||All rights reserved.
| Alto (global)
Predecessor: Alto (1998)
|India-made Alto intends to be a
is a long serving nameplate in Suzuki. In recent years, Alto is split
into two different versions – the domestic version is a funky K-car to
suit the taste of young Japanese women, while the global version is
designed to be a low-cost entry-level transport. The new generation
global version is no exception. It is built in India by Maruti (the
subsidiary of Suzuki) and supply to rest of the world, including
Europe, where 60,000 units annual sales volume is anticipated. However,
its largest market is still India, where 227,000 last generation Altos
were sold in 2007 alone.
car is cheap and free of frills. Its shinny hard plastics interior
makes Hyundai i10 look classy. The interior is very basic. For example,
the steering wheel does not adjust for reach. It even uses pop-out rear
windows instead of winding ones to save costs. You will get decent
space up front, but tall passengers will find rear knee room tight due
to the 2360 mm wheelbase. The whole cabin looks grey and boring, a
sharp contrast to the pretty exterior.
|To save costs, rear windows pop out
rather than wind down.
equally modest. The 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine revs quite sweetly,
but you are unlikely to be pleased with its lack of bottom-end torque
or its modest performance – 96 mph top speed and 0-60 mph in around 14
seconds. What it does impress is fuel economy at 62.7 mpg, partly
thanks to the slippery drag coefficient of 0.30. In corners, the Alto
works just like a low-cost city car. It rolls a lot, and the steering
has a lot of slack around the straight ahead. Bump absorption is
reasonably good because it is tuned for poor Indian roads, but small
irregularities on road surfaces could transmit a lot of harshness and
noise into the cabin.
|The shinny hard plastics interior
makes Hyundai i10 look classy...
||All rights reserved.
| Wagon R
Predecessor: Wagon R (2003)
|Wagon R has been Japan's top seller
for years. This tradition is very likely to continue in the new
its birth in 1993, Suzuki Wagon R repeatedly topped the car sales chart
in Japan for many years, including the last 4 years. Even the aging
last generation could still record 224,000 units sales in 2007, beating
Daihatsu Move (200,000 units) and Honda Fit (148,000 units). This
success is down to its combination of low price, spacious interior and
versatile layout. The new generation from 2008 continues to develop in
The new Wagon R does not change too much its clothes. Basically, to
envelop maximum space it has to retain a boxy exterior. However, Suzuki
still put more styling touches to it in the form of clamshell bonnet,
corner-wrapping headlamps and gentle curvy surfaces around wheelarches.
Build quality is also clearly improved, as shown by the tightly fitted
body panels. Inside, the dashboard design, materials and colors are
markedly different from its predecessor. You are less likely to feel
negative effect of low price.
The new car
a new platform with 40 mm longer wheelbase. The roof grows a further 15
mm to 1660 mm, which translates into more headroom than you will ever
need. Predictably, you can hardly get more space from another K-car,
especially when the floor is completely flat both front and rear. The
cabin is also full of flexible features. The rear seats splits, slide,
recline and fold flat. The front seats fold flat or recline to form a
bed together with the rear seats. Besides, there are countless of
|You can hardly get more space from
another K-car, especially when the floor is completely flat
The tall body Wagon R is not the kind of car that you will use to
attack twisty roads, even though the top 0.66-liter turbocharged engine
produces respectable output. However, new suspensions with revised
geometry and strengthened mountings do improve ride refinement and
reduce noise. Transmission include 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
and a Continuously Variable Transmission with 7-speed override. Very
customers of Wagon R are women. To capture men, this time Suzuki also
produced a version of the car called “Stingray”, whose name is
ridiculously taken from a classic Corvette. This car has a rather
different (and cooler) exterior and interior design. Mechanically,
however, it is nearly the same. Anyway, the prettier and higher quality
new generation Wagon R should easily retain its title as Japan’s best
|"Stingray" ridiculously takes name
from a classic Corvette...
|All rights reserved.
| Alto (Japan)
Predecessor: Alto (Japan) (2004)
The domestic version of
Alto is very different from its international sibling, no matter
exterior, interior or powertrains. Needless to say, it is designed to
qualify the light automobile category ("K-cars"). This results in a
shorter and narrower body shell as well as a 660 cc engine. What the
Japanese car excels is packaging, which looks more upmarket than the
global version. Unlike the latter, it has proper rear windows, keyless
entry, engine start button, USB and iPod connectivity. The interior
looks a million miles better than the India-built version, of course,
thanks to a more stylish dashboard and light color textured plastics.
However, by the high living standard of Japan it is only qualified as a
basic transport. You won't get the same customization, turbo power or
fancy seating plans as in most other K-cars.
The Japanese Alto sits on the platform of
Wagon R, whose 2400 mm wheelbase is 40 mm longer than the old car as
well as its international version. This, accompany with a taller roof,
higher hip points and more efficient packaging, results in more
interior space, especially to rear passengers. On the other hand, the
use of more high-strength steel cuts its kerb weight by 10 kg. That
means a basic version with manual transmission weighs only 710 kg.
Apart from lower weight, a more slippery shape also helps performance a
Powering the car is the familiar 658 cc three-cylinder with 54ps. For
transmission, you get the choice of 5-speed manual, 4-speed auto or a
new Jatco CVT. The latter offers a super-wide ratio spread of 7.28,
helping fuel economy and cruising refinement. However, full-effort
acceleration is noisy due to rubber band effect, whereas the little
engine lacks firepower to overtake other cars.
|All rights reserved.
| MR Wagon
Predecessor: MR Wagon (2006)
Born earlier this year,
the third generation MR Wagon differs very much from the outgoing car.
While the old car targeted at young mothers, the new car is designed to
appeal to 20-something singles who look for their first cars. This
explains why it has abandoned the old car's MPV-style monospace shape
for a funkier design like Toyota bB. The new shape also enhances the
sense of interior space, thanks to an upright windscreen and boxier
The MR Wagon introduces a longer, 2425 mm wheelbase version of the
K-car platform. That is 25 mm longer again than the existing Wagon R
and Alto, or as much as 65 mm longer than the outgoing car. This
enables a roomy cabin. In fact, it offers more interior space than a
Toyota Vitz (Yaris). Another highlight of the cabin is its upgraded
style and build quality. The dashboard gets a smarter two-tone (black
and white) design. The instrument panel has piano-black lacquer
treatment. Most frequently used controls are mounted high for ease of
reach, including the console-mounted shifter.
The MR Wagon is equipped
with modern features like engine auto stop-start, keyless entry, engine
start button, USB and iPod connection. One special feature may appeal
to young people is a touch-screen audio system. Unfortunately, its
touch screen is slow to react compare with what IT consumers used to
work with, say, iPhone. Moreover, devoid of sat-nav, its usage is
In contrast, the seating arrangement is flawless. All seats can fold
flat to place cargo, or recline to form a double bed. The rear seat is
50/50 split, can slide back and forth individually, or recline at 6
different angles. There are countless of storage cubbies, drawers and
hooks, plus an additional storage tray under the boot floor.
On the mechanical side, the car introduces a new generation R06A
3-cylinder engine. Still displaces 658 cc, but it features undersquare
combustion chambers with 64mm bore and 68.2mm stroke, versus 68mm x
60.4mm on the existing K6A engine. Although the output figures are
unchanged, it is said to improve low-rpm torque and fuel economy. The
naturally aspirated version also features dual (intake and exhaust)
variable valve timing, a first for Suzuki. Turbocharged version has
intake-only VVT as it is not short of torque. Like the new Alto, it
gets a super-wide ratio CVT from Jatco.
On the road, the new MR Wagon is surprisingly grown up. It suspensions
are absorbent but without ruining body control. The little three-pot
engine is smooth and quiet in normal driving, although under hard
acceleration the CVT tends to stretch it too much. Naturally,
turbocharged version offers stronger mid-range punch, but the drawbacks
are more NVH and a softer throttle response.
This MR Wagon is the best yet K-car effort from Suzuki. Nissan must be
glad to see that, because its Moco is a badge-engineered version of MR