These changes can be instantly felt once you are on the road. Gone is the typical three-cylinder 'knocking' at low speeds in high gear. Instead you get a smoother transition through revs and a more linear torque curve that pulls the vehicle through. While we didn't strap on our performance equipment, we wouldn't be surprised if the new Alto 800 is up to one second quicker to 100 kph than its predecessor. The gears fall into place better and smoother with less of the rubbery feel of the last car. The engine note is just as good as it was, but it's the overall driveability that's made huge strides. Maruti claims a massive improvement in fuel efficiency - 22.7 kpl in ARAI tests.
The changes to the monocoque and the addition of gas dampers have made the car dynamically better too. It rides a wee bit better and is less bumpy. But it steers and handles tighter and is less prone to understeer than before. It's only the tyres that are the weak-link in the package. They aren't as grippy as you would want them to be and shifting to 13-inchers should improve matters a bit. The steering has good weight and the vehicle turns in beautifully thanks to the revised stiffness and weight distribution.
There are lot of improvements and takeaways from the new Alto 800, most of which are incremental rather than substantial. And yet it's a perceptibly better car that has ironed out most, if not all the shortcomings of its predecessor. When it goes on sale on October 16th, be rest assured that this winner for Maruti Suzuki will just entrench itself even more firmly.