The internet has been rife with talk of Maruti Suzuki India working on a new 660cc engine for the Alto. Usually, there is no smoke without fire, which means either Suzuki is in the process of bringing it to India or seriously considering it. This is no new engine, it’s the same one that powers the Japanese Wagon R and even more importantly the new Hustler compact SUV. Now there’s also been a whole lot of speculation that Maruti might bring the Hustler to India as well, we will have to wait till next year’s Auto Expo to know but a report in BW Businessworld claims a 660 cc engine for the next Alto. Now there was a time when Maruti Suzuki ruled the A-1 segment, however, now the Alto needs to compete with the likes of the Renault Kwid and the Datsun Go and the Tata Nano. So why make a smaller, less-powerful engine? Well, one might argue that the segment is designed to lure 2-wheeler commuters to the four wheel market, by drastically reducing ownership costs. And that's where the super frugal 600cc motor will really come in.
Now if they do bring the 660cc motor, its all the more likely that they will bring it in two states of tune. A naturally aspirated variant which makes about 45 horsepower and a turbocharged variant that should make something to the tune of 51 horsepower. If this does happen Maruti could possibly circumvent the problems that one would face with a small displacement turbocharging, like higher costs of manufacture that could possibly alienate the customer base. Especially considering that this segment could be set off by an increase as marginal as 20,000 rupees. At the same time we know that in Indian traffic conditions, a small-displacement engine with a turbo charger may not have much in terms of frugality, considering that most of the effort will be expended spooling the turbo, which affects fuel efficiency negatively.
Now we are sure that the boffins at Maruti’s R&D cell at Rohtak, will have looked deep into the problem before bringing the Alto 660 to the market. And while we see that Maruti could benefit from a well-tuned naturally aspirated 660cc Alto, the jury is still out as to whether a turbocharged power plant would really make sense in the subcontinent. We do believe, however, that things will be clearer in the months to come, at which point we can further foray into the subject.