|28th June 2009, 22:08||#1|
Join Date: May 2009
Thanked: 9 Times
Red Hot Alto Spice
The idea of a second car is born
Some where around this time last year, I was looking for a small car for trips to the market and around town. Our Siena was a bit too big for this. I called up the Maruti Dealer, Chowgule Industries Limited. Margao, Goa for a Test Drive of the Maruti 800 Duo. We were planning to keep the Siena and buy a second small car, so we decided to go for something cheap. Soon the sales executive Sam was at our place with the vehicle (No stickers on it and speedometer disconnected). Peter (pedrolourenco) and me took the car for a short drive. We had both driven the 800 earlier and this one felt no different. We felt it was OK for the purpose. Then Peter had to leave to join the ship and I was to join him shortly, so we decided buy the car later. Somehow by the time we got back it was late March 2009. Thinking over it we decided that the 800 was just too old and basic and we wanted something better. So the obvious choice was the Alto. We had Sam's card and quickly gave him a call. He was quite surprised we got back to him after so long. He had now been promoted to Team Leader, so he sent his Executive Pritesh to our place with the quotation. The freebies on offer were not to good so Peter decided to shop around. This and other things led to the delay in buying the car.
We checked out a number of cars which were ultimately ruled out for the following reasons:
-Chevrolet Spark-Actually the best of the lot but ruled out because of lower fuel efficiency,GM bankrupcy and non-availability of the bright red colour.
-Hyundai i10 IRDE-Comfortable, smooth, cool looking but quite a bit more expensive.
-A-Star-Nice looks but again relatively expensive and poor fuel efficiency (The long term test car of BSM returned an average of 10Kmpl during its stay).
-TATA Indica Vista-Too big for my need. A great car if it's the only car you own.
-Fiat Palio Stile-Liked its looks. Drives well (both petrol & diesel) but again too big for my needs.
-TATA Nano-Suits my need but got an allotment for 2011.
I did receive many suggestions in the thread
But then since it was supposed the replace my Activa, most of the suggestions were not suitable for me. So finally it was back to the Alto.
Now I'm not working and Peter is an NRI. We decided that finance will be only through a Nationalised Bank. Strictly no ICICI even if their interest rate is zero. Approached Corporation Bank and Bank of India with whom we bank. Corporation Bank does not give car loans to NRI's. Bank of India was willing. However I found SBI's offer the best. Peter went to the bank to pay his credit card bill and just inquired about the loan. Soon an application was filled and all documents submitted. Application was rejected. Reason; you need to have an account with SBI for at least 1 year (For NRI's only). Now what to do? Maybe go to Bank of India. In the meantime Peter goes to TD the Linea and Punto (to replace his Siena). There he bumps into Sam. My God, Team Leader of Maruti sales team is selling Maruti's to others and buying a Fiat for himself. Anyway he tries to convince him to buy the SX4 instead of the Linea and also agrees to do the loan formalities for the Alto with SBI. All this happening at the Fiat showroom. Loan is approved by SBI the next day.
Booking,Paperwork, PDI, Registration and Delivery
The offer was Rs.14K worth stuff. Asked for Insurance (National), Body coloured bumpers, VXi type mirrors and the rest to be used to part pay the road tax. We asked for the Bright Red Colour LXi model. Mr. Pritesh came over to collect the cheque. He told me that they had an Red Alto Spice in stock. It was April 2009 model done up by the dealer as per Maruti guidelines. The modifications were supposedly worth 12K. He said I can take a 2K discount as this months offer was 14K. The car had body coloured bumpers, mirrors (VXi type but not internally adjustable), handles & boot lock, fake leather seat covers (MGA), rear parcel tray, body graphics(look yucky and do not match) and basic accessories like mats & mudflaps. Additionally after some bargaining, they agreed to throw in Garware filming for the windows. So we opted for this deal.
Booked the vehicle and did the PDI. Then next day made the payments and completed the paperwork. They told me to come to the showroom the next day to collect the papers for RTO (opted to do the registration ourselves as they were charging 1.5K for it). We collected the papers, completed and signed them and went to the RTO. When the inspector was checking he noticed that the engine number written at the time of PDI (done by RTO) was different from the invoice and refused to register the vehicle. He wanted the vehicle re-inspected to verify which number was the correct one before entering it on the RC book. Now the PDI was done by Panjim RTO and we were at Margao RTO. So back to the dealer. Peter catches hold of the Executive and tells him; (P=Peter E=Sales Executive)
P:You should check before handing over papers or give them well in advance for me to check personally as I had requested.
E:Sorry sir, it's not our fault. It was done in Panjim and we just received the papers.
P:That's not my problem. I warned you earlier to let me check all the paperwork well in advance, why did you bring it at the last moment.
E:Sorry Sir. There's nothing we can do now as the RTO is closing in 30 minutes and it's Friday. You will have to register it on Monday.
P:Firstly I'm not going back to the RTO, you are. I've already stood in a line and wasted a lot of time. Now you will complete the formalities and I'm not paying one paise extra. Secondly I will not wait till Monday. I want the car tomorrow or my money back, the choice is yours.
E:Sorry Sir, I will have to speak to my superiors. But we can't do anything now.
P:Look here. You did not do any of the formalities until you received the full payment. Fair enough, your company rules are like that and I accept it. Now my rules. I've paid you in full. I want my car, give it to me.
E:OK sir, I'll give you a call and let you know what I can do.
Later on in the evening we receive a call and Pritesh connects us to Sam. He agrees to deliver the car with Temporary Registration and complete the registration on monday. Normally in Goa, only dealers are allowed to use the Red Plates. They are not supposed to deliver cars without the permanent registration. But they somehow managed it.
Finally it's Saturday. Delivery is scheduled for 3:30 PM. We head to the showroom. On the way picked 2 Parker pens for Sam & Pritish (They'll need it to write out quotations). Went to the showroom and were made to wait for more than a hour. In the meantime a couple walks in to check out the Swift. They end up booking a SX4 and walk out. Then our paperwork arrives. I go and play the dice game. Throw 3 dice and the total comes to 10. I have won a dashboard cover which I don't want. Finally settle for a steering cover which is the prize for a score of 8. Pick up the last available piece in red & black to match with the seat covers. Collect the owners manual, keys, spare bulbs, toolkit & first aid kit and head to the service area. A quick meeting with the service staff and then go to collect the car. Thank Pritish and give him the pens (as Sam is in a meeting), start the car and head to the Damodar Temple just across the road. After making an offering we head home and then to fill petrol. Then we take the car and head for a nigh out at Cafe Mambo's in Baga to celebrate.
The interiors are basic but a big step up from the 800. The grey plastic looks cheap and tacky. The interiors are quite cramped but pretty ok for city driving. The red & black seat covers liven up the interiors a bit. Wiper and indicator stalks are nice and easy to use. Steering is also comfortable. The lack of a dead pedal is really irritating. Also the mirror does not have the Day/Night feature which is really bad. Rear seats are very cramped. Not an issue for us as we won't be using them. The rear is best suited for kids. Otherwise quite nice interiors. A few things I didn't like were that the lights remain on even if the ignition is off. Also there's no safety mechanism to prevent you from cranking the engine again when it's already running. The seat just moves forward and back. No change in height. Got pretty used to these features in Fiats. Besides that I feel the interior is pretty well sorted out. Currently there's no ICE. The Pioneer from the Siena will be fitted here (The Siena is getting the Blaupunkt Hamburg) along with the rear ovals and tweeters. New front speakers will also go into the slots in the dash. I'll be adding a aux cable to the HU and hook it up to a MP3 player. Power windows and remote central locking will be installed later. Also they were unable to fit the sun control film due to the heavy rain. That needs to be done next week. I hope they can get the transparent variety or else the 75% visibility.
I can't believe that just a change of the front bumper and lights has made so much difference to the looks. I just hated the looks of the old Alto, specially the headlamps. Another small change which makes a huge difference is the body coloured bumpers. In fact when I saw the red Alto with black bumpers, the colour looked a very dull red. Body coloured bumpers gives an illusion of a brighter colour to the whole body. Body coloured bumpers does wonders to all shades available in the Alto. The paint shade inside the engine bay was very different from the exterior. In fact it looks like they have omitted the final coat. Really cheap on the part of Maruti. A part of the spice package was body graphics. Those idiots put blue graphics on a red car. And those graphics cost Rs.1000/-, money that could have been spent on something better. Anyway I'm getting the graphics removed when the car goes for sun control film. The executive was reluctant to remove them on delivery. He said "At least use them for a while." Later upgrades will be fog lamps and new footwear with 13" Alloys for Apollo Acelere Wheelz(Model SH39). Check them out here;
Acelere wheelz - SH 39.
Engine and transmission
The Alto comes with an engine that has been in the India as long as Maruti. The cast iron, the 3 cylinder 800cc motor, runs 4 valves per cylinder; develops all of 47ps of power at 6200rpm and 62NM of torque at 3000rpm. This engine is fuel injected and is controlled by a 32 bit ECM. It is smaller than the competition for sure, but in an expressly fuel efficiency-oriented segment, the secret of the Alto's success has been its frugality, thanks to the small displacement and the low kerb weight to haul. Does the job much better than the newer A-Star and i10 enginges though a bit underpowered compared to them. The transmission is the familiar 5 speed, making for easy cruising at low revs. The gearbox is quite notchy and not very comfortable to use. You have to search for the slots. Hope it improves with usage. I would be nice to have the option of an Auto box on the Alto.
Ride and Handling
Like most Maruti cars, the Alto is light and small. High speed stability is not the best. For its purpose as a city runabout, the Alto does its job well in the ride and handling department. The soft suspension tackles road bumps well, except huge potholes and speed breakers. Steering at low city speeds is also great. Ride and handling is way ahead of the 800. The 13" wheel upgrade will make handling better. Roads are not so bad, so I don't mind compromising on ride quality. The car will primarily be a city runabout and it excels in that department.
Supposed to be great. In fact that's one of the reasons I bought it. Haven't yet calculated but looking at the needle, it seems to be pretty efficient.
Again a priority ans the car will be driven 100% with the AC. Cooling is good. There is a power drop but the car is anyway quite underpowered, so it dosen't really make a difference. And again for city use this is something you can easily live with.
A great car for the price and the purpose. Basically there's nothing to compete with it. Before you say anything, let me remind you that this car is basically a replacement for the Activa. It will be used as a city runabout. My priorities were ease of driving on crowded streets, parking and fuel efficiency. Other features like rear seat comfort, luggage space, power etc were not really important for me. The Siena takes care of those needs.
|The following BHPian Thanks Furious55 for this useful post:|
|29th June 2009, 00:14||#6|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Jan 2008
Thanked: 485 Times
Congratulations, This one is a looker.
you can expect years and years of trouble free ownership experience.
|29th June 2009, 08:54||#7|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2006
Thanked: 146 Times
WOW!!! Excellent write up.
This surely made my day.
P.s. Most importnatly congrats o the car. Alto looks very good in red.
|29th June 2009, 09:08||#8|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Dec 2006
Thanked: 220 Times
Only ICE & Alloys are missing. Added nice accssories:B.Color bumpers,Internall.Adj mirrors.
How did you get the rear parcel shelf fitted on the boot? Had it came as OE or you done it outside?
Cigarette lighter is also OE?
Anyways enjoy the ride.
|29th June 2009, 09:11||#9|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Sep 2005
Thanked: 252 Times
Good write up.
Yes me too plan for an Alto for my wife.instead of getting a second hand car.
though it's very fuel efficient and easy to drive in city and some highway drive.she simply refused to drive Alto.
So i am searching for some other alternative.
Last edited by aks_karthik : 29th June 2009 at 09:12.
|29th June 2009, 21:20||#10|
Join Date: May 2009
Thanked: 9 Times
Thanks everyone for the wishes. Here are some more snaps. 2 Warnings you should not ignore.
|30th June 2009, 08:09||#11|
Join Date: Jun 2006
Thanked: 81 Times
Great write up for a good looking car!
It's been a long time since any Alto excited me but yours has done that, perfect start for my day.
Excellent choice of colour as well, don't see many of them here.
Last edited by jsrakkar : 30th June 2009 at 08:11. Reason: Typo
|30th June 2009, 08:24||#12|
Distinguished - BHPian
Join Date: Jan 2008
Thanked: 3,075 Times
Great buy....I drive my sons Alto once in a while when he "borrows" my car. I am constantly surprised on how easy it is to drive in city traffic while giving excellent cooling. Yes the body coloured bumpers add to the looks.
|30th June 2009, 08:39||#13|
Join Date: Aug 2006
Thanked: 21 Times
Gimme RED! Ever redy ha ha .. really cool seat covers. Really god write up. Keep updating the thread regularly with your ownership experiences as well as the upgrades.
BTW really enjoyed the conversation bit.
|30th June 2009, 09:48||#14|
Join Date: May 2009
Thanked: 9 Times
Thanks everyone for the comments. The ICE will go in today. Registration was not done yesterday, so hopefully that will be taken care of today. BTW I'm adding a aux port to the HU. Any suggestions for a MP3 player. I was thinking of a Moser Baer.
|30th June 2009, 11:17||#15|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Aug 2008
Thanked: 317 Times
Congrats on the purchase. The Alto is a very reliable car, this coming from me who has driven the car over 15,000 kms in just a year.
The body color bumpers surely transform the car. I wanted to go with them, but think it was wise not to do so, as traffic conditions are horrible here in Bangalore and bike and auto rickshaws guys fight with your bumper leaving inumerable scratches on them.
You have planned for a few nice upgrades. Also, how about changing those foot mats to something of better quality? The after market ones have grooves that keep the dirt in place and don't let it spill onto the carpet below.
If you bought the car for its FE, then you will be rewarded well. With sedate driving you can consistently get 18-19 kmpl (without a/c) and between 15-17 kmpl (with the a/c) in the city.
Its nice to see the rear parcel tray being offered in the new Altos. And don't worry about the notchy gearbox, it will become smooth after about 3,000-5,000 kms of driving and then your shifts will be super smooth. Also, take her out on the highway and you'll be amazed on the solidness she displays at triple digit speeds.
Last edited by gpa : 30th June 2009 at 11:25. Reason: More info added :)