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Old 31st March 2010, 23:41   #1
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Default Alto LXi - Silky Silver - 37,000 Kms - 3 years

I bought my "Silky Silver" Alto LXi in 2007 March. It was a logical upgrade replacing my old M800. By specs, Alto LXi has Power Steering, Booster brakes, good AC and a better-tuned 3 pot (45bhp) engine. I chose to buy the car using New Car Loan from HDFC Bank, Chennai. The experience in getting the loan sanctioned, revealed how lazy the bank peoples are. Here is a short brief:

The Loan Saga:
My native city is Erode and I work in Chennai. And, I wanted to get the car from ABT Coimbatore (sentiment). When I called the HDFC people, they checked all the pre-requisite details and gone confused when they heard that I wanted to buy the car in Coimbatore, register it at Erode and get the loan at Chennai. Initially they refused to accept my application. My application remained idle for nearly a week. The agent whom I was dealing with, tried to persuade me to buy the car in Chennai ABT and register it in chennai itself. He also added that the bank cannot offer a loan to buy a car in another city, other than the city in which the loan is availed. He kept on dragging the application for another 20 days. Calls to the agent remained useless. Finally I lost my patience and decided to cancel the application. I called up HDFC's customer service asking for the procedure to cancel the loan application. She asked me all the details and said one of the bank people will get in touch with me the next day. The next day, i received a call from someone, who said he is a Manager calling from loan division. I told him about my case and asked him to help me cancel the application. He assured me that he will talk to his Chennai team and look into the issue. That evening, I received a call from a guy who is the lead of a chennai team. He said that he will come to my place to get my sign in a Rs.100 indemnity bond. When he arrived, he told me that there is no such rules prohibiting loan to buy vehicles in other cities. All it requires is just a bond signed by the loan availer. Looked like the Mumbai head had fried the chennai team for not knowing the bank rules. The 2.2L loan was sanctioned immediately and ABT Coimbatore confimed it from their end.

Delivery
Since I wanted to buy a 2007 manufactured car, I had to wait for 25 days until the first lot arrived at ABT Coimbatore. The car was delivered in next 4 days. Unfortunately I was hospitalized during car delivery and so I couldnt perform the PDI checks myself. But nevertheless, the car was door-delivered without any issues and it was brand new manufactured in 2007. After verifying the documents and invoice I received the keys from the ABT agent.


Interiors & Comfort
When compared to all other cars (except Tata Nano) Alto's engine is way below in terms of outright performance. For the class it belongs, it gives a decent performance. The additional BHP helps to compensate the power drained because of the AC.Speaking of the AC, it is much better than other AC's in B segment cars. It chills within minutes and for humid city like chennai, I keep the knob at Level 2 which is more than adequate. You find plastics everywhere - in the doors, dash, side pillars and more. Only the seats and body are non-plastic. It is the way, cost-cutting is done. The quality is plastic is average. The dashboard features a big speedo and a temperature meter and fuel meter to its sides. The usual set of lights (Hi beam, Oil pump, battery) are present. The steering is similar to old WagonR (WagonR now shares the steering of Swift). The seats are just adequate for an average person. You will brush the other person's thigh when you shift 1 and 2nd gears. The car is very much identical to M800 in terms of internal space. Though the front passengers get average leg room, the rear passengers may feel tight. Thigh support for the driver and passengers are just average. People who are more than 5' 5" may take time to get adjust. I am 5' 10" and got adjusted within days. The NVH levels are decent and engine noise is un-heard at lower speeds. The luggage space can take up a mid-size suitcase and a pair of small duffel bags. For more space, you can fold the back-seat, but that will limit the number persons travelling.


Engine, Riding & Handling
For anyone who has driven a M800, all other cars will definitely feel great, excellent and amazing! Alto is a - improvised M800. Sharing the same engine (except for the tuning) with M800, Alto's 798CC MPFI Petrol motor produces 45bhp and 90nm of torque. Alto's ride quality is decent and handles the potholes and bumps easily. But the bumps in the rear is evident. With the 145 stock tyre, Alto can offer you a decent ride in Cities and highways. Even when fully loaded (4 average peoples), Alto can drive across most of the aggressive speed-breakers without kissing the under-body. The suspension is good enough to withstand all sorts fo stupid speed-breakers and pot holes. Clutch is light and ladies may not complain. Even after 3 years (37k in odo) the clutch remains good. Body roll is evident and during highway driving you will find it creates nervousness in co-passengers. :-D Inside city, Alto performs like a charm with its good petrol engine offering enough juice to manage the stop-and-go traffic. You do not need to rev it hard and the good gearbox makes it pain-less driving in the city. The gears are long-throw and carries the same M800 DNA. The power steering and good Air con makes the city driving a breeze. Learn to switch gears according to the speed, and Alto is good to drive.

From my experience, I feel Alto performs better without the Air con. You will hear the engine valve sounds if you try to move the static car in 2nd gear with Air Con on. Revving the engine helps to some extent, but it is not recommended. The Aircon, though works good, puts a lot of load on the engine. You will find 20% performance decrease if you turn on the Air con.

Performance
Contrary to the popular tag for alto - "city car", I've driven my Alto mostly on the highways. My Alto's odo reads around 37K and only 4K of it was driven inside the city. The rest are on Chennai - Bangalore, Chennai - Salem - Erode highways only. Alto has an alter-ego on highways. It can challenge Scorpios, Vernas, Swifts etc when it comes to speed, thus helping you to scratch the ego of many other drivers. I've seen this myself, whenever I overtake a Scorpio or any other high BHP vehicles, the driver's ego gets scratched and he overtakes me again. Alto can go past 120 km/hr very well and can give an edge to all other cars. With just the factory-fitted stock tyres, I've touched 130 km/hr from Bangalore to Krishnagiri. Beyond 130 km/hr, I felt Alto is completely un-stable and un-safe! If you are the kind of guy who likes to push hard, better drive some other car. Or atleast get your Alto's tyre upgraded to 155/80 R12, or go for an upsize with professional help. The initial acceleration is average, as i said earlier. So, only by keeping the engine in right RPM and shifting the gears at right moments, you can drive Alto in "performance" mode. If you miss the RPM...or miss the shift, the performace goes down.

Safety
Alto is packed with very basic safety measures. Impact bars inside the doors (i am not sure though) and seat-belts. For a car that costs 3L (LXi, on road) this is the most you may get. No ABS and no Air Bags. The stock tyre is surprisingly adequate for wet conditions. Let me illustrate a real-life experience. During September 2007, (the days of my bride-search) I was considering an alliance from bangalore. At that time, I happened to travel from Erode to Chennai in my Alto with a friend. When crossing Krishnagiri, we decided to visit Bangalore and meet the girl at Forums mall in Koramangala. When we reached near hosur, it was already 7.45pm and it was raining heavily. The visibility is poor. I was unable to drive, and so I stopped the car. But the time was running out, as I have to meet her before 9pm. I could not afford any delays. Re-scheduling was not possible either. So I trusted god, locked the seat belts, pressed the gas pedal and my Alto rocketed in the rain. With wipers working in full speed and a pair of 100/90w Philips halogens helping to get some visibility, I was piercing through the busy traffic, zig-zagging and over-taking the lorries. My friend and myself were pursing our lips hard. He was very nervous that he let the grip on the roof-handlebar go, only after we reached electronics city! :-D All through the 40+ kms stretch, Alto felt safe, though the body rolls raised our hairs. It was a risky adventure with 145/80 R12 stock tyres. But let me tell you this - My Alto had never let me down in downpours! Oh I forgot to add this - I reached the forums mall, by 8.45pm and was able to find a free parking space and finally met the girl successfully. Heehee...

Fuel Efficiency
Alto gives you a good FE. Inside city with aircon on, I get around 13 to 15 kmpl. On the highway, I get around 17 to 18kmpl with aircon. I use standard petrol and occasionally go for Shell Super Unleaded.


Maintenance
One of the strong points of Maruti is the dealer network and availability of spares. Till now, I have replaced no engine parts. Just minor replacements like bushes, fuses, engine oils etc. The spares are not that costly and my yearly maintenance costs were less than Rs.5000. The stock battery lasted for nearly two-and-a-half year and 5 months back, i replaced with a AMARON make.The Air con is perfectly fine and works like a charm. The engine runs clutter free & smooth. The spark plugs has been replaced only-once. The suspension is in good shape, though the tyres have become old. The sound from tyres has increased. I guess when the odo crosses 40K mark, I need to check all the tyres and replace if necessary. Recently there was some noise from the gearbox when the engine is running in idle with Air con on. My mechanic and another mechanic confirmed it wass due to a worn-out bearing in gear-box. I've scheduled to work out the gear box next month. 3 wheel discs has taken a dent each, due to chennai traffic. One night, i was negotiating a speeding sumo in my left, and drove over a small rock kept as a median on the road. In another incident, I didnt notice a pot hole (pot cave actually) when changing the audio CD. Two discs took dents. Need to get the discs re-stored using disc bent-remover and get a balancing done.

Entertainment & Accessories (Fitted during mid 2007)
Fitted a OE steering cover. Became rough and hard. Time to change. For audio, I have fitted Pioneer DEH 2900MP head unit, (Rs.4.5k) which can play MP3, WMA that has 50w MOSFET amp built-in. This is a standard spec-d head unit with AUX-IN support. Coupled with a Boston Acoustics S45 4" two way drivers (Rs.2k) for the front, Ultimate-Sound's T1-690 6"x9" 3-way ovals (Rs.2K) in the rear, fitted on a wooden plank that is bolted to the boot-door (not as tray). The setup actually rocks and T1-690 produces tight bass which can rival $$$ speakers. The sun-film was a Green-tint Garware NR 20 (Rs.1.1k) , with 20% opacity adhering to chennai traffic law. Electricals were upgraded with relays to fit a Bosch FC4 twin horns (Rs.450) , Stebel Nautilus Black (Rs.870), pair of Philips 100/90 H4 Halogen (Rs.270). Ambi-Pur air freshner costs Rs.100+ for every quarter. OE style after-market seat covers worth Rs.2k were fitted.


Notes:
  1. It has been observed that fitting the rear-speakers in the boot-door over a wooden plank produces best in class BASS, than a parcel tray setup. The parcel tray speaker set up in my friend's alto could not produce tight bass.No matter how much you spend in buying good speakers, enclosure and fitting also matters.
  2. Upgrade your headlights to 100/90, if you take your Alto in highways.
  3. Fit a good horn (Hella Supertones, or atleast a basic one like Bosch FC4) . Factory fitted horns are a dead-meat and serves no purpose.
  4. Bird-droppings should be cleaned as and when required.
  5. Take good care of the wipers. Change the blades whenever the wiper leaves wipe-patterns on the glass during rain.
  6. Always get your wheels aligned at regular intervals.
  7. Alto's discs tend to bend upon hitting stones (not that strong, may be). So make sure you avoid such issues. Otherwise wheel vibrations may creep in, when cruising above 70 km/hr.
Conclusion
With a compact body size, good air-con and decent engine for its class, Alto can get you anywhere at anytime. Alto is a sweet car for two, and best suited for crowded city traffic and occasional highway stints! It's a romantic car too. It's closely placed front seats may provoke occasional romantic mood in couples! ;-)

The downside is - it is very compact on the whole, and cramped in the rear.
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Old 1st April 2010, 06:00   #2
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Nice long review on India's currently ubiquitous car!

Quote:
Originally Posted by rajeshsundaram View Post
...I was considering an alliance from bangalore...
...Oh I forgot to add this - I reached the forums mall, by 8.45pm and was able to find a free parking space and finally met the girl successfully. Heehee...
And...?!
Quote:
Originally Posted by rajeshsundaram View Post
The sun-film was a Green-tint Garware NR 20 (Rs.1.1k) , with 20% opacity adhering to chennai traffic law
Isn't 50% visibility on the sides and 70% visibility up front and on the rear the law?
Quote:
Originally Posted by rajeshsundaram View Post
With a compact body size, good air-con and decent engine for its class, Alto can get you anywhere at anytime. Alto is a sweet car for two, and best suited for crowded city traffic and occasional highway stints! It's a romantic car too. It's closely placed front seats may provoke occasional romantic mood in couples! ;-)
A practical small car for the city jaunts, it definitely is!
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Old 1st April 2010, 09:22   #3
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Talking

Quote:
And...?!
Well, due to other factors, the alliance was dropped.


Quote:
Isn't 50% visibility on the sides and 70% visibility up front and on the rear the law?
Yes that's the law.. the film I chose had 80% visibility (I think I should have written the other way around instead of speaking in terms of Opacity )

- Rajesh
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Old 1st April 2010, 10:42   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rajeshsundaram View Post

The downside is - it is very compact on the whole, and cramped in the rear.
Mileage seems to be a little low and i agree with the conclusion part
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Old 30th December 2011, 12:47   #5
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Default Re: Alto LXi - Silky Silver - 37,000 Kms - 3 years

Quote:
Fuel Efficiency
Alto gives you a good FE. Inside city with aircon on, I get around 13 to 15 kmpl. On the highway, I get around 17 to 18kmpl with aircon. I use standard petrol and occasionally go for Shell Super Unleaded.
The mileage you quoted indeed seems to be low. That's one forte for Alto, and hence my comment. I have a Oct 2007 model, and never ever has the mileage fallen below 18 (even with 50% AC drive within city limits). On highways, its almost always AC On, and the mileage hovers around 20-21 (all of this is with the normal Shell petrol). Maybe that's to do with my habit of keeping the revs low, and engaging 5th gear once I cross 40 kmph.

The power drop with AC is logical, and from my experience I can only suggest you to adopt a style where you manually turn it off an on depending on the load on the engine. Not a very convenient approach, but that's what works with 800 cc engine.
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Old 19th August 2013, 17:08   #6
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Default Re: Alto LXi - Silky Silver - 37,000 Kms - 3 years

What's the latest on your car? No updates for long. I too have an Alto Lxi which has clocked about 41,000 Kms(Nov 2009 model). I have used it mostly in the city with a few highway trips in between. Has stood by like a rock. Like you say, its very good for two.
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Old 19th August 2013, 17:14   #7
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I drove my brand new alto for almost 9 years . 2004 to 2013 . Always in traffic and always ac on . Never got an average above 12 kmpl . Same route in lesser traffic I get 19.5 in my Honda amaze diesel .
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