Expensive, inefficient, and sluggish- these are just a few of the terms commonly associated with automatics. However, this trend is fast changing and a big contributor in bringing this change in perception has been the AMT or the Automated Manual Transmission technology. Maruti took the first step and brought in the Celerio AMT. At just a premium of 50k over the standard manual and with no loss in performance or fuel efficiency, the Celerio AMT was quick to garner a considerable popularity. A year after the successful introduction of the Celerio AMT, Maruti, once again, gave us the cheapest automatic money could buy in the form of the Alto K10 AMT (Now the second cheapest due to the advent of Nano GenX AMT ). The Alto K10, with the 1.0 litre K series motor, has always been a fun little hatch. So how good is it with the 5-speed AMT? Read what we think about this entry level automatic in our Maruti Alto K10 AMT review here. Get offers & discounts on Alto K10
The Alto K10 is 125mm longer and 55 kgs heavier then its F8 sibling, which is something you won’t really notice, what you would however notice is the new headlights, grille, bumper, fog lamps, mirrors and tail lamps. Although all this is nothing revolutionary, it is a welcome change considering the company had a price target to meet. The Alto K10 looks modern with these changes, but does not really stand out of the crowd (which the Beat does). Door mouldings and body coloured bumpers gel well with the overall design of the car. A chrome strip now runs on top of the front grille, which is now larger.The full wheel cover design seems to have been inspired from the Swift wheel cover. They look decent.The rear tail lamp design seem to have some sort of inspiration from the Chevrolet Spark.
Where the Alto K10 is vastly different from the Alto 800 is the interiors. While both cars have similar AC vents (side ones), the dashboard is as different as chalk and cheese. The Alto K10’s dashboard is a nice unit which looks quite attractive and gets piano black finish on the centre console and some silver inserts for a sporty feel. The cabin is a dual-tone unit that adds airiness and quality inside is good although there are some rough edges which aren’t glaringly obvious at first sight. The way the centre console has been designed makes the Alto K10’s dashboard look wider than it actually is. The 3-spoke steering is nice to hold and the car gets front power windows, buttons for which are unconventionally placed in the centre, there are no rear power windows
The manual variant of the Alto K10 gets a cubbyhole and cupholders in front of the lever but in the AMT variant, this is missing as the lever takes more space. The car gets a smart hook next to the glovebox for hanging small things. The instrument cluster is a funky looking unit (Maruti calls it speedy finish) with a nice design having red markings and white fonts. There is a display under the speedometer which carries twin trip meters, odometer, gear indicator (AMT) fuel meter and time. The right side on the console has tell-tale lights and as they don’t blink all the time, the meter looks a bit empty.
The Maruti Alto K10 is the premium version of the Alto but isn’t loaded with a ton of features to boast about. Bluetooth is absent which comes as a surprise because the world’s cheapest car, the Tata Nano has it. The audio system offers CD, USB and AUX functions and sound quality is strictly average. None of the Alto’s seats come with adjustable headrests and due to the narrow cabin, it’s best to seat two at the rear and not squeeze in three. The front seats are quite comfortable and although the Alto K10 carries the same wheelbase as the Alto 800, rear seat legroom is better thanks to the scooped front seat back, resulting in thinner front seats (one can at times feel the knees of the rear passenger on his back). Still legroom is just average while headroom is adequate. Boot space is decent for a car of this size.
The K10’s claim to fame has always been its engine. The K-series all aluminium 998cc motor was an easy revving, potent and fuel efficient one. On the new K10, this engine has been honed further. The engine is now lighter, there’s less friction and it is mated to a new 5-speed gearbox. Maruti claims a significant improvement in fuel efficiency. The K10 has an ARAI specified fuel economy of a 24.07kmpl. Now it only makes 68PS but when you factor in its weight of just 755kg, you know this isn’t going to be a boring car to drive. And it isn’t! The engine does get noisy when revved but it doesn’t hesitate no matter how hard you push it and the gear shifts are easy and precise
The benefits of the new engine-transmission pack coupled to the strengthened underpinnings show to good effect when out on the road. The car rides very assuredly and there is none of the hip-hop associated with the rear end dancing on slightly rough surfaces on a light car with rudimentary suspension. What we have here is one sorted out package which delivers miles and smiles with gusto. The punchy manner in which the car drives out of corners and over hilly roads is a delight and the sensory delights from the cable actuated transmission system (the Alto F8D employs a link-type shift actuator) are a bonus. For the record, the transmission is from the same family as employed in the A-Star but with obviously revised ratios of course for duty in the Alto K10. The torque is just right at the correct shift points and makes for a car which provides brisk progress whenever you want it and whatever be your style of motoring. In many an occasion this sort of performance made me think about the original Suzuki Zen which was just as perky and fun to drive
At an ex-showroom price of just 4 lacs, the Alto K10 AMT oozes practicality. It is no longer the cheapest one around with the Tata Nano coming in at a lakh less, but it is definitely more upmarket and comes with a very peppy 1.0 litre motor. It may not be as dynamically sorted or as good looking as we would have liked it to be, but it does make those long daily commutes that much easier without the usual cost of owning an automatic being reflected in your bank balance. Kudos to Maruti for plonking the 1.0 litre K-Series motor in the Alto and coupling it with the 5-speed AMT! The Alto K10 AMT is surely among the most sensible hatchbacks around. Thus car will not win many traffic-light GPs, it won’t encourage you to attack corners, and it will not turn many heads either. But it will keep your left foot happy and make those boring daily commutes through jam-packed roads that much easier, without burning a big hole in your pocket. Practical and peppy, the Alto K10 impresses!