Suzuki Alto: 2,802 miles

Second report: Mystery noise means it’s back to the drawing board for our city slicker.

  • The willing three-cylinder engine is the Alto’s biggest plus point so far. The car is reasonably comfortable at motorway speed and continues to impress on my daily commute. Straight-line speed isn’t particularly great, but the powerplant has bags of character.
  • The rear view mirror is not especially good quality. It wobbles at speed and it’s difficult to focus on objects behind you. This can prove to be really infuriating on motorway journeys.
Suzuki has gone back to the drawing board with the new Alto... and we know exactly what caused the rethink.
Our long-termer is fitted with the firm’s characterful three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine, but lately it has begun to sound more like a diesel.
The loud rumbling was disturbing our enjoyment of the SZ3’s CD player, so we took the car to Epsom Suzuki in Surrey for a check-up. The problem was traced to a design flaw in the clutch plate, which is what has caused engineers at Suzuki to get to work.
At the moment, it’s nothing serious – tickover is noisy, and the car rattles when your foot isn’t on the clutch. It seems as if the springs are loose inside the plate. Once the modified replacement parts are available, the Alto will return to Epsom to be fixed under warranty.
Only three other Alto owners are known to have reported the same issue so, if yours is particularly loud, this could be why. For the time being,
I’m quite happy to turn up the stereo volume when I’m sitting in traffic to drown out the sound, even if not everybody appreciates it! Aside from our noisy clutch, I really enjoy the Alto. Its sharp steering and compact dimensions make parking really simple, and the city car is great for nipping through London traffic.
But it’s the engine that really stands out. It is smooth and keen to rev, despite the clutch-plate issue, helping the Alto to cruise steadily.
While it’s not exactly fast, we have no complaints about its fuel economy. Thanks to the lightweight construction and small engine we’ve achieved
an average of 40.4mpg so far.
And if you think I’m being lazy for not cleaning our little runaround for these pictures, there is a reason! As Auto Express’s new consumer writer I’ve arranged for the car to get the buffing it deserves. But more of that at a later date!
Inside the Alto, the lack of adjustment for the seat height in the SZ3 filled me with dread – not least because I am six feet seven tall. So I was surprised not to feel cramped in the diminutive cabin. I fit in easily, and there’s even plenty of headroom. Due to the large glass area, visibility is great, and I don’t feel constricted at all. One or two other aspects of the interior aren’t quite as impressive, though, as there is neither a rev counter nor an external boot release.
But before being too critical, consider the price of our Alto. If you buy through the Scrappage Scheme, a new one can set you back as little as £5,245.
While it isn’t as exotic as the other motors on our fleet, the Alto is winning me over. And once the new clutch parts are fitted, I’ll really be able to enjoy its three-cylinder thrum!

Extra Info

I was driving our Alto when the clutch started making a noise, so it fell to me to get it sorted out. And I really can’t fault Epsom Suzuki in Surrey. A member of staff gave me a lift to the station after I dropped the car off, and I was updated through the day as the technicians looked for the cause. It goes to show that faulty cars need not be a disaster for dealers – after an experience like that, I’ll never go anywhere else!
Lesley Harris
Road tester

Most Popular

Appreciating cars: classic cars that go up in value
Appreciators: Renault 5
Features

Appreciating cars: classic cars that go up in value

Looking to invest in a modern classic? Here are some cars destined to appreciate in value
4 May 2021
Ford Escort XR3: we drive the hot hatch pioneer
Ford Escort XR3
Ford

Ford Escort XR3: we drive the hot hatch pioneer

Hot hatches democratised performance, and one of the pioneers, the Ford Escort XR3, is now over 40 years old
5 May 2021
New 2022 Skoda Fabia grows in size and gets tech boost
Skoda Fabia - front
Skoda Fabia

New 2022 Skoda Fabia grows in size and gets tech boost

The new fourth-generation Skoda Fabia supermini is expected to hit UK showrooms early in 2022
4 May 2021