Suzuki Alto Works

The Alto has been Suzuki’s entry model for a long time now. With its low price and running costs it is a popular vehicle still today. Though being an economy car, there have been several performance versions over the years. The most famous and top of the line being the Alto Works.

It started in 1987, with the first Alto Works released based on the second generation Alto that was sold between 1984 and 1988. It used the same F5A coded 543cc engine as the other Alto grades but the power increased significantly due to the application of DOHC. With an output of 64 horsepower, it was the strongest minicar at the time in Japan. The rumor goes that this Alto Works is the reason for the regulation that Kei cars nowadays cannot produce more than 63 horsepower.

The three cylinder engine was connected to a 5-speed manual transmission. On the exterior, the Alto Works had a new front bumper with fog light integrated, new side skirts and rear bumper, a hood scoop and rear spoiler. Three grades were available, a base grade called the RS-S, which had front wheel drive. Then there was the RS-X, which had more equipment and still front wheel drive, and finally the RS-R grade which had a viscous coupling full-time four-wheel drive system and the same equipment as the RS-X. The RS-R was around 40 kilograms heavier than the front wheel drive RS-X.

In 1988 the 3rd generation Alto was released and that time also saw an improved Alto Works. The design was changed significantly, with rounded headlights and a lower mounted rear spoiler as recognizable design features. The engine was the same as the previous generation but it was now offered in automatic transmission version and a less powerful version called the Turbo i.e. That version had 58 horsepower due to having a SOHC instead of DOHC.

But in early 1990, the 543cc engine of all grades was replaced with a newer, larger 660cc displacement unit. Although the same power, the torque went up. The grade system basically stayed the same with the RS-X being the front wheel drive version and the RS-R the four wheel drive version. A Works R version also appeared for one-make races and other motorsports activities.

November 1994 the new Alto generation was introduced and that also saw the continuation of the Alto Works. The body changed slightly but the round headlights remained as a characteristic of the Alto Works. A completely new, full aluminium, engine was introduced, called the K6A. The SOHC and DOHC variants were both kept, but the grades for the DOHC changed. There was just the RS/Z grade now, which was offered in both front wheel drive only or as four wheel drive. The RS/Z grade could not be had with an automatic transmission.

The 5th generation Alto was brought to market in 1998. The Alto Works was also available again but while the design was much more modern, technically there did not change so much. The sales also went down significantly with this model and Suzuki tried to boost the sales with a 5-door version which was launched in October 1999. but it did not help so much so the model soon after abolished. For 15 years it was quiet around the Alto Works, until it was resurrected in 2015 again.

The Alto in the meantime had passed a few generations ending up to be already in the 8th generation. The design has become more square over the years and this generation is much more up to date with equipment and safety levels. Also emission regulations have become more strict and thus a more modern engine is being used. The turbocharged K06A still produces the kei-car limited 63 horsepower but has a much improved fuel consumption compared to the older engines.

Four versions are available; a front wheel drive with manual transmission, one with an automatic transmission and a four-wheel drive with the same manual or automatic transmission. Both the transmissions are 5-speed. The single clutch automatic transmission is called AGS and has the feature to shift manually via paddles behind the steering wheel. While the weight difference between the manual transmission and automatic transmission is 10 kilogram only, the actual weight difference of the vehicle is 20 kilogram. That is because the automatic version comes with additional equipment such as idle stop and hill hold assist. The price for the manual and automatic versions are equal.

For the four-wheel drive version there is an additional price up of 100 000 Yen, around 1000 dollar. Besides the price up, there is also a weight up of 50 kilogram which is significant on vehicle that only weighs around 700 kilogram. The majority is coming from the drivetrain but there is also a more sophisticated rear suspension. While the front wheel drive version uses a torsion beam, the four-wheel drive has a isolated trailing link rear suspension resulting in a slightly more comfortable ride. The fuel consumption of the four-wheel drive version is nearly the same as the front wheel drive only version.

The exterior of the Alto Works has some distinguishable features versus other Alto models such as the front with works logo and carbon look garnish. On the side of the vehicle there is a big black sticker with Works written on it and the black 15″ aluminium wheels can spotted as well. In the interior there are special Recaro seats and a leather wrapped steering wheel. At the time of the introduction there were four colors available; white, black silver and red.

At the end of 2018 there was a minor update for the Alto and at time the red body color was replaced with a bright blue color. The automatic version also received a Safety package using a laser and camera for crash mitigation, lane departure alert and high beam assist. Another function is the reverse brake support that works together with 4 parking sensors. Until today the Alto Works is still a unique offer as a practical and sporty Kei-car.

Click on the picture below to see the Suzuki Alto Works details and specifications per year such as weight, new price and equipment for each version in the catalog.