The Maruti Suzuki Alto was introduced 10 years ago as a global replacement for the high selling 800. However in India, as is the norm, the Alto was slotted one step above that of the 800. It soon overtook the 800 as the best selling car in India and still does to this very day. With the 800 been discontinued last year, the Alto fought battles with the Chevy Spark, Tata Nano and Hyundai Santro cars. Recent sales took a dent with the advent of the Tata Nano and hence to remedy this, Maruti Suzuki India Limited have shoe-horned the 998cc K10 engine into the Alto and have christened it thee Maruti Suzuki Alto K10. The previous generation Alto still sells alongside the new Alto as well as the A-star but is slotted one rung below new one. We set out to check how good the new Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 car is.
The Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 looks slightly different than its older brethren. If we can dare say, actually, the erstwhile Zen, Maruti 800 and the old Alto all looked the same. The new Alto however features a new eagle eyed head lamp cluster and surprisingly it is outlined with chrome.It also integrates the side indicators and they are really huge. The grille also gets a chrome strip adorning it on the top. It is a small thing, the grille, however bigger than that of the old Alto. The air dams are slightly larger than the air dam and impart a sporty look to the car. There are separate circular vents for the fog lamps, and the fog lamps are embedded deep into those vents. One would certainly notice that the new Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 has a longer snout than the previous car. It more or less looks like the first generation Zen.
The side profile shows that the Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 has gained length. The outside rear view mirrors are black in color and look sort of aerodynamic. The wheels are of the 155/65 R13 tubeless types. There is no option for alloy wheels and all you get is wheel covers on the top of the line Vxi version. A horizontal rubber lining adorns the front as well as the rear doors.
The tail lamp cluster features clear lens glass from the old Maruti 800. Moreover, they are shaped like the latter. The rear bumper has also been extended making the Alto fall just shy of the 4000 meter mark.
Overall. A refreshing theme and one which Maruti calls as a mid-life rejuvenation.
The interiors have also received some of the magic dust sprinkling. The first thing that you notice is that the 3 spoke steering wheel is borrowed from the Maruti Suzuki Swift. It is lined with polyurethane material. However it is devoid of steering wheel audio controls. Actually there is no use giving it audio controls since the stereo system is anyways optional equipment. The steering wheel now feel meatier to hold than the old unit. You will also appreciate the two cup holders carved out in the place near the gear shifter. The seats are also of a new material with integrated head rests and much like the seats of the Ritz Vdi Blue waterfall themed car. The switchgear for the airconditioner controls and others remain the old archaic ones. However the driver controlled stalks like those of the indicators and wiper stalks have been borrowed from the pricier Swift. They now feel more chunkier to hold and hoot to operate. They function as well as their form shows. The Aircon controls are in the view of the driver and he doesn’t need to take his eyes off the road to operate them.
The dashboard meters are also new and add a much needed tachometer to the fare. It has a digital fuel indicator alongwith a tripmeter. The instruments are all lined in chrome. The gear shifter is also given a refresh with a new Matte finish. You would be disappointed by the lack of too many cubby holes and storage spaces. The door map pockets are slim and can’t hold much. The front seats have scoops at their back to help get more knee room for the rear seat passengers.
The boot though is surprisingly easy to load and can hold 117 liters of your luggage. Build quality is strictly okay and the Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 should easily bear the rigors of everyday traveling well. It is a well-known fact that Maruti cars develop rattles from the dashboard due to the use of sub standard materials.
Handling and ride quality
Even though the steering wheel is derived from the Swift, it is not as communicative as the Swift unit. It is electronically assisted and feels light at parking speeds and in the city. However venture out on the highway and the steering does feel vague. Maruti feels that many of the Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 buyers wouldn’t take the car too much onto the highway. The car is terrific to park in tight spots and a good all round visibility.
Body roll is also well controlled while going around fast corners. Stability has gone a notch up due to the larger wheel base however the skinny tyre size doesn’t inspire much confidence. The ride of the car feels big car like at low speeds however this myth is dispelled the moment you up the speed. The Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 has a jiggly ride quality at high speeds. The suspension is regular Maruti fare with the front sporting Independent Macpherson strut with an anti-roll bar and the rear making do with non-independent coil spring with torsion beam.
The front seat passengers would be more comfortable as they have enough of seat travel to compensate for the tight dimensions. However the front seats lack under thigh support. They fit the contours of the body well. The rear seats are cramped especially for any one north of 5 ft 8 inches. The scoop in the front seats help liberate a wee bit of knee room for the rear passengers.
Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency
This is where the major change has happened in the Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 and as the name suggests, the new car has been given a heart transplant. It now shares its engine with the A-star, Zen Estilo and the Wagon R. The inline 3 cylinder 996 cc K10B series engine bristles with high technology pumping out 67 Bhp @ 6,200 rpm and 90 Nm @ 3500 rpm. This K series engine is known to have an irregular idle as well is quite vocal in its operation. In the Maruti Suzuki Alto K10, it is not quite different. However the 200 cc increase has brought about a spring in the Alto’s footsteps. It now races from 0-100 in 15.32 seconds and that is about 4.4 seconds faster than the old Alto.
The Alto has a lightweight body weighing only 765 kg and this combined with the potent K series motor makes for a good performer. The K series engine feels sprightly enough even on the highway and the Alto now feels equally at home or the highway. That said, the K-series engine lacks power lower down and hence brisk progress in the city would mean shifting a gear or two lower. This shouldn’t be a pain since the cable-shift new gear shifter is precise but has a bit of long throw.
The fuel efficiency of the Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 have also increased from the older one. The new Alto now gives 15.5 kmpl in the city and 21.3 kmpl on the highway.
Braking is handled by larger discs at the front and drums at the rear. The Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 makes do without ABS and halts safely at any given speed. The brake pedal feel has also been improved and inspires confidence now. We noticed a slight skittish behavior when braked hard, but nothing too alarming.
Safety is bare basic on the new car with only three point seatbelts and a collapsible steering wheel. The longer snout of the car other than housing the bigger engine, is been so designed to absorb some energy during crash as well.
The Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 would be sold in two guises, the Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 Lxi and the Vxi variants. The Lxi would make do with only an air conditioner system, new dials and the new steering wheel. The Vxi would come with front power windows, power steering, remote central locking, fog lamps and internal adjustment for the ORVMs. Now with the new K10 engine, the new Alto makes more sense than the bare bones old 800 cc engine from the Maruti 800. It has a more mature look coupled with spruced up interiors, an okay ride and handling package and above all a killer Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 price starting with Rs. 3.13000 for the Lxi going up to Rs.3, 28000 for the Vxi. Superb value for money proposition with the increased fuel efficiency now.
Technical specifications of the Maruti Suzuki Alto K10:
Displacement: 998cc, 3 cyl, MPFi, KB10-series
Engine Type: Petrol
Maximum Power: 67 Bhp @ 6200 rpm
Maximum Torque: 90 Nm @ 3500 rpm
Length: 3630 mm
Width: 1485 mm
Height: 1467 mm
Seating Capacity: 5
Tyre Size: 155/65 R13 tubeless
Suspension: McPherson Strut, Coil spring gas filled shocks
Turning Circle: 4.53 mtrs.
Steering: Electronic Power assisted
Brakes: Front Disc, Rear Drum
Gears: 5 Manual
Ground Clearance: 162.00 mm
Kerb Weight: 765.00 kgs.
Fuel Tank: 36.00