The Alto K10 may be getting a little long in the tooth, but Maruti Suzuki aims to breathe fresh life into its bestseller by slotting in an automated-manual. Here’s our detailed Alto K10.
Busting myths, changing mindsets and reinventing car segments, this is what Maruti Suzuki is all about these days. India’s number one carmaker may sound like author Dan Brown’s fictional character Robert Langdon, but they really are busy decoding the A2 segment and unearthing new revelations. They’ve got a surprisingly good response to the AMT (Automated Manual Transmission) variant of their latest hatch, the Celerio – and so the new Alto K10 is the next small car that gets this gearbox. So, we decided to do our Alto K10to figure out how does it fare.
The first thing that we noticed during our Alto K10 was that the Alto K10 had lost its cute look. It now dons a more mature face, with an aggressive front fascia. The nose is tapered and is garnished with a dash of chrome. New sweptback headlights remind me a bit of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The wedged profile is a mirror image of the Alto 800, but the overall shape offers improved aerodynamics over the previous K10 – and Maruti claims that the fuel efficiency has gone up by over 15% as a result. At the rear, the tailgate is now wider and the lamps get the customary jewel-like effect.
Step inside, and an airy cabin welcomes you. Maruti has improved both headroom and width, though the length has been reduced by 75mm. Most of this is in the bonnet rather than the cabin. Another positive change is the completely redesigned dashboard. Plus, the top-of-the-line variant comes equipped with a smart looking integrated audio system in a piano black finish. It’s quite evident that Maruti wants to give the K10 a premium feel, and when you consider the dual-tone interiors, contemporary looking instrument cluster, and silver accents on various pieces of trim – not to mention the three-spoke steering wheel – they’ve succeeded to quite an extent. And it’s not just the bling, there are a lot of useful cubby holes, cup holders, utility hooks and bottle holders that come to good use. There are some more useful touches as well. For instance, the seatbacks of the front seats are sculpted for improved knee space. But legroom in the rear is still fairly limited. Plus, the seats remain fairly flat and lack thigh support – much like they’ve always done in the Alto.
The automatic transmission, as we realised during our New Alto K10, is tuned to make the Alto K10 sip fuel judiciously and return high mileage. Like the Celerio, gears quickly shift up – so that the revs are kept low. So, before you know it you’re in the 4th gear and ready to hit 5th. This can be a bit annoying, but if we look at the bigger picture, it is very convenient to drive in bumper-to-bumper traffic. A relevant question did pop up however during our New Alto K10 – how will the automatic gearbox fare on an incline? With the K10 drive taking place in Chandigarh, we took the Alto K10 beyond the Himalayan Expressway in and up into the hills. With three adults in the car, the Alto K10 cautiously made its way up the mountains. It helped, of course, to switch to manual mode for the car to become more responsive. But, all in all, it did the job. The ride quality, though, does feel a bit spongy and doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence on broken roads. Cabin noise is another thing that will test your patience, since you get a cacophony of everything from engine to road, and wind noise on the move – something even the music system fails to drown out.
Everything else aside, the ace up the Alto K10 sleeve is clearly the AMT. It’s a transmission that works quite well in a car of this size. And it seems to have caught the attention of the buying public at a time when having an automatic is almost a necessity when commuting in our crowded cities. So, the AMT may be only a small step for Maruti Suzuki, but it’s a giant step for this segment.