Review: Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 facelift
It isn't often that the entry-level hatchback market sees this sort of action. Think about it, Maruti Suzuki has had a vice-like grip on it for time immemorial through their two hatchbacks and then there was the Eon from Hyundai that tried to mount a challenge a few years back. Not to forget the Tata Nano, which managed to undercut the Marutis but not much else. In the past six months though, things have changed. The Renault-Nissan alliance has launched a pair of cars that they cannot make enough of to meet demand. Maruti's bread and butter, the Alto, which has been the best-selling nameplate for more than a decade and accounts for roughly a fifth of their sales, is feeling the heat.
A response was expected and this refreshed Alto is the answer. First things first, the front has gone through a noticeable change. The grille is only a slight slit now and the air dam re-designed. The badge has moved to the top of the bumper and niches for fog lamps have been worked into the lower half. Even the headlamps have been touched up and have a clearly marked indicator section now. The interiors design remains pretty much unchanged although the trim has been traded in for a more flashy one which seems to sparkle at certain angles. Rear seats now have a better-bolstered headrest, which should make it more comfortable for passengers.
On the road, the Alto feels pretty much the same. The 796cc, three-pot motor still makes 47bhp and is mated to a five-speed gearbox. Maruti does claim a nine per cent increment in efficiency, the new figure stands at 24.7kpl, which is closer, but still not as good as the redi-GO at 25.17kpl. This bit of retuning, however, seems to have hurt the bottom-end response of the engine. It tends to die down completely at lower revs, say in case you slow down for a speed breaker and try to drive away in second. Flat out performance remains seemingly unchanged with the car moving along nicely for a 800cc motor. The other bit of change that catches your eye while driving is the left-hand side mirror, something that was never a part of the 800s standard kit. Apart from this you also get a remote locking key and the option of adding a driver-side airbag in any variant of your choosing.
And just to keep things interesting, Maruti has introduced two new colours as well - one is a blue, as seen on this page, while the other is a green, which seems shockingly similar to the redi-GOs communication colour. It possibly isn't that much of a coincidence, but then with prices going from 2.49 -3.34 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), Maruti has its task of keeping the crown pretty well cut out and they are willing to use every bit of favour that they can.
796cc, 3cyl, petrol, 47bhp, 69Nm, 5M, FWD
0-100kph\: 18s, top speed\: NA, Rs 3.34 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).