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GALLERY: Maruti Alto K10

It has been a while since Maruti Suzuki made any major changes to its high selling Alto range of vehicles. The last major update was of course the Alto 800 which was launched in October 2012 and the company has managed to continue the successful run of the two cars that it replaced. While the Alto 800 was an all-new car, its larger sibling the Alto K10 has remained the same since it was launched in 2010. Now there is a new one and it seems to have a good package to add to the successful numbers of the Alto range.

With the Alto K10, Maruti Suzuki has taken the term ‘power to the people’ a bit too literally. The K10 shares its underpinnings with the Alto800 and adds a bigger, more powerful engine to the mix. The Alto twins have dominated the sales charts for over a decade, for they follow an utterly simple recipe. A clean design, compact proportions and fuel efficiency that makes sure that the wallet remains fat. What’s the Alto with a bigger heart like? Let’s take a look!

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The first generation (SS30V/40V), introduced in May 1979, was a three-door cargo version of the Fronte passenger car, equipped with a folding rear seat. Front suspension comprised coils struts, with leaf springs at the back. The steering was of the recirculating ball type, and four-wheel drums were used. On introduction, the Alto received the T5B two-stroke 539 cc (32. 9 cu in) (SS30) three-cylinder engine, producing 28 PS (21 kW) at 5500 rpm. The Alto was a "micro sensation" when introduced, largely due to its rock bottom price of ¥470,000 (circa $1,900 in 1979, at a time when the cheapest Ford Pinto cost $4,999 in the US). This low price was made possible by a number of Japanese special concessions for commercial vehicles: most notably, the engine did not require twin catalysts. Two less doors provided another saving, as did the exemption from commodity tax. The Alto's success changed the kei-car market, and other producers such as Subaru (with the "Family Rex") quickly followed suit with cut-price "commercial" vehicles that were really intended for private use. The Alto helped Suzuki move into seventh place in Japanese production for cars and trucks. In the last full year of production for this generation, it was still by far the best selling Kei car, with the Alto outselling the Fronte at a rate of about five to two.

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