Perky performer

The name Maruti Suzuki Alto still resonates well with the mobility dreams of millions of Indians. It has been a household name for the past 22 years.
Maruti Suzuki Alto s
Maruti Suzuki Alto s

The name Maruti Suzuki Alto still resonates well with the mobility dreams of millions of Indians. It has been a household name for the past 22 years. Over the years, this undisputable leader and the best-selling car for 16 consecutive years became part of 43.2 lakh Indian families. 

That is why Alto K10 has made a comeback now, after a hiatus of two and half years. Though Alto 800 continues to sell well, its 1000 cc sibling, Alto K10, has big significance in Maruti Suzuki’s business strategy.

The car was discontinued when the BS6 emission norms came into effect. Though the company introduced S-Presso, a boxy small car with a BS6 1-litre engine, the void persisted.

Now an entirely new Alto K10, the third generation Alto model in India, is introduced to further strengthen Maruti’s ever-growing relationship with customers. The 800cc Maruti Alto will continue to be on sale alongside this new model. Will the totally new Alto K10 continue the legacy? Let’s have a check.

As a part of Maruti’s national media drive in Kochi, I got the opportunity to drive this popular car — both the AGS and manual variants. I am much impressed with the peppy performance of both. The car is very stable at higher speeds and performs well on city roads and highways. One can easily handle the compact vehicle on narrow roads, even during hectic traffic.

In the excitement, I drove the automatic vehicle at three-digit speeds (up to 107 kmph) to experience the power, stability and control of this small hatchback. The vehicle shows excellent ride quality and brake control at higher speeds. I felt no lag or jerk in AGS. We can easily overtake others when necessary. Good suspension and easy-to-handle steering give one more confidence while driving.   Alto K10 gives a seamless, comfortable ride. However, the lack of hill-hold assist is a drawback in AGS transmission. 

Comfortable and convenient
The new model is packed with many features for comfort and convenience. The SmartPlay studio infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen features smartphone connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also has steering-mounted audio and voice controls, four speakers, a digital speedometer display, front power window switches on the instrument panel and remote keyless entry.

All new design
The new model is nothing like the old one. It has gone through a thorough transformation. Even at first glance, the car appears new and stylish. For one, it is larger and more rounded. Certain profiles even appear similar to Celerio. A black hexagon-shaped grille dominates the front dashboard. The honeycomb air intake element adds to the neat look. 

The headlamps with a swept-back pattern look attractive on the model. The 13-inch steel wheel and the character lines on the body panels compliment the side profile. The rear lamps are more rounded. It comes with a bigger boot space and offers more convenience. The boot space is increased to 214 litres from 177 litres. The width of the car remains unchanged but all other dimensions are now grown. It’s more cute and peppy, attractive to the youth but conservative enough for long-time fans. 

Lively interiors
The interior of the car adds to comfortable driving. The cabin design offers enough knee space in the front row. It also has enough utility spaces. The second row can easily occupy three passengers. However, the headroom might be tight for taller people.

Next-gen engine 
The all-new Alto K10 is built on Suzuki’s signature HEARTECT platform. It claims to have enhanced crash safety, strength and NVH performance. NVH levels — the noise, vibration and harshness — are very well controlled in the new car. The engine noise comes to the cabin only when we rev hard. The new car is powered by the next-gen K-series 1-litre dualjet, dual VVT engine. It delivers 49kW (67 HP) peak power. The engine powers an exciting and fun drive experience.  According to Maruti Suzuki, it will provide excellent fuel efficiency of 24.90 km/l in automatic variants and 24.39 km/l in manual gear.  For me, both variants gave mileage of around 22 km/l during the test drive.

Maruti introduced Alto in 2000 when Maruti 800 was on a good sales track. When the company axed some variants of the Maruti 800 and added some more affordable variants to the Alto 800, the sales picture of Alto began to change. Alto became the largest-selling car in India for 16 consecutive years.
Alto sales 
2008 - 10 lakh 
2012 - 20 lakh 
2016 - 30 lakh
2020 - 40 lakh 
2022 - 43.2 lakh 
(till August )

Alto K10 comes in four manual transmission variants and 2 AMT variants. Ex-showroom prices start at Rs 3.99 lakh.
Std - Rs 3.99 lakh
Lxi - Rs 4.82 lakh
Vxi - Rs 5 lakh
Vxi+ - Rs 5.50 lakh
Vxi AMT - Rs 5.34 lakh 
Vxi+ AMT - Rs 5.84 lakh
Maruti’s own S-Presso is priced between Rs 4.25 lakh and 5.99 lakh. The Alto 800 is priced below by a fair margin. However, with Onam offers on, S-presso is cheaper than Alto K10 this month in Kerala.

A tribute to Maruti 800
Four decades ago, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi handed over the keys of the first Maruti 800 to Harpal Singh, the first owner of the model.  After he died in 2010, the car remained unattended and started decaying. It caught the attention of the company when pictures of this legendary car went viral on social media.  The company chased down the model and has completely restored it. The car with registration number DIA 6479 will now remain at its headquarters. While unveiling the restored Maruti 800, the company’s executive director Shashank Srivastava said, “Seventy-five years ago India took its first step as an independent nation. Forty years ago we did the same with the first Maruti Suzuki 800. We are proud of our little part in putting India on wheels and will keep continuing our journey”.

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