Maruti Alto 800 Review
Let's Go KHISKO!!Monday, November 18, 2013
Maruti Alto is the most obvious and common recommendation from others if you are planning to buy your first car in India. This car has made Maruti Suzuki what it is today in our car market. For the past six years, Alto is the undisputed largest selling car in India. It’s the most trusted car ever in the history of Indian car market. Surprisingly, this car has managed to do so without any major up gradations for almost 12 years. Finally, Maruti has launched the second generation of this car ahead of the festive season in India. The rising competition from cars like Hyundai Eon made them to do so and frankly speaking; it was desperately needed. The aged appearance of this car was about to become a matter of concern for Maruti. What changes makes this car different from the existing model, let’s find out.
In terms of style and designing, the new Alto stands somewhere in the middle. Yes, Alto 800 looks much more stylish and appealing than the previous generation but it’s not as convincing as Hyundai’s Eon. Still there are many things which can grab your attention easily. The front styling carries the most noticeable changes. The boring headlights and front bumper are now replaced with new set of angular headlights and edgy bumper. These headlights may look like the compact version of the headlights used in Ford Figo. Front bumper is the most attractive thing at its front featuring new black colored grille and sharp lines on it. It has a trendy chin spoiler which nicely merges in into the wheel arches of this car. Radiator grille is very thin and just sports a Suzuki logo over it.
Now, this car looks very aero dynamic when seen from the front. Move to the side of this car and story changes and indicates towards some of the styling flaws. The side appearance is very similar to that of the current Alto as it’s based on the same platform. Apart from the shoulder line and noticeable wheel arches, there is nothing much to talk about. Things get worse when you see those 12 inch wheels which make it look very awkward. The wheels don’t complement the compact design of this car. The rear of the car is not as soothing as its front. The car uses clear lens tail lamps and its boot gate and C-pillar are very identical to its elder sibling, A-star. Rear bumper has nice lines running on it which is possibly the only thing that you may like at the back. Maruti could have worked more on its rear profiling as it has direct competition with Hyundai Eon which feels a generation ahead of Alto in terms of rear styling.
For the first time in 12 years, you will like the inside aura of this car. The grey color doesn’t look as cheap as it used to in the existing Alto and in the top variant you also get the brown color which feels up-market. There is lot of silver accent inside in its top variant which includes silver finishing on door handles, steering wheel and around AC vents and centre console. The three spoke steering feels much better than before and complements its interior styling. The plastic quality has also improved significantly.
Now Alto looks much proportionate from inside than ever. The car features new fabric in its seats and door trims. These seats are very slim and have integrated headrests. These seats occupy less space than before and give you more space inside. The car has a seating capacity of five people. However the three passengers at the back may not prefer long journeys in this car because it’s less in space and you will keep on searching for comfort inside. Legroom and headroom will be a major concern for tall people.
Comfort and Convenience
The slim seats inside do not offer much comfort either. The rear seat lacks back support and under thigh support. However its front seats are much better but certainly Alto is not a car which you will choose for comfort. There are some other features in it to improve comfort and convenience inside. The top variant of new Alto comes with AC with heater, front power windows and power steering. The new gear knob is much short and easy to use. It also features internally adjustable outside mirrors, remote fuel lid and back door opener, dual trip meter and sun visor and assist grip for front passenger and driver.
Dashboard and Storage
The new dashboard is the most exciting thing inside. After 12 years, finally Alto has managed to get rid of that irritating and cheap looking dashboard. The new one feels much more stylish, modern and adds an appeal to this car. Its V-shaped central console gives it a premium look and you will also like the way Maruti has housed the central AC vents. Side AC vents are round in shape and look nice on the new dashboard. Few plastic buttons are a carryover from the current Alto but most of the plastic quality feels up market.
The texture, design and feel of the dashboard are very capable to give a tough competition to Hyundai Eon. Silver accents also go perfect with everything inside. A complete new instrument dial is a welcome feature with a digital clock in its speedometer. The new dials are easily readable and nicely illuminated. For storage purpose, the car has a glove box in its dashboard, bottle holder, can holder and coin holder. There is an additional driver side storage space and map pocket with utility pocket on the front passenger side. It has a small boot capacity which almost vanishes when it gets fitted with a CNG cylinder. However it can be increased by folding the rear seat.
The VXi variant of Alto 800 comes equipped with factory-fitted music system with USB port.
Engine and Gearbox
The new Alto uses the same F8D petrol engine of the current Alto. It may be the same engine but Maruti has made major changes in this department and as a result of that torque output has improved significantly. This 796cc 3 cylinder engine now generates a maximum power output of 47.5 bhp at 6000 rpm with a torque output of 69 Nm coming at 3500 rpm. This engine is mated with a five speed manual gearbox. The new Alto has a big advantage over Hyundai Eon as its petrol engine is also available with company fitted CNG kit with similar specifications.
Acceleration and Performance
There are possibly three major changes which you can notice in the performance of the new Alto. First is the power delivery which comes a bit earlier than before. This is quite beneficial when you get onto highways. Secondly the increased torque output makes it much easier to move this car in city traffic with AC. Third is the new cable type shifter in the gearbox which has made the gear transitions much smoother. Definitely the new car has improved in comparison to the existing model. The new Alto is not a performer and it’s quite clear the way it behaves. Yes, you don’t have to push it hard initially but once pass 2000 rpm; you need to press the throttle continuously. With full seating of five, it’s still a task to overtake other vehicles on highways.
This car is actually not comfortable on highways as reaching a top speed of 140km/hour is not a pleasing experience. The engine turns noisy when you cross the speed of 100km/hour and Alto finds it hard to stay grounded. Gear ratios are also a bit tall to give you high fuel efficiency but for that you have to sacrifice on its performance. To get the best out of this car, you have to work on its gears continuously. The performance of this car on CNG is quite impressive. It reacts really well and you hardly find any turbo lag in comparison to its petrol variant. Alto still feels underpowered if we compare it with Eon. Eon feels much peppier than Alto and can easily beat it on highways; Eon feels more relaxed and has much smoother power delivery.
Maruti cars are known for their high fuel efficiency and Alto is on the top of that list. The new lighter Alto with taller gear ratios manages to give you a fuel efficiency of around 18km/ltr in city conditions while on highways it can give you a mileage of around 20-21km/ltr. The CNG variant is even more fuel efficient. On CNG the car will cost you almost similar to a bike which is very helpful in those cities where CNG is easily available. High fuel efficiency has always been a USP of Alto and this one is no different. ARAI claimed mileage of petrol version is 22.74 kmpl and of CNG version is 30.46 km/kg.
For the first time, Alto is offered with an optional driver airbag for safety. This airbag is only available in the petrol variant. Other safety features in this car includes immobilizer, tubeless tyres and collapsible steering column.
Suspension and Brakes
New Alto shares its suspension system with the current Alto. Most of the bumps are easily digested but worst potholes are still a matter of concern. However the car manages to settle on uneven conditions. Maruti has equipped this car with solid discs at its front with drum brakes at the back. The car weighs around 715 kgs and the braking system feels quite adequate according to the weight of this car.
Dimensions and Ground Clearance
Maruti Suzuki India has reduced the length of Alto F8D by 100mm; the length of Alto 800 is 3395mm. Though the wheelbase of the car same at 2360mm. The width of the car is 1490mm (more by 15mm) and height is 1475mm (more by 15mm). The ground clearance of Alto 800 is same at 160mm, which is quite good for Indian roads.
The boot capacity of Alto 800 is only 177 litres. It is sufficient considering the size of the car but it is less in comparison to the Hyundai Eon's boot space of 215 litres.
Ride and Handling
The car handles really well in city conditions and due to its small size and minimum turning radius of 4.6m, it easily fits in to tight spaces. Other than this, there is nothing exciting about its ride and handling. You will be scared if you drive this car at high speeds on highways as the steering feels disconnected and the car lacks stability on road. Tiny tyres, low ground clearance of 160mm and short wheelbase of 2360mm never give you the confidence while driving and sharp corners are the worst thing that you can experience in this car. You have to be gentle with this car and from a driver’s perspective, it’s really disappointing.
Maruti Alto 800 is available in nine variants: Standard, Lx, Lxi, Lxi Airbag, Vxi, Vxi Airbag, CNG Standard, CNG Lx and CNG Lxi. The top-of-the-line Vxi Airbag variant of Alto 800 is fully loaded with host of styling and comfort features like power steering, AC, power windows, full wheel covers, central locking, driver side airbag, music system, body coloured bumpers, rear parcel tray, central locking, rear spoiler, body side moulding, accessory socket, passenger side rear-view mirror, body coloured door handles and adjustable outside rear-view mirrors. Sadly, Maruti Suzuki has not provided ABS with EBD, not even as an option. Also, the Lx variant with a price tag of 2.76 lakhs doesn't come with power steering, power windows and body coloured bumpers.
Like Alto K10, the Alto 800 is available in six attractive shades: Frost Blue, Granite Grey, Superior White, Blazing Red, Silky Silver and Torque Blue. The Alto 800 looks best in Frost Blue and Blazing Red.
Standard - Immobilizer, Cable Shift Gearbox and Detent Pin Transmission Technology.
Lx (in addition to Standard variant) - Heater plus AC, Front seats with scooped out backs, B and C pillar trims, Remote boot lid opener and Remote fuel filler.
Lxi (in addition to Lx variant) - Power steering, Driver side airbag as an option, Body colored front and rear bumper, Full Wheel covers, Digital clock, Front power windows and Adjustable ORVMs.
Vxi (in addition to LXi variant) - Rear spoiler, Rear parcel tray, passenger side rear-view mirror, central locking, music system with speakers, body side moulding and accessory socket.
Maruti gives a standard warranty of 2years/40,000kilometers on new Alto which can be extended further.
New Alto ranges from INR 2.44lakhs-3.56lakhs (ex-showroom, Delhi). Maruti has decided to sell this new Alto along with the existing model. With this car, Maruti will try to bridge down the gap between regular Alto and Alto K10. Undoubtedly, the new Alto is better than the previous car but the biggest question arises-Is it better than its biggest rival, Hyundai Eon? If we compare it on the basis of pricing and fuel efficiency then yes, this car is more economical and easy on pocket than Eon and proves to be a good option but if you talk about features, style and performance then Eon has the upper hand.
Apart from pricing, there is hardly anything better in the new Alto than Eon but as we have seen till now, Eon has not been able to get the trust of Indian buyers. On the other hand, Alto has a huge fan following and loyal buyers and with this new look; things will get only better in future. The CNG variant is an additional advantage and even though it lacks some features; it’s still a complete value for money car due to its fuel efficiency, low maintenance and high resale value. New Alto is already in tremendous demand and soon it will establish new records of success and will continue to be the largest selling car in India.