Relentless push towards achieving higher standards of professional benchmarks is true hallmark of leader. Maruti Alto, India’s best-selling caris no different as it practices same unyielding philosophy right from its get-go. Over the years,Maruti has given constant upgrades to its Alto hatchback in order to improve its holistic value. This time, however, it is turn of Alto’s elder cousin, K10, to get its share of elaboration. Welcome the new 2014 Alto K10 with reinvigorated appeal as Maruti has gone an extra mile to make this update uniquely special. Intriguing details on new Alto are cosmetic alterationsthough big talking point is addition of Automatic Manual Transmission (AMT) that this new package now embodies. With rising market popularity of AMT, this incorporation is nothing but a master stroke from India’s largest carmaker. This not only makes Alto K10 as the most economical car having auto gearshift but also sure to fuel already surging Alto sales. So what else has changed and whether all these alterations have come together to make new Alto a better proposition; we find out in this road test review.
Outside & Inside alterations
New Alto K10 has got fair amount of cosmetic changes both outside and inside the car. Frontage of hatch feels new thanks to new grille, bumper and larger swept-back headlamps. Bonner with folded edges tries to add a bit muscular feel and same is tried by characteristic crease lines. In profile, Alto K10 can’t able to hide its resemblance with Alto 800 as roof and glass-area draws uncanny similarity between the two.
New Frontage design on 2014 Alto K10
Larger 13” wheels are large for Alto size though there is still easily observable glaring gap between the arches and wheels. Rear features a flat tail gate that simply refuses to blend in. Rear bumper is pronounced and feels quite prone to scratches and dents owing to its inflated design.
Flat-tailgate with inflated bumper
Maruti has increased width and height of new K10 by 15 mm each though it shares the same length with its outgoing model. Wheelbase at 2360 mm remained shorter than most of its rivals and so is the boot space. 160 mm of ground clearance is up to mark and shorter 4.6 m of ground clearance makes Alto quite easy to manoeuvre in city and on U-turns.
Swoopy dual-tone dash board with glossy black & silver inserts
Inside the cabin, however, changes are more impressive, perceptible and appreciating. New swoopy dual-tone dash, glassy black centre console with silver finished controls, steering with silver inserts and smart-looking instrument cluster make new Alto K10 plusher and sassier than before. Relative to jarring scheme of its predecessor, new Alto has changed and indeed changed for better.
Black-piano finished center console
Rotary HVAC controls feel nice to hold though these can’t hold candle with tactile feel of the ones on Hyundai Eon. Steering wheel is spot on size and instrument cluster too is simple and intuitive. Large number of stowage space and cup-holders aid to practicality of cabin though on space front things become sour.
Scooped-out back of front seats
Alto continues to remain a cramped car especially at the back and we would like to see some improvement on this front. Even an incremental improvisation would assuage the lack of space and it’s disappointing to have Maruti turning a blind eye on this important parameter of buying consideration. Legroom and knee-room is tight and head room too, is barely enough. Maruti tried to liberate more rear space by scooping out back of front seats though that did the trick only to limited extent. Even by most liberal view point, new Alto K10 is good to seat 4 adults only.
Nice chunky rotary AC controls
In terms of features and equipment, new Alto K10, being entry-level hatch, doesn’t have much to boast about. Still it gets driver side airbag, front fog lamps & power windows, music-system with CD/Radio/USB/aux-in and key-less entry in top of the line VXi (O) variant.
Upgraded Engine Tranny Combo
Maruti has worked further to make its already ingenious K-series even better; thus raising the benchmark level. And it does succeed as new Alto not only feels peppier and more fun to drive it now also returns best in class mileage figure of 24.07 km/l.
Free-revving K-Series petrol motor
3-cylinder 998 cc K-series motor under hood of Alto K10 pushes out 68 PS of max power which seems just middle-of-the-way though considering kerb weight of Alto below 750 kg, this rating is good enough to chase and beat any sprinting strapped athlete. In city driving or out on highway tour, Alto is equally game for both these conditions.
5-speed Manual Transmission
There is slight of hesitation at low rpm though the response quickly improves as one put his foot down. Mettle to pedal manoeuvre is Alto’s sweet spot as K-series has excellent tendency to rev up to high band width. Mid-range is most satisfying and though Alto eagerly climbs up rev ladder effortlessly, the motors starts sounding a bit hoarse in the process. 5-speed manual transmission is cable-operated and is snappy in its shift operation. Clutch is light and all Alto mechanicals are optimised for ease of city-driving.
Ride & Handling Capabilities
In line with its positioning strategy, Alto K10 is extremely easy to drive small city runabout. Light controls, ample outside visibility and short turning radius make driving of new Alto a totally effortless child’s play. Electric power steering aids to its easy manoeuvrability and so is done by its short overhangs especially at back. Ride quality though is not impressive as Alto becomes easily unsettled at bumps, undulations and broken sections of road.
Average Ride though good stability
On the other hand bigger though bigger 13” wheels helps the Alto in attaining some composure on highway where this Maruti feels rather planted, secured and polished. Further Alto is game for most of darting in and throwing around activities as limited length and stiffer suspension help to curb the roll to seep in. Ventilated disc-drum brake combo feels adequate as Alto stops right dead on most of occasions.
2014 Alto K10 is priced between Rs 3.08 lakh and Rs 3.80 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). On value for money front, Alto emerges as strong player owing to leverage that Maruti continues to derive from its scale of economies. Alto has always been a good car and its credential of best-selling car in India remained almost unchallenged from time immemorial now. Inoffensive looks, user-friendly interiors, unmatched reliability and high mileage are some of the crucial factors that have helped Alto to remain darling of masses. Now with new 2014 version of Alto K10, Maruti has further refined this already unbeatable market proposition. Maruti is hoping to fuel already surging sales of Alto and we don’t see any plausible reason to doubt veracity of this enlightened perspective of company.
Style & Substance 3.5/5 Ride & Handling 3.5/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3/5 Safety & Equipment 3/5
Power-Plant & Transmission 4/5 Fuel Efficiency 4/5
Value for Money 4/5