Suzuki Alto

The Essentials

  • Price from £7,199
  • What Car? says: 2 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 65.0mpg
  • What is it? The Suzuki Alto is a cheap, basic supermini that's fine for urban errands, but even at this price its interior quality disappoints, and there are rivals that are better in every area

Great

  • The Suzuki Alto is cheap to buy and run
  • Its compact size and tight turning circle are ideal for city driving
  • Suzukis tend to be reliable, and the Alto's simplicity means there's little to go wrong

Gripes

  • The boot is tiny and its high load lip is awkward to lift things over
  • The interior materials and finish feel very cheap
  • The rear windows don't wind down and steering is heavy when parking
  • Drive

    Okay round town but can struggle at higher speeds

  • Inside

    Cabin quality is poor compared to rivals; dashboard is easy to use, though

  • Safety

    Cheapest version is short on kit

  • Reliability

    Suzuki has a strong reliability record

  • Space

    Four adults can fit in, but boot is tiny

  • Standard and extras

    Entry-level trim is too spartan but others are decent enough

  • What's it like to drive?

    The Suzuki Alto is most at home round town, where its 67bhp 1.0-litre engine is plenty perky enough, and its dinky dimensions combined with a tight turning circle make it easy to weave through busy streets. It's quiet at low speeds, too. It's a shame the steering isn't lighter when parking, though. The Alto can just about cope on the motorway, though it takes a while to build up speed and the engine gets pretty noisy when you rev it to make progress. Wind and road noise are noticeable at cruising speeds, too. Driving on twisty B-roads isn't particularly enjoyable as the Alto tends to jostle about and leans noticeably on bends.

  • What's it like inside?

    The interior is rather perfunctory, and while it feels solid enough the hard, shiny plastics are rather unappealing and there are lots of exposed screw heads. The rear windows pop out instead of winding down, which adds to the car's basic feel. On the plus side, the dashboard is very easy to use and visibility is good all round. Bear in mind that the entry-level trim has no adjustment for the driver's seat height, and there's no reach adjustment for the steering wheel on any Alto model. There's room in the Alto for four adults, as long as they're not too tall, but they'll struggle to fit all their luggage in the boot as it's tiny; there's a big lip to the boot opening, too, which is awkward if you're trying to load something heavy. The split-folding rear seat backs fold down so you can extend the load area, but this creates a big step in the available space so it's not particularly practical. The entry-level SZ trim comes with electric front windows and a CD player, if little else; SZ3 cars add remote central locking and air-con, while top-spec Z4 models get alloy wheels, front fog lamps and - wait for it - a rev counter. Every Alto has Isofix points on the two rear seats.

  • How reliable is it?

    Suzuki has a good reliability record and the Alto is covered by a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty. There's also not a huge amount to go wrong in the Alto, as there's so little kit on offer. That also includes airbags - there are front airbags on all models but only the top-spec Z4 trim comes with curtain airbags (which also cover the rear windows) and stability control.

  • Should I buy one?

    The Alto is cheap to buy and run, with an official fuel economy of 65.7mpg and low insurance costs, too, but bear in mind it suffers from weak residual values so you won't get an awful lot for it when you come to sell on. It's also short on safety - or indeed any - kit unless you go for the top-spec model. Still, the Alto is fine for an affordable urban runaround - just don't expect much more from it.