Maruti has launched a new variant of its best selling model, the Alto K10. The new variant brings along with it some fresh styling and also gets a new powerplant. The 1-litre K-series engine which is already doing duty in the A-star, Estilo and the new WagonR finds its way into the Alto as well.
The 1-litre K-series engine has replaced the existing 800cc unit in the top variants of the Alto. However, the base variant, LX, will still be available with the older 800cc motor.
On the outside, angular headlights coupled with a bigger grille lend the new Alto a bold, mature look. The restyled rear with new tail-lights looks modern and gels well with the overall design. And the increased length gives the Alto a more purposeful stance.
On the inside, the new steering wheel looks nice and grips your hands well. The dials look more upmarket and are easy to read. The dashboard is unchanged but there's too much of grey plastics and some of the materials look low-rent. The vibrant seat colour livens up the otherwise drab-looking interiors. While the low seats make getting in and out cumbersome, the new front seats are similar in design to the A-star’s with integrated headrests. While the comfortable seats offer good support, they lack under-thigh support. Seat bolstering isn’t that great and you tend to get thrown around when the driver gets a bit enthusiastic. Despite the increased length, interior space hasn’t increased and the headroom remains poor. The boot is decent considering the car’s size.
The 1-litre twin-cam motor produces a healthy 67bhp and 9.18kgm of torque and is an improvement, despite some vibrations at idle. The throttle responses have improved drastically. The lively, rev-friendly engine is hugely flexible and a thrill to drive. Overtaking on the highway is much easier now and only a shift or two is needed to accelerate with gusto.
The Alto K10 now reaches 100kph in a very brisk 15.46 seconds, 4.92sec faster than the older car. The cable-shift gearbox is slick and precise but the throws are a bit long. The new Alto’s compact dimensions and light steering are terrific for parking in tight spots. All-round visibility is good. Ride at low speeds is decent, and the Alto easily soaks up most road undulations. There’s a fair bit of body roll when you go around a corner in speed, but the car still feels safe. However, the light steering is uncommunicative at high speeds. Stability at high speeds, though improved, isn’t great yet. Fuel efficiency is expected to be class-leading and better than other Marutis sharing this engine, thanks to the Alto's light kerb weight.
The new Alto LXi is priced at Rs 3.19lakh while the VXi variant, which has power steering, air-conditioning, front power windows, internally adjustable mirrors and body-coloured bumpers retails at Rs 3.32lakh (prices ex-showroom Mumbai). Frugal and fun is what the new Alto is all about.
Issue: 196 | Autocar India: December 2015
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