Suzuki Alto Hatchback Owner reviews

No longer on sale

GL 5dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG60 mpg

I bought this car new for my wife in 2004 and to be honest I love driving it myself, and I'm over 6ft tall. Considering it was just over £5k with a 3 year warranty and had a CD player as standard (CD on my new Ford Fusion at the time, was a £250 optional extra on a car costing £10.5k!)I consider this excellent value for money. We set off for day trips quite often, sometimes doing in the region of 150-200 miles and take whichever car is first in the drive. Often this is the Alto and I have no worries whatever in driving such distances. It will do 80mph quite happily on the motorway (if a little noisy at this speed) and will cruise at 70mph all day and still return mpg in the high 50's, and is a boon to park at busy tourist attractions. We had to have new front pads and discs fitted at 26000 miles but as we live at the top of a 1 in 6, half mile long narrow road which is partly cobbled that may have some bearing on this. Other than that it has never let us down being totally reliable and only costing £35 per year road tax. What more could you ask for, for 5 grand? I don't know which car "What Car" were testing in their review but it certainly wasn't a SUZUKI ALTO 1.1GL!

Eric Bawden, West Yorkshire, January 15th 2009

GL 3dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality1/5
  • Average MPG49 mpg

I went to look at the old Swift (ugliest car ever) back in 1999 and saw a yellow Alto, test drove it and bought it. It handles like my old mini and can leave bigger cars behind on twisty roads. I had to sell it in 2004 (3rd car = 1 too many) but missed it so much I bought another one (Mk 1) in 2005. I've been all over France in it and it's never gone wrong. I did test drive the new model but it has vague steering and handles poorly. Mpg is well into the 50s on a run and mine never needed oil top-ups between services.

Mark Swietnicki, Bucks, August 28th 2008

GL 5dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG55 mpg

I wasnt expecting much from this car, I have an old golf gti & bought the Alto (04 reg 1.1GL) (from my mother) to run to work & back cheaply & to save my gti from the salt of winter. Much to my suprise, I really like this little car, i noticed someone else likened it to an old Mini, I'd agree, its a bit rough round the edges but quite fun to chuck about with its bouncy but not too soft suspension, has a rorty sounding engine if you hammer it & a quiet cruising 5th gear on longer runs (unlike a mini) the seats are comfy & driving position is fine (I'm 6ft 1") dont envy anyone sitting in the back behind me though! it barely sips a drop of fuel & doesnt seem to go wrong-also has a comedy 10,000rpm rev counter- from the bike spares bin?? overall I love it for what it is, fun & cheap to run, never thought I'd say that about it when I bought it....

Marc Pickersgill, Cleveland, July 10th 2008

GL 5dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

Great car - £35 for tax, 55mpg on average, and more on a run. It's good at 70mph on motorways and still pulls above that. On long journeys it's comfy. It has power steering, ESP, electric windows, twin airbags, 16v engine, decent storage - I could go on. I think it's as good as my old Saxo 1.1 Forte and no slower. A sunroof would finish it off a treat. Inside is no more plasticky than others in its class. The gearbox is good and has a smooth, nice feel to the clutch. Road noise is no worse than others. If you want to drive a poor car, try a Fiat Seicento. So would I have another Alto? You bet I would.

Julie Deane, West Yorkshire, February 18th 2008

GL 5dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

I have had the Alto new since May 2005. In that time no real complaints. I have heard people describe it as noisy, I was very supprised as I do not find it noisy at all. Its biggest fault is in the size of the boot space, and wind noise is a problem. Other than that it has been a good and reliable car. My next car will actually be the Suzuki Swift. Mr.M.F.Brown

Martin Francis Brown, Tyne and Wear, October 7th 2007

GL 3dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

This is the second Alto I've bought new and I've owned my current 1.1 GLS since 2003. I think it's an excellent little car and the improvements made in 2003 really helped with comfort and the general look of the car. I've driven mine every day since I bought it, and it has proved 100% reliable. I'm not a little person and neither is my hubby, but neither of us has ever had any cause to complain about comfort. We often drive over 250 miles in one day and our holidays take us up into the mountains which is excellent fun! Irish roads are known for their bumps and, yes, it's bumpy, but hey, the positives far outnumber the negatives. It's cheap to run, cheap to insure and at £40 a year for road tax it can't really be beaten. It has electric windows, nice comfy seats, and plenty of storage, including cup holders, and we've even moved house using it. We've had no problems fitting everything from flatpack furniture to a stepladder and bicycle in it. I find it nippy in town and easy to park. It has a bit of wind and engine noise when you go much above 60mph and can be a bit slow to accelerate, but if you're not afraid to rev it a bit, then it's fine. After all, if you want a car for motorway driving, you wouldn't choose this nippy little number anyhow. At the end of the day it's one of a kind. It's nice to look at, extremely economical and very reliable. It doesn't promise to be anything more!

Suzy Sopworth, Wilts, January 27th 2007

GL 5dr

  • Overall verdict1/5
  • What it's like to drive2/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality1/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

I was bought this car brand new in 2003 by my gran and within 2 months my monther forced me to sell it, it made her bad back worse and had to have extra physio. needles to say my gran was upset but after being driven in it she knew exactly why. The car is uncomfortable its crampted im only 6ft and the seat doesnt go far enough back. The interior is bleak to say the least, yes its a cheap car but its not that cheap. the seats are much to small and the backs are curved away from you meaning that only parts of your back have support. whilst driving it is so noisy i get headaches easily and even whilst driving from the village to the town the noise of every bump every gust of wind every rev is appalling. As for the driving the steering is twitchy but strangley unresponsive and takes corners apallingly the clutch is sloppy the biting point moves regularily , meaning that it revs badly and jerks. Its difficult to get into gear especially reverse. motorway driving is dangerous to say the least it seems to stop acellarating at 55mph the only way you can get past this glass ceiling is the exstencive use of 3rd gear this is not enjoyable. the only good thing i can see about this car is that fuel efficiency i have never had 55mpg but i have had 45 but what you sacrafice for this is comfort and an enjoyable quick ride. i have had 2 differnet car since i have had a 2000 reanault clio and 53 Vauxhall corsa both small cars i would recomend as second hand alternatives to a brand new Alto.

Andy Hardwick, October 29th 2006

GL 5dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

Ignore the What Car ratings, the Alto is an absolute bargain. Bought ours new as a second car 2 years ago and it's a delight. Drives like the old Mini but with the latest safety gear and equipment and a reasonable amount of space. The Alto is nippy around town, fun to drive and economical but, most importantly, exceptionally reliable. I suspect the journalists don't take it seriously because of its 'grandma' image. I recently took ours on the country lanes south to north Wales and haven't had so much fun since I did the same in my Mini 30 years ago!. Not brilliant on the motorway, but not unbearable either. If you want an ultra-cheap, fun-to-drive runabout, the Alto is unbeatable.

Leigh Jenkins, October 14th 2006

GL 5dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

I have just had the car for a week, bought second hand from a dealer and in an immaculate condition. It has 11600 on the clock. It was bought as a second car to replace a 5 year old Grand Vitara. I estimate, after 320 miles, from the still 1/4 full fuel tank, that I'm getting 60mpg. However the proof will come when I fill up for the first time. I have done a mixture of town, country A/B roads and motorway driving in the week and the car more than held it's own in all types of traffic conditions. It is a bit slack at 50+ but judicious use of the gearbox sorts that out. It easily carried 2 sets of golf clubs and power trollies with extra clothing and I think that it will serve well as a second car/runabout. All in all a good little vehicle and I think your reviewers need to lighten up a bit and consider vehicles like this more positively in the light of increasing fuel bills and road taxes.

Brian Gormley, Dorset, August 24th 2006

GL 5dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

I'm a proud Alto owner. The alto is problily the best cost to value car i have ever bought. The one i have at the moment is the second one i have had from new. The only down points that i could say about the current 05 model is that the suspension is a little soft and a set of alloy wheels with bigger tyres would solve all my problems with the car. My golf clubs fit nicely in the boot including the trolly. It is quick off the mark and a fun car to have. After driving several other small cars over the last week (polo , pugs etc ) i was glad to get back into my alto. If they where ever to make a sports version it would take over the boy racer market.

Stewart Buckingham, norfolk, July 14th 2006

GL 5dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

Ignore the professional reviews on the Alto - yes this car doesn't compare well to some of the rivals costing several thousand pounds more but is not only affordable to buy but has low running costs with VED costing just £40 for the year and over 50MPG. For the price you actually get more than a lot of the rivals - ABS with EBD, electric windows, cd, central locking and dual air bags. The drive isn't bad either I've covered 5500 miles since buying mine three months ago and have found it comfortable even over longer journeys - it's also fairly nippy on the low end acceleration but does seem to give up slightly once it hits 50 which can be a pain out of town. This car has far more going for it than you would expect for the price (I paid £5800 on the road including gap insurance, servicing for £30,000 miles and a couple of other extras as well) and if anyone says "oh, the Alto depreciates fast" it costs less than £6k to buy so even if you sold it for £50 scrap you've only lost £5550 and a top of the range Astra loses £2k more than that in the 1st 12 months!

David Farrington, July 12th 2006

GL 5dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

I’ve had this car from new, since September 2005, in metallic black and with Suzuki alloy wheels. So far, I have been very pleased with it. For a first car, I can't complain - for town driving, it's faultless, but for runs over 60mph, there is a fair bit of over-revving, which is understandable for a 1.1-litre car. However, price-wise, which is this car's primary attribute, it is very reasonable, and has everything you would expect from a modern car - power steering, ABS, traction control, driver and front passenger airbags and front electric windows. I replaced the stereo and the two front speakers. Although the included entertainment package was satisfactory, I preferred a little more volume to my music. Another few positives are from a parking perspective - it is a very easy car to drive, with a fantastic turning circle and all controls logically positioned. This car is built very cheaply, but to be honest what can you expect for its price? The interior is basic but tidy. Having taken a full load in this car on a 200-mile stretch including long motorway use, I found it capable of handling this, but not excellent at it. What Car's review for this vehicle is far too negative, and is trying to compare it with a vehicle that you would, understandably, pay a lot more money for. With this vehicle, you certainly get a lot for your money.

Ben Harris, Worcestershire, May 3rd 2006

GL 5dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

I've read the review on this car and can't disagree more strongly. The Alto is a great car. You have to remember that it only costs £5000 on the road. The review states that the interior trim and performance are not up to rivals - but the Alto doesn't have any rivals on price. If you want better quality and performance, spend more money, but if you've got £5000 in you pocket and want a new car, then you seriously need to consider the Alto. We've had an Alto for 18 months now, and it is absolutely brilliant. I've used it on the motorway and it gets by, but it's really a town car. It has been 100% reliable, cheap to run, and we've had great dealer service. Twin airbags, a CD player, over 60mpg, and £75 per year road tax all adds up to brilliant value.

stuart adair, March 4th 2006

GL 5dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

This has to be the best value car on the road. I have owned one from new for four months after a six-year old Kia failed its MoT and was written off. This is a much better quality car. It has a good driving position, and it is comfortable for long journeys considering the size of car. However, it is only useful for four over short periods, but it's still nice to have five doors. It's also very economical. I have a Citroen Picasso and prefer driving the Suzuki. The only drawback is the acceleration, but it is getting better since running it in, and as long as you adapt your driving style to make use of the gears, you can keep up with the average competition. What better buy can you make for a new car on road for £4,500? Even with depreciation, running costs are going to be virtually nil, thanks to legendary Japanese reliability. As for interior and exterior style, this is always very personal - journalists never like Japanese styling, but I do.

Mick Coley, January 11th 2006

GL 5dr

  • Overall verdict3/5
  • What it's like to drive2/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality3/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

I think when you consider the price of the car - less than 5 grand - and it's more than likely going to be a second car you cannot beat it. It does around 58 to the gallon (yes that's what is does). My 1.1 litre 16v has twin air bags, electric windows, ABS brakes, power steering, five doors, three year breakdown recovery. It's ideal for town/city, not so clever on a long run (much prefer the seats in the old style swift), but lets face it - it's not for long runs, is it??

wayne patterson, September 10th 2005

GL 5dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

Smashing little city runabout. We've got the automatic version, which is still very nippy around Milton Keynes. Lots of useful equipment like the one touch electric front windows, central locking, decent CD/Radio (although speakers could be better), remote boot release. Lots of storage nooks and crannies. No rattles, seems well put together. Value for money I would say. We're not comparing an Alto 1.1 with a BMW 318i now, are we? Just be warned you will be turning on your windscreen wipers when you indicate because in common with most Japanese cars the indicators are on the right hand stalk!

Ralph Bacon, Bucks, June 14th 2005

GL 5dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

I have just purchased this car having had a Nissan Sunny previously. I find it very economical and, compared with the Sunny and considering the Alto has a fuel-injected engine, I find that it is actually quite nippy. Since I have had it, I have done one longish run of about 40 miles, I was quite suprised at the performance. It all depends what you really want out of a car, this car serves my purposes very well.

Martin Francis Brown, Tyne & Wear, May 16th 2005

GL 5dr

  • Overall verdict3/5
  • What it's like to drive3/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality3/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

I have owned two of these cars and find that the quality levels have improved beyond all recognition from the first model. The car is quite well screwed together and the interior is much improved, although the space in the back has suffered as they have increased the boot space. The extra 100cc engine size has greatly improved the power. There seems to have been some attentiion paid to improving the sound deadening as the car is much quieter inside. All of the seats have improved and are much more comfortable than the first model. There are now more cubby holes. I really think that for the money there is nothing better on the road.

David Telfer, Buckinghamshire, April 29th 2005

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