In our previous blogs, we confirmed that Pak Suzuki is discontinuing the infamous Suzuki Mehran hatchback after 30 years and a new small hatchback car is in the making to replace the iconic Suzuki car. According to the confirmed industry insights, the new hatchback named Alto this time, will come with a 660cc engine and both the auto and manual transmission will be available. There will be three variants of Alto 2019, where the top-of-the-line model will have an auto gearbox, but the manual Alto will be available with one base model and one higher spec model. According to an estimate, the price is also rumored to be between 8 lac to 10 lac. But since price idea is just a rumor, it’s better to take it with a pinch of salt.
The Suzuki Alto is currently in its 8th generation. From the looks of it, one can argue that Suzuki Japan took some inspiration from the original Suzuki FX 800 aka Suzuki FX. We will be getting the same 8th gen shape in Pakistan but Pak Suzuki might call it 2nd gen Suzuki Alto, since there already was 1000cc Alto back in the day.
But as we all know, the new 8th gen Alto has already been imported in Pakistan from Japan. You can find hundreds of 8th gen Suzuki Alto hatchbacks listed on PakWheels used car section. And we also know even when barebone, the Japanese imported vehicles are usually more equipped than locally available comparable models. In this blog, we will try to explore a few aspects of the new upcoming Alto and try to guestimate what sort of options can be expected in the new hatchback when its launched in Pakistan somewhere at the start of the next year.
Engine and Transmission
So we already know the local Alto will have a 660cc engine, but the question is whether it will be the same exact unit available in the current Japanese 8th gen Alto or some older iteration of the 660cc motor that has available in the previous generation of the imported Suzuki Alto(s). The reason I am raising this point is that there might be a chance that the Suzuki decides that the new gen Alto engine is not suitable for Pakistan’s driving conditions that include quality of fuel as well.
Secondly, there is a question of the choices of the gearbox as well. As we have mentioned in the previous blog that the manual transmission is going to be the same unit that is available in the Suzuki WagonR. But the question is what kind of automatic transmission will there be. We all know that the imported Japanese 660cc cars usually come with a CVT drivetrain, and same is the case with the Japanese Suzuki Alto. So will Suzuki Pakistan choose the continuous variable transmission or will they opt for the AGS unit that is available in the new automatic Suzuki Cultus? Since we have already established that the manual transmission is the same unit available in both the WagonR and the new Alto 2019, and we already know that the similar engine and manual gearbox combination that we have in local WagonR has been employed in the new Suzuki Cultus. So by the power of deduction, we can assume that the automatic transmission in the upcoming Alto will be the same as we get in Cultus AGS 2019.
This is one area where unfortunately most locally assembled vehicles lack behind when compared to their foreign counterparts. And unfortunately, same can be expected from the upcoming Suzuki Alto 2019. In 2016, Ahsan Iqbal the then minister of industries was photographed sitting in a white Suzuki Alto 800 shape in Karachi. It was a manual transmission car with a simplistic dashboard from what appeared in the photographs.
So where the Japanese cars come with features like heated-seat, infotainment systems, upgraded upholstery, and safety-wise they have cruise controls, parking assistance, collision warning, airbags and much much more you can expect from the local Alto 2019 to have something like 1/8 of features of the top-of-the-line imported WagonR.
Now let’s talk about the price point of the new Suzuki Alto, as I have mentioned earlier that the new Alto is expected to be priced between 8 to 10 lakh rupees. Imported 2017 or 2018 Suzuki Alto price varies anywhere from 12 to 14 lakh depending upon a lot of factors like the condition of the car the auction sheet and features. So now the question is whether the 8 to 10 lakh price bracket is real enough. Considering the top-of-the-line Suzuki Mehran with AC is priced at 8.4 lakh, and the base model Suzuki WagonR is priced at 1,184,000, one can argue that the new Alto can be positioned at where it’s rumored to be.
It would be safe to say that Suzuki Pakistan does not want the new Suzuki Alto to steal the spotlight from Suzuki WagonR but the company would also like the new car to stand apart from the departing Mehran. Pricing it near Mehran might have an adverse effect on the perception of the vehicle.