Red Hot Alto Spice


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Hi. Please read the earlier story of the Alto here

http://www.theautomotiveindiaforums.com/car-and-bike-reviews-f9/red-hot-alto-spice-t1024.htm#16658, I shall continue my experiences here.

Note: This report is written by my wife as she's the owner of the car and she's going to be using it.


The idea of a second car is born

Some where around this time last year, I was looking for a small car for trips to the market and around town. Our Siena was a bit too big for this. I called up the Maruti Dealer, Chowgule Industries Limited. Margao, Goa for a Test Drive of the Maruti 800 Duo. We were planning to keep the Siena and buy a second small car, so we decided to go for something cheap. Soon the sales executive Sam was at our place with the vehicle (No stickers on it and speedometer disconnected). Peter (pedrolourenco) and me took the car for a short drive. We had both driven the 800 earlier and this one felt no different. We felt it was OK for the purpose. Then Peter had to leave to join the ship and I was to join him shortly, so we decided buy the car later. Somehow by the time we got back it was late March 2009. Thinking over it we decided that the 800 was just too old and basic and we wanted something better. So the obvious choice was the Alto. We had Sam's card and quickly gave him a call. He was quite surprised we got back to him after so long. He had now been promoted to Team Leader, so he sent his Executive Pritesh to our place with the quotation. The freebies on offer were not to good so Peter decided to shop around. This and other things led to the delay in buying the car.


Shopping Around

We checked out a number of cars which were ultimately ruled out for the following reasons:
-Chevrolet Spark-Actually the best of the lot but ruled out because of lower fuel efficiency,GM bankrupcy and non-availability of the bright red colour.

-Hyundai i10 IRDE-Comfortable, smooth, cool looking but quite a bit more expensive.

-A-Star-Nice looks but again relatively expensive and poor fuel efficiency (The long term test car of BSM returned an average of 10Kmpl during its stay).

-TATA Indica Vista-Too big for my need. A great car if it's the only car you own.

-Fiat Palio Stile-Liked its looks. Drives well (both petrol & diesel) but again too big for my needs.

-TATA Nano-Suits my need but got an allotment for 2011.

Finance

Now I'm not working and Peter is an NRI. We decided that finance will be only through a Nationalised Bank. Strictly no ICICI even if their interest rate is zero. Approached Corporation Bank and Bank of India with whom we bank. Corporation Bank does not give car loans to NRI's. Bank of India was willing. However I found SBI's offer the best. Peter went to the bank to pay his credit card bill and just inquired about the loan. Soon an application was filled and all documents submitted. Application was rejected. Reason; you need to have an account with SBI for at least 1 year (For NRI's only). Now what to do? Maybe go to Bank of India. In the meantime Peter goes to TD the Linea and Punto (to replace his Siena). There he bumps into Sam. My God, Team Leader of Maruti sales team is selling Maruti's to others and buying a Fiat for himself. Anyway he tries to convince him to buy the SX4 instead of the Linea and also agrees to do the loan formalities for the Alto with SBI. All this happening at the Fiat showroom. Loan is approved by SBI the next day.

Booking,Paperwork, PDI, Registration and Delivery

The offer was Rs.14K worth stuff. Asked for Insurance (National), Body coloured bumpers, VXi type mirrors and the rest to be used to part pay the road tax. We asked for the Bright Red Colour LXi model. Mr. Pritesh came over to collect the cheque. He told me that they had an Red Alto Spice in stock. It was April 2009 model done up by the dealer as per Maruti guidelines. The modifications were supposedly worth 12K. He said I can take a 2K discount as this months offer was 14K. The car had body coloured bumpers, mirrors (VXi type but not internally adjustable), handles & boot lock, fake leather seat covers (MGA), rear parcel tray, body graphics(look yucky and do not match) and basic accessories like mats & mudflaps. Additionally after some bargaining, they agreed to throw in Garware filming for the windows. So we opted for this deal.
Booked the vehicle and did the PDI. Then next day made the payments and completed the paperwork. They told me to come to the showroom the next day to collect the papers for RTO (opted to do the registration ourselves as they were charging 1.5K for it). We collected the papers, completed and signed them and went to the RTO. When the inspector was checking he noticed that the engine number written at the time of PDI (done by RTO) was different from the invoice and refused to register the vehicle. He wanted the vehicle re-inspected to verify which number was the correct one before entering it on the RC book. Now the PDI was done by Panjim RTO and we were at Margao RTO. So back to the dealer. Peter catches hold of the Executive and tells him; (P=Peter E=Sales Executive)
P:You should check before handing over papers or give them well in advance for me to check personally as I had requested.
E:Sorry sir, it's not our fault. It was done in Panjim and we just received the papers.
P:That's not my problem. I warned you earlier to let me check all the paperwork well in advance, why did you bring it at the last moment.
E:Sorry Sir. There's nothing we can do now as the RTO is closing in 30 minutes and it's Friday. You will have to register it on Monday.
P:Firstly I'm not going back to the RTO, you are. I've already stood in a line and wasted a lot of time. Now you will complete the formalities and I'm not paying one paise extra. Secondly I will not wait till Monday. I want the car tomorrow or my money back, the choice is yours.
E:Sorry Sir, I will have to speak to my superiors. But we can't do anything now.
P:Look here. You did not do any of the formalities until you received the full payment. Fair enough, your company rules are like that and I accept it. Now my rules. I've paid you in full. I want my car, give it to me.
E:OK sir, I'll give you a call and let you know what I can do.
Later on in the evening we receive a call and Pritesh connects us to Sam. He agrees to deliver the car with Temporary Registration and complete the registration on monday. Normally in Goa, only dealers are allowed to use the Red Plates. They are not supposed to deliver cars without the permanent registration. But they somehow managed it.
Finally it's Saturday. Delivery is scheduled for 3:30 PM. We head to the showroom. On the way picked 2 Parker pens for Sam & Pritish (They'll need it to write out quotations). Went to the showroom and were made to wait for more than a hour. In the meantime a couple walks in to check out the Swift. They end up booking a SX4 and walk out. Then our paperwork arrives. I go and play the dice game. Throw 3 dice and the total comes to 10. I have won a dashboard cover which I don't want. Finally settle for a steering cover which is the prize for a score of 8. Pick up the last available piece in red & black to match with the seat covers. Collect the owners manual, keys, spare bulbs, toolkit & first aid kit and head to the service area. A quick meeting with the service staff and then go to collect the car. Thank Pritish and give him the pens (as Sam is in a meeting), start the car and head to the Damodar Temple just across the road. After making an offering we head home and then to fill petrol. Then we take the car and head for a nigh out at Cafe Mambo's in Baga to celebrate.

Interiors

The interiors are basic but a big step up from the 800. The grey plastic looks cheap and tacky. The interiors are quite cramped but pretty ok for city driving. The red & black seat covers liven up the interiors a bit. Wiper and indicator stalks are nice and easy to use. Steering is also comfortable. The lack of a dead pedal is really irritating. Also the mirror does not have the Day/Night feature which is really bad. Rear seats are very cramped. Not an issue for us as we won't be using them. The rear is best suited for kids. Otherwise quite nice interiors. A few things I didn't like were that the lights remain on even if the ignition is off. Also there's no safety mechanism to prevent you from cranking the engine again when it's already running. The seat just moves forward and back. No change in height. Got pretty used to these features in Fiats. Besides that I feel the interior is pretty well sorted out. Currently there's no ICE. The Pioneer from the Siena will be fitted here (The Siena is getting the Blaupunkt Hamburg) along with the rear ovals and tweeters. New front speakers will also go into the slots in the dash. I'll be adding a aux cable to the HU and hook it up to a MP3 player. Power windows and remote central locking will be installed later. Also they were unable to fit the sun control film due to the heavy rain. That needs to be done next week. I hope they can get the transparent variety or else the 75% visibility.
 
Thread Starter #2
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Exteriors

I can't beleive that just a change of the front bumper and lights has made so much difference to the looks. I just hated the looks of the old Alto, specially the headlamps. Another small change which makes a huge difference is the body coloured bumpers. In fact when I saw the red Alto with black bumpers, the colour looked a very dull red. Body coloured bumpers gives an illusion of a brighter colour to the whole body. Body coloured bumpers does wonders to all shades available in the Alto. The paint shade inside the engine bay was very different from the exterior. In fact it looks like they have omitted the final coat. Really cheap on the part of Maruti. A part of the spice package was body graphics. Those idiots put blue graphics on a red car. And those graphics cost Rs.1000/-, money that could have been spent on something better. Anyway I'm getting the graphics removed when the car goes for sun control film. The executive was reluctant to remove them on delivery. He said "At least use them for a while." Later upgrades will be fog lamps and new footwear with 13" Alloys for Apollo Acelere Wheelz(Model SH39). Check them out here;
http://www.apollotyres.com/acelerewheelz/pop/sh39.html.

Engine and transmission

The Alto comes with an engine that has been in the India as long as Maruti. The cast iron, the 3 cylinder 800cc motor, runs 4 valves per cylinder; develops all of 47ps of power at 6200rpm and 62NM of torque at 3000rpm. This engine is fuel injected and is controlled by a 32 bit ECM. It is smaller than the competition for sure, but in an expressly fuel efficiency-oriented segment, the secret of the Alto's success has been its frugality, thanks to the small displacement and the low kerb weight to haul. Does the job much better than the newer A-Star and i10 enginges though a bit underpowered compared to them. The transmission is the familiar 5 speed, making for easy cruising at low revs. The gearbox is quite notchy and not very comfortable to use. You have to search for the slots. Hope it improves with usage. I would be nice to have the option of an Auto box on the Alto.


Ride and Handling

Like most Maruti cars, the Alto is light and small. High speed stability is not the best. For its purpose as a city runabout, the Alto does its job well in the ride and handling department. The soft suspension tackles road bumps well, except huge potholes and speed breakers. Steering at low city speeds is also great. Ride and handling is way ahead of the 800. The 13" wheel upgrade will make handling better. Roads are not so bad, so I don't mind compromising on ride quality. The car will primarily be a city runabout and it excels in that department.

Fuel Efficiency

Supposed to be great. Infact that's one of the reasons I bought it. Haven't yet calculated but looking at the needle, it seems to be pretty efficient.

Air Conditioner

Again a priority ans the car will be driven 100% with the AC. Cooling is good. There is a power drop but the car is anyway quite underpowered, so it dosen't really make a difference. And again for city use this is something you can easily live with.

Overall

A great car for the price and the purpose. Basically there's nothing to compete with it. Before you say anything, let me remind you that this car is basically a replacement for the Activa. It will be used as a city runabout. My priorities were ease of driving on crowded streets, parking and fuel efficiency. Other features like rear seat comfort, luggage space, power etc were not really important for me. The Siena takes care of those needs.
 

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Thread Starter #4
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Thanks for the neat clean up job Vibhor. Saved me the trouble uploading the pictures with my slow connection. I'll keep adding important parts of the old thread and my new updates. ICE update is next on the cards. I've just started sourcing parts for building a Carputer.
 
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Very detailed write-up, and very easy to read!
Enjoyed the bit of dialogue re the registration!!
Just one input regarding the point about the painting on the interior of the engine bay. Most manufacturers have only a base coat on this area, the top coat being done only on the visible areas. Any paint (top coat) that reaches there will be over-spray.
What must have been jarring would have been the colour difference, typically, the same base coat is used for similar shades, and it is a mathematical certainty that it will be mismatched in at least one!! For example, white base coats are used for whites, silvers, etc, and dark greys for black, greys, greens etc.

BTW, nice choice of colour, Red is my fav. too!!

Happy driving!!
 
Thread Starter #7
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First Service on 11th July 2009
Took the car for the first service. See how the dealer was trying
to cheat. First the service advisor tells me; (S.A.=Service advisor,
P.L.: Myself, My thoughts in brackets)
S.A.:For your first service we will be doing a general checking, oil change and engine wax coating."
P.L.:What is this wax coating and why is it required?
S.A.:Sir it will protect the engine and prevent water from going into
the sensors. This is a Euro II engine and it has sensors which cost
more than Rs.2000/-. You will not get warranty.
P.L.:But how will the water go into the sensors.? Why is the car not
designed to prevent entry of water into the sensors and how will a wax
coating prevent this? And in any case this is covered by warranty, so
why should I spend extra?
S.A.:Sir we just recomend to the customer what is good for the car.
P.L.: O.K. so this is optional. Why did you not clearly state this? BTW how much does it cost.
S.A.: Sir I told you very clearly (God knows when). Anyway it costs
Rs.900/-. Company is not gaining anything by charging Rs.900/-. It is
for the customers benifit. (Oh Maruti has become a NGO and is doing
social service).
P.L.: I don't want it.
S.A.: O.K. sir, then the bill will be Rs.1100/- for oil, filter and additive.
P.L.:Additive for what and how much? What use is it?
S.A.:BG additive for the engine oil sir. Costs on Rs.480/- and it will
protect the bearings. Good for engine life sir. Better milege too.
P.L.: No thank you. Just do whatever is mentioned in the book.

Now the extra bits.
P.L.: The underbody coating was not done properly. There's some sprayed on the bumper too.
S.A.: Contact the sales executive. He can help you out.
P.L.: Thanks. Now for the remote boot release. I've got all the parts, can you fit them?
S.A.: No. But the painting and denting department will do it. I will take you there.

The painting and denting department was full for the day so they said they'll do it on monday.

Bill was Rs.597/-. Car seems to be OK but the washing was pathetic. Lots of dirt on the exterior.
 
Thread Starter #8
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Here's an update on the car. Even after the first service the milege is really low. Just checked and it was 13.03 Kmpl.
Date Litres ODO Dist Kmpl
27.06.09 34.20 46 46 ==
01.07.09 24.93 390 344 13.80
06.07.09 25.10 760 370 14.74
12.07.09 29.49 1172 412 13.97
20.07.09 23.87 1483 311 13.03
28.07.09 27.28 1877 394 14.44

Average 130.67 1877 1831 14.01

Full tank to full tank method used. 100% driving with AC. 70% Highway, 30%
City. First 3 readings before first service. Alto owners please
comment. How is this compared to your cars? I feel it is too low.

I've filled up the tank 3 days ago. Will post an update on the milege soon. My sister was using the car for the last 5 months. She says the milege was better than her Wagon R. Let's see.
-----------Next Post-----------
I took the car to MASS and complained about the low milege. They started with the usual nonsense on how to check milege. I stopped them and told them that I know exactly how to calculate. Then they started about driving which again I told them that I know. Then they asked at what speed I keep the AC blower? I was shocked. What difference does that make. He said that if the blower is kept high it will affect milege. I said OK I always keep it at 1 or 2. Now talk. Then the car was taken inside for checking. I went in too. They just cleaned the spark plugs and air filter, which were anyway absolutely clean. Just 1000KM after the service. They said nothing more can be done. They decided to do a milege test. They disconnected the fuel pump and connected a portable tank and pump. 1 litre petrol was put in. They used an old coolant bottle to measure. My wife went along with them. She insisted that the test be conducted with the AC on. Now we all know that this test is rigged. This portable pump is calibrated to supply less fuel. There is a power loss. However they goofed up somewhere. The car gave just 10Kmpl. Now these idiots say that there is always an error. 10Kmpl means that the car is actually giving 13Kmpl!!!!. I demanded to see the manager. He agreed to redo the test without the AC. Driving absolutely slow (40Kmph) on an empty road the car gave 18Kmpl. I said ok. Difference is 8 Km. How can your AC eat up so much. Something wrong. Now he says, that the engine is small and the load of the AC increases consumption significantly. I said the compressor size is decided based on the engine size and car size, so don't tell me this. After a lot of argument, they agreed to change the O2 sensor and check again.

Got the car back in the evening. They said the car is ok and as per their tests it gave 13 with AC and 18 without. I asked for it in writing and this is what I got.

Dear Sir,
This is in regards to your complain about your Alto car bearing reg no GA08E8862 saying that you get 13-14 kms per litre with A/C on and blower speed in second postion and 18KMPL without a/c, we would like to inform you that we have checked your vehicle and done a milege test on your vehicle .As per our test we got 13 kmpl with A/C and 18kmpl without A/C as per the road and traffic conditions at the time of testing,This figure cannot be said as standard milege of the vehicle since milege can vary according to many factors and driving habits and a/c usage.
Also we have checked the fuel system and found no leakages or loss of fuel .Also we tested other vehicles of same model and the milege given was within the same range but all vehicles were driven by same driver and in the same road, but traffic conditions may have varied.
Hence we can say that there is no problem with the vehicle and also we would like to educate you that fuel efficiency of any vehicle is never constant since it depends on the various factors and driving conditions which can vary and so as the milage according ly. Hence we cannot give a standard milage for any vehicle.
We would like to assure you that there is no manufacturing fault at present in your vehicle.
For any suggestions and clarification you can contact the undersigned during any workingday.
This letter is given as per your request.
Thanking You,
Yours Faithfully,
Vishal .Gundap
Works Manager
Chowgule Industries Pvt Ltd
Fatorda. Goa.

The above letter is reproduced exactly with all the spelling mistakes and other errors in punctuation as in the original letter. The works manager is aware of my intention to post this and has no objections to the same.

Some points to be noted.
-I never claimed 18Kmpl without AC. I have never used the car without AC. 18Kmpl was acheived during the milege test conducted in my presence.
-No mention is made of the test with AC where the car returned 10Kmpl.
-No mention of my report of 9.56Kmpl after the O2 sensor change.
-The testing which returned 13 & 18Kmpl respectively was not done in my presence.

As soon as I received the letter I went to the sales section and asked what is the claimed milege of the Alto. I was told 18Kmpl. There was a poster saying 18.1Kmpl under standard test conditions. The sales executive was also aware that there is an ARAI requirement to also post real world milege figures (without & without AC) in normal driving conditions. He admitted that they did not have it.

Both the works manager an the sales executive requested me to use the car for at least 5000Km and if the problem persists, they will look and replacing the AC or other faulty parts.

This ends the copying of the posts from the old forum. Next update will be the snaps of the foglamps, ICE, remote boot release and carpet lamination installation.
 
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~14 KMPL mileage with 100% AC seems to be almost same as in my Alto.

And SA advising you on additives and waxing etc. is common everywhere. Un-informed customers gets these things done. But if you know your car, they will not be able to cheat.
 
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Your mileage figures do seem a bit low, but I suspect, not so low that it can be credited without question to some manufacturing issue. This is especially true since you have a high percentage of highway driving.
Incidentally, during the highway drive, what speeds do you maintain? With my Alto's, I used to observe that the mileage was great when driven around 80~85, but whenever I was around 100, there was a big drop in the economy.
Went thru three Altos, the first was an LX I got around the time of the launch of the model ... That gave 17.5 odd, (A/C on).
The next, another LX, two years down the line, wend down to 16.5.
The last unf. had a CNG kit (Co. car, co. fitted, no choice!!) so I was never able to validate my suspicion that it would be giving only 15.5 - Looks like your car is fitting into the continued sequence!!

The interaction with the dealer seems to indicate that they want to give you the regular run-around, but beyond ascertaining that there are no leaks etc., they will not give you anything beyond a commentary on driving styles.

But fact is, it is only beyond 5K km that your mileage will start to settle into its typical value.
 
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Hey Peter nice detailed report from your wife! Your red alto looks stunning in the inside as well as outside. The seat covers are really cool!! The ICE setup is also cool. Good that you have installed fog lamps also! And really a very appropriate title to your thread!!

God , man you have encountered so much problems with your Maruti?? Why have you have not tried some other A.S.S in Goa?? I had a feeling that Maruti was reliable and easy to maintain. But you have made me think otherwise!! And top of it your signature says it all!!


But the FE figures which you mentioned are very low for Alto! I get 12-15kmpl in my Verna with A/C on always with 80% city and 20% highways! And i do drive a little fast and rev up the engine quite a lot in city.


Can you update more about your car now? Any new issues? How is your mileage now??
 
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Yes lets hope so! But one question , do you floor the pedal when driving on the highways?? If yes then the mileage figures which you get now are absolutely correct and there is nothing wrong with your car![thumbswink]


Mileage greatly depends on the driving style be it city or highway! And it also depends on the place we drive , but as you have mentioned traffic in Goa is less when compared to other metros then this should not be a problem!
 
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Just adding one more factor in the equation.
I would assume now that there are at least two drivers for the car?
If that is the case, there is a chance for a drop in mileage. Single driver (or single driving characteristics) vehicles tend to have marginally higher mileage as compared to multiple driver vehicles.
 
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