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Friday, December 19, 2008

Maruti Suzuki A-star test drive review

Recently launched Maruti Suzuki A-star was on display in front of our office and I spent few minutes enjoying a test drive. This post is a quick review of this car, based on few minutes I spent looking and driving this car.
Maruti Suzuki A-Star front view
Looks:
The earlier concept diagrams of this car were impressive, but the real life version has quite simplistic looks and appears more of a mix of different Maruti models. From front it looks like and mix of Fiat 500/Hyundai i10, from rear it looks similar to Alto and from side it looks like Swift. The 5 spoke alloy wheels and Sun roof you see in all promo pictures and brochures are probably additional fittings-alloy wheel and Sun roof are not even an option, even in top end Zxi. Because of this “borrowed from other models” look I am not impressed with the same. If it turns heads while you drive that will be temporary and solely because this is a new model on the streets. Score: 6/10

Maruti Suzuki A-Star rear view
Space:
Doesn’t look as spacious as WagonR and Santro. Of course it is a hatchback and there’re space constraints, but I doubt if a large suitcase will fit comfortably in the rear. The luggage door is small in size and not full sized as in Santro/WagonR/Indica. Just like Swift provision for number plate is moved down into the rear bumper and length of the tail door is reduced. This means you’ll have to lift your suitcase few inches higher before dropping it in its place. I suggest check on this aspect thoroughly to ensure that you don’t feel the discomfort later. Score: 4/10

Maruti Suzuki A-Star concept version
Interiors:

I didn’t find anything extra ordinary. Looks adequate. (Once inside, my attention gets focused on driver’s seat and its surroundings, so don’t ask me how does it feel to be a passenger). Vxi and Zxi have rear headrests for additional comfort, not so common in entry level cars. Score: 7/10

Console and controls:
Looks futuristic. The design is slightly unconventional. The 3 spoke steering wheel, sporty gear knob, etc looks attractive. Console has a new design- a simple tubular structure hosting only speedometer and few more indicators. Tachometer is accommodated in a separate console, slightly away (an attempt to make them look similar to race cars?) But steering wheel blocks the tachometer view in normal position. I am happy Maruti didn’t move the speedo console to the centre of the dashboard (so that they can have a single model for both export and import markets, as in Indica Vista and Chevy Spark)There is no height adjustment for seats-I prefer a position from which I can see the tip of bonnet on the left side, as that helps in better maneuverability- but with vertical adjustments absent, couldn’t get this position despite trying all possible horizontal moves. Score: 7/10

No audio controls on steering wheels. Other features are Ok- power window controls, internally adjustable external rear view mirrors, ABS with break assist etc are ok. iCATs immobilizer is standard in all variants. No wiper for rear windshield- Only defogger. Remaining features are at par with regular Lxi, Vxi variants of other models Score: 7.5/10
Maruti Suzuki A-Star console
Drive:
After getting used to occasional long drives in more powerful cars like Skoda, Scorpio, Innova etc, the 1 liter engine of A star was not good enough to excite me. It touched 100 kmph with ease and went little beyond that also I think- didn’t notice properly. But that was the limit. Response, pickup and breaking is good (note: Only Zxi has ABS with Break Assist), -twice I had to slow down abruptly as two wheeler riders whom I was expecting to cross the road in time slowed down- either they hesitated to cross or stopped to have a proper look at the new car in town. In the 6 kms drive I had, I didn’t feel it as driver’s car. (that can be too less a distance to make a judgment and individual preferences may vary- use your discretion) I’ll be driving a swift diesel VDi next week- will be able to give better comparisons after that.
Score: 6.5/10

Engine: A-Star boasts an all new engine, called the KB series, 3 cylinder DOHC and MPFI and may probably take Hyundai’s Kappa series head on. Its reliability will be known only in the long run and it is little early to comment on that. If A-star does well, Maruti may introduce this engine in other models in future.

Fuel Economy: A-star mileage is much hyped at 19.6 kmpl on highway and 17 kmpl+ in city. I’ve not verified this, hence no comments. Check for some auto magazines to review and publish results
Maruti Suzuki cars price comparison
Price: On road, Chennai, in lakhs: A-Star Lxi- 3.82, Vxi-4.07, Zxi-4.47. (Refer image for price comparison of A-star with Wagon R and Swift variants- On Road Chennai) Price looks Ok (given the model is new, mileage claims and a 'believed to be great' new series engine, but with all other car makers offering year end discounts and offers certainly A-Star is not a bargain or a steal at this price.

Availability: This is what Maruti representatives told me: “Sir if you order fast moving colours it will be delivered within a week or two, else it may take a few months”. "A-star's waiting period will be much lesser than that of Swift and Swift Dzire" he assured me. It is available in total 9 colours and Paradise Blue, Silky Silver, Bright Red, Arctic White and Midnight black are the usually fast moving ones. (Desert Brown, Azure grey, Sunlight Copper and Healing Green are the other shades on offer, as per brochure.
Maruti Suzuki A-Star side view
Verdict:
BUY it if you: want to zip around in an hitherto unseen model, are impressed with the mileage claims, prefer a maruti because of service network, don’t mind few weeks to few months of waiting
DON’T BUY if you: prefer space, plan occasional cruising on highways, are tight on budget and can manage with Santro/Alto which are 50k to 1 lakh cheaper than A-star

Disclaimer: Personal opinion and observations only. Prices, features and availability are subject to change without prior notice w.r.t city, time, dealer etc. All information as available with the author at the time of composing this post. Please check with your nearest Maruti dealer for latest info. Concept car photo sourced from internet. All other photos by author.

Similar: Mahindra Scorpio mHawk Vls review * is i10 car of the year? * Self drive car rentals in India * Chennai police get Hyundai Accent cars *

10 comments :

Mohan said...

Maruti has done a good job wrt Interiors in this car. Even I am impressed with console and control. As far as the mileage goes, many people have commented on my review article stating that the mileage is around 18 kmpl. As usual, maruti is yet to realize on the driving comfort for the A2 segment cars and there is much more work to be done.

I still feel that this car is just another variant of Alto with a modified exteriors to mimic i10. Good review Shrinidhi.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks for your inputs Mohan

Laddoo said...

Useful post at the right time for potential buyers! The grey model has awesome looks !

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Laddoo,
But the grey model is not available for sale :(
It was an initial concept diagram...

Anonymous said...

Hi Nidhi..

I have got Astar and has driven 10 thousand odd kilometers on it.. its a good car if you travel with two adults and 2 kids alone.. So if you travel with 4 adults its tough on this car. About mileage i am tracking it from day one.. i am getting 18.2 kmpl till date... as average... mileage and maximum i have got is 20.2kmpl and minimum i got is 15.1kmpl. Any updates you want from this car.. ping me.

Avishkar.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks for the updates Avishkar. Assume you're happy with your car.

Anonymous said...

When you want value for your money, When you want more out of less money , when you want style and performance go for A-Star .it is the car for every middle class family.t is a very good car in all the spheres.

Semi Trucks said...

I see a good move by Maruti here. after the zen auto there really wasn’t many car which made anyone feel relaxed and casual and the a-star auto seems to be set to change that. cant wait to take a test drive.

Heavy Equipments said...

Maruti Suzuki A-star is the best in performances and good mileage
and it has a 1061cc petrol engine and weighs 825kg. It has a ground clearance and a wheelbase of 165mm and 2360mm respectively, a turning radius of 4.6 meters.It is a real pleasure driving this car.

drake louis said...

As we know that Maruti has always made a good move towards introducing new cars. Recently it was Swift and now its A-star. A-star has got all the comfort and safety which is required in an hatchback. It has also got impressive mileage and quite good specifications.
cheap cars for sale