Keeping up with the tradition of bringing exclusive detailed reviews of vehicles for our readers, this time too, PakWheels.com has brought a detailed review of Suzuki Alto 660cc.
Suzuki Alto VXL 660cc is a top of the line variant, which was launched this year by Suzuki to replace the legendary Mehran. The auto gear shift VXL variant vehicle was highly anticipated in the auto market. It is the first 660cc vehicle to be locally produced in Pakistan, which can explain why its launch was the most anticipated event in the auto industry this year.
Suzuki is one of the most popular car companies in Pakistan. Their vehicles are both imported and manufactured locally. Their vehicles are reliable, economical, and fuel-efficient.
The 660cc Alto is available in three variants:
- Suzuki Alto VX
- Suzuki Alto VXR
- Suzuki Alto VXL
The version we are reviewing today is the Alto 660cc VXL variant.
The Alto 660cc is the 8th generation to be introduced internationally, and the 4th to be launched in Pakistan. Before 1989, Suzuki produced FX. After 1989, FX began to be known as the legendary Mehran. From 2000 to 2011 they launched the 1000cc alto. It is interesting to note that Pakistan is the only country besides Japan, where the vehicle is locally produced.
A wide variety of 660 cc vehicles can be found on the roads of Pakistan. Most of these are JDM vehicle, that is Japanese Domestic Models, made for use in Japan. These vehicles are imported to Pakistan for the local auto market. These type of vehicles are often called Kei Cars because of the ease of maneuverability and their excellent fuel economy.
The unfortunate part of all these 660cc vehicles is that they do not offer any warranties. This is where the Suzuki Alto 660cc stands out. Suzuki offers a warranty for 3 years or 60 thousand kilometers. This is truly admirable.
Looking at the Alto 660cc, the exterior is the same as other imported cars. The front has beautiful headlights that have integrated indicator inside. The front grill is also impressive. Compared to the JDM version, the front is the same except for a small gap in the front.
However, there are no fog lights, which is a necessity, especially for people in Lahore and nearby areas where visibility is an issue during winters. There is no provision for aftermarket fog lights.
In economy sector cars, the shape does not really matter. As fuel economy is a priority, the car has an aerodynamic shape so maximum fuel efficiency can be achieved.
The fenders are different from JDM models. The front two fenders are made of metal, while in JDM vehicles they are made of plastic. If the fenders were made of fiber or plastic, there would have been a higher chance of them breaking because of bicycles or motorcycles hitting them on the road.
The car sides also support an aerodynamic build to help with fuel efficiency. The Alto has general tycoon 185/80 R13 tyres with 13-inch rims.
The side mirrors and door handles are all of the same colors because the Alto VXL is a top of the line variant. Other variants may have different color combinations. The paint quality has room for improvement, but overall acceptable. For this Alto, Suzuki has introduced seven colors, which include metallic colors as well:
- Silver grey
- Graphite grey
- Pearl black
- Solid white
- Cerulean blue
- Sand beige
- Pearl red
Looking at the back of the car, the boot is very bulky and aesthetic. The alto is equipped with a roof-mounted brake lamp and defogger.
A feature that is often lacking in local hatchbacks is also missing in the Alto, which is the back screen wiper. A normal car has a tilted back mirror, so dust and water do not accumulate there. In a hatchback, when the air gets cut off, dirt and water can accumulate affecting visibility.
Local manufacturers have not yet become aware of the need for wipers in the back mirror, but overtime this issue will surely be solved.
The backlights have a tricky position. The main concern is if motorcycle drivers bump against the back of the car during traffic jams then this can result in damage to the backlights because of their location.
Looking at the overall ambiance, there is not much difference between an imported vehicle or a locally manufactured Alto, except the option of integrated mud flaps.
Usually, hatchbacks have less space in the boot. However, there seems to be ample space in the boot of the Alto VXL. It is spacious enough to fit in large luggage and to increase space, there is also the option to fold the seat forward. However, this will result in less space for passengers. The car’s toolkit, puncture repairing kit and air pump can be found under the plank in the back.
The vehicle also has immobilizer key with keyless entry.
The interior is quite impressive, especially when compared to previously produced Suzuki vehicles. The dashboard is a combination of dark grey and light grey. The same color combination is used in the doors.
The speedometer has all the necessary information: fuel average, instant fuel average, distance to end, and fuel indicator.
Pertinent to mention, there is no temperature indicator. On starting the car, there is a blue colored sign which indicates the current temperature of the car, whether it is hot or cold. After that, there is no indication of the car’s temperature until the car heats up to its maximum limit. This is slightly problematic for old school people who might keep an eye on the temperature indicator. When the car temperature starts to rise, one can switch off the AC or pull over on the curb to reduce the temperature before it reaches the maximum limit. However, in the Alto VXL, the sign only comes on when the car is at the maximum level of heat. This feature is prevalent in all new cars of this type.
The gearbox is quite non-conventional. In normal cars, the gearbox is on the floor. The manual gear is on the floor in the new alto; however, the automatic gear shift is located next to the steering wheel, at arm’s length. Drivers won’t have to reach down anymore.
The car has analog climate control, while JDM vehicles have digital control. The alto has two cupholders in the front and the back. The dashboard has a console box.
The infotainment unit is impressive. It comes with screen mirroring, SD card, and all the modern features. The touch screen works well, and the music quality is great. Bluetooth connectivity is easy, except for calls. When people speak the person on the phone cannot hear what is being said. I think this is a blessing in disguise and might curb phone usage while driving. There is a lack of reverse cameras. However, customers can get them installed if they want.
The right side of the front interior in JDM vehicles comes with a lot of options. However, in the alto, this is fitted with empty switches. Realistically, none of the switches in JDM vehicles are used in Pakistan, for example, the eco control switch, traction control, headlight adjustment, and radar.
The Alto VXL has practical features. All four windows are power windows, with an auto function in the driver’s seat. There are retractable mirrors, dual airbags, and electric power steering. All the practical options available in a JDM vehicle are available in the Alto. In fact, we have come across cars worth 29 lacs and more that lack airbags or other practical features such as retractable mirrors.
The back door has easy exit and entry. The leg space in the Alto 2019 is excellent, and quite spacious even with the front seat all the way back. Two to three adults can easily fit in the back. The backseat also has seat belts, an important safety feature which should always be used.
There is a trade-off, however. There is no spare tyre, which could explain why there is a lot of space in the backseat. The vehicle does come equipped with a puncture repair kit though.in Pakistan, this is still too futuristic and aggressive. The quality of the streets in Pakistan is questionable, and can often result in punctures.
AC performance is decent, especially for the people in the front two seats. However, on a hot day, the people in the back may suffer. There are two reasons for that. The front seats are very well cushioned and extremely comfortable but also large in size, which can affect the airflow to the back. The second reason is that 660cc cars often do not have very strong ACs. Still, this car has a better AC system compared to many imported 660cc cars.
The main focus of this vehicle is on fuel efficiency. I have driven this car for approximately 1500kms. I believe that this car when it is driven in the city, with the AC on gives a fuel average of 17.5 -18km. This takes into account a heavy foot. If you drive with a light foot, the fuel average can go up to 19km.
These cars have small engines, with fuel efficiency as a priority, which makes me believe that these cars are best for intracity driving.
Power, suspension, and braking
The components of the car are very compactly packed in the bonnet. The Alto 2019 has a 3-cylinder r series 660cc engine which is capable of producing up to 39 hp and 56 Nm of torque. There is also an AGS (Auto Gear Shift) and ABS (brake) unit.
A lot of people claim that the car is underpowered. It is important to remember that you are not driving a rocket. The alto 2019 has an optimal power for 660cc. It has a good pick even when there are four people in the car. When you floor it, the car responds instantly.
The car has AGS (auto gear shift). There is a way to drive an AGS car. If you shift the gear in an incorrect manner you feel that the car is lagging in the gear shift. If you know how to change the gear, the acceleration will not be affected and remain smooth.
The car has auto gear shift where there is an auto motor attached to a manual gearbox that changes the gear. However, one can drive manually. I think with the large traffic jams in the city, it is best to drive using AGS. The gearbox has five gears. The gear changes at very low RPM, which goes hand in hand with the fuel efficiency priority.
When overtaking another car, the AC automatically switches off when the car is floored, so there is maximum power. When you remove your foot, the compressor will automatically switch on again.
The suspension and braking capability of the car are optimal even on roads with potholes and bumps. The car has excellent comfort and handling especially compared to older Suzuki vehicles.
Two very important features for any car are the acceleration and braking. The acceleration is good for a 660cc engine car. The car goes from 0km/hr to 100km/hr within 19.19 seconds.
As for braking, the car went from 100 to 0km/hr within 4.37 seconds with braking.
This is truly the car of a new generation. I have driven the car for approximately 1500kms. The car is impressive on two ends. First of all, the car’s engine is new technology with a focus on fuel efficiency. This is a great thing, especially for future generations.
Secondly, the dimensions of the car do not vary much from the Suzuki Mehran. However, it has a far more futuristic design. When sitting inside it does not feel like you are in a small car; there is more than enough legroom and headspace. Everything on the dashboard is available at arm’s length when one is seated in the driver’s seat.
Overall, this car is an excellent addition to our auto market. In this time of increasing fuel prices, reduced parking space, increased traffic jams this car’s size and fuel economy make it excellent for use in the city.
People are concerned with the prices of cars because they are rising with the devaluation of our currency, an increase in taxes, FED, 17% GST in the automobile industry. All of this is equally effective on all automobile manufacturers.
Suzuki Alto’s price in Pakistan is PKR 9,99,000 – PKR 12,95,000. This includes the three-year warranty mentioned above. This particular variant which we reviewed will cost you PKR 12,95,000. Whereas, imported 660cc cars that have been used for two to three years or might have had an accident cost approximately 15 to 16 lac. Compared to that, the locally produced Alto is a good deal, with back up, parts and services available all over the country.
To compare the availability and cost of parts with Japanese imported cars, used alto headlights are available for the imported alto for 40K a pair. The new alto’s headlights are available for 13K per headlight at Suzuki outlets. Suzuki has ensured the availability of parts at its outlets across Pakistan.
The Mehran was for around $7500, and the Alto 2019 is $8000 with a far more beautiful appearance, more modern features as well as safety and comfort. If someone were to ask me for a good car for local driving, I would recommend the Alto 660cc VXL.