There was a time when the Maruti 800 wore the crown of being the largest selling car in the Indian market. However, things change soon and they did for the 800 as well. Blame it on the Bharat Stage IV norms which removed the 800 from major metro cities, or the increase in the middle class family’s earnings that allowed the common man to buy higher placed cars, the 800 soon saw a huge decline in sales which also made way for the new king of the Indian automotive segment in terms of monthly sales – the Alto. This change in crown happened in 2006. The older 800cc Alto was joined by a newer, fresher, classier and more powerful version, the K10, in August 2010 which gave it good company month on month. As far as numbers go, the Alto and K10 combined together sold a mammoth 25393, 23240, 24974, 23170, 21198 units in May, June, July, Aug and September 2011 respectively!
The older Alto also comes with a company fitted CNG option, further increasing its appeal while the K10 versions surely appeals to the young at heart. Here is a complete lowdown on the Alto range – there is definitely something for everyone! Dimension wise, it is one of the smallest cars in India with length, width and height of 3495, 1475 and 1460mm respectively. It does wear clear lens headlamps and sparkling tail lamps. The K10 though came as a more than welcome change as far as looks were concerned. Although the chassis and under-body is same as the Alto’s, it is marginally a bigger car with length, width and height of 3620, 1495 and 1460mm respectively. It looks sportier, younger and muscular with a revised front as well as rear end. Premium features like fog lamps, usage of chrome and stylish wheel covers have gone a long way in making the K10 stand out in this price band of cars.
The Alto’s interiors have remained more or less the same over the last eleven years. The flowing central console is finished in a shade of silver and houses the manual air-con system. The front passengers also get glass holders and there is usable space above the glove box too.
The K10 on the other hand is much better as far as the cabin goes. Everything on the inside seems better – the steering and speedometer console for example. The overall design of the fascia though remains the same and here the central console is finished in a shade of black. The seats are also finished in a different fabric for an overall better feel. Comfort for four adults in both the models is pretty decent.
The higher variant of K10 comes with front power windows while the older Alto has to do with manual ones!
In engines , the 3-cylinder 800cc engine that powers the older Alto is one of the largest produced and most reliable small petrol engines in the world. With 4 valves per cylinder, 32 bit on board computer and other changes, the engine makes a decent 47PS of power, enough to propel the light weight (690-705 kg depending on variant) Alto to good speeds. It is also quite efficient with an ARAI rated economy of 19.73kmpl.
The K10 gets powered by the newer generation KB10 engine. This is also a 3-cylinder unit but has a higher displacement of 998cc. The all-aluminum engine produces a very impressive 68PS of power and equally good 90Nm of torque. The best part is the impressive fuel economy of 20.2kmpl (ARAI rated).
Both the Alto and K10 have the same kind of suspension set-up. At the front, McPherson Strut with torsion type roll control device do the job while at the rear, the cars get coil spring gas filled shock absorbers with three link rigid axle and isolated trailing arms. Infact, this type of set-up is the most commonly used system by most small cars these days.
The Alto starts at 2.4 lakhs to 3.4 lakhs ex-shworrom Delhi and is certianly one of India's most loved cars! For a detailed analysis read below..