2022 Maruti Alto K10 first drive review
The Indian automotive marketplace has shifted goalposts so much in the past few years. At one point of time, this entry hatchback segment was the main one. It clocked in the numbers for manufacturers, it was affordable for car owners, the cars had no frills, were easy to maintain and if you could take a car loan out for about 3 lakh rupees, you could buy yourself a new car. This segment put India on wheels. Now, it's a shrinking segment. Bar the Maruti Alto 800, this is the only car you can get for a sub Rs 4 lakh price point. Everything else is 25-50 thousand rupees costlier. So sure you are on a budget, but do you get more than what first time car buyers used to get before? Has the Maruti Alto K10 shifted goal posts too, has it become better, bigger and more premium than before? We drove the car in Cochin recently to find out.
All the first time car buyers who bought cars like the 800, Alto and cars like the Eon, Kwid and Datsun Go moved on to bigger cars. So with time, this segment has become slightly smaller, but be that as it may, this is Maruti’s favourite hunting ground. It's the segment they do best because they know this customer base better than any other manufacturer. The network runs deep into the hinterland where everyone swears by a Maruti because they know their chacha or mama would work or know someone who works at the neighbourhood Maruti workshop, finding parts is as easy as finding a pack of parle G at a convenience store and fixing one is cheap. Also, nothing goes wrong with a Maruti Alto.
Anyway, coming back to the new Alto, how things have moved forward! The big news is this new touchscreen infotainment system that connects to Android Auto and Apple car play. Can you imagine that! An alto with Apple carplay. I mean, the iPhone 13 Pro Max maxxed out would cost about 1.8 lakh. Two of those phones almost cost as much as the starting price of the K10! This shows how important the VFM card is for Maruti. The Alto has got to be more efficient than any car it competes with, it has to be affordable to buy and fix. That’s when the lakhs of entry-hatch customers will continue to throng to Maruti Suzuki’s Arena dealerships all across the country.
Maruti Alto K10 price
Some of you will notice top spec ex-showroom prices hit almost the Rs 6 lakh mark. An Alto for 6 lakh! Well, this is a cut throat segment and no manufacturer can get away with huge margins so Maruti isn't really pushing for higher pricing. It's inflation that's hitting the entire industry. Everything from steel to copper to plastic has progressively gotten expensive over the past few years, more so in the last year and that has made things difficult. Buying your first car is more challenging now. The base variant pricing starts from Rs 3.99 lakh ex showroom, going up to Rs 5.33 lakh. The AGS - auto gear shift or AMT variants are Rs 50,000 costlier. Overall, it's about Rs 15,000 cheaper than its sibling, the S-Presso.
What I'm happy about is how much of a step up this car is. Sure you don't get anything in terms of a performance jump. 65.6bhp, 89Nm. That's something we are familiar with, but it's the intent here. The new Alto is launched with the K10 engine, a set of variants that are more premium to the standard Alto. There's a wider market for the K10 now with so many new highways coming up. You've got to understand that the K10 may be the only car but it will be well driven by its owners. Small hatchbacks are meant for the city but the Alto also signifies freedom and independence. You get yourself on wheels and now you want to go everywhere with it. That's significant, and why I suspect Altos do a lot more mileage than other hatchbacks.
Maruti Alto K10 ARAI certified mileage
The Alto K10 will be very economical to run with an ARAI certified figure of 24.39kmpl for the manual and 24.9kmpl for the AMT variants. This impressive figure is thanks to the new dual variable valve timing and dual jet tech. Basically they work like misers while squeezing fuel into the cylinders. You notice that when you drive the new K10. It requires a heavier foot to get going, else at low revs, I presume under the 1800-2000rpm mark, all its good for is those great efficiency figures.
Maruti Alto K10 driving impressions
Step up the pace and it has that typical spring in its stride that you are familiar with in the K10. It’s nippy, picks pace quickly and up to about 80-100kmph, the K10 will keep pace with all the traffic around it. The manual gearbox shifts well, clutch action is light and while the steering is vague, there’s a bit of weight to it that works for a light car like the new K10.
This car has 7mm more clearance than the current Alto 800, is about 30 kilograms lighter than it and the monocoque is stiffer and stronger. The AMT gearbox can suck the pleasure out of driving in auto mode, however if you drive it in manual mode, anticipating gear shifts with your throttle inputs, the AMT can be fun to drive too. If you do a lot of city driving, the AMT would be the way to go. The Alto K10 rides on 13 inch wheels now with 145/80 R13 tyres. The skinny wheels leave a huge gap in the wheel wells to fill but that’s a compromise you pay for high fuel efficiency.
The damping is so sorted for a car of this size with small wheels though. The Alto K10 rides well, with that typical light tip-toeing the hatch is known for. You get plenty of roll when you chuck it into corners but it’s all controllable. The Alto has always been a fun light hatch to chuck around and that continues with the new car as well.
Maruti Alto K10 exterior
The Alto K10 stays true to Maruti’s simplistic design approach. Bold designs like you see on the Kwid will never get approvals at Maruti because the Alto is targeted towards tier 2 and tier 3 cities more now. A polarising design won’t bring in the numbers which is why there's familiarity in the K10’s lines. There is no chrome anywhere on the car except for the Suzuki logos, and there are no variant badges either. There’s a wide black grille that dominates the front end, leading to the halogen lamps neatly sweeping back. The mirrors aren’t body coloured but look good as is in these contrast colours. Step to the side and rear and its even less eventful, however, as I had mentioned, there’s no faulting the simplicity.
Maruti Alto K10 interior
There's a lot more space on the inside now. It's taller so you've got more headroom in the cabin with this scooped out roof on the inside. The steering still doesn't adjust for rake. If you are a tall person, you will still find enough space for four adults. I am 5’10”, and with the seat adjusted to my driving position, there is just about enough legroom at the back to fit similarly tall passengers. The cushioning is slightly on the firmer side now which is good for longer drives. I can notice an improvement in plastic quality on the dashboard compared to before, which is good since you are paying more than what the previous-gen K10 used to cost.
A nice touch is two additional speakers in the back. Rear passengers won't ask you to crank up the volume to deafening decibels now. The new digital instrument cluster is something new car owners will appreciate. The speed reading is bold and easy to read, you've got steering mounted controls now for music and calling functions, to go with the 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system so features wise, there's a step up.
Maruti Alto K10 safety
The new Alto now comes with two airbags, which is excellent for an entry hatch, but that also drives up the cost of the car. Nevertheless, more safety is a good thing. You get ABS with EBD and reverse parking sensors too now.
Should you buy one?
Maruti Suzuki builds on the Alto’s no-nonsense formula with more features than before, brings updates to the engine to make it more efficient and now there’s more space in the cabin too. Overall, there are small improvements in all aspects to make the Alto K10 a better car than before, and that’s why, if you are in the market for an entry-hatch with a bit more power than the Alto 800, the K10 will do you good without breaking the bank.