Maruti Alto 800: Power to the people

Gone is the old jellybean shape, the new Alto has grown up. The face is all-new and looks far more modern. And if you squint a little, you might see a bit of the Ford Figo in there. It has also grown in height – look at it in profile and you can see it edging a bit towards the tall boys, with the rear doors reminding you of the A-Star. Rear three-quarters is perhaps the Alto 800’s best angle. It looks fresh, but we aren’t sure if it is decidedly better looking. It doesn’t gel together as fluidly as the old jellybean shape did. But we reckon it isn’t something that will put off potential buyers.

We’re happy to see the Alto’s core values have remained. So you still get that 796cc 3-pot 47bhp motor coupled to a five-speed gearbox – a combination that can give some big bikes a complex with its efficiency. There are some minor updates too, like the revised intake. And it’s pretty refined for a 3-cylinder, especially at idle. Prod the throttle and the thrum does come through as you pile on the revs. Going up the lush green hills of God’s own country, the Alto did better than expected. The F8D motor responds well to the throttle and has an eagerness to it.

The mid-range is decently peppy, which is nice in traffic, but having only 47 horses does show on the highway. It feels short of breath at higher speeds, but will do 110-120kph without much stress. Crude stopwatch timing pegged the Alto 800’s 0-100kph at around 18 seconds, so don’t expect to be smiling at traffic light drags.

For that, you still have the lovely Alto K10. Still, the Alto 800 impresses with its peppiness on the urban crawl. To drive the Alto 800 fast, you have to keep the motor on the boil and work the gearbox hard. Thankfully, the throws are nice, precise and short. We had limited time with the car, so we couldn’t test efficiency, but we don’t expect much change from the outgoing Alto.