The A-Star was initially showcased as a concept car by Maruti Suzuki at the 2008 Auto Expo. A lot of industry watchers sat up and took notice of this car for Maruti Suzuki’s Indian designers had played a key role in the shaping of its final form. It was one of the most awaited car launches, for it was going to be sold as the fifth generation ’Alto’ for markets across the globe. The manufacturer also previewed the car at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. Nissan has purchased around 80,000 units of this car that is being sold as the Pixo under their name brand name in a few markets.
Design and Features
The A-Star being a small car follows a compact design. Unlike its Hyundai peers, it doesn’t cater to the tall boy theme. Maruti Suzuki had briefed its designers to develop a small car whose looks would appeal to the current generation of car buyers. With an unconventional design this car surely stands out among a crowd but in a good way. This production model with its large headlamps, big grille and a rounded design theme does look a lot cuter than the sporty concept on which its based. The rear end doesn’t look that cute though but its surely not offensive. The front end design is quite steeply raked in comparison to the rear. The rear door windows could have a touch bigger though.
Prospective buyers get three variants of the car to choose from namely LXi, VXi and ZXi. The base variant exists to generate volumes for the manufacturer and comes equipped with power steering and air conditioning apart from mundane wheel covers. On the Vxi variant, power windows, central locking, and a music system are offered as standard along with the above features. The top variant comes fully loaded with ABS, dual front airbags, rear defogger, fog lamps, dash integrated four speaker CD/MP3 compatible music system, central locking and a rally car style pop out tachometer.
Driving abilities and Comfort
The A-Star has its role cut out in being a driver’s car. With a monocoque chassis this baby is capable of keeping the driver entertained. The wide track further improves its driving dynamics. Be it a straight road or one with curves and sweeping corners, the A-Star handles through all with élan. At high speeds it feels well planted on the road and doesn’t get panicky even during hard braking. The power assisted steering wheel is quite communicative and delivers good feedback. The steering is neither too light nor devoid of feel which makes guiding this car through traffic an enjoyable experience.
There are no complaints with respect to ride quality too owing to the presence of gas damped suspension on all four corners. It sports 155/R13 tubeless tyres as standard. In comparison to its competitors, the suspension is a tad stiff which only aids its cornering prowess. Make no mistake: in terms of ride quality, its competitors offer a more cosseting experience. But when it comes to being a driver’s delight, the A-Star takes the cake.
The A-Star gets powered by a new age 1.0 liter K-series petrol engine. It is a three cylinder aluminum motor which utilizes a high compression ratio of 10:1 to develop a max power of 67PS@6200rpm and max torque of 90Nm@3500rpm. The engine is immensely peppy beyond 3500rpm and revs eagerly all the way to its redline. It has a dry weight of just 47kgs owing to the incorporation of plastic engine manifold, concords without nuts, a DOHC shaft without rockers and pistons low on weight. It even complies to Euro V emission norms. The 0-100kmph acceleration run is achieved in a respectable 14 seconds. With a kerb weight of 880kgs, it attains a top speed of 160kmph. It even delivers a highly commendable overall fuel efficiency of 17kpl. The 5 speed gearbox is not exactly ’butter smooth’ but is way better in comparison to the one on the Wagon R.
The CompetitionMaruti Swift Dzire
With an asking price of Rs.4 lakhs (on-road Mumbai) for the LXi variant and Rs.4.72 lakhs for the ZXi variant (on-road Mumbai), the A-Star competes against Hyundai’s Santro and i10 along with Chevrolet’ Spark. It’s main drawbacks include the low quality plasticky interiors, low boot space and the fact that rear passengers get very less space to get comfortable in. On the plus side, it’s a new age small car that scores over its competitors in every other department. If you are on the lookout for a small performance hatch, then the A-Star is clearly your best bet.
After the designers at Maruti came out with the concept for the Swift, they started planning for a sedan which was to be based on the same underpinnings as the Swift and so was born Swift Dzire. Made only for the Indian market the Dzire shares the same styling as the swift hatchback. The Dzire came along with a 440 litre boot which solved the problem of the small bootspace in the swift making it the perfect entry level sedan to buy.
Design and Features
The three box sedan is identical to the swift hatch up to the B pillar, followed by the rather disproportionately stretched boot. Dzire shares the same styling as the swift hatchback and comes with a different grille, where the saloon gets two chrome strips compared to the honeycomb mesh on the hatch.
The tail lamps share cues from that of the Swift, which flow on to the boot. The rear bumper looks heavy thanks to the integrated stop lamps and reflectors. The chrome strip above number plate is a good touch. The wheelbase is unchanged but the added boot has resulted in the overall length of the car to touch 4160mm.
Swift Dzire’s fit and finish quality is as good as Swift hatchback’s. Panel gaps and shut lines are tight, paint quality is top notch. But the quality of plastics could have been better. There are lots of subtle changes to the interiors – the speedo and tacho dials have chrome bezels and the digits are white-backlit, which looks very cool and classy. Steering has been borrowed from the SX4, and the top end variant comes with steering mounted stereo controls like the SX4. It comes with dash integrated audio system, power windows, power steering and remote central locking.
Driving abilities and comfort
The Swift hatch and Dzire are mechanically identical. Suspension, brakes, wheels and tyres are all shared; the only difference is that the springs on the Dzire are slightly stiffer then the Swift hatch back, to compensate for the additional 30 kgs added by the bigger boot. Also, the tyres on the Dzire are wider, making it slower by 1.5 seconds when compared to its sibling in a 0-100km/h dash.
The Dzire rides really well .The well-tuned suspension is a boon at lower speeds and with the 70-profile tyres, rough surfaces are not that big of an issue. But as the speed builds up, the ride is not as composed as it should be.
The front seats are very comfortable — there’s plenty of headroom and legroom. The driver’s seat adjusts for height and the steering wheel adjusts for rake, making it easy to find a very comfortable driving position, whatever seat height you select.
Though there has been increase in the length of the swift Dzire, the rear passenger seat has not been pushed further back; instead it has been given a more angular seat back which gives more knee room and head room, thus making it more comfortable then the swift which scores lesser stars on the passenger comfort ratings.
One key difference between the Dzire and the Swift hatch is that the saloon feels marginally more refined in the back seat. Though sound insulation material is the same, the boot shields the passengers from underbody vibrations and road noise to some extent.
The engine options are same as on the Swift. The New K series 1.2 litre 84 bhp engines is being shared by the petrol’s, whereas the diesels get the 75 bhp 1.3 litre turbo equipped Multijet. Both engine options are refined and smooth.
At cruising speeds, it’s hard to tell that it’s a diesel motor under the hood. There’s a strong tug as the fixed-geometry turbocharger spins up. The Dzire petrol manages to return 12kpl in the city and 15kpl on the highway. And the diesel returns 15kpl in the city and 19kpl on the highway
The CompetitionMaruti SX4
With a price bracket of Rs. 6-7 lakh, Swift Dzire competes with Tata Indigo, Tata Manza, Ford Ikon, Ford Fiesta and Renault Logan. It turns out to be a better performer, especially in the diesel guise, but loses out on the aesthetic and interior space counts. Overall, one of the best entry sedans to buy!
Maruti Suzuki had launched the SX4 in the year 2007. It has been designed by the world renowned Italdesign studio and was brought to life jointly by Suzuki and Fiat. The SX4 is currently produced at Suzuki’s plant in Hungary and India. Of the total units produced, one-third is sold by Fiat bearing the Sedici model name. The SX4 is Maruti Suzuki’s most brawny and chiseled offering in the Indian mid size segment till date. Its earlier offering in the same segment was the Baleno which fared poorly on the sales chart owing to its bland design.
Design and Features
The SX4 clearly does not cater to the subtle design elements adopted by the other models in the Maruti Suzuki stables. It looks stout and burly from whichever angle you might choose to look at it. The front end design of the car which comprises of swept back headlamps, honeycomb grille, a high waistline, flared wheel arches along with the muscular bumper and a gaping air dam gives it a distinctive masculine look. The thick A and C pillars coupled with the 190mm ground clearance further accentuate its brawny appeal. The huge boot at the rear gels well with the overall design and gets livened up by the large trapezoidal tail lamps. The interior comes across as pretty bland in comparison to the exterior though and doesn’t feel lively. The seats are supremely comfortable and there is adequate head, elbow, shoulder and leg room.
The Maruti Suzuki SX4 is offered to buyers in tow models namely VXi and ZXi. The base Vxi comes equipped with air conditioner, power windows, power and adjustable steering, tubeless tyres, remote boot and fuel lid along with central locking as standard. The top ZXi variant gets ABS, twin airbags, electrically adjustable ORVM’s, foglamps, MP3/CD compatible integrated music player and ten spoke 16 inch alloy wheels as standard in addition to the above features found on the lower model.
Driving abilities and Comfort
The high ground clearance makes a lot of people jump to a conclusion that the SX4 won’t be a potent handler. On the contrary, it boasts of highly impressive driving dynamics. Driving this car through winding roads or open highways is an enjoyable experience. There is no excessive body roll when hot footing through corners. At high speeds, the straight line stability is phenomenal and it doesn’t get unsettled by mid corner bumps or sudden changes in road surface. The front suspension setup comprises of MC Pherson struts along with independent gas filled shock absorbers and an anti roll bar. While the rear setup too involves gas filled shock absorbers and semi independent torsion beams.
Irrespective of whether one occupies the front or rear seat, the SX4 doesn’t disappoint with respect to ride quality either. The robust suspension soaks up every crater sized pothole on the road with elan. At low speeds, the ride quality does feel a tad too stiff though. Braking duties are efficiently handled by 280m ventilated discs at front and 220mm drums at the rear. The electronic power steering offers decent feedback to the driver. The diver along with the front passenger sits quite high which arms them with a commanding view of the road ahead. The thick A-pillar creates blind spots for the driver and the high rear end makes reversing this sedan a chore.
The SX4 is offered to buyers with only a single engine option. It gets powered by a 1.6 liter petrol engine which produces a maximum power of 104.68PS@5600rpm and a maximum torque of 145Nm@4100rpm. This mill belongs to Maruti Suzuki’s new age M-series engine which conforms to euro V emission norms. The engine gets four cylinders and dual overhead camshafts configuration along with four valves per cylinder. During our performance tests, the SX4 took 12 seconds to reach the speed of 100kmph from standstill and attained a top speed of 180kmph. During the fuel efficiency test, it returned an overall mileage of 13km per litre. The only glitch in the 5-speed manual transmission is its relatively long throw.
The CompetitionMaruti Swift
The Vxi model retails for Rs.7.2 lakhs (on-road Mumbai) while the ZXi model is priced at 8 lakhs (on-road Mumbai). It competes against the likes of Honda’s City, Ford’s Fiesta, Hyundai’s Verna and Chevrolet’s Aveo. With respect to its rivals, the SX4 is the most butch looking of the lot, has the ’go’ to match its ’show’ and is a good value for money buy in the car mid-size segment. It is well rounded product which scores well across all parameters. Being a Maruti Suzuki product, its owners will also be at peace with respect to ease of servicing, maintenance and low cost of ownership.
Back in 2005 since the first Swift rolled out, the sales of this hot hatch have been soaring. With months of waiting at the customers end; people will wait for one of the hottest selling cars in recent times.
The swift started off with a G13B 1.3 litre petrol engine shared from the long running horse, The Esteem, which after 5 years shifted to the newer 1.2 Litre K series engine to stay up to the emissions norms which is BS-IV compliant. Competitive pricing, a sporty engine and unique design have made it a very tempting option in the compact/hatchback segment.
Design and Features:
Even after five years after, the design elements of the car like the wide stance, stylish nose wide wheel arches still do not seem be out dated. Three variants are available with the Petrol version, namely the LXi , VXi and the top end ZXi. The diesel version gets two variants which are the LDi and VDi.
The Swift is fitted with front and rear electric windows. Central door locking facility is available only for the VXi and ZXi variants. All the three trims come equipped with 3-spoke steering wheel. For all those who need reminders, the Maruti Swift provides light off/key reminder. There is a driver’s seatbelt warning lamp and door ajar warning lamp too.
Standard features on the base model include power steering, air-conditioning, brake assist, seat-belts for all seating positions, child lock on rear doors and side impact beams. The Swift is fitted with front and rear electric windows. Central door locking facility is available only for the VXi and ZXi variants. All the three trims come equipped with 3-spoke urethane steering wheel. For all those who need reminders, the Maruti Swift provides light off/key reminder. There is a driver’s seatbelt warning lamp and door ajar warning lamp too.
The high-end Swift comes fully loaded with added safety features and accessories including automatic climate control, driver seat height adjuster, 12V accessory socket in the luggage area, electromagnetic type tailgate opener, rear window wiper and de-mister, dual front airbags, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and keyless entry.
Overall Fit and finish of the car is good. Plastics used on the Interiors could have been better though.
Driving abilities and comfort:
The Swift has to be one of the best made cars in the country. This is very much evident from the Chassis which holds the car up. The extreme stability of the car is the outcome of this chassis. Keeping in mind the Indian roads, the suspension was modified and good ground clearance was provided. The new chassis was developed and put to rigorous track tests. Finally, an all-new car came into the market.
The Swift is slightly bouncy at the rear, but overall makes for a comfy ride. The steering also feels light making for minimal effort to drive. But the Swift is still quite an entertaining drive thanks to the eager engine. Front Passenger seat comfort is on good line, but the rear passenger looses on the legroom. Boot space is average, just enough for a small family on a small trip.
In the Petrol version, The 1.2 puts out 84bhp which is about 3bhp less than the outgoing 1.3-litre G13B. However, out on the road, the new engine does an even better job than the old Esteem unit.
The diesel engine remains the same which is powered by Fiat’s famed 1248cc 16-valve, Multijet diesel pumping out 75 bhp at 4,000 rpm and producing 190 Nm of torque at 2,000 rpm.
The 1.3 diesel is a revelation to drive. With the turbo kicking in at a point as soon as 2000rpm, the car touches 100 in 13.87 seconds. Also thanks to this power band, driving in stop and go traffic is not tiring.
In the 4.5- 6 L price bracket, Swift has a good number of competitors namely Chevrolet U-VA, Fiat Grande Punto, Fiat Palio ,Ford Figo, Hyundai i20, Hyundai Getz. But owing to its fabulous engine options, great transmission, keen looks, reliability and aggressive pricing, it has managed to fend off competition easily. Even today, the swift is one of the most well rounded cars in its segment and can take on any competition with aplomb.Maruti Wagon R
The Wagon R was originally launched by Maruti Suzuki way back in December 1999. It was launched by the manufacturer to compete against the Hyundai Santro which was fast gaining popularity among buyers. In the initial few years, the Wagon R wasn’t exactly a popular choice among buyers owing to boxy and bland design. In 2006, its looks were enhanced so that it would match up to its more contemporary looking competitors. Its Duo variant was also launched which featured a factory fitted LPG kit along with the regular petrol engine to attract buyers with the promise of low running costs.
Design and Features
Along with a cosmetically enhanced exterior, the Wagon R also received spruced up interiors in 2006. Though the tall boy design was retained, its front look became more digestible owing to the wide air dam, wraparound bumper massive grille and larger clear lens headlamps. At the rear end it received a re-designed tailgate and better looking tail lamps. Apart from the above mentioned changes to the front and rear fascia, the rest of the design has been carried over from the original model. On the inside, it got new instrumentation and a noticeable improvement in the quality of plastics used in the cabin.
The petrol powered Wagon R variant is offered to buyers in LX, LXi, VXi and AX models. The base LX model gets only air conditioning while the LXi model offers body colored bumpers, power steering and front power windows as standard. The top VXi model comes fully loaded with all the above features along with central locking, alloy wheels, tachometer, rear defogger and rear windscreen wash/wiper. The AX model offers all the features found on the VXi model but is offered to buyers a with 3-speed automatic transmission. The LPG Duo variant is offered in LX and LXi models which offer the same level of features as seen on the regular petrol powered LX and LXi models.
Driving abilities and Comfort
There have been no changes to the Wagon R since the time it was launched with respect to its chassis and suspension design. The tall boy design and high center of gravity doesn’t affect its driving dynamics in any positive way either. Within city limits, the car feels completely at home and is to flick through traffic. On the highway, at moderate or high speeds the car is well planted and doesn’t get unsettled by any sudden changes in the road surface. This car clearly doesn’t have any affinity for winding roads.
The Wagon R gets McPherson Struts with roll control device at the front and gas filled coil spring shock absorbers at the rear. At low speeds the ride quality is quite admirable for a car of this size and weight irrespective of the road surface. The rear suspension setup does a good job at soaking up every undulation on the road without bringing it to the notice of the passengers. At high speeds the ride quality worsens a bit though owing to the narrow track. The steering is very light which is a boon at low speeds but at high speeds doesn’t offer much communication or feedback to the driver.
The Wagon R gets powered by a 1.1 liter four cylinder petrol engine which develops a maximum power of 64PS at 6200 rpm and a maximum torque of 84Nm at 3500rpm. On the Duo variant in LPG mode, the engine produces a maximum power of 57.5PS at 6000rpm and a maximum torque of 77Nm at 4500rpm. During our acceleration runs, the car took 17 seconds to reach 100kmph from standstill in petrol mode. In LPG mode the same run took 20 seconds to achieve. Adopting a pedal to the metal attitude will help the car in attaining an indicated top speed of 150 kmph on the speedometer. The engine delivers an overall fuel efficiency figure is 13 kilometers to a liter. The 5-speed manual transmission is very coarse and lacks a smooth feel during gear changes.
The CompetitionMaruti Alto
With a price bracket of Rs. 3.7 lakhs to 4.2 lakhs (on-road Mumbai), the Maruti Suzuki Wagon R competes against the likes of Hyundai’s Santro Xing, Chevrolet’s Spark and TATA’s Indica. Sporting a Maruti Suzuki badge, the Wagon R still boasts of high reliability, refurbished interiors and exteriors, low maintenance and running costs, good mileage which makes it a formidable competitor for all the other city roundabouts. On the negative side, it can seat only four, won’t fare well in protecting its occupants in an accident and clearly belongs to the previous generation of hatchbacks.
The Alto is Maruti Suzuki’s small car offering in the A segment and currently its highest selling car model in India. The Alto was brought to life in 1998 to replace its utilitarian 800 model Across Suzuki’s global markets. In India though, it continues to be sold alongside along the 800. The Alto inspite of being a compact offering with minimal luxuries continues to sell well as it fulfills the requirement of most Indians car buyers by possessing basic creature comforts and safety features. The Alto being a budget offering is the first choice of majority people who are first time car buyers and in pursuit of a credible motoring experience.
Design and Features
In terms of looks, the Alto doesn’t appear to be a budget offering. The contemporary design lends the Alto a sophisticated and elegant look which is quite pleasing on the eye. The clear lens headlamps and front grille with a touch of chrome coupled with a low waistline aids its aesthetic appeal. The wide front bumper with a biggish air dam was incorporated into the design to make the Alto look bigger than it is. The chunky C-pillars and fat rear bumper further accentuates its big car look. The interiors are very basic and an eye sore though in comparison to the exteriors.
The Alto is offered to buyers in three models name standard, LX and LXi. The standard model as the name suggests is the ultra basic variant without any features like air conditioning, power windows or even body colored bumpers. The LX model only gets an air conditioner as standard. The LXi model gets air conditioning, body colored bumpers and electronic power steering. All three models boast of a collapsible steering column, booster assisted brakes, factory fitted iCATS security system and 4-way adjustable headlamp leveling device.
Driving abilities and Comfort
In terms of ride and handling the Alto performs way better that anyone would expect it to. This was essentially design to be a city car and that’s where it excels. With compact dimensions, light weight and a minimum turning radius of 4.6m it’s easy to guide this baby through chaotic city traffic. While driving at high speeds through winding roads the lack of sufficient driving dynamics surfaces. However there are no stability issues when the car is driven on a straight road at high speeds. The steering wheel is immensely communicative and offers good feedback.
The suspension setup for the Alto includes Mc Pherson strut at the front and gas filled coil spring suspension at the rear. On road this translates into a ride quality which is quite good for its size. The tall 145/80 section tyres on 12’ rims also aid in the betterment of its ride quality. The ride quality however drops as and when the road surface worsens. Its best on smooth and evenly surfaced roads. The brakes do a good job in hauling this car to a stop and are confidence inspiring.
The Alto is powered by a three cylinder MPFI 796cc petrol mill which develops a max power output of 47PS@6200rpm and max torque of 62Nm@3000rpm. A kerb weight of 735kgs and four valves per cylinder help this car deliver on-road performance that one can live with practically or rather adapt to. Well, this aint no hot hatch but it can out accelerates a Nano, auto rickshaws and the Maruti 800 at any given time on any day. The Alto takes 21 seconds to attain the speed of 100kmph from standstill. The acceleration run of 0-60kmph is achieved in 7.2 seconds. Fuel Efficiency is its strong point and it returns an overall figure 15kpl. Upon flooring the accelerator pedal on a long straight road, the speedo needle tops out at 140kmph. The gear ratios of the 5-speed transmission have been optimized to better bottom end performance of this city car. It is recommended to switch the AC off during overtaking maneuvers as it saps considerable engine power when in on mode.
The base model Alto Standard retails for Rs. 2.5 lakhs (on-road Mumbai) while the LX variant is priced at Rs. 3 lakhs (on-road Mumbai). The top LXi model sports a price tag of 3.3 lakhs (on-road Mumbai). The Alto does not face any competitor other than its in-house sibling Maruti 800, which is also a small car on a budget. The Maruti Suzuki Alto is a better car than the 800 in all respects. If you are on the lookout for a city roundabout which offers good fuel efficiency, has no reliability issues, is extremely low on maintenance and don’t mind the slightly cramped interiors, then the Alto will fit your requirements perfectly. It will last for ages and is good value for money too.