The Dacia Sandero might be stealing the headlines as Britain’s cheapest car, but can the similarly-priced Suzuki Alto teach it a few budget-squeezing tricks?
The Suzuki Alto – one of the smallest five-door city cars on sale. At the time of writing, it’s also one of the cheapest, with Suzuki’s current offers letting you get into an Alto for a smidge under £6,000 – perilously close to the price of a Dacia Sandero.
Surprisingly, the Alto is actually quite good fun. The 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine might only put out 67bhp – a tiddly amount however you look at it – but it’s happy to rev, and in reality there’s more than enough poke for driving around town. The steering is light without feeling over-assisted – unlike many city cars – and because it’s so light, it’s great fun to chuck about too. We wouldn’t recommend the Alto for any long motorway journeys, though. With some coaxing it just about gets up to speed, but it’s an understandably noisy experience, and motorway inclines do rather defeat the minuscule engine.
In a word: basic. You won’t find any soft-touch plastics or fancy gadgetry here, just swathes of hard-wearing materials and a few sensibly laid out switches. Suzuki have at least put some thought into the design though, with some nice swooshy design lines on the insides of the doors, funky round air vents, and a warm red glow to highlight the storage area under the stereo. You even get the same pleasant-to-the-touch, golf ball shaped gear knob that you’d also find in the old Swift Sport.
The Suzuki Alto starts from £7,199
For a car of its size, it’s better than most. All Altos have five doors, and there’s room for four medium-sized adults to sit in reasonable comfort. The trade-off for this is a tiddly boot with a rather impractical opening – lifting in shopping bags between the lip and the parcel shelf can be a little on the tricky side. Having to open the boot manually with the key is a bit of a faff too, but you soon get used to chucking shopping on the back seats instead.
If you’re after a budget run-about that’s easy to park, cheap to run and not bad to drive, we say why not. The Alto doesn’t have anywhere close to the refinement (or dare we say it, plushness) of something like a Skoda Citigo, but compared to more budget offerings it’s really not bad.
Don’t want to buy new? Browse through our used selection of Suzuki Altos here
Suzuki Alto 1.0 SZ Manual
List price: £7,199
Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, petrol
Top speed: 96mph
0-62mph: 13.5 seconds
Fuel economy: 54.3mpg (urban), 74.3mpg (extra urban), 65.7mpg (combined)
Emissions: 99g/km CO2
Euro NCAP rating: Three stars
April 17, 2014