Maruti Alto 800 Expert Review

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Introduction

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.

Pros
  • 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.
Cons
  • 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.

    Optional airbags on every variant. A welcome move.

  • Pliant ride quality. Does not get thrown off by the odd pothole.

    Pliant ride quality. Does not get thrown off by the odd pothole.

CarDekho Verdict

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.

Exterior

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.

Exterior Comparison

Maruti Alto 800 Datsun Redi GO Renault KWID Hyundai EON
Length (mm) 3430 3429 3679 3495
Width (mm) 1515 1560 1579 1550
Height (mm) 1475 1541 1478 1500
Ground Clearance (mm) 160 185 180 170
Wheel Base (mm) 2360 2348 2422 2380
Kerb Weight (kg) 727 null - -
 

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

Renault KWID Datsun Redi GO Hyundai EON Maruti Alto 800
Volume 300-litres 222 Ltrs 215-litres 177-litres

Interior

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. 

Performance

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 Hyundai EON Renault KWID Datsun Redi GO
Power 47.3bhp@6000rpm 55.2bhp@5500rpm 53.3bhp@5678rpm 53bhp@5678rpm
Torque (Nm) 69Nm@3500rpm 74.5Nm@4000rpm 72Nm@4386rpm 72Nm@4388rpm
Engine Displacement (cc) 796 814 799 799
Transmission Manual Manual Manual Manual
Top Speed (kmph) 140 kmph 135 Kmph 135 Kmph -
0-100 Acceleration (sec) 19 Seconds 19 Seconds 16 Seconds -
Kerb Weight (kg) 727kg - - null
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI) 24.7kmpl 21.1kmpl 25.17kmpl 22.7kmpl
Power Weight Ratio 65.06189821182943 bhp/ton - - 0 bhp/ton

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.  

Safety

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!

Variants

  • Petrol
  • CNG
Variants Features Price
STD Dual Tripmeter, Floor Carpet, Tubeless Tyres, 2.46 Lakh*
Std Optional [ In adition to STD ] Driver Airbag, All Features Of STD, [ Variant STD price ] + 6,000 =  2.52 Lakh*
LX [ In adition to Std Optional ] Remote Fuel Lid Opener, Fabric Seat Upholstery , Air Conditioner With Heater, [ Variant Std Optional price ] + 28,000 =  2.8 Lakh*
LX Optional [ In adition to LX ] Driver Airbag, All Features Of LX, [ Variant LX price ] + 6,000 =  2.86 Lakh*
LXI [ In adition to LX Optional ] Front Power Windows, Remote Trunk Opener, Power Steering, [ Variant LX Optional price ] + 20,000 =  3.06 Lakh*
LXI Optional [ In adition to LXI ] Driver Airbag, All Features Of LXI, [ Variant LXI price ] + 6,000 =  3.12 Lakh*
VXI [ In adition to LXI Optional ] Central Locking, Accessory Socket , Integrated Audio System, [ Variant LXI Optional price ] + 13,000 =  3.25 Lakh*
VXI Optional [ In adition to VXI ] Driver Airbag, All Features Of VXI, [ Variant VXI price ] + 6,000 =  3.31 Lakh*
Variants Features Price
CNG LXI Factory Fitted CNG Kit, Front Power Windows, Power steering, 3.66 Lakh*
CNG LXI Optional [ In adition to CNG LXI ] Driver Airbag, All Features Of CNG LXI, [ Variant CNG LXI price ] + 5,943 =  3.72 Lakh*

The Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 is available in 8 variants - STD, STD(O), LX, LX(O), LXi, LXi(O), VXi and VXi(O).

Maruti Alto 800 similar cars to compare & consider  
*Ex-showroom price

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