15 year ago if you had asked an Indian, what will be his or her first choice of car, the most common answer would be a Maruti 800. That is the kind of trust this iconic passenger car had created in the Indian market. It was a car that redefined the passenger vehicle segment in the country and in the three long decades of its existence, Maruti Suzuki sold 28 lakh units of this entry level car. So when the time came to upgrade its best-selling car as per modern requirements of the customers, Maruti Suzuki had the most difficult task of recreating a legend. But so it did, in the form of the Alto 800, a more stylish and feature-rich car model that also turned out to be an instant success among Indian buyers. In fact last year the Alto 800 succeeded its predecessor by clocking 29 lakh units sales in just 15 years. That is one lakh units more than what the M800 did, that too in half the time.
The carmaker's first vehicle for the Indian market, Maruti 800 was launched back in 1983, whereas, the first generation Alto was launched in 2000. In 2010-11 the car got a more powerful 1.0-litre engine and was rechristened as the Alto K10. Later when Maruti decided to phase out the M800 in 2010, it started working on its replacement, a less powerful version of the Alto - the Alto 800, which was launched in 2012-13. By the end of 2013, the Maruti Suzuki was ready to pull the plug on its top-seller to replace with a new one.
It was in 2015 Alto 800 achieved its 29 lakh unit sales milestone, Maruti Suzuki Executive Director (Marketing and Sales) R S Kalsi said, "Over the years, Alto has brought happiness to 29 lakh families to become India's largest selling single brand car. With its success, Alto continues to remain the first choice for personal mobility solution for Indian customers."
Last year in October, when Maruti announced its new milestone, the model touched cumulative sales of 29,19,819 units. And last month these number went over 30 lakh units, thus continuing Alto's reign as the best-selling car in the country. What's interesting is the fact the despite newer and better looking models like Hyundai EON and Renault Kwid being launched, the Alto continues to be the best-selling car in the country month after month. A very commendable feat for a carmaker who has on numerous occasions been criticised for its unsafe nature of its cars as per global standards.
This only shows the amount of trust Maruti has gained in India over the years. Recently Datsun has entered Alto's turf with its compact urban cross - redi-GO, which undercuts the Alto 800 in terms of pricing. Whether it will be able to challenge the Alto's reign is a question we cannot answer now, .judging by what we experienced in our review it is a capable competitor.
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Renault Kwid, Honda City, Maruti Swift, Hyundai Elite i20, Maruti Baleno, Alto 800, Renault Duster, Maruti Wagon R, Maruti Swift Dzire, Mahindra Scorpio, Mahindra XUV500