As excitement mounts in anticipation for the all-new upcoming Alto K10, let’s take a look into the rich legacy of the Alto badging that has brought together generations, selling over 40 million units. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the first car for many, the Alto has been one of the all-time best-selling cars in India. Here’s a deep look into the car’s evolution.
The 800; An Alto In Disguise
While the “Alto” badging was first used in the year 2000, for the world outside India, the term was nothing new. With the first generation of the Suzuki Alto making its debut in the Japanese market back in 1979, much like in India, it revolutionized mobility needs in Japan with its micro-built, low price and even low tax rates. In fact, the Maruti Suzuki 800 (SS80) that we Indian proudly remember as the OG 800 was actually the Alto sold abroad.
Entering the Indian soil at the right time, the Alto was pushed as a premium option over and above the regular 800. The very first Alto brought in two engine choices; a 796 CC (45HP) petrol unit and a bigger 1.1 (65HP) litre petrol engine. With both a smaller and larger unit on offer, the Alto captured the sentiments of a wide spectrum of consumers, giving a tough time to competitors like the Santro.
While Alto was all set to become one of the most successful automobiles in India, the popularity did not come easy, with the car struggling to sell in its initial days, a big reason for which was the grand success of the 800 already in place. To overcome this dilemma, Maruti took a rather strategic route it narrowed down the 800’s range, by simultaneously launching new and more affordable versions of the Alto and marketing them aggressively. In about 3 years, the efforts were proven to be fruitful and Alto became the best-selling car in India, dethroning the 800.
Since then, there has been no looking back for the Alto. In 2008, the Alto touched the 10 Lakh unit sales marks, making it only the fourth car in India to do that after the Santro and Omni. And in just another 4 years, Alto touched another 10 lakhs. Things did not end here for the Alto. In 2016 Alto became the ONLY CAR IN INDIA to hit 30 lakh units sold. And by August 2020, Alto managed to sell 40 Lakh units.
The K10 Legacy and Beyond
While the 1.1-litre version onboard the OG Alto was discontinued after a few years of the car’s launch, likely due to lower sales figures, Maruti compensated with the Launch of the Alto K10 in 2010, with a more peppy 1.0-litre engine selling alongside the classic 796cc version of the OG Alto. The K10 was the first significant upgrade of the Alto with refreshed and contemporary styling and a peppier engine that too boasted superb mileage figures.
Then in 2012, the OEM launched a new generation of the 796 cc Alto which was now named the Alto 800 to differentiate it from the K10. While the platform remained unchanged, the F8 engine and exteriors and interiors were all new. Even the gearbox was tweaked for driving improvements.
Around the same time, Hyundai launched the Eon hatchback with modern exteriors, classy interiors and a long list of offerings in a bid to dethrone the Alto, nothing truly worked out ever as the Alto was and still is unshakable. In fact, even the 2015 Kwid couldn’t dethrone the Alto despite being an exceptional package, and the game was won by the 2014 Second generation Alto K10 that brought a fresh design and AMT onboard making it even more appealing.
Later in 2019, Alto too received a major update that made it compliant with the BS6 norms, with minor cosmetic changes and better safety. In terms of cosmetic changes on the inside, there was a new dashboard and a few other upgrades. The biggest change however was in the nomenclature with the “800” bidding adieu giving way to just the Alto badging. While things worked well for the 796cc Alto, the K10 couldn’t survive the transition and was sadly axed.
The K10 is all set for a comeback on the 18th of August and we are as excited as you are. Based on the Heartect platform, the second-gen K10 will once again be sold alongside its 796 cc partner. To find out more about the new K10’s design visit this article.
With several new offerings onboard, the Alto K10 will now wear modern clothing, but at its core will still remain a budgeted entry-level car. But will it be able to replicate the legacy success? Let’s just wait and see.
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