Little Suzuki Alto a real treat around town

IT'S always nice to get a long-term test vehicle since it enables us at RoadRave to give the vehicle a thorough going over as to what it is, and isn't, capable of.

IT'S always nice to get a long-term test vehicle since it enables us at RoadRave to give the vehicle a thorough going over as to what it is, and isn't, capable of.

Joining us for an extended stay is one of the finalists of the 2009 Car of the Year ... the little Suzuki Alto.

I can remember thoroughly enjoying it on the launch last year. So it will be interesting to see how we feel about the vehicle in a few months' time.

Now, during the first two days of driving the new Suzuki Alto, I covered just more than 200km. Nothing unusual in that.

What was unusual, though, was that the electronic fuel gauge had hardly budged!

Thankfully, I can report there was nothing wrong with the gauge - it just moves at an incredibly slow pace because the tiny 1-litre engine is so frugal when it comes to swallowing petrol.

The Alto is being punted as a vehicle that will transport you from A to B. Nothing more, nothing less. And believe me, it does it with very little fuss and a high degree of comfort for what is basically an entry-level vehicle.

Our test car is the more up-market Alto GLS (R119900) compared to the base model Alto GL (R104900).

By up-market I mean it comes with a radio-CD, electric windows (front), central locking, fog lamps, air bags, sporty little rev counter and tilt steering.

Air conditioning is also a standard feature on both models and thankfully detracts little from the power the vehicle produces (50kW).

Around town the car is a treat. Its acceleration is surprisingly punchy and dashing from robot to robot it won't leave you blushing in embarrassment.

It handles well, the instrumentation panels are within easy reach, nicely laid out and clearly visible.

The seats are reasonably comfortable and the interior seems to be bigger than it actually is.

The car has a claimed top speed of 145kmh. At the launch a couple of journalists reckoned that with a tail-wind, a steep downhill and maybe a bit of exaggeration they got it up to 160kmh!

That could be true but the little Alto will be more at home at the national speed limit.

The next time we report on the Alto we will hopefully have taken it on a fairly lengthy test run.

Should be interesting!!

X