Maruti Suzuki Alto K10: A Story, of Carrosponsibilities


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GO KARTING"ALTO"GETHER

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Esseesse is back.
For once, let us forget the routine mumbo jumbo we write about cars and think about cars.
For once, let us stop eating, drinking and sleeping cars.
And think about something, for example, a term, called responsibilities.
How do we define responsibilities?
Perhaps, a culmination of things we do, a culmination of things that we achieve?
For us, for others?
For an individual, or for a family?
For a friend, or for a relative?
For self satisfaction, or for personal achievement?
Or,
Perhaps, to bring out the best in our inner self?

Responsibilities.
It never screams, It just grows deeper.
It pulls you in, it takes you down.
A human being grows, responsibilities grow.
A family meets another, responsibilities become collective.
Relationships enter new heights, responsibilities enter newer heights.
There is nothing called a summit, the mountain of responsibility is even higher than mount everest, simply because, responsibility defines a person's capability to bring out the best in himself, and in others.

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But, still on this earth, there are some people who run away from responsibilities.

And some, who discover that how a car plays a vital role in making people, and their families, responsible.
Surprised? Because, responsibility, from the inner self, is what defines my cousin and his skeletal go kart, as it is nicknamed by me.

Presenting, the co ownership story of our skeletal go kart, the story, of our Maruti Suzuki Alto K10.
 
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The 3 Bs of responsibility. Band, baaja and baarat.​

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November 30, 2012, New Delhi.
Its time for my cousin, in his 30s, to get married.
Love, as always, is eternal. But, perhaps, things were never easy before. For, probably the first time ever, I had to talk up a big responsibility of making all the preparations with personal involvement with my dad and mom. That meant lots of things. Picking up and collecting relatives and making arrangements for their stay, making arrangements for khana khazana, etc and various other rituals that lead up to marriage. No, I am not as sanskaari as, say a phenomenon called alok nath was in those days, but once again, its responsibilities that take precedence ahead of all other tasks. While my punto was used in whatever manner it could have been, the days leading to the marriage were things that I was looking forward to, as always.

The arrival cometh.
On reaching the venue in East Delhi, I see this shining new K10 parked in the venue with all the necessary decorations in every manner possible, just like a shaadi ka pandaal.
Therein lies the biggest question.
Who will drive this goddamn car?
Once again, like we always think in car language even on these occasions (ROFL), the world is again full of H and W questions, simply because of one small problem.
My cousin and his would be wife did not know how to drive!
My brother was always bored, fed up of me always talking cars whenever we met and he, being in the IT industry, always was an old school thinker and used to shun away from car talk and was always scared of even learning to drive. I met my bro's saas and sasur with my parents, and had long discussions and there after, we solemnly promised, no matter what, we will ensure that my cousin learns to drive, and that, he will continue to drive for once, and for all.

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A new challenge accepted, hence, responsibility increased.
 
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Once again, the iffs and butts of responsibility​

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The car, in question, is a gift to my sister in law by her parents at the occasion of her marriage, and things like the price, the discounts, the invoice costs, etc are not known to me, nor I have ever bothered to ask. But, what rally took my interest deep in this car is willingness of my cousin and my bhabhi's inquisitiveness in knowing all about owning, driving and maintaining their first ever car, not only for them, but for both their families altogether. And this gave me a chance to know the car well inside and out, to know its capabilities, and, of course, its limitations, like the ones mentioned below:

Things I liked:
  • Powerful engine in a lightweight body. Cheap thrills have never been so much fun.
  • Looks pretty decent for an entry level car, quite photo genic also.
  • k10M engine loves to be revved, and is efficient too. Nice gearshift also.
  • Ideal driving position makes driving the car easy.
  • Steering feel for an EPS is pretty good, and the car darts through corners with fun.
  • Handles like a go-kart. Smiles guarenteed.
  • Rides decently.
  • Excellent after sales service provided by Maruti Suzuki.

Things I did not like:
  • Poor build quality inside and out. This thing feels like a skeleton.
  • Questionable safety record.
  • Cramped interiors, legroom and seat width at rear.
  • Low end missing and engine needs to be revved hard to get it to perform; lacks the torquey nature of the F10D.
  • No ABS and airbags makes it strictly a city car; poor high speed stability due to old design.
  • Labour costs for paint and service have creeped up on the higher side.

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The car in question has only done 4500 kms till date, and has been through all the three free services. So, nothing much can be written, except our experiences with it.
 
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The carrosponsibility

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The k10 is the car in which my cousin learnt to drive for two full weeks, via an instructor from a driving school, in addition to their battered santro. Over the past 17 months, the car has been driven very less, simply because the overall usage has been very less, confined to local running only. Consider this, to increase the kms covered, almost every weekend, my punto used to visit their house and parked there and I used to swap the car with the alto and enjoyed the petrol powered drive, while also, got a chance to know its talents and restrictions quite well. Close to 2700 kms has been put in by me, and that has been more than enough to understand the basic entry level car inside and out.

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The design
The car wears the same simple lines as the original alto did, way back in 2000. The front end is longer and Maruti gave it a thorough makeover to accommodate the larger 3 cylinder k10 engine in its nose, and, to my surprise, it does manage to look decent and matured. While the erstwhile matiz, and the current datsun GO has and will always remain my favourite entry level city car, this car does manage to has its own personality. The headlamps with their kinked bottom look nice, and amber turn indicators add more colour and charm. The simple grille with 3 bars and the huge S logo give it a good road presence and the huge airdam does manage to make the design more balanced.
The side is the same old alto we all know, save for the new waistline molding with "alto" embossed into it, a nice touch. The only thing worthy is the lower kinked line running on the door and quarter panel that manages to add a few lines of persona.
Its the rear that is different. For better or worse, it manages to divide opinion. While the old alto had a simple and balanced rear design, this one has a more different look to it. The tailgate with centre mounted number plate is practical, whereas I am not a fan of the taillights as they look pretty odd proportioned to me, especially with the top mounted curve. The older one's lights looked much better in comparison.

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Build and engineering
The car rides on a short 2360 mm wheelbase and weighs a bantam 760 kgs, suspended by convectional Mcpherson struts with an anti roll bar at front and
coil spring, gas filled dampers along with a three Link axle and an trailing arm, aimed at providing stability; similar to the setup my earlier matiz had.

Build, for the course, is flimsy and even more questionable is its safety record. The zero star latin NCAP rating made news across but that's not surprising given its roots that are now 15 years old. Also, at the price the car is sold, priced and positioned, expecting safety features is like finding a needle in a haystack. The variant in question is the top end VXI trim and has basic features like HVAC, EPS, front power windows and fog lamps in front with digital fuel indicator. A tacho is standard but a temperature gauge is absent. We only added five basic things till date to the car considering its usage:
  • Moulded mud flaps for 200 bucks from bagga link.
  • stainless steel door sill plates for 350 bucks from bagga link.
  • paky poda floor mats for 400 bucks from kashmiri gate.
  • MGA gear lock from motorcraft, for 1300 bucks.
  • Art leather seat covers from Noida sector 16 for 3000 bucks.

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The responsibility, from within

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Responsibilities is just like a speedometer curve. Sometimes it goes up, at times, it goes higher, a times, it comes down, at times, it vanishes, just like that zero. Open the thin doors and the whole interior is a sea of grey plastics with black centre console and some blue coloured seat upholstery and door trims.

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For an entry level car, the insides are logically laid out and driver ergonomics are superb. In fact, the leg space at front seats are par for the course and finding a nice logical driving position is simple, despite no sort of any adjustment available for seat height and steering wheel tilt and reach. The pedals are spaced decently but what is evident is the interiors are camped throughout and are suited, more for small people than the tall of us.
While the seats offer decent space, the comfort or any sort of support is missing. The main problem is the shape of the seats themselves, flat and lack any sorts of curves except for the frame design. Cushioning is on the softer side but under thigh and lumbar support is below average; of course, thats too much asking from a 3.5 lakh rupee car which can later be resolved with seat covers. Headroom does seem adequate and my hair did not brush against the ceiling every time I drove the car.
The rear, in comparison to the front, is not better either. Seat base is flat, though cushioning is deep, but the flat bottom and pretty upright backrest angle does not make it a comfortable car to travel for long distances. Perhaps, for city limits, its a good car to travel, after all, it was designed for that purpose. Also, narrow width makes it strictly comfortable for only 2 medium sized adults at back and the car is strictly a 4 seater at best.
Legroom, again, with tall people sitting at front, is in short supply and overall the nature is cramped. However, large glass area and light shades (rather, very light cement grey) does make the interior feel airy.
Boot space, again, is decent for one large suitcase or 2 medium sized strolleys with the parcel tray in place. In fact, the boot is even more spacious than the A-Star. What is weird, though is the half an inch gap between the placement of the tray and the seat placement hook where the seat is fixed. Sure shot recipe for rattles.
Storage spaces in this car are pretty decent with magazine pockets (though small) in front doors; a couple of properly sized cupholders in the gear console and two medium sized gloveboxes (one closed; another placed on top of it).

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For a car of this price and size, the air conditioning is superb. Altos were always known for superb air conditioners, and this one continues the tradition. Powerful compressor and blower cools the cabin in minutes, at both front and rear.
 
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Responsibility comes from the heart

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Responsibility is like a moving tacho. Often it gets demanding with situations that arise, just like the human machine interface that is controlled with hands (gear) and legs (acceleration). Sometimes, it begs to be redlined, sometimes, it reminds us to stay calm, quiet and work patiently, and diligently.
Powering this go-kart is a 3 cylinder 998 cc euro 4 compliant K10B engine, producing a peak power of 68 ps at a dizzy 6200 rpm and 90 nm of torque at a quoted 3500 rpm. While the figures on paper are a different story, what does count is the way it is delivered. Breathing through 2 intake and 2 exhaust valves, this is one of those few motors that do make a sincere attempt at bringing a smile in the face, in this world of FE and downsizing.
Start the motor and the exhaust whine is pretty decent, at least better than many previous 3 cylinder motors from what maruti has provided so far. At idle, it revs to 6200 rpm with ease with a cut off at 6400. This motor has a typical 3 cylinder thrum (light body also being a factor); but bantam weight also makes this motor more mature.

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Push the throttle, slot the first and the car shows its inherent weakness-weak bottom end grunt. I have a habit of upshifting early, but stop and go city driving calls for frequent downshifts. In fact, the engine needs to be whipped at 2000 rpm to make it to perform. Second gear is fun, with the engine pulling cleanly from 20 all the way upto 90. The main power band is all there in 3rd and 4th gears, which are taller. Mid range is strong and keep the engine on the boil, and it will reward you with scintillating performance. Torque wise, it is never a patch on the HR12E, 1.1 F10D or the epsilon 1.1 for that matter, simply because the torque curve is not even. Fifth gear is just equivalent to FE conscious overdrive with the engine spinning at 2700-3200 rpm. Top end is just about average but the engine loves to be revved. But, launch it in the right manner and wheelspins are easy. Calculating how to get the best out of the engine requires correct use of the gearbox and throttle. The engine can go at 140 easily but you need to find a correct road to do it. But, above 120, progress is slow and a downshift is required at that stage.

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Gearshift
The gearshift is above average, although it feels nice. Though its a bit notchy, but the lever slots into the required gears nicely and has a short throw shift.

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Kitna Deti hai?
With AC on in city driving, the car averages a figure of 12-14 kmpl, on highways-about 17-18. With correct driving, we can get about 2-3 kmpl more with AC off, because this is the combined average what we normally get. But, since the car is a virgin, it is too early to comment.
 
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The key to responsibility, is from the coordination of mind, body and soul​

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Responsibility often comes with a price. A price to pay for convenience, and using the best of economics. A price to pay for making the maximum use of available resources. And, for the price and positioning, the k10 is a pretty mature car.
If you are looking from a viewpoint of a hardcore car enthusiast and expecting the best in ride and handling, stay away, 'cause it ain't a datsun GO, or a matiz, which set the standard for entry level city cars; nor its own predecessor, the early 2000's alto. Even the spark fares better in this department. But, look from a POV of a simply, non car enthusiast nuclear family, for whom, a car just needs to be an object for occasional point A to B transportation and the k10 is pretty decent.

The suspension is calibrated well and the car rides on 13" wheels with 155/65 R13 tyres, so low speed ride suffers. It ain't as cushy as the old alto 800 cc and even the new alto 800 rides better. Shocks and vibrations do get transmitted but unlike hyundai's setups, the passengers don't get tossed that much. My and my cousin and his wife had been on occasional joint drives and my bhabhi actually liked the way it rides. The gas charged dampers do the job. At mid speeds, the ride improves and less shocks are transmitted into the cabin. At high speeds, though, the ride again takes a back seat. We did feel that some stiffness was there at rear, but, surprisingly, it wasn't a deal breaker for them.

While handling for them isn't a concern (I did not even bother to ask for them what handling is) but I was surprised by the way it handles. Steering feel at low speeds is lacking but once you start to explore the power, the steering weighs up nicely and this car is fun to throw around corners, but it lacks the precision of the HPS and has a playstation like feel at times. Body roll is evident and thin tyres do make you feel insecure, but the car's agility competent enough. One thing to remember is the car is also sensitive to the way its driven. Any experienced person will surely enjoy driving this, but any inexperienced driver may not be able to know its limits and the results may not be favorable. Confidence at highways is just below average, in fact, the whole bodyshell feels tissue thin and stability is also hampered by its age old design. Any speeds above 80 and you are looking for trouble. Till date, I haven't seen my brother exceeding 50-60 kmph. Because, he knows the car's available limits.

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The brakes are non ABS, with discs up front and drums at the rear. I found the car's brakes to be adequate if they are used in the right manner (read low to mid speeds). At high speeds, though, the pedal feel is not so confidence inspiring and the wheels tend to lock easily. Regular pressing-depressing the brake pedal is the way to go to get the maximum out of the brakes.
 
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Whats responsibility without a proper backup?​

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Just imagine a person, who knows nothing about cars, has just stated using his first ever car, and is now into a world of cars, a world, so different, so alien to him. People, like them, often get a real taste of how good (or bad) is the manufacturer's after sales service. Its like an acid test, and whats the key to responsibility is to avoid any spillover.
While I have no clue on the purchase experience, the car has seen three free services, thanks to my brother's strict adherence to the manufacturer recommend schedule, even though the car hasn't been driven much. All the three free services have been done at marketing times, okhla and the car has seen only one accidental repair at motorcraft, sahibabad.
I have taken pains to ensure that I guide my cousin properly and thankfully, he is a very happy customer of marketing times. The accidental job at motorcraft was not that good (headlamp replacement plus front bumper replacement and paint after he hit a qualis), even after paying 6k for the same. (The old insurance was from reliance and workshops there refused any cashless tie ups). We made a complaint to maruti and to my surprise, the next day the workshop was on it's knees and made good the damage. Still, that eroded confidence on him.
When it came for services, as the car was purchased from marketing times (located near savitri cinema), the dealer gave my cousin a call just before the first service was due (at 200 kms). The car was picked up and dropped, free of cost, from ghaziabad to okhla and that brought a smile in his face. Few issues were there that have been looked into, followed by a general checkup and a wash.
Six months into the purchase date, the car crossed 1600 kms, and the same courteous manner was replicated. General checkup, alignment and balancing and blower noise taken care of (some object creeped into it).
One year into third service, engine oil, oil filter and air filter was changed despite the car doing 2700 kms only. Preventive measure, but the car has become a lot smoother after the same. Also, the insurance was renewed through online Maruti Insurance with New India assurance. Costly, but comes with a lot of benefits and manufacturer support for peace of mind.

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A happy maruti customer, he is.
 
Thread Starter #9
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The final responsibility. A new beginning.

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Its not every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week or every month that responsibilities knock our doors. Responsibilities are like opportunities, and bring out the best in a human. Responsibilities are like priorities in life, and again, test the best of the ability in a human. But, at the end of the day, responsibilities do make people happy.
Let me admit, ever since the k10 came into my cousin's life, it transformed him completely in those 17 months. He learnt to drive, he went places in his own, he took his wife for outings and above all, evoked a sense of responsibility that comes within a family. He is a very confident driver, and till date, the car is in all original condition except a new front bumper and LHS headlight. And, above all, it has started to make him a car freak. Madness for soccer and sports, it remains, but this new found interest is solely responsible, thanks to the alto.
Yes, the car isn't the best around and lacks essentials, but, for once, imagine looking through the eyes of a common man, the public where cars are bought as a medium of transportation from point A to B, and then, little things that come with the bundle of joy are appreciated. Today, as I write this, he is also a proud father of a baby girl, born in late 2013. That's another responsibility. To bring up a baby, which isn't an easy task.

Stories revolving around responsibilities and transformations can continue forever, and in the lost pages of history books, new achievements owing to responsibilities will continue to be recorded. But, for once, perhaps, its time to take a break, as the delightful ownership continues, for many miles to come.

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A story of responsibilities, by the people, for the people, of the people, who chose their own passion.

--CURTAINS--

(Shoots for this story, courtesy UB's vision)
 
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Hi

You have written an awesome ownership review or an story .Drive safe .
Wishing you trouble free ownership .

Ankit
 
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27 months to traverse 8000 rounds of a kilometre

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The alto is always known to be a fill it, shut it and forget it car. The car saw its 4th service (first paid service) at marketing times shahdara on November 30, 2014 with a renewal of insurance under Maruti insurance on the same day. Routine service including changing of all oils and lubes was performed since my cousin is a strict person when it comes to maintain his car, even if its not driven. The bill came out to be INR 6350 all inclusive, and its all praises about the quality of service offered by the dealer.

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Today, 27 months down the line, the car has crossed only 8000 km and is used only for small local city runnings. But, the go kart nature and its overall basic simplicity still has its merits, like it has for more than 25,000 average households who buy this every month. Nothing new to report, because, no news is good news. And it drives as smooth, and as fuss free as ever.

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