Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 Review & First Drive
Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 Overview
The undisputed champion of the entry-level hatchback segment goes through a mid-life make over. Are the changes significant enough for it to withstand the onslaught from the newer breed of hatches? Let’s find out.
There are some cars that define brands. The biggest example for Maruti Suzuki is the 800. In fact, it was so much of a brand-defining model that the peppy little hatchback was often referred to as just ‘The Maruti’. The Alto was launched in the year 2000 and soon began to catch on to the Maruti 800 in terms of monthly sales. It was only obvious then that when the Maruti 800 was finally phased out, the 800 nomenclature got attached to the Alto and thus was born the Alto 800 in 2012. Irrespective of how popular a car is in India, everything needs a refresh once every few years. And with the next-gen version expected only by 2018, the company has decided to give it a mid-life makeover. So, what’s changed? That’s what we are about to find out.
Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 Exteriors
Despite looking quite familiar to the outgoing version at first glance, the latest Alto 800 does get a few updates, primarily to the fascia. For one, the section of the headlamp internals which houses the turn indicators, is new. A markedly slimmer grille can be seen along with the Suzuki logo that’s shifted below it on to the restyled bumper which now features a redesigned three slat air dam. Fog light housings have also found their way on to the front bumper.
In profile, the 2016 car reveals the use of body side-moulding, and there’s two new colours to choose from, cerulean blue and mojito green. Maruti has also now made the left external door mirror, standard across the range. Other than these updates, everything about the new Alto 800, like the quirky overall shape, thick C-pillar with the aggressively tapering window line, resembles the outgoing model.
Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 Interiors
While it looks much the same from the outside, the interior of the new Alto 800 has been refreshed for a decidedly more upmarket look no matter what trim you buy. For starters, the cabin is finished in dark grey and houses new fabric design on the door pads and reupholstered seats. Maruti says the new door trim fabric is a classic touch but to our eyes it’s almost funky. What’s not at all funky though is the design and layout of the dashboard which is where the Alto shows its age. There’s plenty of unforgiving black plastics and the layout of air-con vents and controls is a step behind the rivals as well.
Ergonomically, the only redeeming bits are the storage space above the glove box and a large cubbyhole ahead of the gear lever which can easily accommodate a 1-litre bottle. Now although the centrally mounted power window switches aren’t where they belong, they help to liberate more leg space for the driver which is fairly crucial in a small car like this. Speaking of which, the driving position is set noticeably low (compared to something like an Eon) although the view out is still nice and clear with good all-round visibility aided by slim A and B pillars.
Meanwhile, the rear is comfortable but only for two full-size occupants. There’s better-than-average legroom and surprisingly good headroom for such low stance. The seat base though is woefully short and a little flat, meaning you will end up sitting with your knees up and wanting for more thigh support throughout the ride.
One area where the old Alto 800 didn’t earn brownie points was in the equipment. With the facelift, Maruti has attempted at making our lives easier by offering the passenger side wing mirror, rear door child lock and integrated headrests at the rear as all-new equipment. More importantly though, the Alto 800 can now be had with a driver airbag as an option right from the base variant.
Overall, the cabin is nicer to look at and better specced than before but it still cannot match newer, more premium-feeling interiors of the Eon or even the Kwid for that matter. The 177-litre boot is also significantly smaller than its rivals and realistically, only good for a small suitcase plus a couple of backpacks. For more information on Maruti Alto 800 check Basna
Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 Engine
Power for the Maruti Alto 800 continues to be induced from the same three-cylinder petrol motor that makes 48bhp at 6000rpm and 69Nm of torque at 3500rpm. Transmission duties are also carried out by the earlier five-speed gearbox that offers a clunky but positive gear shift. Weighing just 727kg, the Alto 800 feels peppy in city speeds and has just about enough zest to accomplish the regular city driving chores. It even offers decent overtaking abilities in urban conditions. However, push the car to its limit and the progress in engine noise is more apparent than any advancement in speed.
At highway speeds, it is imperative to plan overtaking and that means a shift or two is required to get to speed. The motor really needs to work hard to get those wheels to spin faster, especially at the limit. It also highlights the true capabilities of this hatch, where it is happiest to commute within the city habitat. With such compact dimensions, the Alto 800 makes driving in the city feel like a joke. Though it squeezes through most traffic gaps and is a breeze to park, most road and other noises filter into the cabin. Also, the steering needs some getting used to. After you get over the vagueness at the straight ahead position, constant inputs are required to correct the over-assistance at lower speeds. Adding to the woes is the reluctance of the steering to not return to the original position by itself. Pick up the pace and the slow reactions from the steering needs the best of your concentration to expect turns and steering inputs, in advance.
Maruti’s Alto 800 also rolls quite a bit, and the slim tyres don’t really inspire a whole lot of confidence in one. That aside, the brakes are adequate to get the job done at reasonable speeds with an appropriate amount of feedback. At slower speeds, the ride quality with its stiff suspension setup translates into a lot of vertical movement over undulations, and bumps can be felt and heard with a jerk. Increase the speed and the car tends to ride flatter over slight undulations, but any bumps or potholes can be felt in the cabin with some uncomfortable vertical movement. In fact, driving over a series of small speed breakers (rumblers) without slowing down can get the car displaced from the intended line of motion, and needs extra caution.
Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 Riding
This is another department that scores a huge plus from our side. The ride is pretty planted and there is minimal body roll while negotiating tight corners as compared to the competition. There is a bit of understeer but nothing to complain about. The Alto 800 keeps its composure, unlike its competition in the segment.
What you also notice is the way this little hatch tackles bad roads. Passengers or the driver have very little jerks felt inside the cabin. Sure, on really poor stretches the car will undulate a lot, but it being a monocoque chassis like all its rivals, there is nothing much you can do about. That said, the pliant ride and good handling characteristics like its predecessor are very good and keep the Alto 800 well-planted over all roads.
Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 Safety
The biggest and most important change comes in the form of new safety equipment. The updated Alto gets Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Brake Force Distribution System (EBD). Then, there are other safety features too like driver airbag, reverse parking sensor, speed alert system and seat-belt reminders for both driver and co-driver. Interestingly, the new Alto also complies with the upcoming crash and pedestrian safety regulations.
Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 Price in Chennai
Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 On Road Price is 3,28,112/- and Ex-showroom Price is 2,81,530/- in Chennai. Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 comes in 6 colours, namely Blazing Red,Silky Silver,Mojito Green,Cerulean Blue,Granite Grey,Superior White. Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 comes with FWD with 796 CC Displacement and 3 Cylinders with Maximum Power 47 bhp@6000 rpm and Peak Torque 69 Nm@3500 rpm DRIVE TRAIN FWD and reaches 100 KMPH at 20.0 seconds . Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 comes with Automatic Transmission with FWD View offers on Maruti Alto 800 in Chennai At Autozhop.
Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 Verdict
From Rs 2.66 lakh onwards, the Alto 800 facelift brings everything that’s good about its best-selling predecessor, but adds refreshed looks and more equipment into the mix. Yes, the car itself is due for a generation change and it looks like this filler of a facelift will be plugging away until the end of next year but it’s still worthy of a look if you value a deal that includes an after sales service as big and trusted as Maruti Suzuki’s.Tags: Maruti Suzuki