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New Alto K10 – Affordable motoring

New Alto K10 – Affordable motoring

Snapshot: The arrival of the automatic gearbox promises to make the Alto India's most hassle free car to drive.

?The Alto has always been a convenient car to buy and maintain but now Maruti wants to make it one of the most convenient cars to drive as well. The company has decided to give this car the automated manual transmission(AMT) from the Celerio. That along with the improved styling promises to make the Alto K10 an attractive package to value seekers. So, how good is it really? We find out here.

Maruti has updated the body of the current Alto 800 to mimic the look of the Alto K10, which will no longer be on sale. The K10 body of the Alto was launched way back in 2000, while the M800 arrived in 2012. The current K10 will no longer be on sale. This is a clever way to rationalise costs, something Maruti is the master of. The new car gets peeled back headlamps along with a prominent air dam in the bumper gives the car a ‘big car’ look. The rear remains largely unchanged but you get a chrome strip running at the bottom of the boot lid. The overall effect of these subtle changes is the fact that the car looks fresh, youthful and much more appealing than before. The compact dimensions also help in finding a tight parking space.

The interiors remain largely unchanged from the Alto 800. The plastic quality is on par with most rivals at this price point and the black and light beige combination works well too. The seats offer good cushioning and unlike rivals Maruti hasn’t made them thin to save costs. In terms of practicality you get twin cupholders and a big shelf just ahead of the gearbox on the manual version. The automatic version doesn’t get these as well.

Headroom is very good all across the cabin but the legroom is in limited supply. Maruti has smartly managed to scoop out the backrest of the front seats to give rear passengers more knee room. The car is not very wide so fitting three at the back will be a tight squeeze. The 177-litre boot is well shaped and can genuinely help you pack a couple of big luggage items in it.

Engine, performance and gearbox

The car gets the K-series 1-litre petrol engine with 68bhp of power. This is a peppy motor that simply enjoys being revved and along with the car’s low body mass makes the Alto a nifty city runabout. The manual gear changes are slick and efficient and along with the light clutch make this an easy car to punt around in city traffic.

The big talking point of course is the automatic gearbox. If you drive it in a sedate and sensible manner then the gear changes are jerk free. However, if you plan to drive like a manic boy racer then the gear shifts are very prominent both on the upshift as well as downshift. So it’s really ideal to feather the throttle rather than press it hard all the time. Progress is good in automatic mode and you can also use it manually by using the plus, minus slots on offer. Maruti claims a fuel efficiency figure if 24.07kmpl for both versions.

Ride and handling

The ride comfort is pretty good considering that this car has a very small wheelbase. Despite the weedy tyres on offer grip levels are decent as well. While this isn’t a car that you will take out on the race track, the steering is consistent and offers decent feedback as well. The Alto feels relatively planted at higher speeds as well and braking is on par with most rivals in this segment as well.

Safety and equipment
Well, this is a cost competitive car so do not go expecting to get a lot of features. In terms of safety the top end VXi(O) version comes with a driver side airbag. You also get a stereo with USB, AC, and front power windows as part of the kit.

The Hyundai Eon and the Datsun Go are the closest rivals in terms of price. Though both offer better interior space, none offer an automatic at this price point.

The updated new Alto K10 will appeal to those on a budget. The fresh looks and automatic gearbox add to the car’s overall charm, and even though it could be better in a few areas, at this price point you will be willing to overlook its weaknesses. Another winner from Maruti for sure.  

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