Maruti Suzuki India Limited had introduced the Alto name plate in India to relieve the Maruti 800 of its 17 year old duties. However when it was introduced, the Maruti Alto was very pricey and also not much of an upgrade to the trustworthy 800. However things came across to such a limit that Maruti had to resort to huge price cuts plus put the Alto at a small premium than the 800. The interiors of the 800 were also more basic than the ones in the Alto. Oh, am not giving a comparison of the Maruti 800 to that of the Alto here. The 800 as they say is history and with the ever tightening noose of the emission norms, the 800 would more or less be now a part of tier 2 or tier 3 cities only. Point is that recently my dad’s colleague asked him if he should go for the newly launched Maruti Alto K10 or the older Alto F8. Good question. But my dad cannot distinguish a Pulsar from a Unicorn, leave alone tell him the difference between the K series and older F8 engine. So eventually the question was thrown at me. Read on to find out what I suggested and on which basis. So it’s a decision between the Maruti Alto F8 in India or the Maruti Alto K10 in India. With a budget of Rs 3 lakhs, I set out to help him out.
The Maruti Alto K10 in India is longer than the Alto F8. This means that the K10 engined Alto is now 125 mm longer than the 3495 mm measuring F8. The K10 also gets a newly designed head lamp cluster which Maruti calls the eagle eyed one (wonder what’s it with Maruti naming the head lamps of their cars like fox eyes, eagle eyes and also blue eye?). Wheelbase of the K10 however remains unchanged as also the width of the car. Moreover body colored bumpers and front fog lamps make their presence felt in the top variant. The lengthening of the car reflects in the bumper which is now noticeably longer than the older F8 variant. Side rubber cladding is also now available with the top end variant. Ohh my my! The wheels have also grown in size and from the earlier size zero (ohk, that was my exaggeration), the wheels are now full 13 inchers with wheel covers. These do a nice job of filling up the wheel arches. The rear also gets a new tail lamp cluster. In all this new Botox job, the older F8 engined Alto makes do with 12 inch wheels which actually seem very skinny. Not that the K10 has beefy Hummer like tyres but those look way better than the ones on the F8. While the K10 looks like it has got a permanent makeup job done, the F8 looks like it has got a receding hair line or even worse mid age crisis. The head lamps and the tail lamps aren’t of the clear lens type and moreover, there is a left mirror missing on the top end variant. By the way, the mirrors have also been given the Botox treatment in the K10 and they are bigger.
Since my dad’s colleague was a guy who was married and had a kid, it was prudent enough that he wouldn’t settle for a staid design. So he was all bonkers for the K10 variant.
The lengthening of the Maruti Alto K10 in India unfortunately doesn’t translate to more space in the interiors. The interiors seem familiarly Maruti in their nature and the only visible changes are the new steering wheel with a tachometer and small multi information display besides the speedometer. Swift parts abound in the cabin and the steering wheel is a nice example of it. Two cup holders in the front plus some cubby holes mark the cabin of the Alto K10. It cannot be called traditionally beautiful in front of the Chevy Spark or even the Hyundai Santro but then it holds its forte as one of the cheapest cars from Maruti on offer. The F8 engined car’s interiors seem like some one has already used the car and passed it on to you. The steering wheel is an odd 2 spoked unit which, frankly after using all these 3 and 4 spoked units really feels dated. Seating arrangement hasn’t changed much and the Alto is as comfortable or uncomfortable as it was earlier. The use of upholstery has changed from the somber black to a slightly bluish one like in the Ritz Vdi variant. Along with the updated engine comes in the aircon from the Wagon R and other higher priced cars. Needless to say, it did a wonderful job of cooling the interiors very quickly. The F8’s aircon unit is also an effective unit but it seems a bit wheezy. There was always a complaint from the F8 petrol that its rear seats are cramped and even now the complaint remains. However the K10 variant has got that sorted out by just a bit. What Maruti have done is build scoops inside the front seats. This means a bit more space than what the F8 can promise. The top end variant of the K10 gets a rear parcel tray while the F8 makes do without them. Moreover, upholstery colored door trim pads are available on the top end K10 variant. I though am not too pleased with the upholstery colored door trim since it tends to soil very easily. Boot space is same for both the cars though the K10 does seem a bit more spacious. But may be that would only just be my perception.
Oh, for the extra sense of space, he loved the K10. Moreover, its somewhat modern looking cabin also enticed him.
Handling and ride quality
Start the F8 petrol engine and you would be surprised at the lack of NVH. This after all is a petrol engine. The K10 engined Alto suffers from the irregular idle that the three cylinder K series engine is known for. Since the underpinnings haven’t changed for the K10 from the F8, both have a similar ride quality as also handling. However with the new steering wheel, the K10 engined Alto steers better. The steering wheel however seems a bit disconnected as compared to the one on the F8. The Maruti Alto k10 in India doesn’t seem as much fun to drive than the F8 and if only Maruti would have retained the same steering settings for the K10 as on the F8. The F8 and the K10 have been setup on the stiffer side and hence ride quality suffers a bit at low speeds while both have tremendous high speed stability, the handling is also on par with other smaller cars. However the smaller wheeled Alto F8 seems a bit more harsh in its ride quality than the K10. NVH levels are well damped in both with the K10 being a bit more silent at higher speeds than the F8.
He preferred the ride and handling of the F8 a bit better though I preferred it the other way.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
The Maruti Alto F8 in India gets an age old engine which is actually borrowed from the Maruti 800. Earlier the F8 used to have a 1.1 liter engine as well and that variant of the F8 was known as the Alto Spin. However that variant has been discontinued now and only the 800 cc variant is available. This engine makes 45 Bhp of power at 6000 rpm and 62 Nm of torque at 3500 rpm. It is mated with a 5 speed link-type shift actuator. Though the shifts are positive, this car cannot be hurried upon as the Alto’s engine doesn’t produce sufficient power and nor is the gear lever ready to be hustled into its gates quickly. The 0-100 kmph dash comes up in 21.4 seconds and the top speed that it can be hustled to is 136 kmph. On the other hand, the Maruti Alto K10 in India gets a new age K series engine which has a distributor less ignition system with India’s first twin cam on a 1.0 liter engine. Moreover this engine is also very light than the one in the F8. The power that this engine makes is 66 Bhp at 6200 rpm while the torque figures read as 90 Nm at 3000 rpm. The gear shifting mechanism is also a new unit and it is now cable actuated. The K10 engine is slightly bigger than the F8 one and hence the additional length of the bonnet on the K10 car. This rocker less shaft engine enables the K10 to move from 0-100 kmph in 14.8 seconds plus achieve a top speed of 156 kmph. While the engine is quite audible at high speeds, it sounds sporty as compared to the F8’s wail. The gear box also complements this enthusiastic engine with its gear shift changes.
Bigger wheels mean bigger brakes and this is what Maruti have done for the K10. They have provided bigger discs upfront and hence the K10 exhibits better stopping distances. Both the cars are prone to skiddish behavior since Maruti hasn’t equipped them with ABS or EBD. Airbags are also not in the options list and hence what you get is bare bones safety measures for both these cars. Though the K10 car is heavier than the F8 by about 35 kgs, it doesn’t exhibit so in the fuel efficiency. Infact the modern engine has outclassed the more dated one with an overall fuel efficiency of 18.4 kmpl with the AC on. The F8 petrol managed only 17.7 kmpl with the AC on.
Well, this colleague of my dad is a sucker for mileage and moreover, he has made up his mind that he would go for the Alto K10. However the dealer is offering the F8 with huge discounts. Once again, he wants my help. To be frank, I told him that you go with the discounts things now and you would end up with a dated engine and a less fun to drive car. He understood my point and chose the Alto K10. Now comes the time when he checks out the pricing of the cars. The Alto K10 is beyond his budget. There are about 8 variants of the Maruti Alto in India and those are the Maruti Alto LX, Maruti Alto LXi, Maruti Alto Std, Maruti Alto K10 LXI, Maruti Alto K10 VXI, Maruti Alto Green LXi (CNG), Maruti Alto GREEN STD BSIV and Maruti Alto GREEN LX BSIV. The Maruti Alto F8 price in India starts from Rs 2.81 lakhs whereas the Maruti Alto K10 price in India of the base variant starts from Rs 3.22 lakhs. He isn’t interested in going green and now seeing the price difference is more than inclined towards the F8. Well, what can I say in this? He finally chose the F8 over the K10 engined car seeing the discounts and the price difference. Moreover the prices that I have quoted over here are ex-show room, Thane. So for the ex-show room price of the K10 Lxi, he got the base variant of the F8 on-road. Well, you can’t blame him as he is also on a tight budget. Be it whichever vehicle, he has the Maruti assurance and reliability going for him. Plus the “n” number of service centers and easily available as also cheaply priced spare parts. Throw in the good fuel efficiency and you get the perfect first time car. Well, his choice was the F8 just because of the scale of economies however mine would be the more modern Alto K10, be it in whichever trim.
Now, do let us know, if you were in a similar situation, which car would you choose?