Since 2004, Alto has been the top selling car in the country and to maintain the feat for more than a decade is nothing short of extraordinary. The new Alto 800 is built on the same platform of its predecessor but is now stiffer.
Maruti has stuck to the same formula of the old Alto and kept the changes to the design and ergonomics of the car much like the old one. The new Alto looks simple and aims to satisfy the mass market consumers with the basics.
Frugal engine; amazing fuel economy.
Capable city car to drive, good ride quality.
Low cost of ownership.
Maruti Suzuki's unmatched sales and service network.
Lacklustre highway performance. Strictly limited to intra-city use.
Old-school design. Especially when compared to the Kwid and redi-GO.
Thin seats, cramped rear bench. Negligible leg and shoulder room.
Stand Out Features
Optional airbags on every variant. A welcome move.
Pliant ride quality. Does not get thrown off by the odd pothole.
The Maruti Alto 800 is a great city car. If you need a no-nonsense economical set of wheels to commute from point A to point B, the 800 is or you!
"The Alto seems lost among the options from Renault, Datsun & Hyundai. The only weapon in Maruti's arsenal is its strong after sales service. "
For those looking for a bit of style or more power, there’s its bigger sibling - the Alto K10 too. Besides, you can also consider the Renault Kwid and Datsun redi-GO for the same money.
The new Alto 800 is aimed to please all and thus gets a neutral design that neither stands out nor too plain. Maruti has used what they term as a Wavefront design which gives the new Alto its lines and curves.
At the front, the Alto 800 gets a sleek grille with the Suzuki logo placed under it. The petal-shaped headlamps budge out and features amber headlights with turn indicators. The new bumper sports cuts and creases and has provision for foglamps. Most importantly, the left side outside rearview mirror is now standard.
The Alto fails to stand out in a crowd.
To the sides, there’s a prominent shoulder line that runs the length of the car and defined wheels arches add some emotion. However, the tiny wheels look almost cartoon-ish, giving the car a very tall stance. The window area is nice and large and takes up most of the real-estate on the side. It also gets some black moulding to protect it from nudges and dents.
The roof swoops down while shoulder crease goes up making the rear window smaller than the older car. At the rear, the Alto 800 looks simple but the higher stance and the smaller tyres look odd. The light weight of the car is displayed through light doors that feel fragile. The roof has been given a ribbed finish for added stiffness.
Maruti Alto 800
Datsun Redi GO
Ground Clearance (mm)
Wheel Base (mm)
Kerb Weight (kg)
The Alto 800 is a rather narrow car. In fact, its width is lower than the Tata Nano too! This does hamper in-cabin space; a place where immediate rivals like the Kwid and the Datsun redi-Go score brownie points.
At 177-litres of space, the boot is good enough for the segment and the rear seat can be folded down to expand the luggage space.
Boot Space Comparison
Datsun Redi GO
Maruti Alto 800
The Alto 800 gets new fabric upholstery which are carried over to the door panels as well in the form of fabric inserts. The grey interiors combined with black steering wheel and dashboard look good. While the LXi comes with child safety lock, the VXi gets an additional remote entry, front power windows and central locking as standard. The seats are flat and don’t offer much cushioning, but that is expected for the price point of the car. The seating position is low as is the steering wheel. The front seats are good enough and offer reasonable support. However, if you are generously built, you will find yourself rubbing shoulders with your co-passenger.
At the rear, the going gets tough for more than two passengers. Even more if the front passenger and driver are big. It gets even worse if you happen to be tall. You will find yourself too close to the roof and the integrated headrests will be around the nape. Not a good place to be for tall blokes, that's for sure.
Clearly Maruti has gone for function over form with the Alto 800.
The steering wheel is of comfortable size and nicely placed to hold. The grainy texture on the steering wheel is slightly off-putting, but that is pretty much the norm in the segment. The access to the horn is comfortable and the placement of the pedals is also good, reiterating our point of functional design. The instrument cluster is a simple one with an analogue speedometer with everything else going digital. We have a odometer and two trip meters but a tachometer is absent. A simple, functional design - that’s about it.
The ‘V’ shaped centre console hosts the HVAC controls and only the top-end VXi and VXi (O) get audio system with USB and Aux-in ports. The centre AC vents sit atop a dome like design above the AC controls. The AC is a strong unit capable of cooling down the car adequately but the centre vents cannot be shut down completely. Storage space is there but in tiny proportions though the glove box is big enough. There’s a cut out above the glove box and another one at the bottom of the centre console for storing your oddities.
0.8l - Petrol
The Alto 800 runs with the same F8D 796cc that its predecessor passed on to it, but gets some upgrades in the form of lighter materials used in construction. The engine is a teeny bit powerful too with 48PS at 6000 rpm and 69Nm of torque at 3500 rpm. The company has worked on the engine to make it peppier in the low range and the gearbox has also been given a workout. The engine runs smooth in the low revs but the typical clattering of a three-cylinder comes alive as the speed increases and the lack of any insulation doesn’t help.
Performance Comparison (Petrol)
Maruti Alto 800
Datsun Redi GO
Engine Displacement (cc)
Top Speed (kmph)
0-100 Acceleration (sec)
Kerb Weight (kg)
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI)
Power Weight Ratio
The Alto 800 is a formidable city car, rightly displayed by its characteristics. The new cable type gearbox is a huge improvement and works the gears smoothly, slotting them into respective positions without a problem. Couple that to the light clutch and the city driving becomes a delight. Highways are the Achilles heel for the Alto 800 as the car will surely be overpowered by every other car except Nano. The Alto 800 is also 9 per cent more fuel efficient than the earlier model returning 24.70kmpl while the CNG variant claims to offer a 10 per cent improvement with mileage figures of 33.44kmpl!
Ride and Handling
The Alto gets gas charged front and rear dampers, offering excellent ride quality that is hard to come by in this segment. Almost all the irregularities of the roads are well absorbed by the car. As long as the car is in the city, the Alto 800 doesn’t fail to satiate your transporting needs. On the highways however, the Alto suffers from vertical movements and the feedback, or the lack of, from the tiny tyres does nothing to improve your confidence.
The light steering helps in the city driving but lacks feedback on the highways. The feedback becomes vague from the steering as the speeds rise, so it is best to keep the car driving in the city or under 90kmph.
Though Alto 800 scores well as a city car, it fails to offer any kind of safety features apart from a driver side airbag. ABS should also have been added to the package.
We hope to see airbags as standard in the future.
Thankfully, the airbags are now an option across all trim levels of the hatch. Ticking the airbag option adds Rs 10,000 to the cost. An option you should definitely tick with your eyes closed!