Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Suzuki Alto

The Suzuki Alto- poor thing, nobody ever cares to write a review for this tiny tot. Well here goes. I don’t very much relish Maruti. I am contradicting majority of the population here but I still stick to the point that they charge a bit more than their cars’ worth. I do respect Suzuki for it’s fairly consistent engines and the way they listen to the customer. Honda acts corporate snobbish, Fiat is indifferent and Skoda seldom lives upto expectations when it comes to interaction with customers. On the other hand, buying even the tiniest possible car from Maruti, you can be assured that you will be treated like a king in a way that comes nowhere close to the experience of buying a ten fold expensive car from any of the above mentioned giants.

So lets look at the specs to get the broad picture of the Alto. One of the cheapest set of 4-wheels available in the country, smart plain looks and a 800cc 3-cylender engine. Unfair to expect some rubber burning power from the li’l 800cc baby but what bugs me is the 3- cylinder layout. Of course an engine that small doesn’t need anything more than 3 but this becomes apparent (rather screams to your attention) when you are shifting gears. The jerk is quite evident whenever you shift and release the clutch- no matter how skillfully you try to do this. In a way, it makes you cognizant of the need for the 4th cylinder. The power band is quite flat with reasonably good power from the 800cc engine. High revving is a strict no-no. Do that on a long drive and you can note the damage caused to the engine. The tires are appropriately sized and provide adequate grip and braking. In the city, the package is marvelous and I’d highly recommend this as an economical means of transport in the city. However, when we get to the highway, things start getting tough. With the AC on, it is quite a gregarious task getting it to touch 3 digit speeds (Wow, it makes my Pulsar 200 sound so much better!!). I particularly enjoy the ‘Fast and Furious’ moment. Remember when Vin Diesel presses that red button the time Paul Walker overtakes him. It sends NOS fuel into the engine and the car shoots forward spectacularly. Tone this scene down a bit and you can get that feel in the Alto. The difference is that here, my Turbo/NOS/Acceleration button is the little button that switches the Air-Con off. While overtaking on highways, this becomes quite a necessity and requires some practice and skill to master the process. Before I can find another path to mock this cute little car, let me formally announce that the AC is amazing. You might not find this kind of cooling in all cars available in this (as well as ++ price) range.

When I had used the word economical- I meant in terms of maintenance and cost of spares. Don’t be misled by Maruti’s ad- campaign of the ‘most fuel efficient car’. I have heard many a boastful people stating how the manage to squeeze out so many kilometers from a drop of fuel but if you have the resources to scientifically verify the facts, you can easily prove them wrong. I took my mom’s Alto for a 500 Km drive on a varying terrain with most of the driving on the highway with the AC on. The mileage came out to be 12.2 Kmpl. Even city driving posts similar figures.

To sum it all- a superb package with almost enough of everything. Owning a Maruti and being backed by the largest service network boosts your confidence like nothing else. The downside is the Maruti rattling once you drive it harshly and on bumpy roads. The motor is quite good if you make a habit not to push it too hard.

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