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Old 11th May 2006, 15:24   #1
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Thumbs up Alto VXi

Following are my impressions of the buying experience of a car, for which much has not been written as Maruti decided to cut short its life to save an ageing model.

Buying Process: I was on the lookout for my first car. A few decisions variables that I considered:

- This was my first car, so had to be easy to drive
- I wanted a used car. I am of the 'old school of thought' and believe in buying a used car till not proficient. Secondly i did not want to take loans (old school of thought again)
- I am short in height and generally the only one in the so I had no particular inclination to have cars with loads of space, though it is not bad to have more space.
- I knew how to drive but had not driven much, so wanted the spares to be cheap. I knew howsoever careful I would be, my car will end up having dents. Now I hate if the car is not looking good and has dents, so I knew I would go for dent removal / changing parts often, so spares, rather frequently dented parts like bumpers, fenders had to be cheap.
- I wanted a powerful car, though I am not the type 'BHP is never enough', but definitely did not want a car where I would have had to wait for ages to overtake a vehicle.
- I wanted a car with high driver involvement. Now I have not driven many cars, so had to go by the feedback of many people, especially on this forum.
- Everybody dreams of going on long weekend trips, so do I, but I also knew that they would not be too frequent and the usage would primarily be in the city with occassional highway driving (that too I wanted to wait for 6 months to take it out on highways)
- Budget - I had not put much constraint but was looking at between 2.5-3.0 L

Considering all the factors above, cars with a boot were booted. Hatch was enough for me. When you are in used car market, more often than not you look for a nice deal (VFM) unless your heart stops for one car. Especially happens for a first time buyer who in the excitement ends up buying the first car. I was one of them and wanted to stop myself till I got a good deal.

My heart said Palio, after reading so much about it and seeing the mouth watering deals, but head cautioned against the money that you have to pay for the frequently dented parts. Secondly I did not particularly need all the space, although it was not harmful either. It did not seem that it was easy to drive (though i did not drive it). So there my heart lost and ended the Palio dream. So I ended up just ogling at cars in the used car marts and reading about them in India Ads.

To start the process I became a regular customer of Free Ads and Ad-Mag and was browsing used car websites. Also to gauge the market and prices I was a regular at the used car melas and used to call people from the Free-Ads. One day when I was in a good mood and had nothing to do, so decided to visit one of the used car dealers. I saw a 2003 Zen VXi with 35K on the odo selling at 2.8L. I liked the car but the suspension was faulty and the car was bouncing at the touch of a hand, though the engine was smooth and good. I also went to Classic, a reputed used car dealer saw a Alto VX 2002 40K in good condition at 2.4 L plus commission. Somehow I did not want to buy from the dealers. That day just got a bit pumped up, went home and picked up Ad-Mag and started searching the ads, saw one Alto VXi 2002 run only 7.5K for 2.8L. Met the person at 9:00 pm, after travelling 10 km. Told I want to get the car checked first. Got the car checked from a trusted MASS ( I knew the owner through somebody). The feedback - car is good, driven occassionally and will be troublefree, only clutch plates needed to be washed in petrol as they had tend to become sticky due to low running, especially over past few months. Else the car was scratchless and as new as a used car could get. Closed the deal at 2.65L. The previous owner got the car serviced before I took delivery.

The Car

Alto VXi lacks the kind of following which Zen enjoys and if for anybody status symbol is a factor, clearly Zen is considered a notch above. Though I think Alto VXi would be better than Zen (newer design, safer, bigger engine).

The parts are not expensive and availability is a non-issue as most of them are shared with Wagon R. Have been driving for a few months now. I am better than expected I guess. Got only 2 dents that which i got removed promptly. The servicing cost is also not high and as expected with Maruti, the A-S-S is not an issue with a wide network of MASS.

Now as I have not driven many cars extentsively, I will not be able to pass a judgement on how it features when compared to others. I would have wanted engine to be a bit more torquier for city drives and currently it requires more gear changes than to my liking, though overtaking is not an issue, with 63bhp at the tap, which is sufficient for a car of this weight and size.

AC is effective but I do not like the sliding controls and with AC ON, the engine becomes a bit sluggish. I believe 'New' Alto gets rotary controls which is an improvement. Secondly the blower makes lot of noise at settings 2 and 3. I have heard of Power Window problems cropping up in Marutis, but I have not seen any problem yet. There is one thing though, the passenger side window is slower than the driver side window. VXi comes with tacho, which is nice to have.

One more thing which I noticed while driving in rains - the poor wiper speed settings. Now on lowest setting it is too slow and on one setting higher it is fast. Santro in my opinion has got the speeds nicely spaced out. Maybe its just my feeling, but it is definitely a bit irritating for me.

On a sidenote - I have noticed that Maruti has gone on a big-time cost cutting excercise for Alto. 'New' Alto has pathetic side view mirrors which are not adjustable from inside. This is even true for LXi version, though earlier Alto LXi's had internally adjustable side mirrors. Even for Wagon R, now the VXi does not have all the features that it used to have 3-4 years back.

Ease of Use:
This is where the car scores. It is extremely easy to use in the city. You feel confident that you know where the four corners of the car are (for a first time driver it is important).

The car is not spacious. For me it is fine as I am short in height and usually am the only one in the car. Wagon R and Alto have the same length and width but with the tallboy design, Wagon R gives feeling of much more space.

The car has long gear throws and with somebody in the passenger seat it can get uncomfortable.

The footwell is also cramped. I am sure for a tall person it will be a problem. Also there is no dead pedal, which can be a pain. With cramped footwell, I am not sure if this can be fitted as an after-market fitment.

Fuel Efficiency:
I got 15 kmpl on last tankful. all city driving, 40% bumper-to-bumper, 20% with AC. My driving style is normal and I upshift at 2000 rpm (tacho helps). Lately, once in a while in rush of blood I take the car to 4000 rpm in every gear. I am pleased with the mileage. Also I believe the mileage has increased a bit over past few months as I have been driving daily now and as the car was not run much by the previous owner, the initial portion of my drive was also a re-run-in for the car. Though increased FE could be wishful thinking as I did not measure fuel efficiency till recently.

Only one - there is a squeaking sound from front right. I am sure with the off roading (Bangalore roads) I do it is not entirely unexpected.

My final thoughts - From a positioning point of view retaining Zen and shelving Alto VX/VXi was a good move and may have helped Maruti. IMHO Alto VXi would have been a nice successor to Zen, rather than the pathetic cosmetic changes they came with.

Overall I am happy with the car and my buying decision and am enjoying my driving. As it is my first car so the feeling is even better. I am just waiting to have a nice weekend drive, with the nice weather that Bangalore has now

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Old 11th May 2006, 15:53   #2
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hey nice review! having driven a Vx extensively, I can vouch for each and everything you have mentioned. One suggestion though: Upgrade the footwear. The OE tyres are not at all adequate if you plan to do some serious driving.
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Old 11th May 2006, 15:54   #3
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You felt car sluggish after switching on the AC :O My dad owns a Alto VXi & by far thats the only small car I have comes across which doesnt feel sluggish even after switching the ac on(except for 4th & 5th gear which for obvious reasons do feel slightly).

A Correction: Alto LX, LXi never had internally adjustable mirrors it was always the VX & Vxi whihc had them, but yes they are very good & even I have replaced my OEM mirrors with the internally adjustable one, need to get one for the left yet.

I still regret why did they stop the production of such a nice car which could easily have been a good replacemnet for the Zen :(

And yes Congrats for the new buy
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Old 11th May 2006, 17:33   #4
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Nice review.

I also own an Alto VXi and must say it is an excellent overall car.
I get around 14 km/L in city (intermittent AC on) . Also, I didn't notice any big power drop with AC on.
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Old 11th May 2006, 18:17   #5
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Originally Posted by serious_maniac
On a sidenote - I have noticed that Maruti has gone on a big-time cost cutting excercise for Alto. 'New' Alto has pathetic side view mirrors which are not adjustable from inside. This is even true for LXi version, though earlier Alto LXi's had internally adjustable side mirrors. Even for Wagon R, now the VXi does not have all the features that it used to have 3-4 years back.
It is not just Maruti. Even Hyundai has been beaten by this bug. Earlier the Santro was very nicely specced for all the price points with incrementally added features. Today they have the top end XO followed by XL (I think). And XL has almost all the goodies missing. No rear wiper, defogger (Ok that is anyhow the top-end variant) or even body colored bumpers. They have also cut down on small internal furnishings.
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Old 11th May 2006, 18:53   #6
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Nice review. I wish the Alto VXi was still available today. Would have made an excellent buy. :(
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Old 11th May 2006, 20:35   #7
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One thing which I would like to mention is that handling is OK-good. The tires do not justify what the car can handle, but I guess that is true of all cars, especially Maruti.

@ mohit - I would like to upgrade the tires, but not immediately as till now I have not felt the need for fatter rubber.

@technocrat, sbasak - The car is not sluggish with AC on, but you can feel the difference the AC makes. With AC on, I do require more gear changes. My primary area of driving is within city, so it can become a pain. Maybe I demand too much.

Overall an enjoyable little car

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Old 11th May 2006, 21:52   #8
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conratulations for yor purchase MANIAC ,the 1.1 alto was very peppy car and could shame a lot of midsizers for performance, and marutis are known for their superb efficiency but is seriosly letdown by the poor ergonomics and lack of space and those puny tyres make it skiddy when braked hard.
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Old 11th May 2006, 23:32   #9
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Awesome review. Any reviews on the ALTO LXI new look model?? I plan to buy one shortly.
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Old 12th May 2006, 02:27   #10
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Fantstic review!
All the best with your new car
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Old 12th May 2006, 09:33   #11
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nice review s_m. Two days back I drove a coleague's Alto Vxi. I like it's peppiness. I am 6"1". You are true, taller drivers feel very uncomfortable.
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Old 12th May 2006, 11:40   #12
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Congratulations on your new car Serious Maniac. I always liked the 1.1 litre Alto, but when I bought my 800 in 2002, the 1.1 was already on its way out. So, I chose the 800 to be on the safe side.
You wrote a very nice review. I agree its a very peppy car. Light body and a little extra grunt works wonders.
Happy Driving!
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Old 12th May 2006, 11:43   #13
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Originally Posted by mail4ajo
Awesome review. Any reviews on the ALTO LXI new look model?? I plan to buy one shortly.
Ya I own a Alto LXi (3 months / 20** kms so far)... good car and gr8 VFM... taken for 3 long highway trips (see my travelogue for Yercaud, Horsley Hills)...Also went to Yelagiri...lack of time now, would give a detailed review later...

but some features which you might be interested:
I am 5'11" / 90kg...it is comfortable driving in longer drives...

1) A/C is gr8: use mostly in the weekend and for longer trips...my office is nearby so prefer bike over car......Don't use A/C much in city while driving alone (can notice significant power drop while AC on and in the horrible traffic like Blr, it is comfortable driving with AC off)... Do drive with AC when driving with family... not that issue as many people point it (Afterall u will buy an Alto but u are budget conscious !!! otherwise i wud love to buy Fiesta TDCi, hehehe)

2) Highway: Used full AC in highways except during hill climb...enjoyed the drive...took 110kmph with AC and 4 adults and luggage... No issues, enjoyed the drive !!!

3) Mileage: this is most proven and trusted stuff....i always fill tankfull (Shell Normal)....record the distance in every fill in an excel sheet and the weighted average as well...
The weighted average: (Total dist so far) / (Total petrol so far) = 17.** kmpl
Highest average: 19.** (with AC + 4 people + hills)
Lowest average: 15.** (before first service + full city use + 50% AC)(used to drive)

Overall a good first car to start with....
PM me if u want anything specific

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Old 8th July 2006, 12:58   #14
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I also own Alto VX1.1 which is more than 4 years old and have done close to 50000 Km. It is an amazing car in its category and it is a pity that its production is stopped. It gives me 14-15kmpl in city and 16-17kmpl on highways with AC ON. I have driven it on highways many times at a speed of 120-140 and it feels very stable and safe and takes over many mid sized cars easily.
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Old 24th April 2007, 12:57   #15
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I have purchased new Alto a month ago.It has clocked 8600Kms till now.As per my knowledge it has given me 15kms in city with
AC on..And also mileage depends on the way we drive,if iím not wrong.
I will let u know the mileage in the next review.
Iíve purchased with body colored bumpers(painted in showroom). The appearence is very good .
but requires lot of maintainance,with a small scratch were the paint never stays for a long time.and need some touch-ups very often. But I promise it looks Sporty when painted......
AC is very powerfull when compared to other mid segment vehicles.(You shouldínt expect much from an 800cc engine.)Swtich on the Aircon only after the 2nd gear....u will never feel the slugglishness of the engine......u can pull-up at good speed.
Iíve touched the speed of 120Kms/Hr.I haveínt noticed any vibrations in the body.I wanna test this in greater speed.........Its absloutley ZOOOOOOMING btw the Trucks and Mid segments cars........
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