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by Matt Brogan

Two NZ motoring journalists have disproved the illusion that Suzuki’s Alto is purely a city car tackling a 3,400 kilometre drive through New Zealand’s North and South islands and back again.

Mr Allan Dick and Mr Donn Anderson each drove an Alto, one with a manual and one with an automatic transmission, from Auckland to Invercargill, and then onto the Bluff, the most Southerly point, before making the return journey back to New Zealand’s largest city.

The objective of the trip was to not only monitor the frugal petrol consumption of the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder Suzukis, but to gauge the comfort levels of the compact cars on the six day journey, in much the same way CarAdvice did with its 12-hour Economy Challenge drive around Melbourne recently.

The manual gearbox Alto consumed a total of 150.1 litres of fuel which was an average of 3.68L/100km. Compared to the manual car, the four-speed automatic transmission Alto used 165.4 litres, averaging 4.16L/100km.

The best individual leg result for the Alto manual was on the final day from Paraparaumu to Auckland where the car achieved 3.31L/100km. In the run from Oamaru to Invercargill on the third day, the Alto automatic posted its best result of 3.80L/100km.

Mr Dick, an experienced motoring journalist and long distance driver, said the Alto was every bit as practical on the Auckland to Bluff run as he knew it was going to be.

“There are plenty of New Zealanders who still think that you need a big car for journeys longer than going to the supermarket,” said Mr Dick. “We have just proved that any prejudices about small cars can be put aside.”

“We did the Auckland to Wellington drive with the speedo needle sitting close to 100 km/h all the way and were never passed by anything that wasn’t going in the opposite direction.”

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“This was something of a marathon drive for a small car, and one that surprised many people,” said Mr Anderson. “But the Altos took the journey in their stride and there is no doubt we could have taken a day less to complete the trip and still been in good shape.”

“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 complex vehicles.”




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