The new Alto K10's big attraction is not just the AMT gearbox. It's got a new character too
On a rainy morning in Chandigarh, we had the first chance to drive the soon-to-be-launched Maruti Suzuki Alto K10. It’s been 14 years since Maruti Suzuki India (MSIL) introduced its entry-level variant in the Indian market, a model so successful that it became the spiritual successor to the legendary Maruti 800. It is the highest selling passenger car in India – volume wise – clocking over 26 lakh units until now. The launch of the model’s K10 variant in 2010 helped the company strengthen the Alto portfolio, offering more choice to customers with its bigger, more powerful engine.
The new Alto K10 follows the same, tried and tested path, and comes with a whole new look – not only on the outside, but also on the inside – and most importantly, introduces an automatic version in one of the trims. Engineers of the company have taken 33 months to design and come up with the refreshed K10, the second new generation small car from MSIL to feature an automatic gearbox as standard in one of its trim. The Celerio came earlier this year with (automated manual transmission – AMT), what Maruti calls the auto gear shift as standard (in VXi).
Apart from making driving easier, the new K10 auto gear shift also promises low fuel consumption matching its manually-operated cousin (24.07kmpl as per test conditions). The K-Next all-aluminium light-weight engine has been made peppier to give better response, resulting in better mileage. It will be also available in a CNG variant with intelligent gas port injection and would deliver a mileage of 32.26 kilometres per kg. The company is also introducing one more trim Lx at the base level, which will be offered without power steering.
Maruti’s designers have integrated wide horizontal lines to the grille design and front bumper to boost the wide imagery to the new Alto K10. Though it looks similar to the current Alto 800, the new car wears a sportier look potentially making it more appealing to the youth. The signature ‘S’ logo on the chrome grille and swept-back headlamps cutting into the sides follow the essence of the Alto K10’s DNA. The bonnet is 3D curved and the aerodynamic lines on the sides make it look sportier with body coloured door-view mirrors. The 2014 Alto K10 also has a different look at the rear, the tail-lamp configuration and the newly-designed tailgate tries to give it a wider look, as does the thin chrome-strip placed on it. The jewel-finished tail lamp cluster also gives a fresh look to the new car.
The 2014 K10 takes its design philosophy inside the car and has a roomier cabin too. Dual-tone texture, a new instrument panel and the three-spoke steering wheel also adds to its sporty appeal. The new piano black-finish stereo, keyless entry system, front power windows, headlamp warning buzzer and gear shift indicator on the instrument cluster are features commonly seen in higher-end cars. The AC vents now take on a round shape, replacing the rectangular ones which could never be shut earlier. The relocation of the power window switches to the floor console near the gear shift, however, may cause discomfort to drivers who are accustomed to finding them placed on the doors. Also, there are nifty utilities such as a dual cup holder in the centre console, a bottle holder in between the front seats for the rear passengers and an IP hook just beside the glovebox to secure small bags, without compromising the legroom. The enhanced legroom at the rear has been achieved by scooping out the rear of the backrests of the front two seats. Now, passengers sitting at the rear bench get some more kneeroom. The Alto K10 is now taller (15mm) at 1475mm, wider (15mm) at 1490mm, but its length is 75mm lesser than the outgoing model made possible thanks to the intelligent packaging of the engine bay that has resulted in more space being carved out for the cabin.
A bit of a disappointment while driving the manual transmission version of the new K10 was the level of linear acceleration that it offers. What is playing spoilt sport must likely be the engine mapping which has possibly been tuned for city driving cycles. Once the engine revs get into the mid-range, there is more power that gets delivered and quicker. The redline has also been brought down to 6,000 rpm from the earlier 6,200, but the engine’s vital statistics continues to be the same 68PS of peak power and maximum torque of 90Nm at 3,500rpm.
Driving the automatic variant, we felt that the essential character of the AMT is very similar the Celerio, gear changes are smooth. The gear shifter is well-positioned and facilitates comfortable driving, not only on city roads but even on highways. You can change it to the manual option for a more involved experience. The lighter steering also makes driving easier and aids better manoeuvrability on the roads. The brake pedals are also designed to bring down the physical effort involved, and it really works. The new Alto K10 will also be offered with driver side airbag as an option and front fog lamps.
Apart from its similarity to the Alto 800 in terms of appearance, the automatic gearbox on the new Alto K10 is an enticing option, sure to be a hit especially among women looking for an automatic car on a budget, and people in general looking for ease of use on our congested city roads. The name ‘Alto’ itself gives Maruti a head-start on reliability.
Length (mm) -- 3545 (-75)
Width (mm) -- 1490 (+15)
Height (mm) -- 1475 (+15)
Wheelbase (mm) -- 2360
Ground Clearance -- 160mm
Turning Radius -- 4.6 meter
Boot Volume -- 177 litres
Engine Type – K10 Next
Engine Capacity -- 998cc
Power (PS@ rpm) -- 68@6000
Torque (Nm@rpm) -- 90@3500
Expected Price -- 3 lakh to 3.90 lakh
The next generation Alto K10 will be launched in 6 trims
Manual -- LX, LXi, VXi (O) and LXi (CNG)
Auto Gear Shift -- VXi
Colours -- Tango Orange (signature colour), Granite Grey, Cerulean Blue, Fire Brick Red, Silky Silver and Superior White