Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 Overview
Maruti, is a household name in India. In fact, in remote parts of the country, the term ‘Maruti’ is synonymous with ‘car’ – much like ‘Xerox’ is to ‘photocopy’. The Maruti 800 was consistently India’s highest selling car for years together. Outselling the competition combined at times. Everyone in the country has been associated with a Maruti. Either they’ve owned it, learnt driving on it, their neighbors had it or broke the windscreen on one while playing cricket. They were everywhere! The Alto was the spiritual successor to the Maruti 800, filling in its rather big shoes ever since September 2000. Carrying the weight of the car that put India on wheels is no mean feat. But the Alto did it ever so gracefully, becoming India’s largest selling car in the process.
The Alto has stood through thick and thin for Maruti, contributing consistently to their kitties. The Alto’s successor internationally, dubbed the ‘A-Star’ for the Indian market was introduced and pulled out of the market, while the good ol’ Alto soldiered on. Someone wise at MSIL decided not to pull the plug on the little wonder back then and we can safely conclude that the decision paid off. Powered by a rather lethargic 800cc engine, the Alto was an inexpensive city commuter. The 1.1 Alto was a rare breed. An engine borrowed from the WagonR, it was a pocket-rocket in the literal sense of the word. It was pulled out of the market owing to dismal sales and later replaced by the Alto K10 in 2010 which incidentally again borrowed its engine from the updated WagonR. View offers on Maruti Cars from Maruti dealers in Hyderabad at Autozhop.
Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 Exteriors
The Alto K10 is based on the Alto 800s platform. And the similarities are visible, especially when you view the K10’s silhouette. The K10’s silhouette will remind you of it’s 800cc sibling, the doors and the window area are identically styled. What does differentiate the K10 however is the strong character line that runs from headlight to taillight and vanishing into the center of the tail-gate.The new Alto K10 seems taller than the outgoing version and rides on tiny 155 section 13 inch tyres. There are no alloy wheels on offer either – just the good old wheel cap.
The front sees a large chrome strip running above a tiny grille that grabs all the attention. Flanking the grille on either sides are those large swept back clear lens headlamps. They may remind you of the Verna fluidic at a quick glance, but it does have a slightly flatter base. We love how the bonnet and the grille make one, clean, unified curve – looks very neat. The front bumper also gets a large slatted airdam at the centre and blacked out housing for the tiny circular foglamps. We had the VXi variant, which misses out on certain features like the foglamps, body colored door mirrors and door handles, all of which the VXi (O) variant gets. However, you can always get these features added at the dealership level by paying a minimal premium.
Over to the rear, the K10 features a large set of taillamps, a high mount stop lamp and a rather clean tailgate. The only thing that looks slightly odd, is the lock for the boot. More so, because there isn’t a handle to open the boot. You simply unlock the boot using the key or the boot release switch and it pops open. There’s a small recess just above the rear bumper using which you can open the boot. The rear bumper is minimalistic as well, no exhaust jutting out of this one.Overall, the Alto K10 does look like a clean package. The design is slightly on the aggressive side, but it isn’t as in your face as the Hyundai Eon. It has a very neutral stance as well, the only thing taking away from the overall form factor being the weedy tyres. A neutral design for a mass market car – that is design 101; courtesy Maruti.
Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 Interiors
In the last few years Maruti Suzuki have been developing quality interiors for their cars. And the Alto, even though it is the most affordable or dare I use the word, cheapest car in their portfolio, is no stranger this time around to a fabulous interior makeover. The dashboard now comes in a two tone shade. The top half is a dull charcoal black that sits on a bright and cheerful beige base. This combination is spread all over the cabin with the doors also exhibiting this very smart colour scheme. The highlight of this cabin though is the centre console which is superbly finished and shows off a piano black top layer housing a slick and smart looking audio system. It’s not a very intuitive audio system to use but it looks hot! Below that audio panel is a simple, neat, clean and devoid of any gimmickry air con control panel. Rotary knobs that look good and work smoothly, period. The steering wheel in the new Alto feels very familiar when you place your palms on the wheel though the three spoke design is new since it has to house the airbag module.
Maruti claims the cabin of the Alto is roomier but with a 1.5 centimetre increase in height and width I’m a bit skeptical about this claim. It can only be verified once we get the car for a test and see just how much roomier it is compared to the previous gen car. However to give them the benefit of the doubt, the Maruti engineers worked on reducing the size of the engine bay which theoretically should help them improve in-cabin packaging and space. The seats have been remoulded and at the front the headrest has been integrated into the backrest. For the rear passengers the backrest height has been increased by a few millimetres and knee recesses have been scooped out of the front passenger’s backrest to enhance the sense of space. However this would have been a much better job if Maruti had to employ an even slimmer seat profile with firmer foam quality to provide better cushioning and support. For more info on Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 check quisicilia
The only grouse I had with this cabin is that I wish the backrest for the rear passengers was even taller. With my 5’9″ frame perched in that seat, my head had no support from the headrest which barely reached the base of my spine. That’s neither safe nor comfortable. Even my knees weren’t too comfortable in the rear and taller people will have to sit quite upright to fit in.And finally the boot, the 177 litre cavity isn’t amazing but a low loading lip and flat floor has its practical uses. And more than ever, a car of this size and stature that can still offer a full size spare wheel is just a marvellous value addition in this day and age when even luxury car manufacturers with sedans of enormous proportions fail to do so.
Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 Gearbox
Now coming to the all important part, driving and the highlight in the new Maruti Suzuki Alto is its AMT box. There was a time when customers would have scoffed at the idea of an automatic in this segment. But Maruti have firmly driven home the point that something like the AMT does not deprive the car of the same efficiency as a manual transmission. I really wont dwell much on the manual transmission since the gearbox hasn’t changed and neither has the engine. The new Maruti Suzuki Alto has the same 1.0-litre K10 petrol and it’s more efficient but not more powerful or torquier than before. It’s a remarkably zippy car and one of the few naturally aspirated engines that you really enjoy whipping. Its short quick bursts of power (68PS) peak out at 6,000rpm and almost instantly you hit the rev limit at 6,500rpm. People who have driven this car before will recognise the feeling it stirs, to me it was fun on a completely different level. Being able to snap away from traffic lights quicker than most cars and then watching the expression on their drivers’ faces as a this small car darts away with unbelievable pace is a delight.
What has changed in this drivetrain are certain elements that work along with the engine to get that best in class fuel efficiency of 24.07kmpl as claimed by Maruti Suzuki, a near 15 per cent improvement over the outgoing Alto. To create this result the engine mapping within the ECU has been improved with better algorithms working faster and with more precision to measure out the air fuel intake in every driving condition. Even the new drive by wire throttle body helps get even more well measured and precise information to the ECU to take those fueling decisions. Complementing this effort is a lower kerb weight, 15 kilos have been shaved off compared to the older Alto across all variants. These weight savings have several implications not just in engine performance and efficiency but also in ride and handling.
To come back to the AMT transmission, like in the Celerio this is a unit sourced from Magnetti Marelli. A simple device that takes away the need for a clutch, the AMT transmission offers the choice of an automatic driving mode or a manual mode. In the automatic mode there is just a drive, neutral and reverse selector. In manual mode you can choose the gear you want to be in though while braking or slowing down the system will automatically downshift to the best gear. Upshifting needs manual intervention or you will simply see the tachometer needle bouncing off the redline.
The shift quality isn’t superb or immediate but its comfortable enough without being intrusive. In urban crawl speeds the shift quality is seamless and there really isn’t much to complain about. As speeds increase and you need quicker movement between the gears the shifts are perceptible and with a fraction of a seconds lag. Then it does not feel as seamless and its best to shift into manual mode. One flipside to the AMT is that in fifth gear as your speeds get to three digits the transmission starts jumping between fourth and fifth gears to try and keep the car in the power band and this causes the Alto which sits on skinny 155/55 R13 tyres to get skittish. Not an entirely pleasant situation to be in and we highly recommend you don’t make a foolhardy attempt to reach its top speeds.Check for EMI Calculator for Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 at Fincarz.
Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 Driving
On the short 70 kilometre drive the Alto showcased just how brilliant its ride quality is especially in urban areas over some rough roads. The gas-charged shock absorbers on a MacPherson strut assembly at the front and a 3-link rigid axle at the rear give it superb low speed absorption qualities. However, as the speed builds up and the corners get tighter or the surface undulating, you realise just how woefully inadequate this suspension is. There is a lot of body roll and you need to be able to react quickly enough to offset the suspension getting upset at being pushed hard around corners. The Maruti Suzuki Alto therefore is best experienced between the speeds of 60-80kmph and anything beyond is just asking it to perform over and above its station.
The steering too is reasonably precise at lower speeds with enough weight to give you a well connected feel but as you go faster it gets vague and the communication between steering wheel and tyres a bit disconnected.
Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 Safety
On the features side, you do get air-conditioning across all variants as standard with power windows coming in only on the higher VXi variant. This variant also gets airbags but there is no ABS anywhere, not even as an option. Whats also strange is that the Alto is one of the very few cars to still offer just one wing mirror on the base LX and the LXi variant as standard which is simply poor manufacturer attitude towards safety.
Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 On-Road Price in Chennai ranges from 3,87,823 to 4,94,912 for variants Alto K10 LX and Alto K10 LXI CNG Optional respectively. Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 is available in 8 variants and 6 colours. Below are details of Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 variants price in Chennai. Check for Alto K10 price in Chennai at Carzprice.
Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 Final Word
Overall, the Maruti Suzuki Alto continues to make a strong statement to those looking at buying their first car or even second smaller car for urban use. It may not be the perfect car but it does have the perfect set of ingredients. Practicality, manoeuvrability, and now great efficiency, convenience thanks to the AMT box and a modern quality with the exterior and interior styling, making it a very tantalising hatchback. Expected to be launched this month, I see Maruti pricing this very close to the outgoing Alto, probably even cheaper, just as an introductory strategy to pique customer interest. Maruti is firmly on its way to accumulating their next 25 lakh Alto customers and it will be helped, in no small way, with this new AMT Alto. Automatics it seems have finally gotten to centre stage!