Used Suzuki Alto?

I’m looking around for a reliable, no frills used car. The used car ads where I live, Stockholm, Sweden, have a preponderance of fairly low-mileage 2003-2005 Suzuki Altos (not sure what the equivalent model is in the US?) and Smart Cars. Seeing so many people unloading the same car models is never a good sign, but my finances are limited, so I need to consider what options exist. My mechanic advises unequivocally against the Smart Cars; fun to drive but ridiculously expensive to fix. The Altos is an open question. So, I’m looking at low-mileage cars from rural areas, where there’d be little stop and go driving. Beyond that, I welcome any suggestions, advice anyone cares to offer about about the Altos or any other good, cheapo used car I might look for. Thanks!

I would think the most important thing to consider would be parts and service. I would be real specific and inquire about it’s reputation for that in your area. I had a Suzuki Car and several other of their products. In general, I found they are not unreliable. Their product support though has been lacking from the factory. If you can find one cheap enough and in good enough condition to begin with, it may be worth a try. In general, you get what you pay for and more inquiry is in order.

The Suzuki Alto is not sold in the US, where the majority of forum members reside. Suzuki has had limited success in this market, and perhaps as a result, we see only a fraction of the vehicles that they make.

Also, the Alto is a Japanese Kei-class vehicle, and currently no Japanese Kei-class (ultra-small) vehicles are sold in the US. I suspect that this is due to possible problems in meeting US safety regs and also the traditional American resistance to buying very small, very low-powered vehicles.

That being said, the Suzuki Alto is also sold (with only minor cosmetic differences) as the Nissan Pixo and the Mazda Carol. I suspect that these other manufacturers would not risk their reputations by putting their logo on these cars if they were badly engineered.

As to the so-called Smart Car, its driving dynamics are truly dismal, and it is really only suited to urban driving where its diminutive size would outweigh all of the negatives–including gas mileage that is not that good considering its engine size and its weight.

If the Toyota IQ (soon to be sold in the US as the Scion IQ) is sold in your country, that might be a viable alternative to the Alto, as Toyota engineering and development tends to far exceed that of Suzuki. The guys on the UK’s Top Gear TV program seemed to think that the IQ is a credible vehicle.

All of that being said, with a used car, proper maintenance by the previous owner(s) is the most important factor. Unless you can verify that all of the mfr-specified maintenance has been done on schedule–including the very important timing belt replacement–you should avoid a vehicle, even if it looks to be in good condition.

The smallest Suzuki available in the USA is the SX-4. You may know it as the Fiat Sedici. The Smart is sold here, but it uses a gasoline engine. Yours are probably diesel. In short, there is nothing comparable to the cars that you are interested in.