New Suzuki Alto put to the test

AutoTrader NZ
Published 3 September 2020

Motoring journalists Allan Dick and Donn Anderson each drove a new Suzuki Alto from Auckland to Invercargill, and then onto the Bluff, before making the return journey.

The objective of the drive was to monitor the fuel consumption of the one litre, three-cylinder Suzuki’s, and to gauge the comfort levels of the compact cars on the six-day, 3400-kilometre journey.

Suzuki says the 5-speed manual gearbox Alto consumed 150.1 litres of petrol to average 4.4 litres/100 km (63.8 miles per gallon). This was an 8% improvement on the 4.8 litres/100 km figure for the official combined fuel cycle test.

Compared to the manual car, the 4-speed automatic transmission Alto used an extra 15.3 litres of petrol, averaging 5.0 litres/100 km (56.5 miles per gallon). The official combined fuel test result for the Alto automatic is 5.5 litres/100 km.

The best individual leg result for the Alto manual was on the final day from Paraparaumu to Auckland via Taupo where the car achieved 3.98 litres/100 km (70.9 miles per gallon).

In the run from Oamaru to Invercargill on the third day of the lengthy drive, the Alto automatic posted its best result of 4.56 litres/100 km (61.87 miles per gallon).

Allan Dick said the Alto was practical on the Auckland to Bluff run.

“There are plenty of New Zealanders who still think that you need a big car for journeys longer than going to the supermarket,” said Dick, “and that small cars are only for girls, old people and people who are thrifty. Wrong on all counts.”

“We did the Auckland to Wellington drive with the speedo needle sitting close to 100kmh all the way and were never passed by anything that wasn’t going the other way,” said Dick.

The journey

The five-door Alto hatchbacks kept to State Highway 1 in the North Island, negotiating Hamilton at morning rush-hour, and on to Taupo before tackling the Desert Road and on to Wellington.

Blenheim was the first evening stopover, and next morning the two Suzuki’s headed for Christchurch and on to Oamaru.

Day three took the Alto’s to Invercargill and then to Bluff. After a refuel in Invercargill, the route wound inland for Kingston.

With fresh snow edging the roadside, the Alto’s negotiated the steep Crown Range highway to Wanaka and on to Fairlie and Ashburton for the fourth evening halt.

Day five saw Christchurch, a lunch stop in Kaikoura, and on to Picton before the ferry crossing to Wellington and a night stop north of the capital. The final day comprised a relatively easy run north to Auckland.

“We proved it was possible to get close to petrol/electric hybrid economy in a conventional car that carries a considerably lower price tag than those more complicated vehicles,” Donn Anderson said.

Read more about the Suzuki Alto’s fuel economy here.