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Old 20th November 2008, 00:36   #1
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Default Maruti A-Star review + test Drive

disclaimer: this review is not meant to offend and defend ANY PROSPECTIVE A-STAR BUYERS, MARUTI LOYALISTS AND THEIR PEERS. this is my perceptual review.individual percetions may differ. if you like it, buy it and if you don't, please don't blame me for the review.

maruti suzuki india presents

the making of a superstar

A *

guest test driver and touturer

produced by: competant motors, gazipur, delhi

directed by: MSIL.

review:not so early, read on...

reel 1: looks- **.

people called it cute, chubby, stylish etc etc but for me, it looks ugly with those goofy eyed headlamps with that beautiful grill, bland sides with rear windows that thankfully rool down for the indian model to the big-tyres-on-a-small car look to the sloping rear windows which would make me claustrophobic to the disastrous rear end with the shape of tail gate which looks as if an alto was hit with a sledge hammer and al thats left was the flat opening and closing hatch door-so fragile that imagine what would happen if it gets rear ended with a blueline and with the door so close to the rear seat, rear passengers are a serious safety hazard.

reel 2: interior: ***

good quality plastics, best fit and finish in a maruti car and the 2-tone grey interior looks good for a tiny car. thankfully maruti did not provide beige interiors which would look tacky. however, dor pockets were small and few cubby holes wee present as compared to zen and wagon-r.

one major irritant was the red illumination of the dashboard whic is truly a nightmare. small speedometer and dinky tachometer are design disasters. were they trying to imitate the fiat 500?

reel 3: front space headroom:**1/2.
front space legroom:****.
rear space headroom: **.
rear legroom: **.

kudos for the front space legroom for 6-footers like me, even more than i-10. however, absence of a tilt steering and seat height adjustment is a disaster.
headroom is OK. but heads may be in damger of hitting the roof if a car is driven at a high speed over a pot-hole.unfortunately the good news ends here.

rear legroom is even less than an alto, and headroom is pathetic and this couples with small rear windowd, makes it feel that you are sitting in a claustrophobic cabin, even worse than a swift.

absence of a dead pedal is shocking.

whan will maruti learn to make spacious and comfy cars??

reel 4:boot space: *.

does this car really have a boot or just for the sake of it?
it's boot capacity is even less than an 800, leave alone an alto.
only one medium suitcase and that to on vertically position will fit, nothing else will.

reel 5: engine at idle: ****

start the engine, at idle, even for a 3-cylinder is superbly refined due to DOHC aluminium cylinder hed and block etc.but again, the good news is over.

reel 6: performance and drive: **.

yes, very disappointing 2/5 stars. expecting this to be an " all new all aluminium 12-valve KB series DOHC engine with 998 cc, 67 hp@6000 rpm and 90nm torque at 3500 rpm", this motor sounds good on paper but on the drive, a 3-pot motor can never match the smoothness of a 4-pot. this motor, dare I say, felt even worse than the 10-year old e-rlx santro motor, although 1.2 kappa is in a different league altogether.

wheelspins are easy ( i did 4-times) but the pick-up, in 1st and 2nd gears is lacking as compared to the hyundai twins and the engine has to be whipped to get it to perform.would anyone believe it that the motor is noisy and it labours to its redline like an alto!

poor low-end torque means like typical 3-cylinder suzuki cars, downshift is necessary.as speeds build up, the engine becomes smother but still is noisy despite a sould insulator present in the hood (black padding).

in fact, the engine exhaust note and sound is the same as an alto.
has suzuki gone wrong with their recent motors? or has hyundai kept improving for the better?

reel 7: gearbox: ****

perhaps the only saving grace: smooth shifting short throw gearbox is sweet to engage and the ratios are even, save for the awkward gap between the 2nd and 3rd gears.

reel 8: ride: front: ***, rear: ***

for the size, the car provides amazing ride quality while sitting on 155/80 R13 tubeless tyres. front passengers have reasonable amounts of comfort over small rough surfaces but on high speeds, the ride tends to get skittish wit the risk of head hitting the roof when the car goes throuh pothole at a high speed.

rear is even worse. at low speeds, suspension soaks potholes efficiently but at high speeds, the isolated trailing arm coil spring suspension begins to show it's limitations with ride being bouncy and crash through potholes with the car getting unsettled on a really bad road.

this car should have independent rear suspension with telescopic shock absorbers, this type of shockers provide btter ride quality and is present in the alto, not in the A-star.

reel 9: handling:** 1/2

EPS always has its limit. steering feel is numb, artificial and the car does not respond to direction changes as well as a santro does and light feel of the steering makes it feel disconnected from the wheels. i-10 is slightly better, but the santro is still the car to beat when it comes to steering feel for a city kei-car.

reel 10: stability: low speed: ***, highway speed: **.

no matter how aerodynamic the car is, its diminutive size means that at low speeds, its stability is great aided by the rear suspension design and tall profile tyres, but at high speedsover 90, it easily gets unsettled, especially when a versa passes by, also the same case when a santro, wagon r and i-10 pass by.

reel 11: braking: ***(when equipped with ABS)

the demo car is ZXI with ABS and dual airbags.

brakes are pretty good but not as good as an I-10 asta.
peal feel is lacking and under heavy braking, the ABS light turned on 2 times, also brake fade was apparent after a series of 3 repeated stops.
the so-calld 13-inch discs on 13-inch wheels are good, but not great.

reel 12: stereo: ***.

for a factory fitted unit in ZXI with 4-speakers, it sounded pretty good. it is mp3/wma compatible and also comes with an i-pod auxilary input jack.however, absence of a steering remote was a glaring omission.

reel 13: final verdict: ** 1/2.

this car is overpriced for what it offers and the alto LXI for Rs 65,000 less than an A-star lxi is clearly a better deal despite the alto being 9-years old a compared to the brand new A-star.

for VXi and Zxi, for the equipment they offer, they are pretty well priced.

i had a lot of expectations from the a-star. however, after a 45-minute drive on all types of roads, i am truly disappointed with MSIL t come out with a product which is not exactly a big step ahed of alto, and the asking price tag is still too steep for me to say yes to the buying factor.

no doubt, it will sell in large numbers due to its all round combination of looks and best in class mileage (ARAI certified 19.57 kpl) and will be a hit with the young college going students, bachlors and newly married couples but for certain clientile, this car has a heart, not a soul.

only time will tell that what will be it's future in the long term in India, but who cares since india will be sole production and export hub for the A-star and for Maruti, earning foreign exchange and putting india on a world map is what that counts and kudos to MSIL (after Hyundai India) for that.

in case i missed any point or feel that my review is biased, all opinions are welcome.
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Old 20th November 2008, 00:52   #2
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On the road pricing and waiting periods ?

I am specially interested in the waiting periods of the Zxi and Vxi ABS because of the shortage of ABS kits.
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Old 20th November 2008, 00:54   #3
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exhaustive. and as expected. overpriced. ppl pay more for looks in india though. and a combination of looks and good fuel efficiency(read: 3 cylinder aluminum engine) are very good usp's for india. it will sell. for its bling factor and its oomph value
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Old 20th November 2008, 00:55   #4
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Brilliantly written review. The cars seems to be shockingly disappointing.
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Old 20th November 2008, 00:56   #5
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19.57 kpl This is the biggest USP for a car in india to be a success
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Old 20th November 2008, 06:20   #6
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nice review,i think MSIL is pushing it to the limit by bringing in new models into already cramped segments.
was it a very bad idea to replace the alto??cause a little lower price for the A star would mean better success for sure.
and about ZXi, i wasn't expecting all the goodies cause otherwise it would slowly eat into other suzuki stable(wagonR,estilo,swift LXi)
im really waiting for some real time pics!!
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Old 20th November 2008, 08:12   #7
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@Sid, Well written. Feels like I have done a (short) review on the car myself ..

Expect MSIL to shout out those FE figures to sell the car.
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Old 20th November 2008, 08:31   #8
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Well written review. The engine is exactly what I expected, a motor that will perform on top end. But I am shocked to see that why even this long stroke motor is not able to give proper torque in city.
Well, I believe we can wait for the engine to run in and then try again.
How was the performance on highway and how was the mid range for overtaking ? Any issues with highway performance ? Was it quicker than Wagon R or Santro or felt way slower like Alto ?
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Old 20th November 2008, 08:51   #9
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any pics taken mate ??
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Old 20th November 2008, 09:04   #10
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My brother was waiting for the A Star now that its launched and isent as good as the i10 i guess ill advise him to opt for the i10 Kappa. Great writeup Sid.

Now if only we could have some actual TD pics. I have just one question which i ask myself again and again, Why cant Maruti give a Rear Washer-Wiper atleast on the Vxi and Zxi models, Why why why, When all the other cars in this price segment right from the Santro to the i10 have it as std fitment and guys staying in areas with heavy rains know how important the rear washer-wiper is. Is it Cost Cutting as i read somewhere that Maruti tops in Cost cutting ideas, if 1 rear washer-wiper unit costs abt 3000 rs for the full kit which includes the wiperblade, the wiper arm, motor, spray unit and wireing and switches etc just calculate how much they would save after a period of time.

Note from the Team-BHP Support Staff : Please use the "edit" button if posting within 15 minutes of the first post, instead of creating another back-to-back post

Last edited by Technocrat : 20th November 2008 at 14:08. Reason: See note in post
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Old 20th November 2008, 09:20   #11
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Nice detailed review. Some pictures would have made it complete.
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Old 20th November 2008, 09:30   #12
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hi Sid, good write up. Would be nice to see some pics too.
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Old 20th November 2008, 09:46   #13
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A TCO comparator vs i10 / Alto would be great, keeping as benchmark a 5 year ownership period based on some avg KM's / Month City drive.

Although quite early but cost of spares/service should be accounted for, in my opinion the 19.xx km/litre mileage would score handsomely over any competitor (if its true).....
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Old 20th November 2008, 09:59   #14
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Originally Posted by frankmehta View Post
exhaustive. and as expected. overpriced. ppl pay more for looks in india though. and a combination of looks and good fuel efficiency(read: 3 cylinder aluminum engine) are very good usp's for india. it will sell. for its bling factor and its oomph value
Boy I don't believe this,we in India prefer looks last ( in cars).Else how would that ugly Santro become a hit, and how doea Maruti continue with its outdated 800, Esteem ( thankfully phased out) and other numerous examples by other makers too ..
Priorities for us Indians.
1.Fuel Efficiency ( aka "average").
2.Fuel efficiency .
3.fuel efficiency.
4.Cost price
5.Spares price and maintenance..
6.Interior space
7. Ride
8. Looks
10. Safety ( maybe).
Note ..I have left out handling as 98% care two hoots if a bullock cart handles better..i am tempted to add safety, however we seem to be slowly maturing here, but still not fast enough.
The Palio launched in 2001 had all requirements in a compact, well built and safe car,looked smashing for its time and failed dismally, not due to aftersales but the all important "average". Or kindly explain how the Indica with equally dismal aftersales but crude diesel efficiency thrived.
For Christ's sake it even had ABS and airbags as options back then when most did not know their ABS from their ABC .
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Old 20th November 2008, 10:03   #15
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Hi Sid,

Thanks for such a wonderful review of A-Star. Yesterday only one of my collegue was planning for a new car around 4-5lac bracket. I asked him to wait till A-Star is released. Now after reading your review, I will advice him to go for i-10 Kappa. I-10 has already proved to be a winner.

Mean while, I'm planning to go for a testdrive of A-Star soon.
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