There was once a time when anyone shopping for a car with just RM50K had just 2 main choices – go local if you want new or used if you’re less patriotic. Worst still if one’s wants a small compact city-run-about due to some one-sided automotive policies. Suzuki and Daihatsu are experts in cars of this segment. While Daihatsu competes under a different brand, Suzuki has recently rejoined the bandwagon having disembarked it years ago.
The Alto goes head to head against the Inokom/Hyundai i10, Perodua Viva, and Naza/Kia Picanto. On top of that, with names such as ‘Fortune Rose Pearl Metallic’, ‘Paradise Blue Pearl Metallic’ or ‘Healing Green Pearl Metallic’, one can hardly guess which gender group SMA is targeting. In a glance, one may mistaken it as the current Picanto if not d more slippery lower side profile (0.30 CD drag coefficient) and less bulky looking rear. The nose is cleanly designed without any fancy chrome ‘blings’. In fact words like ‘chic’ and ‘cute’ best describes this city-crawler’s looks
In the car, it’s an all durable-plastic affair. Though expected, I do find the design rather funky, the rev counter is akin to a pop-up Defi meter, audio control and central air condition outlets are perched high for maximum efficiency, control stalks feel chunky while the shifter is tastefully gated. Nonetheless the deep exposed glove compartment might attract wrong attention. Another issue is the missing passenger-side power window control on the driver’s side. Not a good thing unless one’s willing to do a little stretching.
In the rear leg space is merely sufficient due to its 2360mm wheelbase. For comparison, the Viva’s wheelbase is 2390mm while the i10 measures 2380mm. Even so the seats are more welcoming than the Viva’s if not for the head rests which were too low if not raised. Oh yes, the rear windows are a manual affair and there are just 2 sets of seats belt. Boot space is typically city car standard – just enough space for a couple of overnight bags but expandable by folding the rear seats. Even so I did find the high boot lip annoying when loading.
On the move, the K10B 3-cylinder 996cc DOHC EFI engine gets the job done without much drama. Maximum power output is 67bhp at 6000rpm with max torque of 90Nm at 3400rpm. SMA rates this pocket power plant highly for low maintenance (timing chain with 10K service intervals from the 3rd service onwards) and low fuel consumption. Gear change is no frills but can be quite alarming when floored for downshifts. Suspension setup is MacPherson struts up front with torsion beam under the rear. What the Alto is worth mentioning however is its ABS, BA (only on the auto version) and twin ISOFIX points. Even the steering is tilt and telescope-adjustable.
Pictures from Paultan.org and Suzuki.net.my