The first generation Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 was loved for its punchy powertrain. But when Maruti decided to base the second-gen on the Alto 800, the K10’s future was questionable.
But Maruti Suzuki knows a thing or two about what will appeal to the Indian consumer – and the end result was a car with better cabin space and ergonomics. The willing powertrain remained the same, but an automated manual transmission was added. But can an AMT box exploit the true potential of the K10 engine?
In one word, that answer is, yes! If you aren’t used to AMT boxes, shifts will feel jerky initially. But once you learn to start backing off from the throttle when you want a gear change, it’s all smooth sailing from there. The Alto K10 feels fairly refined under standard driving conditions, and the convenience of an automatic gearbox on our ever-crowded roads simply cannot be ignored. Although, the jerky gear changes do let it down.
Put your foot hard down, and the AMT gearbox will drop more than a couple of gears to give you the acceleration you demand. The tiny Alto K10 still has the potential to plaster a silly grin on your face on occasion. The air conditioning compressor is cut out under hard acceleration to ensure that all of the 67bhp of max power and 90Nm of peak torque are being used to power the wheels.
Up shifts are good from the autobox under spirited driving, and the convenience of having the ability to shift manually is useful for those who prefer to feel a little more engaged from time-to-time. This also helps when you need that sudden surge of power for overtaking manoeuvres. Although you do want to plan ahead. Another aspect you may enjoy is the engine note, which almost delivers a nice sporty snarl from the willing engine.
Typical of electronic units, the power steering unit needs to have a lot more feedback – and this is what really lets the otherwise engaging driving experience down. On the inside, the Alto K10 comes decently equipped for a car in its segment – with a double-DIN stereo, front power windows, front power socket, and more.
But now it’s time to address the elephant in the room – the Alto K10’s design. Let’s be honest, it’s not the best looking car out there. The flat side profile combined with the tall front and rear ends leave a lot of room for improvement in terms of styling. The earlier model had a more planted stance, which went well with the car’s character. This new one sacrifices some of that for a more practical approach. And compared to more modern cars like the Renault Kwid, the Alto simply can’t keep up in terms of design, quality, and dynamics. The competition, it seems, may have finally caught up with the Alto…