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Old 15th August 2010, 10:00   #1
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Default Maruti Suzuki A-Star Auto - Road Test

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What You Will Like
  • Surefooted Handling and Stability
  • Unfazed over potholes
  • Nippy Steering
  • Very Comfortable in the front for 6 footers
  • Great entry point for automatics is priced less than Rs 4.4 Lakhs
  • Peppy engine

What You Will Not Like
  • Everything from the B pillar onwards - bumpy ride at rear, appalling space if you have legs and luggage, rear visibility
  • Autobox not suited for highway driving especially when you have slow moving traffic jumping in and out
  • Gear ratios poorly matched
  • Not for the press on driver
  • No engine braking
  • A/c cannot cope with Delhi weather

The A-star has been with us for a while but has not taken off. Maruti claims production constraints and mainly export oriented demand has hampered sales in India. However they claim that most buyers walk in since they want an A Star and nothing else. Owner satisfaction rates are claimed to be the highest for this model. Owner profile is the young geekie professional who wants style. People who want paisa vasool with verve will go for the K10.

The Auto wil only come in Vxi guise. Now comes with a driver height adjuster and ABS. No Zxi Auto variant - the demand for it is on 10% of sales. Us desi's don't want to see (rear wiper) or be saved!

Suzuki want to ensure it conforms to its DNA

Young
Vibrant
Sporty
Fun to drive

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A vibrant DNA


Team-bhp reality check is that Suzuki are seeing the i10 auto success and want to pitch in an offering, the Wagon R AT sells at only 30 per month. Also the A Star needs some attention and this is an opportunity to give a decisive buyer a choice. K10 for value, A Star for features!

So it was time to target the A Star for a product extension
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Last edited by GTO : 16th August 2010 at 18:08. Reason: espcially = especially. Spell check
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Old 15th August 2010, 10:07   #2
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Exteriors

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The A Star is still relatively rare on our roads. Am sure I see more C classes than these. The "audi" gawp dominates the front. Must have been a prediction about the then forthcoming VW buy in. The rear is squashed Swift.

Another dominating feature are the headlights.

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Front end apart, lines are clear and simple. the window line is spoilt by the quarter window. That is a local consideration since the export versions have a one piece rear pop out version.

Last edited by ajmat : 16th August 2010 at 20:25. Reason: pics
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Old 15th August 2010, 10:17   #3
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Default Interiors -Front

Am dealing with the front seperately as there is a vast difference

At the front, the dash is funky if a little funskool finished. It works well though. You will note the different lever and pedals. The Integrated stereo dominates. It has two speakers in the front doors but again there is no space in the back for any more. Unless you are shooting for a two seater!


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Simple and spot on ergonomics


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Integrated Radio - decent quality - you mother would like it if not the Yeti!


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New transmission gate - note the 4-3 lateral shift mechanism. There is a transmission lock button but we never understood what is was for

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Funky Toy Town Speedo and selector. A tachometer would be desirable even as an option



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Decent size for glovebox

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Bottle storage good. No controls are fouled



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A big miss - no vanity mirror for the ladies - a key target buyer in this segment


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Limited door stowage but upside is good elbow room

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Driver legroom is good. Steering is set a little high though.


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Seats is far forward but front legroom is awesome

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Four jet washer nicely mounted and effective

Last edited by ajmat : 15th August 2010 at 16:01.
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Old 15th August 2010, 10:44   #4
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At the Back
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A dungeon out here. You can hardly see out. Adjustable headrestraints are essential

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Rear screen gets filthy in a small shower. Rear wash/wipe should be standard

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Six + six does not go. Okay if seat is far forward. My passenger sat in the back for 50km. It was thrice as bumpy

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Doors are best part. Decent stowage and you can roll down window fully


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The boot...well it is fit for only boots

Last edited by ajmat : 15th August 2010 at 15:19.
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Old 15th August 2010, 12:07   #5
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Engine

The K Series 1.0 litre is a nice revvy unit. Sounds like the good old M800 MPFI without the rough engine note. Good torque to power car from rest but not enough to induce kickdown at times. Engine is in exact tune as the manual.

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ARAI Fuel consumption is 17km/l as opposed to 19km/l


None of us managed to get that figure. Our very enthusiastic driving saw us get approx 12-14km based on what we refilled. If the car is run in and driven in moderation, 15 is achievable.

Transmission


Four speed box. This is new and a refreshing change from the 3 speed. Surprisingly customers were more bothered with milaege and not the number of gears

Liked the lateral shift in order to downshift between 3-4. The ratios are so close, it does not make a difference in real life. There is a shift lock button which was supposed to prevent the selector from moving. We could not get it to work. The foot brake detent was more effective. More about the gears in the On the Road section


On the Road


Test Route

Surajkund - Agra - New Delhi Airport

Got quite comfortable easily. Slotted into Drive and the car engaged promptly and took off. This was in the peripheral area of Delhi and change up was not bad left to its own devices up to 40km/h. Brakes were pretty soggy and feel-less unless I realised the car had done only 47km and brakes needed a bit of bedding in.

Faridabad highways were pretty congested and the car did nifty job of slotting in. It was in its element and performed well, As the road cleared, the A-Star's strengths and flaws emerging.

High speed stability was impressive. I say this since I normally drive a Skoda. It was stable and took potholes in its stride and refused to get upset. We could cruise around 110-120km/h without a problem. The car clocked a maximum of 145km/h according to the GPS. It takes a while from 100 to get there and that is its limit from a noise and handling perspective. It is fairly refined upto 100km/h but our car had an annoying vibration when accelerating from rest. The other cars did not have this.

Steering is a doddle in town, you can turn on a sixpence. Although electrically powered, the feel is decent. Tracked well during fast sweeping bends. There s a hint of understeer though when pushed..

Midrange acceleration- 50-70 km/h took 10 sec

Brakes - We only got to really sample them halfway through since they had not bedded. They felt a little spongy but effective. We had to brake hard at times on uneven surfaces nd the cars stopped in a straight line.

The Box - Shift action is easy. When driven on a light throttle, it responds, slowly but not too leisurely. The lag is not as bad as a Nissan Versa that I drove recently. Kickdown from rest, the car, takes off from low and quickly shifts to 2 then 3. There is a facility to laterally shift between 4 and 3. In real life, it was not that effective due to the ratios.

1 and 2 are low and close, 3 and 4 are very high and close. This means a big gap between 2-3. Exiting Delhi, the car was in third and only went to fourth at around 60. With the slow moving traffic and our press on attitude, we ended up overriding and using second a lot. Kickdown was not bad in my opinion. It is slow to react but it compensates by being overeager to shift. one thing I liked was, unlike other small automatics, it did not whine as much.

From 100, we found that engine braking was not possible to prevent transmission damage. Heaven help if you have dicky brakes.

Air Conditioning - barely adequate - it had a tough time coping with Delhi heat. Sunfilm will be required. Performance was markedly more peppier with the air con switched off

Defining Moment - On our return leg, we went via Sonah and Gurgaon. The roads were brutal and we had to drive through water which covered the wheels (even had to stop due to a queue). The little A-Star merely enjoyed the wash. Brakes took a while to dry out. My passenger sat in the back and had mashed his internals due to the choppy rear ride.

I found the car at its best, cruising at 80-100 and leaving the transmission in Drive

Conclusion - The car is at its best in town or a ring road when driven at an undemanding pace. If you want verve or brio and want to beat the clock, this may not be the right choice. Your significant other or mother will like it. It can never be an only car but it is a great commute car, rear seats are for occasional use though. For a Rs 30000 premium, it would be a good choice.

Note: Team-bhp was invited to test the A-Star and all travel and hospitality was borne by Maruti

Last edited by ajmat : 17th August 2010 at 12:55.
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Old 15th August 2010, 18:31   #6
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Great review ajmat! Prices are fantastic, but this car will only suit for singles for intra city commutes. A wagonR AT should make more sense though in the long term.
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Old 15th August 2010, 18:40   #7
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Let me be the first to thank you for this review. I was eagerly waiting for an Astar AT review on Tbhp.

Maruti website states that Astar Vxi AT comes with ABS and EBD(it does not clearly mentions whether it is standard or optional) was your test car equipped with ABS and EBD? If ABS and EBD is standard, Astar AT would be steal compared to i10 AT

Also if you have driven i10 AT which would be the better between Astar AT and i10 AT?

Last edited by panks15 : 15th August 2010 at 18:42. Reason: comparison with i10 for safety feature
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Old 15th August 2010, 18:42   #8
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a star VXI AT comes with standard ABS.
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Old 15th August 2010, 18:42   #9
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Nice review !

I have mentioned this in the other thread on A-Star Automatic, and I'll say it again. While it is a welcome move from Maruti to provide automatic option in cars, A-Star is not the right choice for this. Auto option would have made more sense in commuter cars like WagonR or Estilo as compared to a sporty car like A-Star.

Good to see driver's seat height adjustment in A-Star auto, it should be provided even in the manual variants.

Rohan
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Old 15th August 2010, 18:59   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sidindica View Post
Great review ajmat! Prices are fantastic, but this car will only suit for singles for intra city commutes. A wagonR AT should make more sense though in the long term.
Ideally yes, they are targeting the young professional who likes features. The Wagon R market loooks for minimal expenditure. They sell only 30 Wagon R's per month


Quote:
Originally Posted by panks15 View Post
L
Maruti website states that Astar Vxi AT comes with ABS and EBD(it does not clearly mentions whether it is standard or optional) was your test car equipped with ABS and EBD?
It had ABS and EBD which worked effectively in stopping on poor surfaces. ABS kicked in once in an extreme manouver

Quote:
Originally Posted by rohan_iitr View Post
Good to see driver's seat height adjustment in A-Star auto, it should be provided even in the manual variants.
It is now standard in all Vxi's.
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Old 15th August 2010, 19:04   #11
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[quote=ajmat;2027451]Ideally yes, they are targeting the young professional who likes features. The Wagon R market loooks for minimal expenditure. They sell only 30 Wagon R's per month

the current wagonR doesn't come with an autobox, the old version did come.
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Old 15th August 2010, 19:05   #12
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Nice review Ajmat - MSIL really needs to give that AT option in all of its lineup (or just watch Hyundai eat all of the low cost automatic pie).
My i10 also moves to 4th on 55 - 65 depending on driving style, but I feel the 2nd and 3rd are more evenly spaced than you described here for Astar.
Also - there is little/no effect of switching on the AC on pickup/performance in i10 (1.2 Kappa), though most of the times my car is occupied by 1-2 persons .
Pricing is more or less ok for the Astar, with driver seat height adjuster being a nice touch.
IMO Hyundai should pep up the i10 sportz with ABS if it wants to be sensible.
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Old 15th August 2010, 19:09   #13
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Very nice review, Ajmat! Thanks a lot.

I thought A-star had a Tacho mounted in a separate pod on the dashboard, something similar to an aftermarket tacho. But in your pictures I did not see this and you mentioned that you wish it was available. Does this mean Maruti got rid of this tacho for the automatic version?

By the way what about the infamous Maruti rattles? Did you hear any rattles on the test car, or was it too new to rattle yet? What is your feeling about build quality and rattles in the long run?

Thanks,
-AD
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Old 15th August 2010, 19:12   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr.AD View Post
Very nice review, Ajmat! Thanks a lot.

I thought A-star had a Tacho mounted in a separate pod on the dashboard, something similar to an aftermarket tacho. But in your pictures I did not see this and you mentioned that you wish it was available. Does this mean Maruti got rid of this tacho for the automatic version?

By the way what about the infamous Maruti rattles? Did you hear any rattles on the test car, or was it too new to rattle yet? What is your feeling about build quality and rattles in the long run?

Thanks,
-AD
Come on doc - it was just a 47 km old car
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Old 15th August 2010, 19:16   #15
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Very well done review Ajmat. Excellent snap to show the lack of rear bench space. One wonders what went through the designers' heads to make them come up with such a puny rear compartment.

Sure Maruti commands tremendous market influence. But does that mean it'll come up with such pathetic offerings and yet expect the consumer to lap it up? A colleague of mine recently purchased the A-Star and even now he cringes when he talks of moving his family around. Apparently no-one in his household can come to terms with the sheer lack of space in the A-Star. I'm willing to bet the Nano has a much roomier interior.
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