Driven #3: Maruti-Suzuki Alto K10

With India being on top of the radar of every automaker in the world, every company would love to have one of their models topping the sales charts here. The Alto, which holds that dubious title for quite some time now and Maruti-Suzuki, its maker also credited with selling every second car in our country, would therefore be subjects of dense scrutiny. So, when such a model is being face-lifted, it ought to assume prime importance. With the launch of the new Alto K10, Maruti-Suzuki has not only spruced up the looks of the car but has also given it a heart transplant by plonking in the new K-Series engine into its hood. A quick spin in the new K10 and the existing Alto back-to-back revealed what’s hot and what’s not.

The existing Alto was launched globally around a decade back and just when it started showing its age,  Maruti did a couple of nip and tuck jobs to keep it updated. But nothing could hide the fact that the Alto was never a great looker but it always came across as a cute little city car that will not offend anyone. The K10 doesn't try to change that perception and carries the same theme forward. The major difference in the K10 is the length of the hood, which has been increased to accommodate the bigger engine. That apart, the redesigned lights and body-colored bumpers at the front and rear try to make the car look more mature and impart a big-car feel to the Alto. While the attempt is successful at the front, the same can't be said about the rear, which is less impressive. Except for the length, the profile remains virtually untouched.

Step into the car and there are no surprises there with the layout being the same as the current Alto. But there are quite a lot of welcome additions like a meatier 3-spoke steering wheel in place of the current bland two spoke wheel, a tachometer, front power windows, internally adjustable mirrors, central locking, internal fuel cap and boot opener most of which are not available in the current Alto. Sadly, there is no increase in interior passenger space which could have made the K10 a proper B-Segment car, now that it has the features to compete with them. Maruti deserve special kudos for giving mirrors that fold on both sides, a thoughtful feature which would be a boon in our crowded city roads.

Floor the pedal and don't be surprised if you, for a moment, thought that you have accidentally stepped into a Swift rather than an Alto. The quick throttle response is unbelievable especially when compared to the regular Alto and the engine is more refined too. Typical Alto characteristics like lack of power and strained engine responses are gone and the K10 just bursts off the line comfortably, the combination of its light weight body and the responsive K10B engine with 68 PS maximum power working wonders here.

Though it has got a proper heart now, the Alto K10 still has not got the legs that it needs to stretch itself. The combination of a slightly unsettled ride and average handling accentuated by the undersized tires make sure that you don't enjoy the K10 to its fullest potential. Nevertheless, for the price that you pay, the Alto K10 returns a truly rewarding driving experience.

  • Engine Type: All Aluminum K10B
  • No of Cylinders: 3
  • Displacement: 998 cc
  • Max Power: 68 PS @ 6200 rpm
  • Max Torque: 90 Nm @ 3500 rpm
  • Transmission Type: 5 Speed MT (Cable Type)
  • Tyres: 155/65 R13 (Tubeless)
  • Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front) / Drum (Rear) 
To sum up the K10 in one line, I would say that "Commuting for masses just got a bit more powerful, fun-filled and feature-laden". Exactly as speculated earlier, the K10 has already taken the total Alto sales to much higher than 30,000 units per month. With the possible exception of Hyundai's new small car, there is absolutely nothing to even think of challenging the Alto twins and together, they will stay at the top of the sales charts at least for the next couple of years. You will not go wrong with either of them. Having said that, if you have to choose between the Alto and the K10, without a moment’s hesitation, go for the K10. Its worth much more than the small extra money that you pay for it.

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