Maruti Suzuki’s current-generation Alto was launched back in 2012 with a 796cc engine, and so as not to interfere with an already successful formula, the car carried on with the ‘Alto 800’ badge. In 2019, Maruti had given the little car some important updates that included a BS6-compliant engine and a toughened body shell that helps the car comply with the current crash-test norms. Also, the ‘800’ badge has been dropped. The Alto, as a brand, needs no introduction. Two decades ago, Maruti launched the first-generation Alto in India; its jelly bean look caught the fancy of many buyers; there was even a 1.1-litre version that was made in limited numbers and proved to be the peppiest car of its time. Over the years, the Alto has received tweaks, updates and facelifts – all of which made it continue to be the country’s largest-selling car. The Alto has made history in the same way the Maruti 800 did many moons ago. We see if the Alto still has what it needs to be a top-seller.
So what you see ahead of you is the facelift Maruti Suzuki Alto. Up-ahead, it gets petal-shaped headlights, a blacked-out grille and a restyled front bumper. The rest of the body panels remain the same, including the rear bumper and tail lights. The only way you spot the differences is by noticing the big air dam with honeycomb-style plastic mesh. You also get fog lamps but these are optional. Even the wing mirrors look different. The front of the Maruto Suzuki Alto is now stronger and the 2019 Alto is 50mm longer than the car it replaces, thanks to the new bumper that also helps the new model meet pedestrian safety regulations. Maruti Suzuki Cars have installed a driver’s airbag with ABS, EBD, speed alert system, rear parking sensors and a driver and front passenger seat-belt reminder.
Anyone who has owned a product by Maruti Suzuki Cars in the past, is bound to notice the familiar cabin. The 2019 Maruti Suzuki Alto gets its dashboard and other details from the Alto K10. The dashboard gets a black-and-beige theme and looks far better than the old dull grey. The steering and instrument cluster remain untouched. You get a dual-tone black and cream fabric as well. Features include power steering and front power windows, air conditioning, SmartPlay Dock 2-DIN audio player that supports Bluetooth, USB and AUX, along with AM/FM radio. You also get keyless entry, central locking.
Driving the Alto
Under the bonnet of the Maruti Suzuki Alto lies the same three-cylinder, 796cc F8D petrol engine, paired to a 5-speed manual transmission. You don’t get an AMT option on the Alto though. Also, the CNG model has been shelved. The ECU has received some tweaks, but the engine and transmission remains largely the same. The exhaust unit is new too, helping the Alto clear the BS6 emission norms. The engine continues to develop 47bhp and 69Nm of torque. The update engine feels more refined, particularly at idle. You won’t feel vibrations and the engine noise has reduced reasonably. Once you get going, the engine feels like it is lacking power. Throttle response isn’t great and turning on the AC worsens matters. Power delivery isn’t linear and you do tend to feel a few jerks once the engine is at its limit. Thank fully, the clutch is light and the 5-speed manual ‘box shifts smoothly, making it a great city car. But because of the new tweaks to the engine, fuel efficiency too, has gone done by a fair bit.
Like it or not, the Maruti Suzuki Alto will continue to rule the roost. It is affordable, practical, efficient and makes for a wonderful city runabout. The new Alto is a little costlier than before, but it’s not an amount that will scare away buyers. The standard safety equipment across all variants is a good initiative and gives the buyer a more reassuring feel about the product they’re buying. Performance is just about alright, much in the same way its rivals are. The cabin is not what we’d call spacious and it misses on a lot of modern features. However, for those of you looking at a first car on a strict budget, the Alto makes a lot of sense since running costs are the least and frugality means you’ll be saving on fuel as well. We just hope this top-seller comes out in a new avatar.
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