Maruti Suzuki in the New Alto 800 has a capable replacement of it's flagship seller the Old Alto. Maruti woul dlike to get back it's 25000 Plus monthly sales from one brand, which the old Alto used to enjoy will not be so dificult to claw back too.
Maruti’s Alto has stood many storms of time and retained its leadership position in Indian car market over the years. With its incredible fuel efficiency combined with wonderful city practicality Alto has remained the preferred choice for the first time car buyers over more than a decade now. But with the recent arrival of the ultra-chic Hyundai’s Eon has shaken the design perceptions for budget cars and resulted enhanced beauty benchmark even for the entry level segment.
With this background Maruti Suzuki got back to the design board and created the New Alto 800. Maruti’s 3rd attempt post Swift and Ritz to create a new design philosophy for its range of cars. But unlike Hyundai that has adopted a whole hog novel approach towards the design, Maruti has decided to play more of an evolutionary approach while designing the New Alto 800. This restrained approach has helped the New Alto 800 to move up the style quotient and yet retain its old DNA. What’s even better that while designing the New Alto 800, the engineers at Maruti has added more adrenalin to its heart (engine) and improved its engine dramatically?
As always, we at www.ecardlr.com decided to take the New Alto 800 for a spin to find out how much has changed in the New Alto vs the Old Alto and to also find out whether the New Alto is equipped with more than just the Maruti Heritage to take on the new challenger the Hyundai EON.
New Maruti Alto 800 – Exterior
Even a casual glance is enough to believe that new Alto 800 is far more contemporary and modern than its predecessor. It is taller and wider than the previous Alto though wheelbase remains the same i.e. 2360 mm. Boot space though has been improved a quite, as new trunk can swallow 177 litres of luggage.
Front fascia of New Alto is amalgamation of the design elements that blend to give it a contemporary looks though it is still short of reaching near the benchmark. Figo like snub nose and Renault’s Pulse like hexagonal two part grill makes a good first impression. Petal like headlamps are far more good looking the squarish old model was having and so is the spoiler like impressions of the chin.
Side profile is almost plane though there are hints of flairness on wheel arches. Sleek lines running across the doors look striking though the abrupt profiling of the roof line not fits into overall symmetry of car.
On the rear though designers took the in-house inspiration from A-Star. Just like the A-Star the rear of the new Alto just refuses to blend in. It is almost flat and long tail lamps complements the overall scheme of design. Rear windscreen is small though subtle bulges are great to look at.
Overall Maruti has successfully managed to balance the efforts of making Alto 800 look more conemporary while retaining the inherent similarity of outgoing model. New Alto 800 feels fresh and modern without loosing its inherent identity of a highly practical city car.
NEW ALTO 800 – INTERIORS
Slip inside the cabin of new Alto and one can immediately feel the improvement from the old plain scheme of old Alto. Also evident are borrowed parts like steering wheel and rotary air con vents at sides.
Dash board is wrapped up in grey colour though the intensity of its use has been reduced and this is indeed a very reliving point. 3-spoke steering wheel with metal finishing has now made its way in the model along with rotary air con vents at the sides symbolizing the modern day Marutis’. Sculpted chrome accented centre console still contains same old air con switches of the old Alto, but they do feel easier on the eyes.
Wheelbase of the New Alto 800 at 2360 mm is exactly the same as the old Alto, but there is quite an improvement especially in terms of leg room at the back. Knee room has been improved and it is now much better than old one. Head room is also better in the New Alto 800 than the old Alto, thanks to the taller proportion of the New Alto 800. New Alto 800 seats still do not boasts of proper bolstering and feel quite thin. Thigh space also seems quite inadequate in the New Alto 800. Though there is improvements in the overall seating comfort you have to keep in the mind the fact that it represents the small car category and don’t expect too much roominess from the New Alto 800 else you will be highly disappointed.
What on the other hand is pleasant surprise is very useable and practical trunk space of 177 litres. It is sure to take some of your baggage with ease and the option of folding rear seat enhances its overall practicality though loading lip could have been wider.
NEW ALTO 800 – ENGINE
Under the hood Alto 800 uses the tried and tested F8D unit displacing 796 cc through the combined capacity of 3 cylinders but with some important tweaks that makes it more powerful as well as more efficient at the same time. Power figure of the New Alto 800 stands at 48 PS has been upped marginally while torque at 69 NM of the New Alto 800 has been improved by 6 units from 63 NM of the old Alto.
Refinement and smoothness of old Alto unit has been upped by a notch and the new Alto 800 feels more rev happy in nature. The engine has upped its benchmark in terms of drivability though initial jerks remain even in the New Alto 800. One can amble around in town even in 4th gears without frequent downshift. We did drive the New Alto 800 in peak traffic and were impressed by the fact that the New Alto 800 had no problem in driving all the way from a speed of 30 Kmph even in 4th gear, which probably makes the New Alto 800 one of the best city cars. No matter how slow you are going you just need to flex the right foot and the New Alto 800 will takes up the challenge without near zero disappointment to a rev happy customer and its response to your throttle inputs are irrespective of rev limits. New Alto 800 only weakness could be starting from standstill where one does need to make efforts to get the car moving, first gear does not seem to be quite eager.
Engine of the New Alto 800 is mated with 5-speed manual transmission supplying power to the front wheels. Though the company has used cables to make the shift smooth and precise; it hasn't translated into a very precise shifting experience. Moreover the shifts are not very short and require a bit of effort too. Clutch, like the older one is light but travel is a bit long though steering feels extremely light and manoeuvrable.
NEW ALTO 800 – SUSPENSION AND RIDE
The underpinning of the new Alto 800 is same as that of old Alto. McPherson strut up front and coil spring at the rear doing the duty to suspend the wheels. 145 mm wide rubber is shrouded on 12” wheel while aspect ratio stands at 80.
Ride quality of new Alto 800 is about the average as it has still some way to go in terms of stability and composure. Low speed ride though is good and absorbs the undulation of the road quite well. Potholes and big speed breakers need to be approached with care as they directly intrude into the comfort of the passengers. Similarly speeding up the car doesn’t inspire confidence and Alto 800 is far from sure footed at the higher whacks.
Handling of the New Alto 800 is improved over the old Alto though there is no running from the fact that new Alto 800 still likes a sedate driving style. Steering provides you some feedback and the grip from the wide tubeless tyres has also been notched up.
NEW ALTO 800 - OVERALL VERDICT
New Alto 800’s starting price tag of 2.41 lakh for base variant 800, goes up to 3.13 lakh for Lxi Airbag version ex-showroom, Delhi. VFM proposition has been the strong area of Maruti-Suzuki for years but of late company has excelled in this aspect. Swift, Dzire, Ertiga and now New Alto 800, Maruti has done a fabulous job in pricing all its cars spot on. As a matter of fact the New Alto 80 Delhi launch price was almost similar to the old Alto, which surprised many market experts including us. New Alto 800 not only marks considerable improvements in looks over the old Alto but also signifies marginal advancements in all other related areas too. This shows the commitment of Maruti Suzuki; India’s largest car manufacturer towards upping the benchmark despite some of its recent labor unrest. With New Alto 800 Maruti has positioned itself in a manner so that it can attract Indian car buyers from high end Nano and low end prospects of Eon. And if the tremendous response that the New Alto 800 has got in terms of advanced booking of close to 17,000 cars is a sure indication of a block buster in making for Maruti Suzuki.
NEW ALTO 800 – OVERALL RATING
Style & Substance : 3/5 Ride & Handling : 3/5
Interiors & Space : 3/5 Safety & Equipments : 2/5
Engine & Transmission : 3/5 Mileage : 4/5
Value for Money : 4/5
New car comparison between Mahindra and Mahindra e Verito and Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 and Honda Amaze created by new car buyers actively considering and evaluating these cars for a future purchase.