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Comparison Test: Maruti Suzuki A-star vs Alto vs Swift vs Wagon R



Maruti Suzuki A-star vs Alto vs Swift vs Wagon R

The family line up: The A-star is the newest followed by the Swift, Alto and Wagon R

So, you have decided to buy a Maruti Suzuki small car. But, which one is best suited as an everyday runabout in the sea of models available? The car, for starters, has to be cheap to buy and cheap to run without being terribly uncomfortable or cramped or even a nightmare on those rare highway outings. The A-star, of course, makes for a good choice. But, how about the other good sellers from the same stable the Alto; it is India’s number one selling car, after all. Maybe even the Wagon R; it too rakes in decent numbers. And then there’s the Swift which began this whole new generation Maruti car revolution in the country.

Exterior & Interior

Maruti Suzuki A-star Interior

A-star has the funkiest cabin with its two tone finish and side mounted tacho. The quality of materials could have been better for a modern car

Maruti Suzuki A-star Exterior



In A-star’s presence even the Swift looks a tad jaded. The A-star’s remarkable face both quirky and cute its upswept large headlamps, a gaping mouth and the rising rear window line, give it a more contemporary air.

Understandably, the Alto and the Wagon R which are essentially decade old cars look archaic in this company. Both cars look more like boxes cut out of tin sheets.

It’s a similar story inside. The Alto and the Wagon R with their tacky looking and feeling plastics, age old dash design, and the lack of any sort of opulence, fail to impress.

The seats too, both front and back, lack adequate support.

Maruti Suzuki Alto Interior

Like the Wagon R, the Alto too suffers from boring and dated insides. But, basic instrumentation is easy to read

Maruti Suzuki Alto Exterior



These do nonetheless redeem themselves somewhat by offering far better visibility; the Wagon R more so, as it offers the best in class ingress/egress as well. It also offers decent equipment like electrically adjustable ORVMs and central locking with keyless entry.

The Swift, of course, matches the A-star well; the latter does, after all, use quite a few bits from the Swift including the air vents, the gear shift knob and various switches like those for the power windows. But like on the outside, the Swift looks a bit boring compared to the A-star. The latter with its two tone finish and side mounted tacho comes across as more youthful.

The Swift does have the most spacious and comfortable seats, and the car offers more room than any others car on this test. Once seated inside, it feels like a much bigger and better built car than the rest.

Maruti Suzuki Swift Interior

Insides look a little drab in grey, but the design is still fresh three years on. Stereo is not standard on the Vxi trim, but power windows are

Maruti Suzuki Swift Exterior



If its boot space you are after, the Swift wins again. But, the Wagon R surprisingly, which has a smaller boot on paper, offers nearly as much usable space. The Alto has a tinier boot but the one on the A-star isn’t even worth mentioning. On our shoot we had to carry stuff on the rear seat of the car because it won’tfitin the luggage area either the luggage was too tall, too wide or too long for the miniscule boot.

The Wagon R isn’t enjoyable around bends either. In fact going around roundabouts in the city or even making the right turn into your society gates can scare you. It rolls excessively and has a steering which only a numb person can enjoy.

Maruti Suzuki Wagon R Interior

Insides look bland and dated. It has a few intelligent stowage areas like the tray under the dashboard

Maruti Suzuki Wagon R Exterior



The Alto doesn’t have a very talkative steering either, but at least its precise and progressive compared to the formers steering which is like a lottery – same steering angles offer varying and unpredictable degrees of wheel movement. Ride at slow speeds is good, but the Wagon R begins losing its composure over broken or undulated roads with increase in speeds. The Alto is more planted in comparison and within city confines thanks to size and visibility is a superb car to carve through traffic or park in tight spots.

The A-star’s ride isn’t exceptional either. It also comes across as a little confused, to be honest. It rides well at slightly high speeds, but when the going gets slow, the ride turns choppy. Moreover, instead of the suspension working in isolation, it involves the complete car. So over bumpy surfaces, the occupants do get thrown around a bit. Handling though is better. But, it’s the Swift which is in a higher league. It has better road holding, superior body control and the steering too is very likable. It is the most planted car, both in a straight line and around corners. The A-star feels twitchy in comparison. The Swift, though a tad stiff, has the most pliant ride in this lot as well.

Engine & Gearbox

Maruti Suzuki A-star Engine

Maruti Suzuki A-star New generation engine brings the A-star close to matching the Swift in terms of performance and is very efficient. But could do with better refinement

Once settled in behind the wheel, there’s no escaping the Swift; it’s by far the most fun to drive. Sure, it uses an older engine compared to the brand new unit on the A-star, but it’s also the most powerful.

No surprise then, it clocks the fastest times and the highest top speed. It even sounds better and feels more eager to be driven hard. The gearbox is brilliant to use as well – short throw and quite precise.

Maruti Suzuki Alto Engine

Maruti Suzuki Alto Three pot unit gets very noisy inside the cabin even at 50kmph. Poor cabin insulation tells you it's a cheap car

We were nonetheless disappointed with the car’s driveability. It managed the 3rd gear slog quite well. But then started dropping in fourth before getting completely left behind in fifth gear roll on tests compared to the A-star. Blame it on the taller 5th if you like.

 Maruti Suzuki Swift Engine

Maruti Suzuki Swift Swift's engine is the largest, most powerful here and as expected is the quickest too. But, it falls behind in driveability terms thanks to poor gearing

The A-star offers the best driveability in this test, and to its credit, the car isn’t too much off the pace either. But, what really swings it in the A-star’s favour is its fuel efficiency. For a city car, which will spend most of its life battling bumper-to-bumper traffic, efficiency is paramount, and one doesn't need to drive the A-star cautiously to achieve low consumption figures.

Maruti Suzuki Wagon R Engine

Maruti Suzuki Wagon R Engine is same as the Alto with an added cylinder. It's quieter, has less vibes and is faster. But, is less fuel efficient

The Alto is nearly as efficient. It uses a smaller, less powerful engine, but it is still reasonably driveable. The gearbox, though not as sharp as on its newer siblings, is acceptable for everyday chores. What’s not acceptable, however, is the car's poor NVH which can get bothersome even at 50kmph.

The Wagon R is the worst of the bunch when it comes to the drivetrain. It does use the same engine as the Alto albeit with one extra cylinder, but the gearbox it's coupled to is awful to use in terms of shift quality.


Maruti Suzuki A-star (mm)

Maruti Suzuki A-star Overall Dimension

Tiny car mackes for an easy city run about. Visibility isn't outstanding and as expected neither is the space utilisation. Seats are decent though.

Maruti Suzuki A-star Boot Dimension

Boot of the A-star can at best carry your weekend grocery shopping. But make sure you don't pick up something long or too wide

Maruti Suzuki Alto (mm)

Maruti Suzuki Alto Overall Dimension

Alto is the smallest car here, both inside and out. Rear room in particular is poor. Entry/exit is okay, but front seats can cause some inconvenience

Maruti Suzuki Alto Boot Dimension

Alto has the least passenger room, but it does give the A-star something to think about in terms of a bigger, more usable boot

Maruti Suzuki Swift (mm)

Maruti Suzuki Swift Overall Dimension

Rear headroom could have been better, but otherwise for a family of four, the Swift makes very good sense; it's roomy and comfortable

Maruti Suzuki Swift Boot Dimension

Swift has the biggest boot on paper in this test and its shape allows for decent luggage room in the real world as well

Maruti Suzuki Wagon R (mm)

Maruti Suzuki Wagon R Overall Dimension

Wagon R offers very good visibility all round, good ingress/egress and the best headroom in this test. But, rear kneeroom is less than A-star

Maruti Suzuki Wagon R Boot Dimension

Wagon R's boot might not be as big as the Swift on paper, but its shape, more upright seats and taller loading height offer nearly the same luggage space

Scorecard & Verdict


Body/Equipment: The Swift courtesy more room, especially at the rear, and its spacious and accommodating seats, manages to lead the others quite comfortably here. The A-star surprisinglyis roomier than the Wagon R, barring the headroom of course.

Engine/Chasis: Swift again is the clear leader under this head thanks to its performance, handling, its pliant ride as well as low NVH. The A-star isn't too far behind, but as expected the Wagon R really struggles here due to its poor dynamics and a less than average gearbox.

Cost: The Alto pulls back all the points deficit with its cheap pricing and good fuel efficiency. The A-star is more efficient, but even its base variant is costlier.


The Alto is an older car compared to the A-star and it lags behind in a number of areas – design, equipment, performance, and the overall quality. But, for a city commuter who is barely interested in getting from point A to point B, the Alto still makes sense – it is the cheapest tobuy, by a large margin. And it’s very efficient. And with a larger boot compared to the A-star, you can carry more than just your grocery bags.But, if you want a car for more than just commute; a modern car which packs in all the bells and whistles and makes a statement as well, the A-star with its esign flair and equipment and an attractive price is certainly worth buying.

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