The Alto K10 redefines the concept of a makeover

The Alto K10 redefines the concept of a makeover

It might be right to say that we live in a ‘small car nation’. The little motors dominate Indian roads, and the country’s largest car manufacturer, Maruti Suzuki, has been up to the task of rolling out small cars, since the epic Maruti 800 in 1983. 

 
In the last decade or more, Maruti’s small wonder, the Alto, has emerged as the top-selling car in the country. The company has sold 2.6 million Alto cars in India since it was launched 14 years ago.

 The Alto grew as the real deal when it came to small cars, launching different variants in the 800 cc-1,000 cc capacities, such as Alto, Alto 800 and Alto K10, and so on.

As part of Maruti’s plan of rolling out a fresh stable this year, the company launched the Alto in its latest avatar - the new facelift Alto K10.

In the green vistas surrounding the concrete heap of Bengaluru, we plan to test the new Alto K10, observing its power, comfort and other features. For a long time, the Alto brand has highlighted reliability and practicality, in terms of reasonable styling, mileage and pricing.

The new Alto K10 is a revolutionary product, even compared to its predecessor of the same name, and simply calls for a spin.

Design reloaded

Definitely, one might say that the 2014 Alto K10 is smarter in appearance compared to the earlier model, though it’s a brief take from the design that covers its smaller sibling, the Alto 800.

The car has been developed at a cost of Rs 200 crore on the existing platform of the model by its engineers along with counterparts at parent Suzuki Motor Corp in Japan.

The car that we get to drive is a bright Tango Orange-coloured machine with an inviting aura around it. The car sports a bold front, with sharp aerodynamic lines running on the side.

The car reinforces the concept of compactness, standing at a length of 3,545 mm and height of 1,475 mm; and added with a sporty touch that is sure to make heads turn by young and old alike.

The front of the car is composed of a sporty new bumper, with a slice of chrome on the front grill, adding more character.

The Suzuki logo sits smartly in the middle, taking the class quotient higher. The sweptback headlamps compliment the front of the new Alto K10, with panache. Besides, the wide horizontal lines on the hood, along with the fog lamps, add further charm to the car’s looks.

The rear is reminiscent of the Alto 800, with few design element similarities from the larger Celerio looming as well. The tailgate, with the jewel-finished tail lamp cluster, adds flavour to the nicely-made car.

Take your seat in the front of the car and the interiors will dazzle you. We are thoroughly impressed with the sophisticated feel that the dashboard provides, owing firstly, to the dual-tone black and beige colour scheme. The flowing curves and lines, running around the air-con vents and knobs, and the brilliantly placed piano-finish stereo system, set new benchmarks to the car, and the segment that it is a part of.

The silver-finish swanky speedometer cluster gets a classic touch, complimented by an RPM meter, in front of which, sits smartly, the pretty 3-spoke steering wheel.

The rear seat is where the car unimpresses you. Unlike the earlier Altos, the new K10 has such a cramped back seat space that even a short person sitting there is most-likely to suffer a muscle catch.

Especially, when a person in any of the front seats pulls his seat behind for more leg space in the front, a person wanting to get into the back seat or get off it will find it extremely difficult.

What the designers have instead done is to have removed a wedge from the cushion in the back of the two front seats with the intention of providing people in the back seat the option of at least resting their knees comfortably.

This, in turn, tends to disturb the backs of people in the front, including the driver, whenever the people behind move their knees, since the cushion of the two front seats is thin. We find the seating in the car a little bit of a compromise, which means that the car may not be suitable for families with grown-up children, or large individuals.

One peppy drive

The paths leading out from the new airport road in Bengaluru are pristine, with ample driving room, snaking their way through generous stretches of countryside, plantations and good and bad roads.

We take off, wanting to see how the Alto K10 reacts while driving from one road into an all-new different terrain. The drive begins to please from the very beginning. We are driving the top-end Vxi Auto Gear Shift variant. At the heart of the car is a lightweight, yet powerful 1-litre K-Next engine.

The new petrol powertrain at 998 cc seems formidable as we notice the car’s speedometer reading 0-60 kmph in little over 5 seconds; this for a car which lies at the lower end of the car market.

The higher compression ratio, drive-by-wire technology, couples with a maximum power of 68 PS @ 6,000 rpm at a maximum torque of 90Nm @ 3,500 rpm.
Cruising ahead

We approach a straight road and the vehicle is just cruising ahead with a lot of confidence. The intelligent auto gear shift, Suzuki’s newly developed automated manual transmission system, features a shift control actuator that automatically operates the shift and the clutch. The car can be driven in automatic or manual modes, on the drive, turning the whole episode on the road into a tension-free experience.

The roads meandering through farmland, pose major risks owing to the frequent incidence of potholes, ditches or a stray animal.

The car’s superior turning radius, coupled with a ground clearance of 160 mm, makes the car glide over the blemishes on any road. With a top-speed of above 120, the braking of the ‘automatic’ car is without any complaint. Added to the safety mix is a driver-side airbag.

The car also scores well while taking on challenges from inclined roads.

A few other smart features of the car that we observe are the amount of storage spaces within the cabin, the conveniently-placed front-side power window switches, internally-adjustable ORVMs and the keyless entry feature.

Our drive of over 60 km comes to an end. We are impressed with the car that is promising and is built with seriousness.

Except for the space constraint, the car scores on every other front. With the car assuring a fuel efficiency of 24.07 kmpl (even on the automatic), with all added features, along with a CNG variant, with a mileage of 32.26 km/kg, the new Alto K10 indeed springs a surprise.

Better still, with six attractive colours to choose from, at an extremely competitive price between Rs 3.23 lakh and Rs 3.55 lakh (ex-showroom Bengaluru for manual). The auto gear shift variant of the car, with the petrol engine, is priced at Rs. 3.98 lakh (ex-showroom Bengaluru). Maruti seems to have again produced a match-winner, with the ‘Alto’.

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