The Suzuki Alto SZ3 has just inherited the title of the best value, most affordable car in Britain. At just £5,995, the little five-seater from the underrated Japanese firm is now £300 cheaper than the officially and heavily discounted Fiat Panda 1.1 Active Eco. Although it was only a fortnight ago that I described this version of the Panda as the “ultimate small, cheap car of the year so far”, Suzuki dealers (or some of them) have responded by undercutting the Fiat – and everything else on the market.
With the withdrawal of the £5,799 Perodua Kenari late last year, the £5,995 Alto is now the least expensive new car in the UK and looks certain to remain so while Suzuki and its dealers collectively pay the 20 per cent VAT on behalf of their customers, as well as offering additional sweeteners.
Some of Suzuki’s London dealers (020 8464 3456 or 020 8303 1234) are selling the SZ3 at £5,995 on the road, and I understand that official dealerships outside the capital are offering it at the same price.
Consumers can also buy the car on credit after putting down a deposit of £899 then paying the balance (including £1,555 of interest charges) over three and a half years. Although the finance is not great at 12 per cent APR, the price of the car, including loan charges, over 42 months totals £7,550 – less than £6 a day. But don’t forget that this sum buys the car outright after three and a half years at which point it can be sold for perhaps £3,000.
I rarely recommend a car or motoring-related product solely because it is the cheapest but, at £5,995 – that’s less than the price of some mobility scooters or ultra-lightweight bicycles – the Alto SZ3 is the exception.
* A month ago I reported that a leading oil company was charging motorists up to £1.45 per litre for diesel at some of its pumps. Furthermore, I warned that the £7 gallon is “just around the corner”. That might be sooner than I had feared, because BP has been charging as much as £1.47 per litre (or £6.68 per gallon). If BP sites continue to raise prices at this rate, the £1.55 litre will arrive by spring, and with it the £7 gallon.
Fuel retailers are only obliged to display prices in pence per litre. To get the more common price per gallon, simply multiply the litre price by 4.546.
Meanwhile, Tesco is helping to make petrol and diesel a little more affordable – but only if drivers do their weekly shopping at one of its stores.
For every £50 a customer spends on groceries, he saves five pence per litre on fuel, up to a maximum of 100 litres per visit. Please note that this saving is not available to drivers who pay by card at the pump. Also, the discount doesn’t apply to Tesco sites selling Esso fuel. And that seems a bit mean.
* New cars are getting dearer, but greener. The average price is now £28,096 according to Driven Data, which reckons that 12 months ago that figure was £26,918. It says its index is based on the retail price of every model sold in Britain and takes into consideration last month’s rise in VAT from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent.
Meanwhile, Clean Green Cars says that CO2 emissions from new cars continue to decrease, with an average figure of 144g/km now compared to 150g/km a year ago. Of the mass manufacturers, Fiat, Toyota, BMW/MINI and Citroën are said to have made great improvements in CO2 emissions.