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Old 5th March 2012, 14:59   #1
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Smile Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!

Intro
Around 5 years back, I was on the hunt for my first car and ended up getting an Estilo (Estilo - Way to Go)and so far very happy and contended with it. Now the time had come to look for a second car. Considering that my wife travels 15km in a day in Bannerghatta road, my suggestion to her was to catch a bus. But our house is not near a bus stop which means another commute in two wheeler till the bus stop. This was getting complicated and so most of the times she was happily driving the 2 wheeler for the entire 15kms.
This particular road is known for a lot of accidents. In the last one month we heard of 3 accidents (4 deaths) all involving 2 wheelers. So we sat down and decided to get a second car. The obvious plan was to hand over my Estilo to her and get ourselves a nice family car. I was drooling over XUV but our parking and pocket were against it. Though my wife has driven Estilo a lot of times she was never comfortable with slotting the gears. I have seen her fighting with it. I wanted to keep the Estilo with us for another 4-5 years and hence thought that the best approach would be to get her a car.

The Decision Process
The moment we thought of a car for her, we started from Alto, K10, i10, etc. Having read a lot of user reviews of A* AT, I thought it would be a good idea to get her an automatic and use it also for our intra-city family commute (2 Adults + 1 Kid). It is a pity that we have just 2 options either the A* AT or the i10 AT (Sports/Asta) to choose in Hatchbacks (leaving the overpriced i20 Automatic). I liked the cute A* AT and so did my wife. Considering the fact that the car is going to be used primarily for city commute and 90% singe, the extra rear and boot space in i10 did not warrant an additional 70k or so. Add to that the pathetic mileage figures being posted in this forum for i10 Auto. It was one of the easiest decisions to be made and so it was A Star Automatic.

The Car and Booking/Delivery Experience

We went to Kalyani Motors @ Bannerghatta for a test drive and thought of booking the car there as it was closer to our home. My wife tried it and immediately liked the fact that the car was super convinient to drive and loved the part that the car never stalls even in slopes and bumper traffic. I asked the sales guy about the 2012 model availability and to my surprise he said that it is not coming for another 6 to 12 months. I told him that I have seen the news of Maruti confirming the availability in Jan itself. Still he was adamant. I was pissed off and went back to Pratham where I had got my Estilo.
Pratham @ Outer Ring Road were a lot more professional. One Mr. Ravi Prakash (team lead) was the one taking care of us and he was prompt and honest in his approach. We booked the car with a 25K discount (Feb 2012) by paying 10k. He said Silky Silver, White and Brown (the new color) were readily available. But we stuck to Bright Red and he promised to deliver within 30-45 days. We were ok to wait but to our surprise we got a call within a few days letting us know that the car has come to the stockyard. I took the Team Bhp PDI and went to the stockyard and checked out the car. No issues and hence paid the full cash. It came to 5,21,000 OTR Bangalore.

Car in Stockyard
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120227-12.11.30-large.jpg


The car was delivered with accessories couple of days later (29th Feb). The accessories that I went for were - Underchassis Anti-Rust Coating, Nippon Security System with Remote, Door Seal Guard, Car Cover, Sun Film, Door and Bumper Beading. One hiccup during delivery was that they had added an extra accessory to our car (Door Rain Water Protection). We did not like it and asked it to be removed even when it was given for free to us. Other than this minor problem the entire experience was breezy.

On delivery day - the proud owner (my wife) checking all the controls and getting the short training from Pratham sales team
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120229-16.13.19-large.jpg

Exteriors
Nothing new to be said about he exteriors. It is the same cute design that we have known. Automatic comes with body colour bumpers, no fog lamps, black OVRMs. I personally dislike the headlamps and the tiny OVRMs.
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120323-10.07.30.jpg

Front profile
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120323-18.23.10.jpg

Side profile is also good.
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120323-18.15.55.jpg

Rear
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120229-17.06.53-large.jpg

The bulbous headlamp
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120323-18.25.13.jpg

The wheel caps actually look quite good. So not planning on alloys for a year
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120323-10.08.05.jpg

Interiors
The dash is nice with two tone colors (grey and beige). Notice the high position of dash. There is a slight inconvenience due to this.
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120323-10.01.32.jpg

Leg space in rear when front seats are set to levels as in above image. Note how the front seats are tucked in to liberate some leg room for rear. Also note the bottle holder for the rear passengers on the door. There is one in each rear door.
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120323-10.02.03.jpg

This photo shows both the front and rear seats. You can understand that there is some tradeoff between the space in the front and rear.
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120323-10.02.47.jpg

The centre console houses the music system, Air con controls, 12V charging point, and a place for cell phone that is illuminated at night and is skip protected.
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120323-10.03.07.jpg

The gear levers. The car can be switched on only when the gear is slotted in 'P' mode (parking). Same goes for removing the keys. The Neutral and Drive can be slotted with just one vertical up or down between them. This ensures a tension free drive. Also between D and '3' there is just one horizontal movement. Hence if you feel the need for a quick acceleration, you can slot from 'D' to '3' and back very easily. The '2' and 'L' are for lower gears. I rarely use them but 'D' to '3' was used a lot. Notice the storage space beneath the AC controls and two bottle holders.
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120323-10.03.25.jpg

The steering wheel is nice and does not interfere with the dials. I am planning to wrap it with art leather along with seat covers. Notice the lever for internally adjustable OVRM. Would have been nice to have it electrically
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120323-10.03.42.jpg

The Dials are big and easy to read. The Tachometer is missing from the Automatic Variant (only available in Zxi manual). Dual Trip meters, ODO and Clock. Nice and simple
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120323-10.04.01.jpg

The front doors gets a small magazine holder.
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120323-10.04.18.jpg

The glove box is a bit small. It holds an umbrella, the user manual and service booklet here. There is a nice place on top of the globe box where you can keep your wet umbrella or other small things. No vanity mirror on the sun visors. I tried getting them from the dealer. The passenger side was readily available (from Zxi), but the driver side is not there. Wife would have preferred one there.
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120323-10.04.31.jpg

The music system is decent and takes in CDs with MP3s and WMA. The major problem though is absence of USB or SD card slot. AUX is present. No Bluetooth (didn't expect one).
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120323-10.04.45.jpg

A view of the maximum leg room for the front guys. It really is huge and that is why is makes sense as a perfect mini-family city car. Note the dirty carpets. It is covered with a full floor mat now. As usual the power windows and central locking is at the proper place. The boot lid and fuel cap openers are near the driver seat (below) and bonnet unlock is also very handy. Headlamp level adjuster is present. The driver seat has height adjustment - a boon for my wife since the high dash limits her visibility otherwise.
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120323-10.05.31.jpg

Boot Loading - There is a definite problem when you have to life heavy baggage as the loading bay is small and high.
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120323-10.06.09.jpg

Boot Space - It is not as bad as it it is made out. I took a check-in baggage placing it vertically on its longer sides.
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120323-10.06.23.jpg

Boot Space with one Rear Seat Down - The new innovation in 2012
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120323-10.06.40.jpg

Boot Space with Both Rear Seats Down
Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!-20120323-10.06.52.jpg

City Driving Experience
On the delivery day, I drove the car back from Pratham and it was around 5.00 and the entire Outer Ring Road was full of traffic. The AT came to use immediately and I felt like sitting @ home in a sofa, just holding the steering wheel and press/release the brake. It was so convenient. Wife took it for work and she has given it full marks. She says commute has suddenly become so enjoyable. With AC on and 3 adults on board, going up a fly over was bit of a struggle and prompted me to move to '3' from 'Drive'. But without AC switched on there is absolutely no perceivable lag. I am not sure if there is a better city car for bumper to bumper traffic.

Highway Driving Experience
We took the car immediately to our native - a drive of 300 kms one way. Since we had to keep the car at the max of 80 km/hour, could not comment on high speeds. But the ride was planted and comfortable. The lack of engine braking is something to be aware of as it might be a bit scary to see the car not slowing down after you take your leg off the accelerator. You do have ABS as standard in Automatic which is a good deal. A Star glides over potholes without a hint of rattle - a rarity for a Maruti car. It is definitely a premium feel - could be the reason behind its huge exports to Europe

Mileage
Before the first service it was 10.5 Km/lit in City and 17.5 Km/lit on highways (both with 75% AC on). Need to check after couple of services.

Conclusion
The car may not be a great choice as a single car for a family, especially considering the other options like Ritz, WagonR, i10, Figo etc which are much more spacious with good boot. However those who want a comfortable tension free city drive or a second car, there is no beating A Star Automatic for the convenience it offers.

Last edited by simonkayar : 1st May 2012 at 20:37.
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Old 1st May 2012, 21:11   #2
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Default Re: Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!

Moderator Note: Thread moved from Assembly Line to the Review Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 1st May 2012, 21:40   #3
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Default Re: Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!

Congrats on your new car! Good review. Wish you and your wife a happy journey in it.

Great to see that you thought of investing in a car for the sake of safety.

The A-Star (more specifically the ZXI version) was in my list when I was planning to buy a car due to its safety features for its price. Does yours have ABS? I remember some confusion on whether the 2012 automatic came with ABS or not.

EDIT: I just saw the photo of the rear profile with ABS written under the badge.
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Old 1st May 2012, 22:43   #4
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Default Re: Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!

Congrats on your Astar. And it is a wonderfully illustrated ownership report. Very nicely done.

I test drove an Astar long time back (when it was launched). At that time I was driving an Alto. What a nice nifty little car it is! Really loved it (it was a manual one). The front seats are very comfy (better than my i10's). They are good enf even for a 6-footer which is quite amazing (that was something of an "adjustment" with the Alto)

Astar Automatic is a very sensible and practical choice here in Bangalore. You have picked up a very nice car.

Did you think about getting the ORVM covers painted. It would look nice.
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Old 1st May 2012, 23:43   #5
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Default Re: Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!

@Simon - congrats on the purchase of the red bug. You have made a very sensible decision. The A Star is a Wonderful car for a small family and the 4 speed auto is very computable to drive, especially for the ladies.

While driving, do you feel any jerks while the gears change? Wishing you a safe and enjoyable ownership experience. Drive safe!!!
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Old 2nd May 2012, 08:39   #6
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Congrats for the A*. The most VFM AT hatchback in the market. The red in particular looks good on the car. The beige interiors are I believe in the new variant.
Wishing you lots of happy kms with he car.
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Old 2nd May 2012, 09:29   #7
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Default Re: Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!

I will like to haver comments about your experience with the AT part. My own Santro AT is getting a bit long in the tooth. Today by all accounts the Maruti 4-speed is better than the ancient 3+1 of Hyundai. However, the Maruti 3-speed (I had it in my Zen) was pathetic.
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Old 2nd May 2012, 11:20   #8
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Default Re: Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!

Congrats simon on the new car. A perfect choice for women to drive freely as changing gears is the most annoying thing that I have always heard from the fairersex. Though i have not used a automatic as of now, but reading your blog I am feelings its quite easy to drive. So changing the modes can be done on the fly without pressing any button on the lever or something?

Hows the A-Star automatic different than Hyundai's apart from the milage thing?
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Old 2nd May 2012, 11:26   #9
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Default Re: Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!

First of all Congrats, its a nice car and an ideal city car, Value for money indeed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sgiitk View Post
I will like to haver comments about your experience with the AT part. My own Santro AT is getting a bit long in the tooth. Today by all accounts the Maruti 4-speed is better than the ancient 3+1 of Hyundai. However, the Maruti 3-speed (I had it in my Zen) was pathetic.
I too bought an A star Auto in Dec 2011 after test driving the i10 Auto. My Father in law also owns an i10 Auto which I drive often. Frankly speaking the A star engine is no match for i10 but none of them are racer boys and nor is A star a sitting duck. The 3 pot engine will always make its presence felt (it reminded me of my M800 days), even the engine note at higher rpm is like M800.

I wanted a small automatic hatchback for the city and A star was good enough for that. Once you are used to the engine you will love the way A star drives, it feels more planted compared i10 and santro, the ride is less bumpier, it has awesome brakes and its frugal too. The mileage is at least 20% better compared to i10 under similar condition. The K10 engine is supposed to be good but I replaced my santro with the A star and only place I felt the car lacks is engine refinement rest all is just perfect. Transmission is pretty smooth and tuned for better mileage (read lethargic) which is again ideal for city.

I cant comment on highway driving because my A star has rarely seen the highway.


PS: One more thing both my A star and Swift DDIS have a feature called rattles .
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Old 2nd May 2012, 11:41   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simonkayar View Post
The car can be switched on only when the gear is slotted in 'P' mode (parking).
I am able to switch on and start the car in Nuetral, in my 2011 model A-star Automatic. Can you check once?
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Old 2nd May 2012, 11:47   #11
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Congrats on your purchase!. The A-Star ( Vxi ) was my primary choice when I was in search of my first car. It checked all my needs. I was impressed by it's looks, was Ok with the 3 cylinder engine, did not care about the boot space and was a perfect fit for my small porch. But all others in my family were against it and I finally ended up buying the i10 ( which I don't regret now ). However whenever I get a chance, I still drive my friend's A-Star just for the greed
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Old 2nd May 2012, 12:05   #12
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The steering just sticks and doesn't come to its on-centre position for small rotations. That is the major gripe for me in this car.

I move it to 'N' in traffic lights (and use hand brake when necessary) since its shorter distance so that I can start it in this position again.
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Old 2nd May 2012, 12:15   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
Hows the A-Star automatic different than Hyundai's apart from the milage thing?
Hyundai is a 3+1. In other words you cannot get engine braking in third. Engine braking becomes particularly important when driving downhill.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tazmaan View Post
.... The 3 pot engine will always make its presence felt (it reminded me of my M800 days), even the engine note at higher rpm is like M800.
I was looking more in the perspective of the Dzire Compact in AT mode. The transmission will be the same! I also think I have graduated from 3-potters. I am looking at Maruti and Hyundai only because there are no ATs on the Liva /Brio/ Jazz.
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Old 2nd May 2012, 12:25   #14
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Default Re: Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!

Lovely, detailed review! These days, I'm also mulling over getting a 2nd car for the missus, and your review came at the perfect time!

Many congratulations and wish you a million miles of safe & happy driving!

Quote:
Originally Posted by simonkayar View Post
The car was delivered with accessories couple of days later (29th Feb)......
Was the delivery date chosen on purpose? This way, when your car completes 4 years, even then you can legitimately claim that it is only 1 year old.

Cheers,
Vikram
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Old 2nd May 2012, 17:01   #15
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Default Re: Our 2012 Spiced Up Maruti A-Star Automatic!

Congratulations on the car! We have a 2012 A-star AT too and wifey is loving it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
Hows the A-Star automatic different than Hyundai's apart from the milage thing?
One major advantage that the A-star AT has is ABS. Just yesterday, I was driving my brother's Santro AT on the highway. I didn't notice a speed breaker and slammed the brakes. The car swerved dangerously and I had to let go of the brake pedal, to prevent further damage.
I don't have much experience with ATs, but in such a situation, ATs without ABS can be pretty risky.
AFAIK, the i10 Sportz AT does not have ABS, while the insanely priced Asta does.
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