Car tested: 2010 Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 VXi
Price OTR Mumbai: 3,69,714/-
The Maruti Suzuki Alto is the highest selling car in India but the company was not satisfied by the way few buyers discounted it for being old and slow. Enter the Alto K10, which is essentially a control + C and control + V job of the engine from the A-Star, but is it? Not really as the Maruti Alto K10 also gets a minor facelift to its aged exteriors and interiors. Does this make the Alto K10 an alternative to modern machines like the Hyundai i10 and Chevrolet Beat? We find out.
Exteriors – The Alto K10 is 125mm longer and 55 kgs heavier then its F8 sibling, which is something you won’t really notice, what you would however notice is the new headlights, grille, bumper, fog lamps, mirrors and tail lamps. Although all this is nothing revolutionary, it is a welcome change considering the company had a price target to meet. The Alto K10 looks modern with these changes, but does not really stand out of the crowd (which the Beat does). Door mouldings and body coloured bumpers gel well with the overall design of the car. A chrome strip now runs on top of the front grille, which is now larger.
The full wheel cover design seems to have been inspired from the Swift wheel cover. They look decent.
The rear tail lamp design seem to have some sort of inspiration from the Chevrolet Spark.
Interiors – The Alto K10 gets a slight improvement in interior design. The car now features much better instrument cluster which has an addition of a tachometer and digital odometer. The center console remains the same. One of the best things about the Alto K10 is the 3-spoke steering wheel, which feels very comfortable to hold. Also added is internally adjustable controls for the rear view mirrors, which is not really a big deal but goes well with the overall appearance of the car. We loved the mirrors on the old Alto 1.1 as well.
The Alto K10 gets blue fabric seats and door inserts, which might just get hidden if you opt for seat covers. However plastic quality still continues to be on the poor side.
Aesthetics aside, the Alto interiors are more spacious than its predecessor, a huge improvement but its still not enough. For the driver, your knee will hit the center console and the story is worst when it comes to ingress. However this is not a K10 specific issue, as the 800cc Alto is no different. At similar prices, other cars in the competition give you more space on the inside.
Air conditioning, too, is far better than the earlier version. The cabin cools faster but the rear passengers still feel the heat.
Ride, Handling and Braking – The Alto K10 featured a re-tuned suspension owing to its extra weight. The ride of the Alto is very decent on low speeds but as we gather momentum, the stiffness of the suspension becomes very apparent. Featuring upsized tyres (155/65 R13), the Alto K10 is still seriously under-tyred. This becomes very apparent when ever you start braking or come to a corner. We went with high expectations about the K10s handling (owing to its light kerb weight of just 760 kgs) but we were slightly disappointed. Any time you brake, the car starts making noises (tyre noises to be exact) and starts sliding all over. ABS should have been offered, atleast as an option. Handling is no different as the tyres spoil the fun there too, giving up grip too early and easily leading to massive understeer. Yes, the Alto could have handled way better if Maruti had decided to give it fatter rubber. However, that would have compromised the mileage which happens to be close to 20 kmpl.
The Alto’s steering is very light and makes it a boon to navigate at low speeds. A turning radius of 4.6m ensure you seldom need to reverse at U-turns. As the speed increases the drawbacks of the steering become quite evident, which becomes totally lifeless and inspires absolutely no confidence.
We also need to make a special mention about the gearshift quality, which is the worst we have come across in recent times. Although cable operated, the gear shift is not at all smooth, specially third gear which is a pain to get into and that blunted most of our 0-100 kmph runs. The shift quality is very rubbery and we really felt there was Boomer stuck inside the third gear cog.
Performance – Probably the most significant reason why a Alto 800cc buyer would look at the Alto K10 is the performance and the K10 does not disappoint. Armed with the same specs as the A-Star, the K10 motor in the Alto produces 68PS of power at 6200 rpm and 90NM of torque at 3500 rpm. All this might not sound exciting but when you factor in the weight of this machine, you realize it has a power to weight ratio of 88bhp per tonne.
The Alto K10 moves and it moves you with utmost urgency. This car is fast and there are no two thoughts about it. Acceleration in any gear is amazing and there is no lag of any kind. Infact, the K10 motor addresses one of the biggest flaws of the 800cc Alto, lack of power. Contrarily, there is abundance in the Alto K10. The engine is very refined too and is makes very little noise below 4000Rpm. Once you cross 4000Rpm, the K10 motor is quite audible which isn’t a bad thing. 100kmph is easy in this car and it can cruise there all day long without making a fuss.
Conclusion – The Alto K10 is a move in the right direction by Maruti Suzuki. It has a lot of short comings, but the major flaw of the Alto has been answered, it is no more sluggish and never feels out of breath, something which the 800cc Alto could never boast about. It is the fastest car you can get at that price point and is economical too. The performance of the K10 motor very well makes up for all its short comings and if some one wants a pocket rocket, this is it. Add some good rubber and a few short comings of the Alto K10 will be resolved. There is truly no alternative to the Alto K10 and Maruti Suzuki have opened a new segment, the econo-hot hatch one.
* Engine performance
Whats Not So Cool
* Gear shift quality
* Plastic quality
Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 Specifications : –
* Engine: 998cc, 3 cylinder, 12 valve, all aluminum K10B
* Power: 68PS @ 6200rpm
* Torque: 90Nm @ 3500rpm
* Transmission: 5 speed manual
* Top Speed: 150kmph
* 0-100kmph: 13.50 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 15-16 kmpl (City), 19-20 kmpl (highway)
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Suspension: Mcpherson Struts with Torison Type Roll Control Device (Front), Coil spring (Rear)
* Tires: 155/65/13 Tubeless Radials
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Drums (Rear)
* Safety: iCats Immobiliser
Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 : –
* Overall length x width x height: 3620mm X 1495mm X 1460mm
* Wheelbase: 2360mm
* Front/Rear Track: 1295/1290 mm
* Ground clearance: 160mm
* Turning Radius – 4.6m
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 35 litres
* Kerb Weight: 765kgs