Review

Suzuki Alto micro car (2009-2014)

Suzuki Alto micro car (2009-2014)

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Cheap to buy
  • Low running costs
  • Easy to drive
Cons
  • Very small boot
  • Noisy at speed
  • Poor quality plastics

“The Suzuki Alto was perfect for bargain motoring. Cheap to buy and run, it was easy to drive and economical. However, it had a poor crash-test rating and cheap interior plastics.”

The Suzuki Alto was a small city car made to compete with rivals like the Toyota Aygo, Peugeot 108, Ford Ka, Skoda Citigo, Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen up! It offered budget motoring for those who drove mostly in urban environments. The Alto was built from 2009-2014 and sold in huge number across the globe.

The Alto was priced from £7,000 to £10,000, making it one of the cheapest cars on sale at the time. Suzuki fitted just one engine to the car – a three cylinder 1.0-litre petrol developing just 67bhp, fitted with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearbox. The Alto was a basic car and best suited to town use, but it was easy to drive and offered a cheap route into car ownership.

The manual Alto emitted just 99g/km of CO2, which made it road-tax exempt, while the automatic model only incurred a £30 annual fee. Both were relatively economical, but the manual car's 65.7mpg made it the best choice for drivers after the best fuel efficiency.

The Suzuki Alto was never a quick car to drive and it could be noisy on the motorway. It leaned quite a lot in corners, but was nippy as a city runabout. The Alto was also easy to manoeuvre, thanks to its tight turning circle and small size.

The interior of the Suzuki Alto wasn’t a particularly refined place to sit: it had an abundance of hard plastics, the boot was tiny and the driver's seat offered little in the way of adjustment. These shortcomings were forgivable in a budget city car, even though more modern contemporary rivals to the Alto offered better interiors.

What was less easy to accept was the Alto's three out of five Euro NCAP safety score, particularly when rival models were scoring the full five stars.

On the secondhand market, the Suzuki Alto is an affordable car to buy and run. Rivals like the Skoda Citigo and Hyundai i10 offered much more when they were competing with the Alto on the new-car market though, and this remains true for used buyers.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3.2 / 5

The Suzuki Alto was a small and efficient car that was cheap to run

Engines, drive & performance

2.1 / 5

With a tight turning circle and light controls, the easy-to-drive Alto was best suited to town and city motoring

Interior & comfort

2.3 / 5

A noisy cabin and poor-quality materials meant the Suzuki Alto wasn’t as comfortable or smart inside as the best city cars

Practicality & boot space

2.3 / 5

The Suzuki Alto wasn’t a practical car, due to its tiny boot and limited interior storage

Reliability & safety

3.2 / 5

The Suzuki Alto's three-star safety score was well below the standard of rivals

What the others say

3 / 5
based on 3 reviews
3 / 5
The boot is tiny and difficult to access. You have to buy the most-expensive version to get driver's seat height adjustment and the cabin plastics are poor.
3 / 5
“The Alto is a small car that's designed to cut costs to the bone. It's cheap to buy and even cheaper to run. Those on a tight budget will appreciate its exceptional fuel economy, low insurance costs and cheap road tax.” 
3 / 5
“Inside, the instruments are functional and easy to use. The upmarket SZ4 we drove had a neat dash-mounted rev counter, but even in this model the wraparound grey trim looks dull and the plastics feel cheap.” 
What owners say 
3.9733333333333
4 /5 based on 30 reviews
53%
 of people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated 
26 Jan 2016
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