Maruti Alto 800: The people's car
We drive the new Alto. Is it a worthy successor to the legend?
Since its launch, the Alto has been setting the sales charts on fire month after month. And with good reason – it is reliable, cheap as chips, user-friendly and as efficient as some big motorbikes. Even though it looks nothing like the Alto you may be used to, it’s still based on the legendary platform that has given the nation its favourite cars.
The new looks are striking, but not really to everyone’s taste. It’s become too flashy and it’s lost out on that cuteness we have come to love. If you look closely, you’ll see some resemblances and cars like the Figo and A-star may come to mind. It looks fresh, but does it look better than the current Alto? You decide.
On the mechanical front, it’s still powered by the ultra-reliable motor that does duty in the current car. A new intake system means it puts out 47bhp, and more importantly, 69Nm of torque. The extra torque helps, the Alto feels sprightlier than before. The five-speed manual gearbox also has a much better shift action than it currently does. On the road, it’s quite the eager little puppy, especially in the city. But show it some open road, and the horsepower deficit shows. But it is good for 120kph and will do it without crying its guts out. All in all, the Alto 800 is best in the city.
Ride is decent at low and medium speeds, but it starts moving about as you go faster. The tiny tyres aren’t ideal for grip but they’re great for efficiency. It won’t overwhelm you with its handling either. The light steering feels great in the city, but as a dynamics package, the Alto is pretty average.
Inside is where the new Alto really impresses. The cabin feels a lot better than before. New colours and better quality materials give the cabin a more upmarket feel. There's more headroom and some more rear legroom thanks to the scooped-out front seats. The Alto has retained its core values and will do well as a cheap runabout. And if you really can’t digest the looks, go buy the fantastic little K10.