Suzuki Alto First generation
|1979 to 1984|
|Also called||Suzuki Fronte Suzuki FX Suzuki Hatch Maruti 800|
|Assembly||Kosai, Japan Whanganui, New Zealand|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||3-door hatchback 5-door hatchback 3-door van|
|Layout||Front-engine, front-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive|
|Engine||539 cc (0.5 L) T5B two-stroke I3 (SS30) 543 cc (0.5 L) F5A SOHC I3 (SS40) 796 cc (0.8 L) F8B I3 (SS80, export only)|
In January 1981, the F5A four-stroke 543 cc known from the Fronte was also installed (though with only a single-barrel carburettor), it too put out 28 PS (21 kW) but at 6,000 rpm. Torque was considerably lower, down from 5.3 to 4.2 kg·m (52 to 41 N·m; 38 to 30 lb·ft).1981 saw also the year that it became available on the United Kingdom market, as Suzuki began selling cars there that year.
In export markets, the Alto name was used for the passenger car versions (chassis codes with trailing letter "S") as well as on commercials (ending in"V"), while the van was marketed as the "Suzuki Hatch" in Australia. The four-doors were not proper hatchbacks, only featuring an opening rear window. Export cars were also available with twelve-inch wheels, unlike the domestic versions which only used ten-inch units until the introduction of the 4WD version in October 1983. The 4WD "Snow Liner" thus gained an extra 2.5 cm (1 in) of ground clearance.
Most export Altos were passenger car versions (which used the "Fronte" badge in the Japanese domestic markets), and usually received the 0.8 litre F8B engine and the SS80 chassis code. The SS80 was also built in New Zealand, by South Pacific Suzuki Assemblers at a rate of six per day. It was introduced in New Zealand in March 1980.
While Suzuki held on to the two-stroke engine concept for a half decade longer than any of its Japanese competitors, eventually market pressures and ever tightening emissions regulations spelled its end in the Alto by September 1981. The Jimny, however, did use the same 539 cc engine (called LJ50 in the Jimny) as late as 1987.