Maruti Suzuki Alto: Know the car
Launched eventually as a replacement for the ageing Maruti 800, the Alto has successfully led the small car market in India for the past 19 years.
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Maruti Suzuki Alto: Car Summary
Into its second generation in the country , the car is available in two models: Alto 800 and Alto K10. Known for its reliability, low running costs, it provides a fuss-free transport from point A to point B, making it the largest-selling car in India. The current range starts from Rs 2.93 lakh onwards, ex-showroom Delhi.
Brief history of the Maruti Suzuki Alto
The Alto was first launched in India 2000 and was available in two engine options of 796cc and 1061cc. Eight years later, the brand name hit the 10 lakh mark in terms of sales. In 2010, Maruti segregated the Alto name into Alto 800 and Alto K10 with both the models getting their own individual identity in terms of design, interiors and powertrain. The latter also gets an optional AGS or auto-gear shift technology while both the models get company fitted CNG kits in some of the trims.
As of July 2019, the Alto 800 is available in BS-6 trim with ABS, driver side airbag and rear parking sensors as standard.
New Maruti Suzuki Alto: Typical new car buyer profile
The Alto range is aimed towards first time buyers in smaller towns or metro cities. CNG options make them viable for those looking at extremely low running costs. At the same time, the convenience of AGS (AMT) makes it a good purchase even for the fairer sex. for women who usually prefer the convenience of an automatic transmission.
At the same time, it continues to be a hit in rural and hilly terrain markets which also make for a major chunk of the sales. In fact, the latter is where this car is very common thanks to its dimensions, Maruti’s unchallenged network and trust factor.
Used Maruti Suzuki Alto: Typical used car buyer profile
Used Altos are picked up by a variety of customer groups. The first are the ones who want an affordable set of wheels to polish their driving skills and want to own a cheap yet a reliable car for a short period.
Next are those who are on the look out for a second or even a third car in the family that will be used rarely and may be, by the women of the house for daily chores.
Even those looking at graduating from a two-wheeler in a small town or rural market will be open to the idea of investing into a used Alto without having to worry about high maintenance costs.
Key positives of Maruti Suzuki Alto
The Alto range continues to rule the market due to various factors. This includes bullet proof reliability, low running costs, optional CNG and AGS (K10 only) and Maruti’s wide network that covers the entire nation. The latest versions are also equipped with modern features like the SmartPlay dock in the Alto 800 top-end trim. The light steering, durable suspension and excellent ergonomics also make it apt for Indian roads, both urban and rural ones.
Key negatives of Maruti Suzuki Alto
The Alto faces stiff competition from modern day rivals which offer better design, feature-rich interiors and marketing initiatives that lure in young blood – this is true for metro towns. In this regard, it’s fair to say that the Alto range does lack features, a modern cabin design and to an extent, space. In the same price range, young buyers end up opting for other cars that offer more modern looks.
The ideal used Maruti Suzuki Alto
What is the ideal example to look for in the used car market. List out mileage, make and variant. For example, in case of the Honda Accord, a car that’s about 5 years old with around 40,000-50,000 Kms on the odometer is a decent buy. Also, automatic preferable to manual as the chance of the clutch (major expense) being abused is minimal.
The Alto range can serve you for years without requiring any major me-chanical expenses. However, rattles and squeaks from body panels and suspension crop up early in the life cycle. Hence, it is wiser to look for a used car example that has run less and doesn’t suffer from this major shortcoming.
The Alto has the highest resale value in the segment and manages to retain its value even few years down the road. The K10 variant of course demands a higher value.
A 3-year old Alto 800, with less than 40,000km on the odometer can be bought for about Rs 2.2 lakh after final negotiations. The Alto K10 on the other hand with similar parameters can be bought about just under Rs 3 lakh post negotiations
Pros and Cons of older and newer Maruti Suzuki Alto used cars
Given the high monthly sales, there is no dearth of used Alto 800 and Alto K10 models in the used car market. However, do stay away from examples that have run over say 75,000km and double check service history to make sure the odometer reading is true.
Because the resale value is excellent and even older cars demand a good price in the market, it is wiser to go for less used examples that will come with a similar or slightly higher price tag. Do note that even CNG options (factory fitted) are available easily but as CNG being a dry fuel hampers the health of an engine, do not opt for highly used such examples.
Used Maruti Suzuki Alto for enthusiasts
The Alto 800 isn’t meant for enthusiasts in terms of driving pleasure. However, the K10 with its larger engine and lighter weight does offer terrific performance for the price. But that said, as much as we love it for the thrills, not all models came with ABS which is a must have when you want to enjoy a car and push it to the limits. Likewise, thin tyres and average tyres
don’t help either. So if you do pick one for enthusiastic driving, do upgrade these two essentials.
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Used Maruti Suzuki Alto: Buying Advice
What to check before buying
The Alto is generally a very reliable and trust worthy car in the segment. That said, you need to watch out for a few things that are typical of this car. This includes worn out suspension, defective door latch, engine knocking and misfiring issues and the tendency of the AGS transmission to shift into neutral on its own. Also, Altos are generally driven a lot so do double check the actual odometer reading via service history.
Typical problems and maintenance issues for used Alto explained
The good thing about the Alto is its low maintenance cost which means suspension issues can be taken care of easily. Some cars manufactured between December 2014 and February 2015 had issues with faulty right side door latches which could result in the door not closing properly. So if you are planning to buy a car from this time period, make sure this problem was taken care of by the owner. Next, if you purchasing a used Alto from a small town or a rural market, make sure there is no engine knocking which could result from bad fuel. If not the fuel quality, if you still hear engine knocking during a test drive, it would mean issues with the ignition timing or faulty spark plugs.
And finally, some AGS equipped Alto K10 models have been known to have issues with the transmission shifting to neutral on the move. This is due to incorrect programming of the AGS module and is easy to rectify. So if you are planning to buy an automatic K10, do keep an eye out for this issue while taking a test drive.
Expected service costs, spares and repair costs for used Alto explained
You can get a suspension overhaul on the Alto for under Rs 20,000 easily. This will make the drive (almost) like new in terms of ride comfort. The door latch issue will be rectified by Maruti for free as it was under a proper official recall.
Ignition timing and spark plug issues will not born a hole in your pocket either but should be done from an authorized workshop only. As for the AGS issue of shutting into neutral, this will also be done free of cost by Maruti as this is programming fault right from the factory floor.
Used Alto: Expected real-world mileage
The Alto twins are known for their exceptional fuel economy and the ability to stretch every litre of fuel. It is common for both the Alto 800 and K10 models to deliver an easy 15+ kmpl even in traffic conditions. Out on open roads at speeds of 80-90 km/h, the cars can deliver over 20-22 kmpl. That said, being small capacity engines, the air-con does put a lot of load which in turn hampers economy a lot.
For those who have a lot of urban driving to do, the CNG versions further reduce the running costs. However do note, only opt for those cars which came with factory fitted CNG kit.
Used Alto: Maintenance and service tips
If it’s city specific, can suggest a good neighborhood garage for repairs/maintenance, and parts seller. [If available]
The Maruti Alto models are known for their simple mechanicals and given the sheer number of these on the road, most good after market workshops can handle routine servicing of the car without an issues. However, if the used car you are purchasing has a warranty cover (like an extended warranty), it is recommended you continue to take the car to an authorised workshop only.
Used Maruti Suzuki Alto: What to avoid
There have not been any serious reliability issues reported in the Alto 800 and the K10 ever. That said, it is always wiser to stick to used cars that come with a proper service history, have not been used for commercial purposes and if there is a CNG kit on board, make it sure it is a factory fitted option. Only those CNG used cars should only be bought that have under 50-60000km on the odo.
The ideal used Maruti Suzuki Alto: What you should look for
Ideally, a 2-3 year old Alto with less than 30-40000 km on the odometer will make for a great purchase. This ensures the initial maintenance has been done at the official workshop level and the car will serve you for years without any hassle. However, if you want a second hand car for polishing your driving skills, you may opt for an older version. The best pick is the top end version, be it for the Alto 800 or the Alto K10, as you get to experience some levels of creature comforts and features.
Given the sheer number of Altos available in the used car market, its easy to pick a model of your choice. We say opt for the normal 800 version, given its lower running costs and cheaper maintenance. A newer model will also give you a higher new car feel to it.
For example, a one year old Alto 800 Lxi can be had for as low as Rs 1.8 lakh which is almost half the price of the new car price
Used Alto Alternatives you may like
If you are on a budget, take a look at the Datsun redi-Go. This entry level hatchback suffers from poor depreciation which means getting hold of a 2 year old example for about Rs 2 lakh is easily possible. If you are lucky, you may even come across an AMT variant.
A reliable option in the same price band is the Hyundai Eon. It is a good alternative to the Alto K10 and though won’t provide the same performance levels, it does offer a far better cabin and a good ride quality.
You may also take a serious look at the Kwid. Renault’s best-seller comes feature loaded, looks like a mini SUV and offers a good combination of ride and handing. However, it does hold a good resale value as compared to the redi-Go and the Eon, so keep that in mind.
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