The Alto is Maruti Suzuki’s small car offering in the A segment and currently its highest selling car model in India. The Alto was brought to life in 1998 to replace its utilitarian 800 model Across Suzuki’s global markets. In India though, it continues to be sold alongside along the 800. The Alto inspite of being a compact offering with minimal luxuries continues to sell well as it fulfills the requirement of most Indians car buyers by possessing basic creature comforts and safety features. The Alto being a budget offering is the first choice of majority people who are first time car buyers and in pursuit of a credible motoring experience.
Design and Features
In terms of looks, the Alto doesn’t appear to be a budget offering. The contemporary design lends the Alto a sophisticated and elegant look which is quite pleasing on the eye. The clear lens headlamps and front grille with a touch of chrome coupled with a low waistline aids its aesthetic appeal. The wide front bumper with a biggish air dam was incorporated into the design to make the Alto look bigger than it is. The chunky C-pillars and fat rear bumper further accentuates its big car look. The interiors are very basic and an eye sore though in comparison to the exteriors.
The Alto is offered to buyers in three models name standard, LX and LXi. The standard model as the name suggests is the ultra basic variant without any features like air conditioning, power windows or even body colored bumpers. The LX model only gets an air conditioner as standard. The LXi model gets air conditioning, body colored bumpers and electronic power steering. All three models boast of a collapsible steering column, booster assisted brakes, factory fitted iCATS security system and 4-way adjustable headlamp leveling device.
Driving abilities and Comfort
In terms of ride and handling the Alto performs way better that anyone would expect it to. This was essentially design to be a city car and that’s where it excels. With compact dimensions, light weight and a minimum turning radius of 4.6m it’s easy to guide this baby through chaotic city traffic. While driving at high speeds through winding roads the lack of sufficient driving dynamics surfaces. However there are no stability issues when the car is driven on a straight road at high speeds. The steering wheel is immensely communicative and offers good feedback.
The suspension setup for the Alto includes Mc Pherson strut at the front and gas filled coil spring suspension at the rear. On road this translates into a ride quality which is quite good for its size. The tall 145/80 section tyres on 12’ rims also aid in the betterment of its ride quality. The ride quality however drops as and when the road surface worsens. Its best on smooth and evenly surfaced roads. The brakes do a good job in hauling this car to a stop and are confidence inspiring.
The Alto is powered by a three cylinder MPFI 796cc petrol mill which develops a max power output of 47PS@6200rpm and max torque of 62Nm@3000rpm. A kerb weight of 735kgs and four valves per cylinder help this car deliver on-road performance that one can live with practically or rather adapt to. Well, this aint no hot hatch but it can out accelerates a Nano, auto rickshaws and the Maruti 800 at any given time on any day. The Alto takes 21 seconds to attain the speed of 100kmph from standstill. The acceleration run of 0-60kmph is achieved in 7.2 seconds. Fuel Efficiency is its strong point and it returns an overall figure 15kpl. Upon flooring the accelerator pedal on a long straight road, the speedo needle tops out at 140kmph. The gear ratios of the 5-speed transmission have been optimized to better bottom end performance of this city car. It is recommended to switch the AC off during overtaking maneuvers as it saps considerable engine power when in on mode.
The base model Alto Standard retails for Rs. 2.5 lakhs (on-road Mumbai) while the LX variant is priced at Rs. 3 lakhs (on-road Mumbai). The top LXi model sports a price tag of 3.3 lakhs (on-road Mumbai). The Alto does not face any competitor other than its in-house sibling Maruti 800, which is also a small car on a budget. The Maruti Suzuki Alto is a better car than the 800 in all respects. If you are on the lookout for a city roundabout which offers good fuel efficiency, has no reliability issues, is extremely low on maintenance and don’t mind the slightly cramped interiors, then the Alto will fit your requirements perfectly. It will last for ages and is good value for money too.