H M purchased this Suzuki Alto used for $23,999 (including all on-road costs) in 2022. H M would buy this car again because: “Yes, in a heartbeat. The Japanese market Alto Works represents a sort of forbidden fruit for our local market. A car of surprising contradictions.
Tiny, yet I’ve comfortably transported four adults. Less horsepower than just about anything else on the road, yet I’ve not felt like burden pulling away from a set of lights and happily carve my way through the hills.
Despite having a GR Yaris for weekend use, the Alto Works has never left me feeling bored and actually manages to keep me grinning in otherwise mundane day to day driving.”
Another one the many contradictions of this car and possibly of many Kei cars.
Despite a good number of people telling me the Aussie weather and higher road speeds would put this tiny 660cc three-cylinder out of commission or make it unbearable to live with, it hasn’t missed a beat.
As much as I love this car, there are some compromises you have to accept when it comes to ownership and whilst they haven’t really detracted from my experience they could be factors for others considering this kind of vehicle.
Insurance options are somewhat restrictive, a good number of companies will outright refuse to insure an import. Petrol choice is limited to premium and there aren’t many options available locally for those wanting to equip it with some good quality tyres.
Yes, the car ticks a lot of boxes and without having to spend a crazy amount of money.
Turbo, good fuel economy, safe yet fun handling, factory Recaro seats, passable stereo system and finally being able to fit into just about any car park you can find.
This is something I could technically answer twice since I got bitten by the modifying bug but I’ll refrain from that and just talk about stock for the interest of the review.
Being a Kei car, legally it can only have 48kW at the crank from factory. This may seem completely inadequate but with a sub 700kg weight and decently set up gear ratios this is rarely an issue.
It personifies the slow car fast mindset, encouraging you to maintain as much speed as possible through corners and get the turbo spooling on straights. The perception of performance finally breaks when passing into triple digit speeds on a freeway, where it will sit comfortably but lose some of that lower gear kick.
Economy wise the car quite easily gets nearly 500km out of its 27 litre fuel tank (even with my spirited driving), which is more than satisfactory for my needs and easily eclipsing the economy of the both the Toyota Mark II Blit it replaced.
For the most part it has all the things we’ve come to expect from a relatively modern budget hatch.
ESP, autonomous emergency braking, auto headlights, stop/start and auto folding mirrors. Oddly enough it includes an in car reversing beeper, which I used to think was a pointless feature but after witnessing an accident where someone forgot their car was in reverse I’m all for it.
Finally the car makes use of what Suzuki refers to as an AGS (Auto Gear Shift) transmission (think BMW SMG or Saab Sensonic), which gives the benefits of being able to putter along in auto mode or switch to manual mode and have control over shifts without too much lag.
Being a performance variant makes this topic a bit of a double edged sword. The KYB shocks and factory strut tower bar give the car fun handling when carving through smooth corners.
The light weight and stiffer than average nature of the suspension means bumpy/poorly maintained roads can be quite jarring. Overall I think it’s decent compromise if you live in an area where the roads are at least decently maintained.
On the comfort side, the front seats do a good job of keeping you comfortable for both spirited short drives and long freeway ventures.
The back seat, being a single flat bench seat doesn’t hold up as well for spirited driving but is otherwise fine for regular commuting. Despite the small size there is actually a comfortable amount of leg room for rear passengers too.