Suzuki's new Alto is aiming for new Irish highs


Cars are built all over the world these days. Suzuki may be Japanese but its new Alto, which is being launched on the Irish market, is actually Indian-built. Andrew Hamilton reports

Altos have been around before: this time, though, they come with bigger, 1.1 litre engines. The standard specification has been improved and now includes power steering, front electric windows and central locking. Safety features include front and rear crumple zones, a rigid safety cage, driver and front passenger airbags, and three-point emergency locking-retractor seatbelts with pretensioners.

The new Alto has an ex-works price of €11,225. It has only a small band of competitors: the Daewoo Matiz, Fiat Seicento and Ford Ka. The Matiz and Ka are both more expensive at €11,495 and €12,057 ex-works, while the baby Fiat starts at €9,460, that being an on-the-road price.

Niall O'Gorman, for Suzuki Ireland, is expecting to sell only around 100 Altos this year: "We are restricted by supply. It will be next year before we will be able to sell at full throttle and then we hope to do between 300 and 500 cars."

The Alto sells in a segment that did well when the Government scrappage scheme was in place. In recent times, however, sales have fallen back somewhat, but Niall O'Gorman believes many people are once again looking for small cars that are easy to park and economical to run. "We think that the factors are right for it to make an impact again," he adds. Official fuel consumption figures show that the Alto gives 43.5 mpg in the urban cycle, 70.6 in extra urban and 57.6 in the combined cycle. Its Co2 emissions at 119g/km are among the lowest achieved with a petrol engine.