The A-Star was initially showcased as a concept car by Maruti Suzuki at the 2008 Auto Expo. A lot of industry watchers sat up and took notice of this car for Maruti Suzuki’s Indian designers had played a key role in the shaping of its final form. It was one of the most awaited car launches, for it was going to be sold as the fifth generation ’Alto’ for markets across the globe. The manufacturer also previewed the car at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. Nissan has purchased around 80,000 units of this car that is being sold as the Pixo under their name brand name in a few markets.
Design and Features
The A-Star being a small car follows a compact design. Unlike its Hyundai peers, it doesn’t cater to the tall boy theme. Maruti Suzuki had briefed its designers to develop a small car whose looks would appeal to the current generation of car buyers. With an unconventional design this car surely stands out among a crowd but in a good way. This production model with its large headlamps, big grille and a rounded design theme does look a lot cuter than the sporty concept on which its based. The rear end doesn’t look that cute though but its surely not offensive. The front end design is quite steeply raked in comparison to the rear. The rear door windows could have a touch bigger though.
Prospective buyers get three variants of the car to choose from namely LXi, VXi and ZXi. The base variant exists to generate volumes for the manufacturer and comes equipped with power steering and air conditioning apart from mundane wheel covers. On the Vxi variant, power windows, central locking, and a music system are offered as standard along with the above features. The top variant comes fully loaded with ABS, dual front airbags, rear defogger, fog lamps, dash integrated four speaker CD/MP3 compatible music system, central locking and a rally car style pop out tachometer.
Driving abilities and Comfort
The A-Star has its role cut out in being a driver’s car. With a monocoque chassis this baby is capable of keeping the driver entertained. The wide track further improves its driving dynamics. Be it a straight road or one with curves and sweeping corners, the A-Star handles through all with élan. At high speeds it feels well planted on the road and doesn’t get panicky even during hard braking. The power assisted steering wheel is quite communicative and delivers good feedback. The steering is neither too light nor devoid of feel which makes guiding this car through traffic an enjoyable experience.
There are no complaints with respect to ride quality too owing to the presence of gas damped suspension on all four corners. It sports 155/R13 tubeless tyres as standard. In comparison to its competitors, the suspension is a tad stiff which only aids its cornering prowess. Make no mistake: in terms of ride quality, its competitors offer a more cosseting experience. But when it comes to being a driver’s delight, the A-Star takes the cake.
The A-Star gets powered by a new age 1.0 liter K-series petrol engine. It is a three cylinder aluminum motor which utilizes a high compression ratio of 10:1 to develop a max power of 67PS@6200rpm and max torque of 90Nm@3500rpm. The engine is immensely peppy beyond 3500rpm and revs eagerly all the way to its redline. It has a dry weight of just 47kgs owing to the incorporation of plastic engine manifold, concords without nuts, a DOHC shaft without rockers and pistons low on weight. It even complies to Euro V emission norms. The 0-100kmph acceleration run is achieved in a respectable 14 seconds. With a kerb weight of 880kgs, it attains a top speed of 160kmph. It even delivers a highly commendable overall fuel efficiency of 17kpl. The 5 speed gearbox is not exactly ’butter smooth’ but is way better in comparison to the one on the Wagon R.
With an asking price of Rs.4 lakhs (on-road Mumbai) for the LXi variant and Rs.4.72 lakhs for the ZXi variant (on-road Mumbai), the A-Star competes against Hyundai’s Santro and i10 along with Chevrolet’ Spark. It’s main drawbacks include the low quality plasticky interiors, low boot space and the fact that rear passengers get very less space to get comfortable in. On the plus side, it’s a new age small car that scores over its competitors in every other department. If you are on the lookout for a small performance hatch, then the A-Star is clearly your best bet.