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Old 4th August 2010, 12:58   #1
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2010 Maruti Alto K10 : Review

Mod Note : The 2014 Maruti Alto K10 Review can be found at this link

What you'll like about the new Alto :

• Power! 67 BHP (68 PS) in a 760 kg kerb weight car. The Alto K10 will shame most A2 segment, and some B segment hatches too
• Thoroughly fun-to-drive hatchback
• Maruti Suzuki's 1.0 L K10 engine feels mature in this car
• NVH levels are surprisingly low for a 3-cylinder engine
• Mileage: 20.2 kpl ARAI figure. Since the powerplant isn’t strained, expect high real-world fuel efficiency as well.
• VFM pricing; upto only 50K more than the top-end Alto 800. Pocket rocket for < 4 lakh rupees

What you won't:

• Vague & rubbery gearshift quality
• High speed handling & significant under-steer. Alto K10 is under-tyred
• Lifeless steering. Steering the Alto K10 is akin to playing a video game.

The badge, which you'll notice more likely now in front of you:

Some visual comparisons with the Alto 800:

Last edited by GTO : 4th December 2014 at 15:00. Reason: Adding link to 2014 Alto K10 Review
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Old 4th August 2010, 12:58   #2
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As the largest selling car in India, the Alto is Maruti’s most important offering in the market. Indeed, the Alto remains the spiritual successor to the iconic Maruti 800. That’s not an easy responsibility to have, especially since today’s car market is significantly more mature and demanding than even 5 years ago! The Alto (796 cc) continues to set sales charts on fire, having sold 2,24,000 units last year; that’s 20,000 Altos per month, while being 10 years old already !

So, why did Maruti (of all manufacturers) want to offer the new, more powerful, 1.0 liter K10 engine in a car that’s already the bestseller? One word answer: Consolidation.

For the first time in its history, Maruti found itself in a position where its traditional dominance of the entry-level segment was under threat. Competition has surrounded its bread-and-butter offering, above and below. The Hyundai Santro and Chevrolet Spark right above, and the Tata Nano right below. Then, there’s the threat from the upcoming “Hyundai 800” (Link to Thread). Combine these competitive pressures with the strong brand recall that Maruti has, and you get an idea behind the reasoning for the Alto K10.

Now, the other million-dollar question: Will the Alto K10 coexist or replace the Alto 800? Answer: The Alto K10 will coexist with the Alto 800. Maruti has no plans of stopping the 20000-unit-a-month best seller. Furthermore, to differentiate between the two, the facelift on the Alto K10 remains with it, while the Alto 800 will continue unchanged from its current form.

The Alto K10 will be offered in 2 variants (ex-Delhi prices):

Lxi: Rs. 3.03 lakhs
Vxi: Rs. 3.16 lakhs

This is killer pricing from Maruti! This car is intended to bridge the gap between the top 800 cc segment (at 2.8 lakhs) and the beginning of the A2 segment (at 3.3 lakhs).

The Alto K10 is 125 mm longer and 55 kilos heavier:

Mildly redesigned front. New-look headlights and longer snout to accommodate the K10. Front fog lamps and body-coloured bumpers standard:

Redesigned rear. New-look tail lights and tailgate. The number plate moves up onto the tailgate from the bumper, a-la old-model Zen. In fact the car now resembles the old Zen from some angles. The aesthetics of the redesigned rear is subjective and will meet with mixed reactions:

New full wheel covers, ala mini-Swift wheel covers:

Last edited by GTO : 5th August 2010 at 12:57. Reason: Formatting
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Old 4th August 2010, 12:59   #3
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The interiors have seen a mild upgrade as well. The plastics remain the same cheap hard and shiny stuff:

The Alto K10 gets new blue-colored fabric seats and door inserts:

Seats come with an integrated headrest, a-la Hyundai i10. I quite liked their aesthetics:

The backs (of the front seats) are recessed, ostensibly to accommodate some knee space for the rear seat passengers:

Power windows for the front:

It now sports new internally adjustable ORVMs. These gel well with the nature of the car:

New, chunkier steering wheel:

New instrument cluster. There’s an integrated MID now to talk about the usual statistics (fuel, odometer etc.):

There's also the gear knob lifted from the Swift (albeit all black), a rear parcel shelf, remote boot / fuel lid release and 12V charging socket.

Ingress/egress/driving ergonomics:

Like in the earlier Alto, if you happen to be taller than the average Indian height of 5’5”, it’s a bit of a struggle. I am around 5’10” and found myself getting bruised around my corners while getting in/out of the car! Once in, it’s fairly comfortable, although my knees were scrapping forcefully against the door. With the seat pushed back for taller drivers, the gear lever becomes slightly unreachable. But those longer hands are anyway meant to stretch!

The air-conditioner is very efficient and chilled the cabin in no time. And the best part- the K10 handles the AC with aplomb – not feeling any discernible degradation in performance.

Last edited by GTO : 5th August 2010 at 12:53. Reason: Formatting
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Old 4th August 2010, 12:59   #4
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Mechanicals improvements:

• Engine rated at 68 PS (@ 6200 rpm) and 90 NM of torque (@ 3500 rpm). The engine figures remain unchanged from the K10 doing duty in the A2 segment (WagonR, A-Star, Estilo), and has NOT been detuned for the Alto. This was a welcome move by Maruti

• Turning radius of 4.6 m

• Ground clearance of 160 mm

• Drivability: The Alto 800’s biggest drawbacks - the jerkiness of the busy-sounding engine & an engine struggling to pull a car too heavy are both gone

• The gear system is now cable-operated

• The suspension has been retuned to factor in the additional weight. The ride is pliant at lower speeds and becomes stiffer as speeds increase

• The Alto K10 gets upsized footwear. It’s now 155/65 R13, while the Alto 800 continues with 145/80 R12 footwear. Our TD car was shod with Bridgestone S322s

The heart of the matter!

Now that the theory part is over, how do all these changes contribute towards the driving experience? Very simply put, you are pinned back in the driver’s seat! The Alto K10 flies. The higher power rating of the K10 in a light car is a driver’s dream come true. This car is a mean pocket-rocket that can shame sedans from 2 segments higher. The acceleration throughout the gears is phenomenal with no flat spots at all. The engine, as I mentioned earlier, is surprisingly refined during the normal rev range, but does make its audible presence felt over 4,500 rpm. The other aspect you will love is its ability to cruise very comfortably at higher speeds. It attains 100 kph without breaking a fuss. Usable power and torque are uniformly spread across the gears. Change its footwear and this car is a great all-rounder.

Now, the bad bits; which I’ve passed on to Maruti:

• The gearshift quality is atrocious. It’s vague and rubbery – pretty much like the 1st gen Indicas. Considering Maruti’s claims that the migration to a cable-operated shift is an improvement, I certainly did not see that effected in actual usage.

• Maruti has optimized this setup for city driving where the car comes into its own. However, as you start utilizing the extra horses of the K10, the shortcomings of this setup become apparent. The steering is very skittish / light at higher speeds and you will have to back off the accelerator if it’s anything more than a very gentle curve.

• There is massive understeer at higher speeds, which I personally found to be the most disappointing of all drawbacks on this car, very likely due to the heavier engine and the larger front overhang. Maruti must address this point on priority for the Alto K10 to be a great all-rounder. An upgrade to fatter, better quality, tyres should improve matters too.

Finally, the icing on the cake. This car is rated at 20.2 kpl (ARAI). Although I did not have an opportunity to run a dedicated mileage test, this car promises to be high on FE with power to boot as well! A killer combination!

To summarize, Maruti have a winner on their hands. A proven car, now made very fast, at a price point that doesn’t exist. This is the most economical performance hatch in the market today. If I were looking any further than my stage 2 modified Swift, this is the car that I would buy immediately without thinking twice.

A panning shot; this is most likely how you will see it in real life as well:

Some randomness, served for your extended viewing pleasure!

Last edited by GTO : 6th August 2010 at 09:18. Reason: Formatting
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Old 4th August 2010, 13:00   #5
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Thanks for a super report, TheMAG! Let me be the first to rate this thread 5 stars! I simply love the exterior well as the thoughtful comparison pictures vis a vis the ol' Alto.

I'm typing this post live from the Alto K-10 launch event and have to say : I simply canNOT wait to drive the Alto K-10. This car has a power to weight ratio of 88 BHP / Tonne...enough to smoke some C segment sedans, leave aside B segment hatchbacks. The Alto K series is the spiritual successor to the ol' Maruti Zen (which the Estilo never was BTW). Fast, light and nippy = a quick go-kart if you will! Importantly, it addresses the main limitation of the old Alto. That is, poor power delivery on ghats & inclines, and a full load of passengers with the air-conditioner switched on. I know of several potential buyers who looked away from the Alto, due to the 796cc engine's limited power. Well, what a damn answer from Maruti. Smart business move too. Giving the Alto a larger engine has effectively taken it from an entry-level car to the A2 segment.

Too bad about the limited cabin space and typical Maruti weaknesses though (build, gearshift etc.). End of the day, its still a cheap hatchback that feels cheap too.

P.S. : This car proves that you don't have to spend money to have fun. Its quick in stock form. Add an exhaust, better tyres and a potential are looking at well over 110 BHP / Ton. In character, somewhat similar to the OHC Vtec.

P.P.S : I'm willing to bet you are looking at a future Tuner favourite here. Get this, the power to weight ratio in stock form is better than the 8 lakh rupee Sx4!

Last edited by GTO : 5th August 2010 at 12:24.
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Old 4th August 2010, 13:08   #6
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Let me be the second to do so! The original zen is re-incarnated. 3.03 lakh to 3.16 lakh. Crushing price tag! The performance car of the masses has arrived!
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Old 4th August 2010, 13:10   #7
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maggie a superb test drive review there with the K10. Had the opportunity to take a look at one , the build quality isn't up to the mark. The 1st gen Alto's were much more sturdier and rock solid. However I am sure the K10 will make its presence prominent in the market coz of the killer pricing.

I would still definitely want to run the K10 against the older VXI 1.1 and see who is the better performer.
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Old 4th August 2010, 13:14   #8
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Excellent review in such a short time. In all aspects i presume we are getting the real successor to zen now. I anticipate long waiting periods for this model.
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Old 4th August 2010, 13:18   #9
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Great Review.. I was expecting the new Alto to be a much much better car and seems to be Maruti has got a Winner. Do the MID display fuel effeciancy(actual,Instant etc) temperature etc. In any way this is going to create fans as what Old Zen did.

Last edited by ashok_lat : 4th August 2010 at 13:19.
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Old 4th August 2010, 13:20   #10
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Like I mentioned in the other thread, this baby will smoke the competition lock, stock and barrel. Every other hatch will be left to bit the dust. What an answer from Maruti! Look like the good old days are back again! 0-100 in 13.3 sec is Swift territory !
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Old 4th August 2010, 13:28   #11
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Nice one theMAG.. Covered it as comprehensively as anyone could. disappointed about the gearshift quality though... that's going to affect the FTD factor big time. Hopefully MUL will take your words seriously and do something about it.

Otherwise, great mileage and great performance for less rupees.Truly the zen's spiritual successor and a lot more stuff to offer. What are the mileage figures you estimate from your runs? I'm sure there are a lot more ears perked up to hear this.
I'm going to TD this thing as soon as time permits. Can't wait to relive your experience/find my own.
Cheers again for a comprehensive review.How much can she do all guns blazing?
I have crossed 140 on my wife's estilo on good roads before my wifey started screaming to spare her car. 67 bhp on a 760kg car should be good for Swift pertrol-like performance- going close to 170. But the tyres and brakes should make it a hair-raising experience of a lifetime.

And what about straight-line braking - Did you get a chance to test that seriously and what did you feel?
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Old 4th August 2010, 13:30   #12
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Maggie, nice to see a test drive report and pics in familiar surroundings. As you mentioned about the rear aesthetics, they certainly look ugly to my eyes. Its been SPARKed, and certainly doesnt gel.

I liked the steering and new instrument panel. Had this been available when my parents were looking for a small runabout, we would have picked this. the 800 cc engine wheezes with the A/C turned on, and up a slope.
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Old 4th August 2010, 13:36   #13
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K10- 2 steps ahead of I10?

Well pun intended, going by the TD this baby seems to be a real scorcher. As regards the minor glitches, after having bought this road-rocket at a mere 3.03 lac, i do not see why any ethusiastic petrol head cant spend 50K more on better rubber & stiffer dampers. That will without doubt give superlative results and bring out the brilliance of this package. I gues a non-power steering version would have been even more delicious. An alto was always a delight to drive within the city, this is going to give it wings on the highways as well. LETS GO !!!
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Old 4th August 2010, 13:47   #14
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Great review there, Mr. Moderator. Thanks.

Pocket Rocket indeed.

Fantastic price and positioning! MSIL has done it agian

OTOH, now we can safely say this: "the Estilo is dead."

Last edited by sandeepmdas : 4th August 2010 at 13:50.
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Old 4th August 2010, 13:48   #15
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Excellent review and pictures. I would have been confused for choice, had we not bought the A-Star 3 weeks ago.

Now, you mention that the gear shift is rubbery - have they not borrowed the engine, transmission+gear shift from A-Star, Estilo and Wagon R? I mean, do they redesign the transmission for the same engine but different car?

Why I ask is because the A-Star has an excellent shift where the shifter kinda clicks into place when mildly pushed.

Last edited by wanderlust : 4th August 2010 at 13:49.
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