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Old 6th March 2012, 11:16   #1
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Default Our very own Mini - The Alto K10

Disclaimer
Please note that all opinions expressed in this review are of my own and are not intended to harm / malign any brand, vehicle, person. Thanks!

Introduction

Ever since I can remember, I have been fanatical about cars. As a child, I had to satisfy myself with a collection of 'dinky' cars and fancy remote controlled ones. My father is an equally avid enthusiast. The only difference is that he actually knows cars inside out.
When I reached the last year of my engineering college, I was given a Fiat Uno (1.0 L petrol, 1997) for commuting around NCR. The car was fun to drive, spacious and economical. It was also a pseudo status symbol most guys in college owned bikes.
I got posted to Mysore after my engineering. Logically, I transported the car there. For almost 2 years I pottered around town, doing frequent highway runs to Bangalore and the surrounding areas. The car was given a new stereo system, 2 new speakers and art leather seat covers. But the bug of doing something to the car never subsided. Whether it was 'grooving' the engine or new tyres, some part of my monthly salary went into the vehicle.
The Uno was driven to Manipal from Mysore, to use, during my post graduation. The car faithfully served me for the next two years midnight beach runs, drinking sessions, trips to Mangalore, etc. At the end of my tenure, with my future posting being uncertain with the organization I got placed in, I sold it off to a fellow team-bhp member for a tidy sum. It was a heart breaking moment, as I had most of my fun moments with the car growing up.
2011 brought with it a slew of changes for me. New location, a life partner and a short posting in Delhi. The lack of conveyance in Delhi began to pinch and solutions were sought after. Since, I did not have a permanent posting (part of the management trainee programme at the company), the decision to use my father's car over buying a new one prevailed.
So, another Assam number car was sent to me. This was the 2004 Accent Viva (1.6 L DOHC) that my father owned but seldom used. The car arrived in June 2011 and became my daily drive in Delhi.
The months wore on and the thought of buying a new car started to creep up over and over again. In January 2012, the better half gave a go ahead to start looking at new cars.

Considerations for the new car:
  • Budget upto Rs. 5 Lakh
  • Petrol car as running was less than 2000 kms
  • Power windows, cabin based boot opener & fuel lid opener
  • Free revving engine
  • Decent handling
  • Low maintenance
  • Good after sales even if I got posted to Tier II cities

Buying strategy:

Try to find out if any December or November models were available at the dealer. These cars would be given more discount for stock clearance. Since I was buying the car in January, I was hoping to cash in on the discounts given at the year end beginning.

The Shortlisted candidates:

VW Polo
  • For: Awesome look and stance, well screwed and ergonomically designed interiors, European built and handling
  • Against: 3 pot mediocre engine, paid service, relatively smaller *** at Tier II towns

Skoda Fabia
  • For: Awesome look and stance, well screwed and ergonomically designed interiors, European built and handling, Cheaper than the Polo with more goodies
  • Against: Horror stories of ***, relatively smaller *** at Tier II towns

FIAT Punto
  • For: Pure heart car (having owned an Uno) looks, handling
  • Against: Unsure *** (once bitten twice shy), interior fit and finish

Alto K10
  • For: Go-kart like performance, good engine, great ***, cheapest amongst the lot
  • Against: Flimsy handling & built

The Reconnaissance:
I started with the lowest priced of the lot the Alto K10. A brief test drive around Greater Noida gave a decent feedback about the vehicle. Coming from driving the Accent, the space inside felt cramped and a little claustrophobic. Thankfully, I am not very tall (5 ft 7 in.) and headroom did not seem to be a problem.
As I finished the test drive, I handed the keys to my wife. She is used to driving a Swift diesel. While I did the 60 kmph handling kind of test drive, her one ambition, as with her Swift, was to put the pedal to the metal! While the speedo climbed to 90kmph, I kept my grinning face hidden from the Maruti Exec.
Boy, does the car fly! In no time, we were at 100 kmph.
Thus, the K10 test drive did leave us with a positive impression about the vehicle. The engine, as stated in the team-bhp review was indeed fun to drive, the interiors better than the old Alto, creature comforts like heater, remote boot unlock and front power windows, looked promising.
No doubt, the fit and finish was mediocre and coming from an Accent, it felt downright cheap but cheap was all I could afford, I guess.

Next we went to VW showroom in Noida. A word of advice Do not go to a premium marquee showroom after Maruti Suzuki. No doubt, for the range of customers that Maruti caters too, they have a pretty good sales team and the ambiance of the showroom is also good. However, step into VW and you will feel the 'premiumness' exude throughout the floor. I don't know whether it was the pleasant faced sales guy at the door, the okay looking reception desk (I was with my wife) or the gorgeous red colour Vento (1.6?) that gave me the awe factor. The sales guy was polite.
No, they did not have a December 2011 model Polo. In their current lineup, the cheapest would cost us around 5 lakhs on road. I had heard stories about the clatter of the 3 pot petrol engine and asked the salesperson to start the car while I listened. Surprisingly, it felt pretty quiet.
Overall, the Polo is an amazing looker. I am smitten by the clean cut lines and the low stance that appeals to the perfectionist in me. The paint job was top notch, the fit and finish of the panels good a car that really reached out to both wifey and me on various levels.
However, as both of us sat in the car, drooling over the well designed albeit old interior a silent wistful look passed between us. At 5 lakhs on road, the Trendline had dismal offerings I was hoping that if I could get a good deal, I would then splurge a little on the system, alloys, etc and round off the total purchase to 5 lakhs. This just did not seem possible now.
We thanked the salesperson for the time and with a final look at the Polo, walked out of the showroom.

Across the VW showroom, was the TATA - FIAT dealership. Upon inquiring about the Punto, I was asked to go upstairs to the actual showroom area, which held all the cars. The showroom was abuzz with salespeople and customers, mulling over various Tata Indicas, Nanos and even the Vista. The Punto seemed to delegated to one of the farthest corners of the showroom. Unlike the other two places, the sales team did not seem to have any uniform. As I reached Punto (2012), I was trying hard to find a salesperson, as the people around me were all in casual attire and I did not want to mistake a customer for a salesperson. Finally, I after looking around the car, I was approached by a salesperson.
I asked him all the same questions 2011 model, discounts, etc. Again the same responses. No, they did not have any 2011 models available (hard to believe, with the low sales turnover). Why don't I go for the new Punto 2012? The new features are so and so. No, there are no discounts available. The lowest variant (Active 1.2) will cost around 5.2 lakhs on road.
I sat in the car as he we had the above conversation. Wifey was anyways not in favour of the Fiat she had seen me break my head on the Uno, every once in a while, over the last couple of years. Although the car felt snug, the fit and finish of the display vehicle was not that great. The exterior paint job looked good, but panel gaps were visible. At that price point, the Polo felt better. Agreed the engine would be a 4 cylinder compared to the 3 cylinder to the Polo, but the overall impression remained tilted towards the Polo. I sat in the car, twiddled with the controls and finally decided that it was not worth it.
The one saving grace at the showroom was that thankfully, the salesperson did not push me to buy an Indica over the Punto.

The next stop in my shortlisted cars was the Skoda showroom. The showroom exuded an upmarket feel but a notch lower than the Volkswagen one. Initial impressions of the sales team was okay. There seemed a slight hesitation in welcoming me and that, to me, felt a little out of place. However, a salesperson as assigned to me and proceeded to show me the 2012 Fabia. The model on display was the 1.2 litre (petrol) Active Plus. The build quality was top notch and the interiors felt roomy and well put together. At Rs. 4.98 lakhs, the car did not have front power windows! On hearing this, he showed us the 1.2 litre (petrol) Ambiente which was costing me Rs. 5.38 lakhs on road. Although this ticked off all the right check boxes, we felt that this was going over our stipulated budget. On being asked of any older models available at cheaper prices, the salesperson mentioned a 1.6 Fabia Petrol (top variant) for Rs. 4.6 lakhs on road! The catch here was that it was a 2010 year car lying at the stockyard. I must say, for a small period of time I was really tempted! However saner heads prevailed (mainly, my wife) and after a lot of discussions the offer was rejected.


Post Reconnaissance Analysis:

We reached home late evening after all the driving around town and sat down to brass tacks. After going through all the quotes and features of each and every one of the vehicles as well as re reading all their official team-bhp reviews, we felt that with the budget in hand and the features we wanted, the Alto K10 was the best bet. To top it all, the surplus cash that we saved could be put into accessorizing the car! Thus, after longingly putting all the other car brochures and quotes into the drawer, the Alto K10 reading material was given a thorough going over.



The Final Choice:


The Alto K10 Vxi
  • December 2011 model
  • Sunlight Copper
  • Nippon 2 DIN Maruti furnished music system
  • 2 JBL GT0 498s 6 x9 Rear speakers from Maruti
  • 2 JBL CS4 4 in. front speaker from Maruti
  • Body coloured OVRMS and Door Handles
  • Alloys Prestige from Ashok Motors Noida
  • Tyres Change to Apollo Aceleres from Ashok Motors Noida
  • Art Leather Seat Covers from Khanna Motors Noida
  • Central locking with remote anti theft system from Maruti (Nippon)
  • Freebies Mud flaps and 1 set of carpets, 1 idol and perfume.


The buying experience:

The car was purchased on cash from Vipul Motors, Sector 18 Noida. The salesperson who was allotted to me was a Mr. Puneet Goel. Puneet was very helpful throughout the buying process. The overall experience was very satisfactory. I made several trips to the showroom, to get various details clarified, accessory planning, etc. and at all the times I was patiently and promptly attended to.

The Cost:

The car cost on road : Rs. 3,25,659

Discounts included:
  • 2011 December model Less Rs. 10,000
  • Seasonal discount Less Rs. 25,000
  • Corp. discount Less Rs. 5,000

Accessories added Rs. 33,400
  • Music System with speakers, antenna @ 10% discount on price Rs. 18,000
  • Painting for OVRMS & Door Handles to body colour Rs. 1,100
  • 4 Alloy wheels with tyres & hubcap exchange Rs. 11,400
  • Art Leather Seat covers Rs. 2,500
  • 1 set of plastic mats Rs. 400

Total Cost on Road: Rs. 3,59,059

Experience till now - ~ 2000 kms

Equipment Levels
Likes:
  • Power Windows - Front
  • Remote Fuel Lid Opener
  • Remote Boot Opener
Missing:
  • Rear Defogger
  • Rear Wiper
  • Day & Night Mirror - They don't have one for K10 and no other Maruti one fits. This I feel is a must and solely missing
  • No digital clock - I haven't been able to find a suitable aftermarket replacement. My 1997 Uno had one!

Usage Pattern
  • Daily commute includes an average 60 kms up and down on the Greater Noida Expressway.
  • In Delhi City driving, around 20 to 30 kms, depending upon the market I'm visiting.
So, on an overall, I can say that 70% highway driving with average speeds of 80 km/hr.

Exterior Styling & Design
  • The car reminds me of the old Zen (MH410 1.0 litre) we had around 1998. Small car looks with aggressive styling. The front headlights and grill do manage to differentiate it from the normal Alto - which is a good thing. The rear is cute with it's rounded lights.
  • The side strips manage to add some sporty character to the car and the design lines converging from the rear and the front on the side are subtle and blend well with the overall look - this is no Hyudai Fluidic but overall it manages to look good and well planted.
  • I have had relatives, on seeing the photographs, comment that it looks like a sedan from the front rather than a small hatch. I guess, body colouring the OVRMs did have some effects... !

Build Quality
  • As mentioned in my reconnaissance, the Alto K10 does have flimsy build quality. This is certainly evident for someone coming from driving Accent for a good 6 months. The panels are thin - you can feel them facing the strain when weight is put on them. Panel gaps, however are consistent and overall the car feels well screwed together.
  • On bad road, rattles begin to creep into the cabin.
  • The Uno, I feel, had better build quality and was less prone to rattle than the Alto K10. However, if you are generally doing city commuting, you will not feel these faults.
Off-roading with the Alto K10 is a strict NO NO...

Interior Quality & Design
  • Gear lever - chunky, very Swift like
  • Switches / Aircon control - basic plastic with no upmarket feel - but does not seem to be flimsy and does not look like the types to fall off
  • Remote fuel lid opener / boot release - very poor finish - Considerable effort has to be applied to release the boot. The Accent and the Swift have a very smooth action as well as way better finish.
  • Aircon Vents - basic and nothing to write home about
  • Seat adjustment levers - decent fit and finish
  • Steering - chunky 3 spoke - very good to hold
  • Headlight adjustment - very surprising that they had one (my Accent does not have one!)
  • MID - very basic with 2 trip meters and 1 odometer. Digital Fuel gauge. Wish there was an option to get average kmpl or distance to empty.

Overall, I find that the Alto has most of the switches, levers and buttons in the right place for easy access. As mentioned earlier, I solely miss a digital clock on the dashboard. Any suggestions for an aftermarket ones are greatly welcome!

Interior Space & Comfort
  • The overall cabin seems a little cramped initially, but a couple of drives later, you get used to it. The front seats provide decent under thing support as well as back rest. The integrated head rests are a sham in my opinion. I generally drive with the seat upright and the integrated headrests do not offer good head support. A purchase of neck pillows rectified this issue immediately. For a small family of two with kids, the car is ideal. Seating 4 well sized adults can become a litte cramped for the ones in the rear.
  • Specific mention should be made for the boot - its tiny! Drawing unfair comparisons with the Accent or even the Uno, one cannot fathom the lack of boot space, especially after the attachment of the rear parcel shelf. My wife does frequent all India trips for work and regular visits to the airport for either a pick up or drop have become routine. The first time I picked her up in the Alto (after the Accent), the boot size really did turn out to be suprisingly limited for practical use. Thankfully, we had the rear seats for additional space.
So, if you are looking to take a road trip with your buddies with luggage and all... you will find the Alto severely lacking in space. For a newly married couple living independently, it makes more sense.

Engine Performance & Driveability
  • City Driving: Excellent performance with great pulling power from standstill red lights or quick overtaking to cover those gaps. The engine feels very responsive above 1000 rpm and is a gem to drive. 2nd & 3rd gear are a boon in the city and even with the AC on, you do not feel the drag and sluggishness associated with small cars.
  • Highway Driving: Have been doing 80 - 110 km/hr on the expressway. You never feel the engine being strained or unresponsive, even when trying to get that extra speed for overtaking cars - both with the AC and without it.
  • There is a good amount of engine noise that you can hear with the windows down at low rpms, but at high rpms ~ 2.5k, with the windows rolled up, the car is pretty silent!
Overall, the engine is the heart of the matter and I am really enjoying the my tryst with traffic with the Mini.

Handling, Suspension & Gear shifts
  • The car handles like a dream, especially in congested city traffic. The light steering couples with great pulling power makes it a whiz through gaps that leave me dumbfounded.
  • On the expressway, which I commute on a regular basis, the alloys and the tyres have added to the stability factor. Initially, the 'twichyness' was quite worrying, after havig handled a diesel swift and petrol accent, but you get used to it.
  • The pickup is excellent and the way this car cruises to a 100 kmph is just short of amazing. One minute you are at 60 and then when you look at the speedo - voila - 100! I am simply in love with the 3rd gear - amazing pull from slow speeds - perfect for filling in traffic gaps!
  • The suspension is decent for the tarmac but really falls short on bad roads. You are well jousled whenever you hit a rough patch! So, suddenly, I am doing bad roads at consicouisly lower speeds than I would have liked. So, if you are planning to hit some bad roads immediately after lunch in your Alto K10, I wouldn't advice it for the queasy stomached! At high speeds (excess of 80 km/hr) you will begin to feel the undulations of the roads filter to the cabin but nothing that is alarming or disconcerting.
  • The gear shift is precise and slots really well. The throws are shorter than the Accent and the clutch is lighter too. The clutch is light to use in bumper to bumper traffic and half clutch starts are pretty easily accomplished.
So as of now, I am one happy camper!

Fuel Economy
It's an Alto - need I say more?
Getting about 20 kmpl effortlessly (60% highway, 40% city, without AC as of now.)

Miscellaneous Observations
  • The headlight throw is decent and the 50/60 W headlights do justice to lighting up the road. However, I haven't done any out of Delhi NCR trips, so they have not been really tested on dark and isolated highways. I had 90/100 W installed in my Uno after doing the Mysore - Bangalore stretch as the I found their illumination inadequate. However, this has clear lenses and thus it might just suffice.
  • The Nippon Kenwood system is a gem of a system at that price point. The 2 DIN system increasing the aesthetic look of the dash and the buttons are really well placed and good sized to allow for easy use while driving.
  • Stoage space in the form of cubbyholes is adequate. It does however miss those 1 Litre bottle slots in the doors. For normal coins, paperwork as well as 2 cups, the cabin is well designed. The door pockets, however, are really only good for maps and nothing else. Even a well folded yellow cloth duster feels jammed in them. I have had seat coveres installed, and their pockets have added to the storage space in the car.

Overall Rating:
Above my expectations - great value for money!

Some Clicks with my Phone Camera
Attached Thumbnails
Our very own Mini - The Alto K10-img_20120307_092502.jpg  

Our very own Mini - The Alto K10-img_20120307_092553.jpg  

Our very own Mini - The Alto K10-img_20120307_092607.jpg  

Our very own Mini - The Alto K10-img_20120307_092623.jpg  

Our very own Mini - The Alto K10-img_20120307_092640.jpg  

Our very own Mini - The Alto K10-img_20120307_092659.jpg  

Our very own Mini - The Alto K10-img_20120307_092716.jpg  

Our very own Mini - The Alto K10-img_20120307_092438_1.jpg  

Our very own Mini - The Alto K10-img_20120307_092448_1.jpg  

Our very own Mini - The Alto K10-img_20120307_092538_1.jpg  

Our very own Mini - The Alto K10-img_20120307_092824_1.jpg  


Last edited by prateekswarup : 18th March 2012 at 10:39.
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Old 15th March 2012, 19:01   #2
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Default Re: Our very own Mini - The Alto K10

Note From Team-BHP Support Team: Thread moved from Assembly Line to Test-Drives & Initial Ownership Reports section.

Thanks for sharing, and be sure to consolidate by adding more text and pictures. The Alto K10 is a wonderful car, and a step in the right direction, if you're looking for a frugal and competent hot-hatch. Congratulations on your latest acquisition!
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Old 15th March 2012, 19:10   #3
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Default Re: Our very own Mini - The Alto K10

Congrats on your new purchase. Its really a Pocket-Rocket.
I have read at many places on T-BHP that the best mileage given by K10 is 12-15 and Alto 800 is having mileages in excess of 20, so it was a little pleasant surprise.
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Old 15th March 2012, 19:24   #4
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Default Re: Our very own Mini - The Alto K10

Quote:
Originally Posted by carwatcher View Post
Congrats on your new purchase. Its really a Pocket-Rocket.
I have read at many places on T-BHP that the best mileage given by K10 is 12-15 and Alto 800 is having mileages in excess of 20, so it was a little pleasant surprise.
Thanks carwatcher. As of now, by tank full to tank full I'm getting 20 kmpl. Let's see what it gives with the AC on...
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Old 15th March 2012, 19:36   #5
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Default Re: Our very own Mini - The Alto K10

Congrats prateekswarup! Alto K10 is an awesome pocket rocket. A friend of mine has A-Star. It's quite a huge fun to drive and I personally like it better than Swift and my Figo in city conditions. So I can imagine how Alto K10 is like driving. As for mileage, my friend always drives enthusiastically and still gets mileage of 19kpl. By this standard, your K10's 20kpl is still low (since it's quite new). It's gonna return even higher mileage once it gets a bit older and engine gets more freely revving.

One thing I noticed in A-Star was that its steering was quite heavy (heavier than my Figo's hydraulic steering). It was surprising for me since I assumed it to be super-light since it's electronic steering. What's case with your Alto? Is it also heavy?

Keep revvin'
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Old 15th March 2012, 19:48   #6
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Default Re: Our very own Mini - The Alto K10

Congrats on the new car. The K10 is indeed a brilliant car. I was so tempted to go for it, but the VFM of an used Alto Lxi as opposed to a new K10 kept me away.

I have test driven it and it is indeed a pocket rocket.

How do you find the handling with the bigger tyres, because I found it twitchy with the stock tyres. All it needs is ABS and airbags to be the perfect city car.
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Old 16th March 2012, 02:22   #7
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by prateekswarup

Considerations for the new car:
[*]Budget upto Rs. 5 Lakh[*]Petrol car as running was less than 2000 kms[*]Power windows, cabin based boot opener & fuel lid opener[*]Free revving engine[*]Decent handling[*]Low maintenance[*]Good after sales – even if I got posted to Tier II cities

The Shortlisted candidates:

VW Polo
Skoda Fabia
FIAT Punto

Alto K10
[*]For: Go-kart like performance, good engine, great ***, cheapest amongst the lot[*]Against: Flimsy handling & built
Congratulations on new car. Enjoy that free revving K10 engine. It's a gem of an engine in this small car.

Not that it matters now but just one question, why did you not consider Honda Brio? Brio's mid-level model falls right into your budget of 5lacs and it is equally fun to drive car with go-cart like handling and decent interior fit and finish.
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Old 16th March 2012, 08:14   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DevilsCry View Post

One thing I noticed in A-Star was that its steering was quite heavy (heavier than my Figo's hydraulic steering). It was surprising for me since I assumed it to be super-light since it's electronic steering. What's case with your Alto? Is it also heavy?

Keep revvin'
With the alloys and tyres (same profile as stock), the steering at high speeds is a little twichy but not as light as I had expected as it behaves very light at low speeds. Comparing it to a swift or an accent, the steering is light at high speeds. I haven't driven the A - Star so cannot give a comparison.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nitrous Power View Post

Not that it matters now but just one question, why did you not consider Honda Brio? Brio's mid-level model falls right into your budget of 5lacs and it is equally fun to drive car with go-cart like handling and decent interior fit and finish.
The one factor that really put both of us (wifey & me) was the look of the Brio. The rear looked too toy car-ish.

Thank you all for your wishes.

Drive safe!
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Old 16th March 2012, 10:42   #9
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Default Re: Our very own Mini - The Alto K10

Congrats ,Prateek on your pocket rocket.Nice review too.Great car and nice colour.I love the gun metal grey alloys.They looks similar to the alloys of Audi R8!!Please blacken the B Pillar too.Also debadge the rear.It will look cool.Drive safe.
Do update
Sreehari
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Old 16th March 2012, 11:19   #10
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Default Re: Our very own Mini - The Alto K10

Congrats Prateek for getting yourself a great diet city / highway car. I'm sure you would enjoy running her through many many miles.

Nice pics too especially the alloys. Out of curiosity why didn't you consider the Beat.
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Old 16th March 2012, 13:16   #11
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Default Re: Our very own Mini - The Alto K10

Congrats Prateek, the alloys look super in the cooper Alto, one of the best I have seen in a Alto
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Old 18th March 2012, 10:50   #12
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Default Re: Our very own Mini - The Alto K10

Thread moved from Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 18th March 2012, 11:06   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arup.misra View Post
Congrats Prateek for getting yourself a great diet city / highway car. I'm sure you would enjoy running her through many many miles.

Nice pics too especially the alloys. Out of curiosity why didn't you consider the Beat.
Thanks Anup! The looks of the beat along with the claustrophobic rear windows made us shy away from it. Also, not very fond of the bike inspired instrument cluster! Plus, the diesel is good but we wanted a petrol car.
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Old 18th March 2012, 13:51   #14
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Default Re: Our very own Mini - The Alto K10

Congrats for the car. Alloys look hot. Adding tints would enhance the look even more and keep interiors cool. How is the sound output of the music system? IMO, 18k for a basic Nippon unit is little bit on a higher side. Didn't you include EON in your selection list?
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Old 18th March 2012, 15:35   #15
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Default Re: Our very own Mini - The Alto K10

Great looking car and a great review!
Love the alloys!
As the miles add on, might I suggest adding sun film, and then later on something to reduce the naked-ness of the front bumper (side view, pic 1)?
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A very very very hot Murcielago. v12 The International Automotive Scene 18 14th July 2004 22:04


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