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Sydney show: Suzuki spreads

Alto pops: Suzuki's Indian-made city runabout might be Australia's cheapest new car when it goes on sale in May next year.

The Alto baby car and Kizashi Concept are pulling Suzuki in fresh new directions

9 Oct 2008

SUZUKI topped and tailed its stand at the Australian International Motor Show this morning with the local debut of the forthcoming entry-level Alto light car, as well as the Kizashi 3 concept that will morph into the company’s mid-sized Camry fighter from 2010.

A pair of limited editions based on the Swift and SX4 were also wheeled out for Sydney show spectators.

But all eyes were on the Alto, which aims to be the cheapest new car available in Australia – unless the Chinese get there first – when it is launched in about May next year. Expect pricing to be in the vicinity of $11,000.

Like the last Alto to be sold in Australia, the new one is built in India but is claimed to be expressly tuned by Suzuki’s engineers in Japan for European customer tastes.

Suzuki said the four-seater five-door Alto hatch is aimed “mainly at urban people who want a small car that offers style and enjoyment together with great environmental credentials”.

30 center imageLeft: Suzuki Kizashi.

To that end, it features the tiniest dimensions for a non-Japan domestic market Suzuki, being 3500mm long, 1600mm wide and 1470mm high, with a wheelbase of 2360mm. A turning radius of just 4.5 metres further underlines the Alto’s city suitability.

Under the bonnet is a 993cc three-cylinder petrol engine, producing 50kW of power and 90Nm of torque, driving the front wheels through a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

Despite the Alto’s boxy look, its 0.30Cd drag co-efficiency helps keep fuel consumption down to a leading 4.5L/100km, while CO2 emissions are a Smart-beating 103g/km.

Underneath, the Alto embraces convention with its MacPherson strut front and three-link solid rear axle design, although Suzuki claims the handling is linear and responsive, the ride supple and the steering light, reflecting the chassis’ European tuning.

Suzuki Australia said it will offer electronic stability control as an option, as well as six airbags (front, side and curtain).

The Alto is part of Suzuki’s ‘family’ model phase, and we’ve seen ‘sporty’ in the Swift and SX4 already. However, the upcoming Kizashi Concept-based Honda Accord rival is all about ‘status’ for the brand.

Driving all four wheels via a six-speed paddle-shift automatic gearbox is a 220kW 3.6-litre variable-valve technology V6 petrol unit featuring motorsport-developed weight-saving ‘plated’ cylinder technology.

“This concept represents a new direction for Suzuki in that it takes our expertise with smaller sporty vehicles and translates that into the mid-sized segment,” said Suzuki Australia general manager Tony Devers, who went on to describe the upcoming Kizashi, which enters production late next year in a somewhat tone-downed version of what we saw today, as a mould-breaker.

“Our engineers are also considering the possibilities of hybrid-powered and state-of-the-art clean diesel versions,” he added.

The key dimensions – 4650mm length, 1900mm width, 1450mm height and 2800mm wheelbase – indicate that the Kizashi will be the largest Suzuki passenger car ever sold in Australia.

Finally, Suzuki attempted to steal some of the spotlight away from the all-new Ford Fiesta and Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback assaults with the Swift RE3 and SX4 AWD Adventure respectively.

The first is the third Swift since 2007 to wear the RE badge, with all 800 examples boasting their own bodykit, alloy wheels and floor mats for $16,990 – representing $3000 value for $1000 over the price of the base model. Suzuki said the Junior World Rally Championship Swift acted as inspiration.

Meanwhile, 300 entry-level versions of the all-wheel drive SX4 cars have been turned into the Adventure, featuring roof racks, a cargo tray, rear bumper, bonnet and headlight protectors, floor mats and decals.

Read more:

Suzuki wishing on A-Star

First look: Alto emerges as sub-Swift Suzuki hope

New York show: Suzuki to build Kizashi

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