days spent around gigantic car supermarkets, or time spent trawling through classified websites, looking for that ideal used Alto. Carspring makes it simple. Buy your next used Suzuki Alto online with the touch of a button. Simply decide on the model you want and choose how you want to pay.
Looking to finance your used Suzuki? Not a problem, we work with our carefully selected finance partners to ensure that, if you’re paying monthly for your used Suzuki Alto, you know you’re getting the best rates. What’s more, with any Carspring used Alto, you also get our 14-day money-back guarantee and 6 months’ free Carspring Warranty. Plus, you don’t have to leave your home. We’ll deliver your used Suzuki to you at a time and place of your choice.
*This is an approximate figure based on the range of the car’s list price and the AA’s average 1st-year depreciation cost of 40%.