The Maruti Suzuki Alto has been a strong seller for the company ever since it's launch. It's now the best-selling car for the past 16 years in a row. Launched in September 2000, the Alto was popular amongst those who wanted a new car and one that was affordable too. The Alto's legacy spans across two decades and it's been India's bestselling car since 2004. When it was launched in 2000, the Alto was seen as a premium offering, as in many ways it was a replacement for the very popular Zen. True to Maruti Suzuki's India strategy though, the Zen wasn't phased out but the Alto drove in alongside it. Maruti Suzuki offered the Alto in two variants – the 796cc LX and the 1100 cc VX – that had the more powerful Wagon R engine, and better interiors. By 2001 Hyundai had upped the ante with power steering on the Santro, and the Alto (along with several Maruti models) also went the power steering way – adding an ‘i' to the variant names – hence we got LXi and VXi.
The company has sold 38 lakh units of the Alto in India
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We have the numbers to tell you how popular it exactly was. By 2008, Maruti Suzuki had sold 10 lakh units of the car, by 2012, sales had crossed the 20 lakh mark and in 2016, the company had managed to sell 30 lakh units of the car. It was not that the Alto didn't have rivals. Tata Motors' Nano, Renault's Kwid, all were worthy rivals but the Alto was clearly ahead of the rest in terms of sales.
The Alto provided a good sense of space for the family
Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director (Marketing & Sales), Maruti Suzuki India Limited said, “Backed by a strong legacy, the Alto continues to appeal to customers across the length and breadth of the country, with 76% customers choosing it as their 1st car.”
The strength of the Alto nameplate allowed Maruti to relaunch a powerful engine variant when it drove in with the K10, although with the 998cc K-Series engine, unlike the erstwhile 1100c. The new look Alto 800 won the NDTV Car and Bike Entry Hatchback Award in 2013 – which validated the company's claim on how much work was carried out to alter the vehicle, despite maintaining the same platform. The Alto K10 also finally went under the scalpel two years later, with similar rejuvenated looks and the very important addition of the automated manual transmission variant.
The Alto remains India's largest selling car by volume for over a decade. It has also notched up other firsts like being the first car to achieve over 2,00,000 unit sales in a single year – in 2006 – a figure it hasn't dropped below for over a decade now.