Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 Facelift First Drive
May 2, 2018
If you do a simple random sampling of a group of Indians who know how to drive, chances are a majority of them would have learnt driving on an Alto. Ever since Maruti Suzuki first launched it in September 2000, as many as 30 lakh units of this entry-level hatchback have been cumulatively sold in the country. The car’s unique selling points have been its remarkable fuel efficiency, peppy engine, attractive price and low maintenance. Add to that Maruti’s countrywide sales network—you can practically buy an Alto even if you live in the remotest town in India! Check On Road Price of Alto 800
Yet another reason for its success is that the Alto has been evolving to reflect the changing India. Over the years, Maruti has been arming it with just the right features a buyer looks for in an entry-level car, and subtle but timely design updates; these have been appealing to customers.
The styling of the Maruti Alto 800 looks far from impressive. The old Alto looked cute even thought it has been around for more than a decade. With the Alto 800, Maruti Suzuki has just tried to bring styling from the Japanese Alto and the A-Star, which doesn’t give the Alto 800 an identity of its own. The Alto 800 has very compact dimensions and the company has added new bits to make the vehicle look modern. A new and lighter roof has been added with corrugations to boost stability. New outside rear view mirror has been picked up from the Alto K10 but its shocking too see no left side rear view mirror as standard. The door handles are body colored but the rear view mirror is not. The full wheel caps look good and the wheel arches are slightly flared too. The increased height and high ground clearance makes the Alto 800 look odd. The Alto 800 is thus, no match for the well styled Hyundai Eon. The conservative styling doesn’t appeal much and the Alto 800 ends up looking very disproportionvate. Book test drive for Alto 800 in Cazprice
Things are quite different on the inside. You now get a dark grey tone for the dashboard and new upholstery on the door pads and seats. The front seats are decent in comfort while frontal visibility is also excellent. The Alto gets a basic audio system, front power windows, power steering and AC. The AC has good performance and it fared nicely in our hot weather. With the facelift, the Alto 800 now gets a standard left hand side mirror, child locks at the rear and an optional driver-side airbag. At the rear, you have good head room while leg room is also pretty decent thanks to the thin front seats. Shoulder space is decent but fitting 3 passengers at the rear could be a problem. However, the seats are lacking in terms of under-thigh support. You also feel a bit claustrophobic due to the small window area. The rear seats now come with integrated head rests. The rear doors finally get child locks now. There is a bottle header in front of the gear lever which can hold a 1-litre bottle. There is also a small storage area above the glovebox. The boot is pretty compact at 177-litres
SPECIFICATIONS OF ENGINE
Mechanically, the new 2016 Alto 800 remain unchangeds. This means that powering the refreshed Alto 800 is the tried and tested Suzuki F8D 796 cc, three-cylinder engine that comes mated to a 5 speed manual gearbox. This motor pumps out a max. power of 47.65 PS @ 6,000 rpm and a peak torque of 69 Nm @ 3500 rpm. The Alto is available in both Petrol and CNG avatars. Maruti could give the engine an ECU remap to further optimize the fuel mileage. As we said, the Diesel model of the Alto 800 won’t be launched anytime soon. However, powering the Diesel Alto will be a 800 cc, twin-cylinder engine that has a maximum power of 47.5 PS and peak torque of 120 Nm.
The Alto 800 has a feedback rich steering though it feels a bit heavy at crawling speeds. However, the steering is very direct and despite being such a small car, the Alto is quite fun to drive. Thanks to its small footprint, you can easily drive it around and tackling too much traffic doesn’t get easier than this. The ride is very flat at low speeds and it tends to get uncomfortable when you hit broken or uneven surfaces at even moderately high speeds. The car remains decently stable at high speeds but it’d be best if it is driven below 90 km/hr. The body feels very light and the super thin tyres have questionable grip levels.
Maruti Suzuki hasn’t made many changes to the Alto 800, which is essentially the Alto in fresh clothing, with slight upgrades here and there. What this results in, is a much better Alto overall but is it enough considering this is the first facelift to the Alto in 12-years. While Maruti Suzuki’s brand name is more than enough to keep the Alto’s sales flying high, we were hoping for a vastly improved Alto to compete with the likes of the Hyundai Eon. However, the changes to the Alto are more than welcome and the refreshed exteriors, new dashboard, marginally more space, slightly more eager engine and better quality of plastics is enough to justify the Rs. 30,000/- price hike which is expected on the new Alto