Suzuki Alto micro car

Suzuki Alto micro car

reviewed by Carbuyer

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

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

The Suzuki Alto is a small budget model that rivals the Toyota Aygo, Peugeot 108, Ford Ka, Skoda Citigo, Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen up! in the highly competitive city-car market. Developed and built alongside the near-identical Nissan Pixo (which is no longer sold in the UK), the Alto was launched in 2009 and is a huge seller across the globe.

Prices start at just over £7,000 and rise to just over £10,000 – so it's one of the cheapest cars you can buy. There's just one engine – a 67bhp three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol, with a choice of a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearbox. As you’d expect at this price, the Alto is basic, but it's easy to drive and cheap to run.

The manual model emits just 99g/km of CO2, so there's no road tax to pay, while the 118g/km automatic will only cost you £30 a year to tax. The automatic transmission has claimed fuel economy of 55.4mpg, but if you really want small fuel bills, then the 65.7mpg manual is the best choice.

The Alto isn’t particularly quick and it's a bit noisy on the motorway. There's lots of body lean in corners, too, so it's best suited to town driving where its light controls, tight turning circle and compact dimensions come into their own.

Inside, there's a lot of hard and cheap-looking plastics, plus there's very little adjustment possible to the front seat, which makes finding a good driving position difficult. The boot is tiny, too. And the Alto was only given three stars in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests – a big problem given that many of its rivals were awarded the full five stars.

The other issue is the fact that city cars have improved a lot in recent years, with the likes of the Skoda Citigo and Hyundai i10 setting new standards that the Alto struggles to compete with.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3.2 / 5

The Suzuki Alto is a small and efficient car, so it’s very cheap to run

Engines, drive & performance

2.1 / 5

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

Interior & comfort

2.3 / 5

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

Practicality & boot space

2.3 / 5

The Suzuki Alto isn’t a practical car, due to its tiny boot and lack of interior storage

Reliability & safety

3.2 / 5

The Suzuki Alto's three-star safety score is 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 
4 /5 based on 28 reviews
 of people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated 
10 Dec 2014
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